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When I sat down to write this, I realized that probably one of the first steps I made in the journey to drop my extremely well built “masks” to make me seem neurotypical was starting the story “Typing My Love.” Really fleshing out Happy, my first self-consciously Autism Spectrum character, I had to question ways in which I was like and not like stereotypes and actual parts of the diagnosis of the Autism Spectrum; after all, I'm not a “perfect stereotype” and I didn't want to make Happy one either.
This is harder to write than I expected when I put this as a possible topic to prepare for July; maybe that's a hint about how I'm struggling to go about actually dropping the NT “mask.” Here I am, 40 years old, and I don't have a formal Autism Spectrum diagnosis; I have many other diagnoses that AFAB (assigned female at birth) people often get instead of Autism Spectrum; I've just started to read about Sensory Processing Disorder and finding myself in these books. Between my therapist and I, we're looking for what will help me (she's no more an Autism Spectrum expert than I am, which is most likely why this is working :D ). I think right now, I'm largely going through a lot of “Who am I underneath the masks?” I also think that the nervous breakdown that I started recovering from back in February forced down quite a few masks.
One thing I've learned is not to hide my tools. I love the word “tool” when used it this way; it's what my therapist repeatedly has used talking about the wonderful techniques and objects she's taught me or I've found and she's helped me to use even better. It's been a process though, a slow journey of finding what helps and affording to buy it. I already had a bunch of toys, but starting to look for specific things like fidget spinners. I have a multitude of things and now an indoor swing has slowed the progress way down. It's going to take saving up, deep cleaning a room, and probably other things that will mean I continue to sit in the patio swing at Meijer until summer's over.
One piece that has particularly caused me consternation is my brain patterns. Let me explain- reading descriptions of people stimming (self-stimulating) brought me the realization that the repetitive movements that are stimming, that are one of the hallmarks of “that person looks Autistic,” I put those in my brain patterns. If my stimming was in my brain patterns, my mother couldn't see to disapprove of how different I am/was. I'm still debating if my way of thinking so many things so continuously is actually a problem; I never have a “calm” mind, like so many yoga things teach, and I go to sleep, even with my “racing thoughts”- I used to think I just always had bipolar racing thoughts, but when I examined my childhood, I had to admit that my thoughts picked up speed before adult bipolar would have been diagnosed.
Happy that I mentioned in the first paragraph? Happy is bigender and has noun-self pronouns, joy/joys/joyself. I have worked on bring some random sounds and “words used out of regular context” into joys speech, especially when joy is “making mouth sounds,” rather than using written communication; being able to communicate more efficiently and comfortably in writing is one of the things Happy and I share. I recent story I wrote for the #MasturbationMonday blog hop had me making various vocalizations I do when I'm making mouth noises- like “di di di di di.” Yes, I counted how many “di”s I tend to make when I say that LOL.
I just don't know. In a few days from this writing, I will see my med manager. She couldn't see through my masks at all; she thought I appeared calm and collected. I wonder if she didn't realize that I knew a locked psych ward was nearby; my therapist certainly made that connection to my behavior with the med manager. As a final thought, returning to my age, I wonder- what of the neurodivergent person is left under so many years of masks to try to make me seem normal?