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Katherine May @_katherine_may_
, 12 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Seeing as it's #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek - a brief thread on being a late-diagnosed autistic woman....
First of all, autism isn't a mental health condition. However, being autistic in a society that prizes 'normality' leads many of us to suffer from various mental health issues #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Many autistic people (and perhaps women especially) learn to conceal the outward signs of their autism (for example, compulsive physical movements and ways of communicating) in order to fit in. I certainly did #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
We now know that 'masking' like this is associated with anxiety and depression. It also leads to periods of complete exhaustion. But I also find it hard to give it up, because that means social isolation, and then misery for different reasons #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
I spent my whole teenage and adult life going to doctors, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, counsellors and psychotherapists to try to address my poor mental health. Not a single one of them noticed that I was autistic. #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
More than that, they didn't always even believe that I was distressed. This is commonly reported by autistic people - it happens when we're in pain too. We don't look upset enough, and we're not always believed #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
So, I was invisible. I had to figure out my own ways to get by. But this meant that I often dropped out of life for years at a time, and couldn't hold down stable jobs. Not understanding why this kept happening, I felt huge shame #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
For me, learning what I am has made me so much happier - I no longer have to 'solve' the riddle of myself, and instead I'm allowed to make adaptations. That's not always easy - and I'm not sure if I'd even know how to drop the mask anymore #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
I suspect there are still loads of undiagnosed autistic women out there, wondering why the hell they can't cope with basic stuff. I hope we're slowly becoming more visible and recognisable #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
It's hard to imagine it sometimes, but it's possible to be autistic and entirely happy. Sadly, that's very rare indeed - so many people are living lives that don't allow them to meet their basic behavioural needs. #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth
Here's the thing - so much would be solved if we stopped thinking it was clever to notice and point out difference. My strangeness is none of your damned business. Be compassionate and kind, even when people don't quite behave as you do. #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Someone recently asked me how they're supposed to know how to treat me if they don't know I'm autistic. The answer is: just be kind either way. It's really not that hard. And that goes for everyone. #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth
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