I feel like a lot of advocates and people who are autistic myself included talk a lot about how being autistic gives us these incredible traits which our neurotypical counterparts do not have.
However, I feel sometimes the struggles we go through are just as important to talk about to highlight the fact that even though we are successful it comes at a price.
The price is our mental health, energy levels, ability to maintain high standards, exhaustion, burnout, lack of self care, lack of understanding from others and inability to to articulate what we desperately wish to get across.
I can not be fixed. I can just be managed and the one thing I wish I didn't have which comes with being autistic is not an inability to form, read and maintain relationships (there are exceptional humans in the world who do make the effort to understand), but my sensory overload to noises.
Now it is important to note that everybody gets annoyed by noises or find them irritating. However, this is not in the same league to my experience with noises.
My aversion to noises started around age 11. I would go into complete rages at the noise of my brother eating his cereal the noise of his spoon hitting the bowl was my alarm clark. I often would not have breakfast because as soon as that noise began I would need to exit the house as soon as possible often after a row with my mum due to surge of anger coursing through my veins at that noise.
I was not diagnosed autistic at this point so it was put down to hormones and my parents divorce. The further into my teens I got the worse my aversion to noises got. I would not travel on public transport if I could help it due to the fact someone could be reading a newspaper and the noise of the pages turning would cause me untold stress, a fight or flight response. I would sit and will with all my heart for the noise to stop or loud chewers, people eating crisps I just couldn't do it.
I would eat alone and dread Xmas knowing I would have to sit in a quiet dining room. To get around that I would wolf my food down in record time just so I could leave the room as quickly as possible.
I would isolate myself from people and I still do today to avoid noises. I get tense and irritated and want to explode but end up imploding. I will always have my music high and this is how I like it to drown out any noises but it isolates me from the world around me which is quite sad really.
At work I force myself to go to a place everyday to do a job next to people talking and typing and sometimes I just need silence to get my brain to do what it needs to do then I sit there annoyed because I am trying to think and can't think and I have noise cancelling headphones and I have support but as I said I can't be fixed. Sometimes I wonder 'do I really need a job'. However, I am lucky. I can reach out I can work from home just to give me a breather. Sometimes a breather is what I need. Sitting in a car in the dead of night with no engine running or sinking to the bottom of a swimming pool is my only relief from the world around me.
IT IS HARD. Why should I not be a successful adult just because I am literally scared of noises. I push myself to burnout often. I try to recharge best I can but I can only do it by pushing people away to be left alone to deal with the exhaustion.
I don't want sympathy I want understanding that being autistic is not easy. Functioning labels for all the reasons above are not helpful and only cause further distress because people just see an irritated person being off with them and do not understand the reasons why because to them they don't even notice.
An autistic brain picks up and processes things in every little detail most people miss. It is beautifully exhausting.