I have always found identity to be a tricky thing. Part of my autism acceptance has been accepting i don’t "have to be" normal. Not entirely anyway.
Forcing myself to "be more normal" is draining and damaging. It’s why i often felt so fake and unconnected with my emotions and achievements. Its why i got so unwell and needed an operation. My body just couldn’t manage it.
The times i feel most me are the times when i am happy, anxiety free and bouncing around like a 5 year old. I find huge joy in childish things, i hate pubs and "social events", i would much rather be at home playing with lego or curling up in my thomas playtent with a book. To feel this way i need a trusted person to be looking after me.
When i dont feel safe or looked after, i go into a high anxiety / high stress coping mode. This is what happens when i am home alone in my new flat. I am on high alert and cannot relax. I use to be able to sustain it for long periods, but these days even 4 or 5 hours of my coping mode leaves me so exhausted i take days to recover.
To be me, i need both parts. Its good to be able to focus and push through from time to time, but i need to learn not to push too hard to often. The time i spend being 5 is what powers the my productivity and employability the rest of the time.
Over the last 6 months i have struggled a bit with how to have both parts of myself. This site is all about my experiments with trying to intergrate the two. How can i learn to live alone, but without spending my whole life in "coping mode" and ending up burnt out and unwell (again).
There are many upsides to being 5. My friends quite like it and when i am that happy and bouncy i can achieve awesome things as long as someone is there to herd me in the right direction and keep me safe.
One of the most beneficial changes in my life was arranging proper support each evening from a wonderful, inventive and autism aware babysitter. When she visits, i starting feeling safe and relaxing. She’s the person who got me the thomas tent and dozens of other ideas which turned out to be great at making me smile and feel happier.
Her catchphrase is "autie not naughty". Its something i am finding hard to get use to, but hopefully in the future this will be something i can be proud of.