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Dissociation and Autism

Please understand that since my diagnosis 2 years ago I have done a lot of work on my mental health and also a lot of research on autism and have had to unlearn a life I lived for 31 years as a fake neurotypical, and learn how to try and be my authentic self. How I process things is considered healthy.

I have suffered a big trauma in my life last month with the passing of my dad and I have also had to deal with some changes in work too this last 2 weeks with full office return coupled with a desk move.

Most neurotypical people would be broken. I know this because they have told me as much. I have been called brave, I have had scepticism thrown my way. I have also been told I have no empathy (I am told this often). I do have lots of empathy, it's just the delivery of my empathy that comes across wrong. In fact the delivery of most communication I try to convey verbally often comes across wrong but hey I am autistic it in itself is a communication disorder.

Everything I do is thought out well in advance. I got through my dads funeral because I have been to a couple of funerals now and they all pretty much pan out the same way. The hurse comes, you follow the hearse there is a service usually laid out in the same way and then it is over and you go to a wake to celebrate the life of a now dead person. In the weeks leading up to my dad's funeral IN scenario used the day in my head. It is actually a sports psychology technique. I played the day out in my head and therefore on the day I knew what to expect and it was how I coped and gave my speech.

The change of desk was the same. I was told about it 1 week in advance and I was able to imagine my day coming in, sitting there with my manager opposite so when Monday came it was OK because in my head I was prepared.

I am exceeding all targets in work at the moment. Anyone who looks at me, how I am acting, how I am performing would not guess that last month my worst fear and I mean my worst fear because, I have already played out my parents' deaths, became a reality.

In 2020 I supported my mum through breast cancer and quit my job of 6 years. If you look at the last 2 years for me there has been a lot of trauma, a lot of tears and a lot of stress. However, I am still smiling, still trying, still being the best I can be. It is like my brain knows this is bad and stressful but also plans a way through constantly.

It is like the more trauma I go through the more strong and resilient I become. However, one thing I am aware of is I refuse to fail and this I know is not sustainable and I have it in my head that if I fail at something my world will fall apart. It is like at work I could take my foot off the gas. Literally I could but I don't.

I messaged my counsellor because my own behaviour was concerning me. I really should be a mess on the floor unable to function right? I want to go there. Press that big TNT button like on the cartoons but I don't. I am a very logical thinker. I like it when things make sense which, is why I don't like many people because most people don't make sense. People who smoke do not make sense to me never have.

My counsellor has said it is dissociation. My mind is taking a break from my thoughts and feelings. He has told me I do not need to process everything, now I can do it in 6 months or 12 months. I process things in bits but I have an order. I have my dad's ashes, I know exactly what I am doing with the ashes and when. I was not upset when I collected the ashes. I was humbled. It is true when you physically see it you really can't take anything with you when you die.

I know I am protecting my mental health at the moment. I am avoiding any conflict and am being assertive where I need to be. Work is fine because lately although I have been given the opportunity to work on other teams when I mention something to my manager like 'I have been asked to sit here' he will automatically ask me 'if I am OK with that'. He is now starting to advocate for me and has my back. I have never had that before. This approach is getting the best out of me because I respond well to praise and structured criticism.

It is weird because I am acting on my feelings at the minute. I just don't feel anything but then that is pretty much my day to day anyway. Emotions are extreme. I get through life by acting how I think everyone wants me to act. I get uncomfortable when people are upset so I don't get upset publicly because I don't want people to feel uncomfortable in my presence.

However, dissociation is tricky because how I deliver what I want to say comes across wrong or weird. I can write things and my friend said it is because when you write it is non reactive but in a conversation that is unpredictable. I try to be sociable at lunch but the only thing I have in common with most of my colleagues is work and they don't want to talk about work so I end up making small talk which is just exhausting. So today I didn't bother, I just had a break. Twice a week is enough for me.

So if you want to know how I am. Well I am sad and I am still processing what happened but I am acting my way through life by using routines, stimming, fidget toys at work and just being honest with people I trust.

It is OK not to be OK. It is not OK not to talk about it. I can talk fondly of my dad without crying and when I talk about my dad or his death it is like I am a robot reciting what happened. Will it ever truly hit me that he has gone. Who knows but when it does, that is OK too.



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