Autistic masking is why I have no friends

At a very young age, I learned a hard lesson, one I’m still working to overcome. I learned that if I wanted people to like me, want to spend time with me, and be my friend, I had to completely hide my interests and who I truly was as a person.

It was in grade school that I began to figure out that people were off put by my behaviors, by how loud I can be, or how much energy I had. Talking about my interests freely and intensely got me labeled a freak, weird, etc.

I was trying to connect by sharing my interests, to talk about things that made me happy and that I was passionate about. Whether it was my favorite book that I’ve read countless times or a TV show I wanted to reenact to show you just how hilarious that certain scene was, my way of relating was “too much.”

It’s how I communicate, and it’s how I’ve communicated since I was a young child. But yet, the world taught me that I should be ashamed of that. It’s freaky and weird to act like characters on the screen. My way of communicating my interests were weird.

That is what society and my fellow peers taught me. People made it expressly clear that acting things out as a form of communication is weird and off putting for others.

It wasn’t until maybe my second year of middle school that I put the pieces together and realized why I had no friends. It’s because I was myself. And if I wanted people to like me or want to talk to me, I had to “tone myself down” and act like everyone else to fit in.

And it did traumatize me.

I still do it today. There are things I need to do to make myself comfortable that I ignore to make others more comfortable being around me. To not upset people. To be “polite.”

I hate making direct eye contact with others. It can be physically painful to look into a stranger’s eyes, yet I do it because it’s the “socially acceptable” thing to do.

Sometimes I need to yell, make sounds, or let my arms and legs go wild to get rid of an overwhelming energy in my body, but I can’t because I’m in public or around family, and it would be “weird” if I did. So I let that energy build until I’m exhausted physically and emotionally.

Loud sounds in general are painful to hear, and if too many sounds happen at once, it’s like someone is sticking ice pics in my ears and hammering away at my brain. I just want to scream, or cover my ears to make it stop, but doing so will get stares of judgement or laughter.

So now, I have learned to dissociate and leave the world for a while.

I have to dissociate from my authentic self to cope with the extreme stress my mind feels when I am overstimulated and unable to express it the way I need to.

Masking in general can be so deeply painful for me. Having to pretend constantly and censor your every word, action, movement of your body is so exhausting and agonizing. And yet, people wonder why I need time to recharge after a day of being around others.

Yet, despite this, masking has become my normal.

I’m struggling to undo the habits I learned from my childhood. I have no friends, and I’m not sure if I have no friends by choice or if I’ve convinced myself no one would want to be my friend because I’m weird and “too much” sometimes.

I’ve masked for so long I have successfully fooled everyone into thinking I’m “normal,” even to the point trained psychologists don’t believe me when I say I’m autistic. I mean, “You make great eye contact and communicate so well!” I will never forget those words spoken by my previous therapist.

I functioned “normally” and behaved “normally” for her, so I must be fine, right? She never once considered that I was taught to mask my behaviors and mannerisms since I was a child. Despite being in a setting where I’m suppose to be my full, authentic self, I still can’t break down those walls and act like myself for fear of judgement.

Once I step into a doctor’s– or any professional’s– office, I enter into what I call “super polite mode,” where I follow a specific routine I made from my observations of neurotypicals to be “polite” in a professional setting. Make lots of eye contact, keep hands in lap, nod to show interest in what they are saying, and only speak when appropriate. It’s like a reel playing in my head, a formation of various behaviors I’ve learned and categorized for different situations.

It’s not really me.

It never was me.

And it never will be.

It’s so very damaging to have to pretend all the time. So very traumatizing.

My experiences led me to a discovery: neurotypicals aren’t too kind to those who don’t fit inside their bubble. If you aren’t a perfect cookie-cutter example of everyone else, society will ostracize you and label you a freak.

If you have weird behaviors and interests, you’re a spectacle to laugh at, another comedy bit for neurotypicals to mock their differences. It creates shame. People don’t realize just how cruel their words and actions can be.

Or maybe they do and just don’t care.

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25 Responses

  1. That bit, “neurotypicals aren’t too kind to those who don’t fit inside their bubble.” brings to mind a favorite lyric from a RUSH song of the 1980s, decades before I was finally and correctly diagnosed autistic, the line goes, “In the high school halls, in the shopping malls, conform or be cast out”, in their song ‘Subdivisions’.

  2. I love this. I have been the most invalidated and gaslit by therapists. I always recommend the book Unmasking Autism by Devon Price because it genuinely has changed the way I feel about myself and the world.

  3. We’ve come so far in many ways, and yet, when it gets right down to it, people often simply pay lip service to accepting others as they are. It’s an absolute shame. However, I think your honesty here is a step in the right direction. With every story told, more understanding finds its way into the world. I have a daughter that was just diagnosed. It was missed for a long time and they told me it is because girls are often better at masking than boys. I fear tolerance will wane as she gets older. That is why I applaud you for sharing. Bit by bit, story by story, you are creating a path that wasn’t there before, and I thank you from the bottom of this mother’s heart.

  4. Thanks very much, Faith. I like the term you use — “super polite mode”. Ironically, I find this mode actually very impolite at times, both when I am performing for others, and when others are performing for me. It’s like I get too caught up in the performing/pretending that I am not truly present with them, and I feel the same way when I sense they too are pretending and are just trying to be polite towards me.

  5. Hello Faith, I’m very sorry that you have been made to feel so uncomfortable about being yourself. I find it so ironic that society these days is dictating to the masses how we should all embrace the LBGTQ community, and how they’ve (the government) has invaded the education system with their societal views. In fact, the “push” and support has been so strong that many publicly traded brands out there (companies) have proudly shown their support by featuring the bright colors and or models in their advertising campaigns. It’s almost like ‘forcing’ a religion on someone or trying to persuade them to join an occult. Quite frankly, I don’t have anything against anyone! I’ve always treated everyone with respect and consideration and simply expect the same in return. After all, no matter what walk of life that you have come from it doesn’t cost anything to be “nice”. So what’s your excuse? So why are we being “told” to accept the LBGTQ community with open arms but individuals on the Autistic Spectrum are still being ostracized and labeled as “different” or “odd” or “weird” ?
    Faith, you aren’t the person with the issues it’s the people around you that have the real “issues”. Yes, I can understand that perhaps some of your interests might not necessarily intrigue someone else but that’s true of everyone. It’s about taking your interest and using it or advertising it as a positive instead of a negative. What I mean by this, is let’s say that you are just passionate about painting watercolors and that you spend all of your waking hours creating masterpieces. What you might do is to reach out to continuing education community to see if there is an art class of some sort that you could sign up to take. Maybe you could start out with watercolors and then try some of the other types of art classes that might spark your interest. If there isn’t a community group or classes, maybe there’s a class at your local community college. There might even be some sort of art class on the internet…perhaps a group of some sort. This would give you a chance to co-mingle with some other people that have the same interests that you do where you could converse perhaps even collaborate on some of your work. You might even have gained enough knowledge and skill to even teach or give lessons on the subject that interests you. These of course are just suggestions.
    Don’t stop being yourself Faith just because society has dictated that everyone should fit into a cookie-cutter mold. Years ago it was never like that, but the reason I believe that all of this is occurring (and we definitely see it in the public school system) is for the sake of dollars and cents. It’s cheaper and less of a drain on social services, department of education, health care services if everyone is the same whether they’re being forced there or not. And by the way, find yourself another therapist if they’re telling you that you don’t appear Autistic to them or if you are being made to feel uncomfortable by them. Going to seek mental health is suppose to assist you in feeling better and finding avenues to help you gain coping skills in navigating the world around you. The majority of these so called ‘mental health care people’ are not qualified enough, have not had training or experience with people that are on the Autistic Spectrum. Find a psychiatrist that has training and/or experience in that field not just someone that does general psychiatry.
    When you become overwhelmed (overstimulated) because of sensory overload, try escaping to somewhere quiet where you can be alone for a little while. Also, try including three (3) breaks into your daily routine where you may just sit and be alone for about 15 minutes or more. You may find this helpful in managing your overstimulation.

  6. Oh, and by the way Faith I understand when you are saying that you have to be in your super polite mode. But everyone should do this from time to time simply because a person should make an effort to be considerate of others. It’s like what goes on between a married couple when they are expecting their first child together. The husband doesn’t want to tell his wife the truth when she asks “how do I look, do I look okay?” He doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, perhaps make her cry and feel bad about her appearance, by telling her the truth….. well sweetheart, you resemble a packyderm! It is good and right to tell the truth in most instances but there is that “gray” area which is difficult to learn when you are living in a black & white world. Hope helpful.

    1. This is something I picked up from my classmates and the general public. Some participants made it apparent that they find the use of dramatic play as a communication tool to be quite strange and off-putting.

  7. As a high-caliber autistic individual, I am able to personally attest that American society is still not that tolerant toward autistic individuals.

  8. I know Albert, you’re definitely correct about that. I am truly sorry that society has to be so cruel and uncompassionate towards other human beings. In fact, I haven’t really noticed much improvement in how society perceives or communicates with individuals on the Autistic Spectrum since my son was young. It was very challenging for my son growing up as he not only was diagnosed with Asperger’s but he has Dyslexia, a math disorder and he had speech delays and a disorder of written expression. I don’t even want to think about how far he wouldn’t have gotten if he had gone through the public school system! All the Federal funding that they receive for special services and the money is absolutely wasted! They view these children (in my personal opinion) as being less, being a bother to them, being stupid and they’re ignored. A friend of mine, who is a very highly trained special education teacher (she doesn’t teach anymore) was actually told in a public school to “keep her mouth closed” when she identified a child as being Dyslexic and requiring special services. That’s the reason she’s not teaching….. because she won’t keep her mouth shut!

  9. This makes perfect sense and I’ve lived through the exact same experiences my whole life, except the way people would treat you for being different sounds incredibly tame compared to some of the bullying and discrimination that I received for my “abnormal behaviours”. The nasty insults that people have said to me make the average Howard Stern radio episode seem honourific by comparison. I was subject to corporal punishment in school many times. Both peers and authority figures would often scream the most vicious insults right in my face at the top of their lungs. Worse yet, I’ve almost gotten arrested or stabbed to death because some crazy people misunderstood me even though I did nothing wrong. I’ve been sent away to institutions several times because no one wanted to try to understand me. Worse yet, the times I’ve called out these blatant human rights violations I’ve been dismissed as “just whining” and told to “just grow up, be a man and deal with it!”. Um, i hate to break it to you, but this is not your twisted fantasy world where autistic people can magically just start behaving perfectly neurotypical. Everything I’m saying now should concern even neurotypicals because humans of every background and way of thinking just naturally tend to fear anything unfamiliar or that they’re not used to, and too often people tend to react to new or unfamiliar events or behaviour with suspicion, anger, and even aggression and violence. I especially hate how no one who gets angry at me for my differences ever bothers to ask me questions and try to find out the truth about me and why I do the things i do, all because they’re cowards only concerned about being in control. It’s not like I can just explain my autism to a random stranger or someone i don’t know very well, because I’m afraid the person will get even angrier and more aggressive towards me. The least bad thing that could happen is I’ll (for the 99999999999th time) get accused of “using my autism as an excuse to misbehave and be a nuisance”, while the worst case scenario is I’ll get arrested and thrown in prison or a so-called mental hospital. The “attack first, ask questions never!” way of thinking is exactly why the USA where i live has by far the highest incarceration rate of any country in world history and is one of the last remaining countries on earth that still has a death penalty.

  10. It is deplorable how you (Ban all corporal punishment!) and others have been treated in our society today, especially in the school systems! School use to be a place where a child enjoyed going and where they could always count on a teacher as being sort of an “extended mother” or at least, “friend”. But it’s not like that anymore mostly because a lot of parents, years ago, started stepping up and complaining about their “angels” receiving punishments when in many instances, some of these angels were indeed guilty! My son use to get bullied and was a target for some of the children that enjoyed tantalizing other children. I was lucky in that the teachers who knew my son would look out for him and in certain instances, they would watch how certain children became known as “tantalizers” and particularly kept on eye on those kids. In this one scenario, the teacher watched this boy repeatedly kick my son’s chair under the table and she heard my son ask the boy more then once to “please, stop”. My son was quite patient, and he would be calm and reserved for some time before he would “act out” and retaliate. But, because this was a small school (K-8th grade, with about 220 kids total), Parochial, and with a nun as a principal and two nuns for the two first grade classes, it was a close knit community of families and educators that were involved with the fundraisers going on at the time and all pretty much knew each other, they were all very fair and knew each of the kids. I had to make adjustments with my job several times, altering my schedule and changing my hours to become more involved with my son during school hours, and I would NEVER have been able to have done this if I hadn’t developed such a professional rapport at my place of employment! But later on, as my son entered the higher grades at other schools I pretty much had to give up working a full time job. At two occasions, my son was put on “home-bound” instruction, and believe it or not it specifically says in the agreement with the resident board of education that the “….parent or legal guardian must be present when the tutor arrives to your home or location to provide instruction for the child….” so that means; no grandma, no grandpa, no babysitter, no other relative, etc…. so the one time he was already in the month of March and school was done in June when they placed him on homebound instruction. The second time (in another state) they placed him on homebound instruction it was in the beginning of the school year. So, since I couldn’t work anymore anyway, I made it my job to become so involved with the schools that he attended that they didn’t dare do anything that was “out of line.” The one school (again, this is a Catholic school) they tried to punish him for behavior which was “….considered a characteristic of his disability…” which is all clearly outlined in the ADA and chapter 504 as an absolute “no, no”. I also made it my business to clearly understand and practically had memorized the education laws as they pertained to disabled students. I was offered employment at one point with a law firm that advocated for disabled children in schools, but I had my hands full with what I was doing already. I only got the detentions for son eradicated with that one school because I physically remained at the school for the length of time during the day that he was there and I had an attorney in “my pocket”. Let me also point out that I had my son under the care of a psychiatrist and that he also saw a clinical neuropsychologist (who specialized in Autistic Spectrum disorders) on a recurring basis. The reason that I am providing so much background on all of this is that…. the laws were created for parents/advocates that pushed hard enough to get them enacted but they mean diddly-squat unless you (as a parent) have; 1. a lot of $, 2. are a minority 3. are a prominent member of your community 4. have political involvement in your community 5. Your an attorney 6. or you’re so much in their face all of the time that they’ve become intimidated by you as a parent and they can’t stand you anymore. Yes, I obviously for the most part was able to stay home to care for my son because my husband made enough money to support us but now I wasn’t working anymore so hiring attorneys to carry this thing on and on (& in the meantime, my son isn’t getting what he needs) was out of the question. I saw mountains moved for disabled children who were in one of the #6 points that I mentioned above. In one scenario, the school district approved paying half of an out-of-district placement ($40K year) for a child to attend a specialized boarding school (the parent was an attorney). Another instance I personally knew a child getting an out-of-district placement to a specialized day school ($30K year) in less then a month (parent was an attorney). The one child grew up and became a Heroine addict and the other child, I don’t know.

    All of these instances occurred 20+ years ago! Things have gotten worse, not better! Where I lived in NJ when my older son was young the psychologist that I took my older boy to asked if I would like his assistance in getting him in a specialized day school. Now that is around 30 years ago or more…. and I declined as my older son simply had ADHD with no learning disabilities. I felt that a Catholic school would be just fine for him. Society doesn’t really care about disabled people and some states are worse then others. I’m physically disabled now and worn out and in the northern states most people couldn’t care less whether or not I need some assistance. More then half of these buildings (VT/NH) don’t even have railings at public buildings, handicap parking that makes “sense”, or more then one mechanized carts at the grocery stores. We (the disabled) are the lowest man on the “totem pole”.

    1. Re: “We (the disabled) are the lowest man on the “totem pole”, of course we are when evolution is all about ‘survival of the fittest’ and we disabled are not the fittest.

      1. Scott- A lot of these people that condemn and mistreat the handicap people aren’t quite that ‘fit’ either. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just get along!

      2. Newton was autistic to the max and he benefits humanity more than most people will. It’s ridiculous to judge someone’s worth based of your ability to tolerate their non-malicious deviance imo.

  11. Arguably everyone even people who are neurotypical has a social mask that they wear during social interaction. I myself have by necessity gotten shall we say “comfortable” in my mask. Unfortunately I have a bad habit of slipping and talking too much. An off comment about a topic I’m completely desensitized to or talking to much about my fixation of the day is followed by an ever present amount of self loathing. I’ve had inner monologue that consisted of “shut up freak no one wants to hear about that,” and “what the hell is wrong with you normal people don’t act like that when talking about those things,” quite regularly.

    1. I’m familiar with that monologue. I’d also respond like that to emotions i felt like weren’t supposed to be mine. So i categorized those emotions as originating from an external (consciously) to make them easier to accept and understand as an inherent part of myself.

  12. Aren, please don’t be so hard on yourself. There are no “normal” people. What is “normal’ anyway?? Normal is just a term that they (society) has affixed to a large group of people that just happen to comprise a majority. Let’s just take a moment to look at it in a different way….. I use to breed show cats at one time. I bred for top show quality as a professional cat fancier. In the litter of kittens (sometimes as large as 7 kittens) I would be lucky if I got 1 kitten that would be considered “top show quality” and would go on to become a Grand Champion someday. That 1 kitten was the prize. That 1 kitten would be considered the “cream of the crop” so to speak. The rest of the litter was the majority- the one’s that most breeders would consider, undesirable. Of course, I never felt that way about them at all. To me, they were all very beautiful, sweet natured and unique in themselves. I sold all of the rest to loving pet homes with neuter/spay agreements. People were so happy to get them and lots of them even won ribbons for their owners, just as pets.

    Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum are actually the “cream of the crop”. However, because they do not comprise the majority, and therefore don’t have as large of a voice, they are pushed down in society and made to feel less. It is perhaps, I have noted with my own son, that the majority sometimes feel threatened by the talents, abilities and higher intellects of these certain individuals. My son possessed gifted abilities in the area of technology from the time that he was quite young. He built a computer (from ground up) when he was nine years old. He was very interested in science, computers, engineering, microscopes, telescopes and anything related to these areas of interest and most his peers just simply weren’t. His classmates were mostly kind to him in his younger years because the Sister (nun) implemented a very strict rule in the school regarding criticizing others. It simply wouldn’t be tolerated. But children would become jealous of some of his accomplishments and the praise and attention that he would receive. Encouraging him to pursue his talents and interests helped him a lot in getting others to talk with him, although he never really made any real “friends” of his own age.

    Go out in the world and pursue your interests Aren and don’t be afraid to try. It doesn’t matter who you are, how rich you become, how well admired you may be, if you became famous and or a legend……. people will always have something to say, no matter what! So don’t worry about it….just be happy and enjoy life!

  13. FYI……
    Well know individuals on the Spectrum…… people that have followed their passions and developed their unique talents.

    Leonardo da Vinci – Artist
    Vincent van Gogh – Artist
    Steven Spielberg – Director
    Alfred Hitchcock – Director
    Thomas Edison – Inventor
    Alexander Graham Bell – Inventor
    Benjamin Franklin – Inventor
    Henry Ford – Inventor
    Ludwig van Beethoven – Musician
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Musician
    Bob Dylan – Musician
    James Taylor – Singer-Songwriter & Guitarist
    John Denver – Singer-Songwriter & Record Producer
    Charles Darwin – Naturalist & Geologist
    Carl Jung – Psychiatrist & Psychotherapist
    Lionel Messi – Football Player
    Samuel Clemens – Writer
    George Orwell – Writer
    Jane Austen – Writer
    Charles M. Schulz – Cartoonist
    Albert Einstein- Genius
    Sir Isaac Newton- Mathematician, Physicist
    Thomas Jefferson-Author, Declaration of Independence
    Michelangelo- Artist
    Andy Warhol- Artist (Campbell Soup label)
    Anthony Hopkins- Actor
    Dan Aykroyd- Actor
    Elon Musk- Entrepreneur
    Charles Schwab- Entrepreneur
    Temple Grandin- Advocate for Autism
    and many, many more….

  14. Happy my father was weird and he never tried to be anything else. He was also teaching in Uni and made PhD, so guess it was bit different that he was stereotype of proferssor who don’t remember anything from day to day life but from science there wasn’t much he didn’t know something. My 6 year older brother went year earlier to school, made to classes in year and craduate with 6 laudaturs and later PhD, my sister went school 3 years before me ‘(1 year younger as well) and was pretty perfect in school as well, both also from their behaviour. Then came my turn and i then couldn’t concentrate and caused loads of troubles. I was (and am) by myself quite shy, not talkie at all and then had my then not diagnosed ADHD that was so strong that i just coudn’t stay focused than short moments which naturally wasn’t enough to learn much and most of that also forgot fast when so many other things out there were much more excited. Was quite not nice time at school when teachers expect you be on of genius family but i hardly could get myself to school, then i made myself loud wild boy (as i couldn’t study like others but i couldn’t or didn’t want to try to explain that as it felt easier to be bad boy, i never been (my parents didn’t believe when they were called that i’m making trouble in school, because i couldn’t study (i wasn’t really stupid but just couldn’t concentrate on anything) and probably to get friends too, if you from first class just are quiet and stand alone somewhere, without courage to make any social contacts, i figured out that that wild guy would be cool and accepted and that’s how it went.

    Secondary school got thrown out from class more regurlarly, was early 90 so diagnosing anything but broken legs was still quite unknown thing, don’t remember much details but after all, diagnose was always that i’m wild and just need to calm down and try to study bit more and would been millionair if would got a buck every time when i was suggested to try even little bit or asked why don’t you try, don’t you like to be your other family. My social skills were and are very limited so couldn’t at any time to figure out what to say or do so continued to be make troubles, been “cool” at school and nothing else.

    Then 12 years old, some psyciatric visit again and then time for IQ test to see if i just don’t have capabilities to learn anything, when doctor explained what the test is and what it’s for, i first time in 5 years got motivated and focused as was kind of given challenge and expected to be stupid, but failed again and scored bit too much above 120 which then was taken as absolute evidence that it’s just my motivation and there’s no real medicine for that, except try bit harder.

    I honestly hope that nobody have to go through school and childhood with high IQ test result and unknown ADHD. Everything that times doctor knowledge was used and hey, i got supreme IQ, just have to find motivation and not even start to make that list what everything teachers tried to motivate me and i got more and more confused and almost panic atacked few times. I was almost a year behaving well and didn’t get much schoolwork done but it was ok, i got high test result, everything cool, almost ready to university once these teenage issues get passed, you probably guess i didn’t experience magic cure.

    Then finally school finished, i shouldn’t have even passed that but it was ok as i was from good family and smart, just getting bit more adult and calm down and boy is ready to pick his nobel (still hard to believe how that kind of test, made once for 12 year old was so strong proof that everything will be ok with time).

    Sorry, started to write a book again, but that was my masking through whole school and many years after and then occassionally when moved to new country or city (really couldn’t find anything i could study well or work) and with age started be more and more myself and now if someone mension that my shirt is upside down, couldn’t care less, as a kid everything is so different when you felt being lost all the time and that’s still prettty much how i am, now just myself.

    Of course i don’t have any education (and ADHD still not diagnosed which possibly helped at that point), i had strong feeling that i still just can’t study in class but needed something and most of all, wanted to be myself how i wanted, at this stage when you are in your 20:s and your friends only and ever have known you as bad boy, it’s not really easy to just announce that from now on i’m introvert and not really even like o hangout with people.

    Then got to my head to start to look a job from anywhere abroad (in my country it’s mission impossible without education, waiter needs 2 years etc.. weird) and ended up to Amsterdam, got myself to work in Sony Logistics (found out their European main logistic center is in Netherlands and it was just beore PS2 launch so thought if i get a job from there, Sony will exist forever and i did. It was i think 2001, use of computers, ERP systems like SAP or even email wasn’t yet something everyone were familiar with (father was professor of computer science so used to play with them since i remember) so got promotion from floor to few floors higher and everything was good, nothing missing, but as some might have experience, “everything good” is not not really huge source of dopamine (still not diagjnosed) so started to drink more and do drugs etc… for while all still somehow in control, got awarded employee of the month from 500 people and that was for some reason last drop, dunno what happen, did i start to think that hereäs nothing to achieve anymore and just got drunk went work and didn’t work at Sony anymore.

    Quick forward, similar story times 3, duration 1-2 per seaon.

    Then had ended up to Ireland, had girl friend i really loved her did, but feelings and attempts can be quite well disturbed by this disorder and i think if i would seen myself then, i would seen arrogant guy who just wanna drink or do something very random and not care about anything or anyone. Relationship stay alive with promises some time, we also had daughter why i think my ex didn’t leave me earlier, she couldn’t have alone paid our daughters private creche and other expenses so got bit over year extra time, didn’t improve at all and now enough years after i can honestly say, i’m happy he found new guy who was normal and willing to take care of two girls i loved.

    Then once again, ok, where to move, and then to Malta, thought that small mediterranean island, will be living alone and try to stay away from alcohol, drugs and especially social life (myself when sober is still shy introvert who hate all social events and don’t like to speak people as have huge gift to make myself understood almost opposite that i mean which is really annoying (need few drinks to get it bearable), then one day went to doctor to renew astha prescription and not sure from where exactly doctor got idea that i might have some issues, asked bit more my past and when was moving 3rd country in two years, told that he book me to psychiatric, do i have money for private as otherwise it takes time and it wasn’t that much so made appointment.

    Then on our 3rd appointment, had made some tests in previous visits and told my life story etc… and with results in hand, few days after my 45 year birthday announced and i have quite severe ADHD or possibly ADD or what ever, not much difference for me what these letters are, can you make me normal? Answer obviously was not, but it was quite dramatic change to be able to find even some options what could been part reason to my issues. Just every time when had settled to new country and/or job which i guess for many is good moment to relax and enjoy little while after when move and job are completed, but every single time when got that feeling, just got some really strong mania to fckup everything, usually drink and drugs do the trick with job.

    And now i’m in Malta like planned, living alone, remote work (self studied few programmin languages, software developers have loads to do here) and pretty much first time since first school day felt that i can make it here, just don’t make any social contacts as you fck them up sooner or later (or do something stupid with them), everything is good as it in my life can get (don’t think many would see much good in my situation but pretty much ongoing chaos of almost 40 years felt like being over and finally found something i can handle).

    Then some random doctor have feeling of some signs, get you tested and now was offered help and told that i might need meds but he believes i can do quite well as for some reason i’m still alive and survived these all crazy trips and situations. Said politetly thank you very much but rejected meds (almost one year clean and sober) as i just got myself in position i can cope sober (no social communication, no relationships or anthing else that usually goes wrong), still sober and no meds.

    That visit where i heard 45 years old that i have severe disorder that it’s almost mandatory to have medical support (thanks for challenge doc, that’s only thing my brain sometimes get interested), i think i know the feelin “You are in canded camera” I this is not black humor, what is? 38 years after my starting school and non-stop struggle (like ADHD people can do, no any control to anything, not much sober days, getting fired time after time and new country again… and just previous stop from this where someody finally say there could be some help for you to keep you alive bit longer, i was already left by my GF and decided to isolate myself to small island. Don’t feel to start to take pharmacy speed home alone…

    Shit happens and not blaming anyone, would been so great to try to live family life with love ones, would have needed meds for that family work circus but of course would have taken anything (pretty much did during years) what just could make me able to not do idiotic things without any notice, could just get feeling i couldn’t handle my emotions were too strong when enough stressed and couldn’t calm down anyhow, alcohol or drugs, what ever gives your brain temporary break for moment.

    Haven’t told anyone from my “old life” about this diagnose as it’s not really relevant for them anymore, can’t travel in time even would start taking stimulants and i don’t wanna start to make excuses that “it wasn’t me, just my medical condition”, not words i would ever use. Been for while sober now, have learnt a lot of things i should avoid (yeah fck these IQ tests and my exceptional eye for details and patterns, not sure if can agree), spoke with my boss at work as i really like small tech company where i work with fully flexile hours and remote and now when learnt something from myself, can also at work avoid tasks that i find hard (that mostly are simplies ones for anyone…) and once with little time better and better figured out if there would be something what especially this kind of rainmanbrain could do maybe even good, we found something, tailored my work to only include tasks that i feel i’m good at and in tech, you can pretty well (compare to many other jobs) prevent getting bored, that whole industry is just never ending challenges.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to write my lifestory, dunno what happened… make sure your kids are comfortable at school, like in this story what i “commenting” and me probably are good examples where it can get (maybe these days even wild boys get more support than try more), i really can’t even in my head blame anyone as i’m actually quite impressed how good i was in my role. And if ever any idiot shrink gives you kid IQ test, tell them to fckoff or if you think making such test where most can get really high scores with bit practice, make at least sure if everything else i ok before starting to book top university place for your young einstein, there might be something on a way, no need to be disorders but you know your kids, make sure they feel ok. I just changed totally, my old self just came back quite recently, somewhere 80s when these disorders at least in Europe were not common and known like now, my father have some stronger symptoms than me and can’t blame mother either, kid go school, get new friends, you didn’t by then at least think their head is fcked since born and mom passed away 2005 and never stopped keeping contact long as she lived, she was not a doctor and don’t think a second i wouldn’t bee helped and supported as was eve now, if somebody just would figured out how, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, not really feeling great winner but still alive and and at least with my standards longer stable period, found loads of answers how to avoid most high risk situations to trigger me and was able to communicate with work and got job i can do well enough to not think weekly getting fired but got payrise, my company have productive autist who in right tasks work twice more, my daughter is 14, doing great at school and not showing signs of disorders or anykind (except she is pretty 14 year old girl, i hope she remember 11 year old agreement, no boys before 30.

    So refuse to call this lose either and how much ever i would start to blame every single person who saw me as kid, don’t earn me another try from 7 year old. Tried to to simulate but can’t even imagine i would get good feeling for blaming others. And i still consider myself lucky to compare probably if not majority, at least quite many who have hard time, what i complain, have travelled around world and since 18, bit different telling and somebody could think i had great time and saw world and did loads of things. It can be some very little thing that make difference in life. Sorry for therapeutic spamming, just when read experience about masking, somehow haven’t totally forgot school me, hope he’s not needed anymore, can be my own weirdo self like my father and shouldn’t ever do anything else, now i know.

    1. Hi Perti- It’s been a long, hard road for you that’s for sure. I know that back in the 1980’s there wasn’t much knowledge about learning disabilities and disorders in the main stream public schools. I guess that there was some knowledge in the private sector schools but that was for people who had the means (or money) to pay for it. I had some dyslexia and some mild focusing issues but I can tell you that nobody really cared. I remember doing homework for some classes (like American History class) and having to read the same paragraph over again because it just didn’t stay in my mind! I use to get so frustrated with myself because for some of my other friends (I studied in the library with the Ivy leaguer’s) it came fast and easy for them! In time though, I realized that I had some sort of learning disabilities myself and I started to pay attention to what worked for me and what didn’t. One of the things that I did notice and that you pointed out, was that sitting in a room all alone with absolutely no disturbances would earn me an “A”. I noticed that once I lost my train of thought, that I had a difficult time re-directing myself and thus, anything after was futile. Later on in life I finished college and earned all “A’s” and I still manage to do that today. You were intelligent enough to realize certain things about yourself and taught yourself coping skills to get around them. One of the comments that you sometimes hear people or certain doctors say about some individuals with these disabilities is that when they grow up or get older that they “…grow out of it.” That’s not the case at all….it never goes away and for some people on the Autistic Spectrum, their disorder gets worse in some ways. What actually happens is that some of the individuals just become masters at coping skills and know how to monitor themselves so to speak.

      Well, glad to hear that you have found peace with yourself and are doing well with your job. It is important that you like it and it sounds as if you do! Take care for now and keep eye on your daughter!

      1. “when they grow up or get older that they “…grow out of it.” “happens is that some of the individuals just become masters at coping skills and know how to monitor themselves so to speak.”

        True, the coping skills make the intense masking sustainable. Kinda shitty that some autists have to deal with both pretending to be normal and getting depressed because of it + making double sure (almost) nobody will ever interact with how they truly are

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