Thanks for joining me!
That’s what WordPress helpfully suggested as a starting point to this first blog. It’s a bit weird to think someone may be reading this shortly. Although I guess I’m not really doing this for you. I’m just getting it out of my head, a bit like a diary I guess. Maybe if I write enough it will become the start of an Aspergers book? If people stumble across it and it helps them understand Aspergers in women a bit better then bonus. If I become rich and famous as a blogger then woo! Go me. 😄
If you’re reading this first blog post it’s probably because you’re a friend that I’ve suckered into it 😂 Maybe you have a family member/child on the Autistic Spectrum and would like some kind of glimpse into an autistic world? I hope I deliver! No pressure then. You know we are all different, right? Aspergers in girls/women is different to in blokes apparently, so no, I’m bugger all like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman as I’m totally shit at Maths, nothing like that nerdy monotone Doctor in The Good Doctor TV show on Sky, or the singing kid in the A Word .Or maybe you’re just reading this because you’re a nosy sod…. 😝 (being an Aspie doesn’t mean we can’t do sarcasm btw… you’ll figure that out pretty quickly, sarcasm is a second language to me. To speak anyway… taking it from others is a bit harder) but I digress.
So why the name of the blog? The Masked Aspie. I guess that’s two fold. Firstly I’d like this as a kind of anonymous blog. I guess I’m used to sharing my story with the world on my Facebook, with my work, my ridiculous life, even really traumatic things that have happened… but the thoughts in my head, unedited and raw for all to see? Makes me pretty vulnerable. I’m learning that not everyone has a kind heart like I’d like to think. Friends become enemies. Backstabbing and using information against someone for personal gain seems to be commonplace in the world, so I’d rather not give people bullets to fire at me if I can help it. I have a story to tell though, and I guess if you’re one of the few that know me you won’t see me as any different to the funny, slightly weird woman you know and love anyway. If you’re a total stranger, then f*ck. oh boy are you in for a shock. I swear a lot btw, so if you’re not keen on opinions scattered with the F word, click away now. I will be honest, it’s going to be raw and unedited, but cathartic for me and hopefully insightful for you.. or maybe you’ll just be grateful you’ve not got my head on your shoulders! It’s pretty exhausting.
The other reason for the name ‘Masked Aspie’ was because the mean reason my daughter didn’t get diagnosed as Autistic (Aspergers/Aspie) for so long was that she became really good at ‘masking’ or copying neurotypical (NT) behaviour. Putting on a mask to blend in and look like everyone else. Learning strategies to cope with things that don’t come naturally like they do for everyone else. An NT is what you class someone with a ‘normal’ non autistic brain, just in case you weren’t familiar with all these acronyms. I wasn’t until just over two years ago, when it became increasingly apparent my daughter was a high functioning autistic. So I googled. A LOT. I learnt all about autism. I then went into her autism assessment and got totally blindsided to be asked had I ever considered getting a proper diagnosis myself? Er.. I only answered your questions cos she wouldn’t talk!! Ok, so I answered almost every question with ‘yes but I do that too’ and ‘could she just do that because I struggle with it?’
I wasn’t ready for it. But wow, how it all made sense! Strategies I’d figured out over 40 years that NO-ONE has picked up on. Not my mum who used to be a teacher, not my friends, and certainly not me! Things I’d taught myself that I just thought was what everyone had to do, it suddenly became clear that others do it naturally without thinking. I never realised! How lucky are they to just be and do it effortlessly!! For example you breathe without thinking about it. Now think about breathing. Still the same result in the end but one takes actual thought and effort, the other is effortless and just happens! That’s what it’s like for me.
I have a mask that I never even realised was there. Ok I realised I adapted my personality depending on who I spoke to, so when I worked on the till at Poundstretcher I called people ‘love’ and upped my Sheffield accent. When I worked for Ann Summers and did a pub party I became loud and full of banter capable of scaring even the lairiest of blokes to shut up with just one look, a few words and a crocodile posing pouch. When I’m on the radio my telephone voice comes into play and I try not to swear. Everyone adapts depending on the situation. I just never realised before how much effort it took just to be ‘me’ every day though. How this wasn’t what everyone else did! The reason why so much has happened to me, and why!!
Things like having to think about looking at people when talking to them. Eye contact. I never realised until diagnosis day that people don’t usually have to think about it. Me though? Urgh. Constant “look at them, look away, look back, am I staring? Is this ok? I’m feeling weirded out now.. can I look at their nose? This is hurting, their eyes are burrowing into me. Grim. Uncomfortable. Look at their monobrow instead. Are they noticing? Ok shit, they just asked me something.. quick catch up with the words they were saying! Ok you can look at your hands, or ooh what’s happening over there good distraction, right better answer the question it’s ok to talk and not look at them if you’re busy’. Etc etc
So that’s why the blog name, the ‘masked Aspie’.
Enough for now. Hopefully you’ll stick around. Hell, hopefully I will too!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton