I am not keeping up with life. Or, not with life as I knew it. I do not have the energy and I am days and days behind.
time, time, time see what’s become of me while I looked around for my possibilities
Recently, I applied for–and was offered–a place in the Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) program at Deakin University to commence next semester. My workplace is providing re-training due to our intended closure in five years, so I am taking the opportunity to extend my education. But I will have to be conscious of my time, energy, and availability. I don’t know if it’s my diagnosis and the feeling of being granted permission to pull back from social activities or if it’s purely winter hibernation that is lowering my mood and energy, but I am making the most of this feeling of reprieve from constant communication.
It’s the 1st of June tomorrow; officially the first day of winter in Australia. And I will be at home, cozy after night shift, pottering in my office, looking out the window at the turning leaves of the miniature maple.
I look around Leaves are brown now And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Music Monday has been absent for a couple of months, largely because music has been absent. Instead, I’ve been listening to podcasts and audiobooks, as well as reading hard copy books, devouring as much information on autism–especially in relation to women–as I can.
Podcasts I’ve listened to include Autism in the Adult, Adult with Autism, Autism and Outer Space, The Late Discovered Club, Springbook’s Converge Autism Radio, The Special Interest, The Neurodiversity Podcast, and Autistic at 40.
Some of the books/audiobooks I’ve read include The Autistic Brain: Exploring the Strength of a Different Kind of Mind and Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns and Abstractions by Temple Grandin, Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Understanding Life Experiences from Early Childhood to Old Age by Sarah Hendrickx, Life on the Autism Spectrum: A Guide for Girls and Women by Karen McKibben, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism Edited by Barb Cook and Dr Michelle Garnett, Late Bloomer by Clem Bastow, Diagnosis Normal by Emma A. Jane, and finally, Different Not Less: A neurodivergent’s guide to embracing your true self and finding your happily ever after by Chloe Hayden.
In addition to books about autism, I’ve also read Maggie Smith’s memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, Stephanie Foo’s What My Bones Know and Rijn Collins’ Fed to Red Birds.
Of all these, only Fed to Red Birds is fiction.
It’s hardly surprising to me now, that my preferred reading material is non-fiction. Or that I disappear into tunnel-vision and consume only information related to one thing for an extended period of time–the same thing happened when my partner was diagnosed with primary central nervous system lymphoma. Apparently, it’s quite common for autistic people. And, after a formal evaluation consisting of more than ten self-assessments, a parental assessment, partner assessment, and three diagnostic interviews, a diagnosis of ASD Level 1 was confirmed about a month ago. While I had compiled an extensive document outlining my traits, personal history, and how I believed I met the DSM criteria, and while I had tested above the threshold on all the available online self-assessments, I still didn’t know if a diagnosis would be affirmed. I didn’t know if my parental and partner assessments would recognise the same characteristics and traits I see/hide in myself. But they did. Last week, my report arrived. It is confronting to acknowledge that for almost all of your life, you’ve been unaware of the specific reasons that challenges show up for you, even when you’ve been aware of the challenges themselves. It is strange to read about your life experience in the context of a set of conditions and behaviours which are typical to people with your neurotype when you have felt so atypical.
Yet, here we are.
And if further evidence was ever required (it’s not), I’d like to present the following. About a week ago, I was reading a post on Instagram written by an autistic person talking about self-regulation. They mentioned movement, dancing, and listed some of their favourite artists. One of those was this artist. AURORA. The first song of hers I listened to, Everything Matters, has been the only song I’ve listened to for over a week. It is in my Spotify, set to repeat. My drive to and from work is approximately half an hour, depending on traffic. The song is three minutes and thirty-six seconds. Which means I can listen to it at least eight times in full, and have done, for the last week and a half as I travel to and from work.