Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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As I just said on Twitter, I keep forgetting that chronic health issues are chronic and that I can't just wait them out. "Oh, I feel like shit today, I'll post/work/exercise once the aches and/or pains and/or anxieties have let up." And then they just... don't, and another four weeks have slipped by. In fact, I'm typing this straight into the "new post" field on my phone because if I try to ~draft~ something, I won't finish it. I wanted to post something, several somethings, more substantial about the last few months, but: ow.

At this point, the best and easiest thing I can think of to do for myself is drink a shit ton of water, healthwise, and try to catch up on some reading, considering that I am specifically in physical pain right now. I feel like there is probably always something you can do for yourself, even if that something is "breathe deep and drink a water."

I have a yearly PCOS checkup scheduled for September, which I think is also when I have my next quarterly med check (for bipolar II, if you do not have my health conditions memorized, she said dryly). You know, I'll go ahead and say--it's a long long story that I don't really know how to start or finish, and so maybe I'm finding reasons to put off more in-depth posts on (subconscious) purpose, but: it seems, based on some preliminary discussion, that I may be on the autism spectrum. I have a referral to a clinical specialist, but I don't think I can afford another doctor's visit right now, or maybe even for 2-3 months.

So it's not an ironclad clinical diagnosis. But it would explain A LOT about my painfully lonely and anxious childhood, why I have panic attacks while trying to drive, problems I have both starting and/or finishing things, and those times when I'm just like "that's it, I'm done, I have lost my will to function, I will be sitting in this corner of the convention hall if you need me." And I know some of these things may be true of many people. But in the preliminary research I started doing, a revelatory preponderance of them turned out to be true of me.

And that's the kind of thing I wanted to post about in depth. Things like how autism can present very differently in girls, how many women aren't diagnosed until adulthood, how (contrary to a lot of stereotypes) empathy overload and high verbal skills can be involved, mirror neurons, how bipolar disorder often overlaps with or is mistaken for autism, intense world theory, executive dysfunction, sensory overload, how Hans Asperger only studied boys, how I'm not sure if Asperger's syndrome is still clinically a thing or if it even reflects what's going on with me but who am I to say that, how I'm not entirely sure if "high-functioning end of the spectrum" is a thing or if that terminology upsets people, how I might be blundering into an existing community, and not knowing the right words and being afraid I don't belong because I don't KNOW for sure, but how it's already helped me a lot to reconsider how I think and feel and function. It has, perhaps contrary to expectation, been a largely positive experience.

Anyway. I think I am stealing my own thunder here because trying to write about Autism, Maybe has been turning into Let Me Slideshow You My Brain. Like, we could be here a while. So. Voilà.

(In keeping with current policy, comments are screened by default. If you would like to comment on this subject in particular but keep it screened, please say so in your comment. I will not be able to answer screened comments, however.)

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One late-diagnosis autistic person to a (probable) nother, the autistic community (at least online) has been one of the most welcoming places I've ever been. Because of just the things you mention in your post, most autistic people I know are way accepting of things like "I'm not sure" or self-diagnosis or whatever. For most of us, we spent enough time getting things "wrong" for no apparent reason that we don't want to shut out people who could benefit from inclusion.

Anyway my general impression is that whatever terminology you want to use for yourself, go right ahead, it's just that applying it to other people gets iffy. Like no, Asperger's is no longer a separate thing, but a lot of people (including myself) still use it as a way of describing a place on the spectrum. Lots of people don't like the functioning labels because people make it into a dichotomy when it is more of a spectrum, or even a random collection of things that may be useful/functional in some circumstances and less so in others. But I think that's sort of the case in most communities, in my experience: it's your choice of how to describe you, and probably as long as you're acknowledging your choice won't work for everyone you're cool.

And for what it's worth, as a person who has followed your online presence for a long time, I think you being autistic makes a lot of sense. Probably not just because I'm constantly like "one of us" about people. (But woo, other bipolar autistics!)

One of the things that really sold me on the idea of probably being autistic was the idea of fear being a primary emotion. Because I am afraid of like everything all the time, and have explicitly said to people more than once, "What I feel the most is fear." Not literal phobias but this constant ambient anxiety that I'm about to fuck something up. What I *saw* of the autistic community *looked* incredibly welcoming; it's almost a testament to the idea that I probably am autistic that my immediate feeling nonetheless was "I'M GONNA FUCK THIS UP AND THEY'RE GONNA HATE ME." Just constant baseless terror that I'm going to do something "wrong," exactly like you're saying.

I did see that "Aspergirls" was a whole thing (I need to read the book), so I was kind of leery of saying "I don't know that I identify with the concept of Asperger's because it was a study of boys and it's precisely the different presentation that kept me from realizing it." Like, I don't want to take anything away from women who DO identify with that and find community in it, you know? Maybe I WOULD if I knew more about it? So yeah, my instinct is to proceed carefully when a culture already exists, rather than just Kool-Aid Man in.

And for what it's worth, as a person who has followed your online presence for a long time, I think you being autistic makes a lot of sense.

Okay, I am FASCINATED by this, partly because you're not the first person to say that, and partly because it was one of y'all, one of my readers here, who correctly diagnosed me as bipolar rather than unipolar depressive, and otherwise I'm not sure I OR my psych would have figured it out. This time around, I was genuinely surprised when a teacher friend of mine said, "This chart is about autism in girls, I think you need to look at it." (She's on the spectrum too.) Granted, I think partly I didn't see this coming because I didn't have an accurate idea of what it looked like, and if you're also autistic, you'd recognize it in someone else. But what tipped you off, exactly?

Heeeey Cleo!

I've been following you for ages (under many a name) - probably 10 years. Haha wow that's a long time.

I am high functioning autistic 25 year old woman. I've been in many a study for autism - no seriously. the state I'm in does TONS of them.

And yes, they have found that fear motivates autistics more than success. I was in that study and oh man I hated it.

I can also tell you that some people do take offense at the functioning labels. Not many, mostly some people on tumblr. I'll go into more detail, but not right at this moment. lol chronic fatigue + illness I hate you.

Anyway, I'm in the autism culture. If you need ANY and I mean ANY questions answered about it, please contact me (ravenclawriot at tumblr, I am apparently LOCKED OUT OF LJ for now - or clawsthatcatch on dreamwidth. I can give you my personal email address through those if you'd really like.)

Like, there's an actual difference through how autism presents between males and females. And yes, its INCREDIBLY common for ladies to get diagnosed later - I was diagnosed at 11 because my family has tons of psych issues so my mom knew something was up with me. My wife just got diagnosed last year, and that was only because I was like "UH HONEY YOU GOTS THE AUTISM. GO GET TESTED"

And yeah, now that I'm thinking back on your posts, it totally makes sense.

P.S. apologies if these words don't make sense or sound weird - I have a very rare (0.5%) side effect from a medication I take that causes aphasia.

Mostly Some People on Tumblr: A Tale of Personal Anxiety, for real. I posted a link to this on there a couple of hours ago and screamed a little before I could do it, tbh.

I can probably grab you on Tumblr, though, if I think of something to ask--thanks!

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