The Autistic Phoenix
If you think you might be autistic, and in particular if you’re middle-aged and seemingly trapped in a cycle of anxiety and depression the treatment for which never seems to work fully, then I hope that what I write here provides you with some answers and, possibly, a few smiles.
After a childhood hallmarked by techy hobbies, solitude, bullying, excellence in Physics, Maths and Chemistry, and failure in English Literature, I got a PhD in electromagnetics and blazed through three decades of work life by being clever with mathematical modelling and logical analysis, whilst raising a family and step family.
Then my brain told me to stop. It had tried asking me to slow down and relax, but I didn’t slow down and relax enough, soon enough.
Throughout this blaze of easy success, Depression and Anxiety had tag teamed and taken turns in beating me senseless. They refused to go away, ultimately ending in burnout at work and extended sick leave, which, together with the associated distress, mid-life anxiety, and unhealthy coping mechanisms, was the most frightening and difficult time of my life.
I had no idea that the Anxiety and Depression were a result of the mental gymnastics going on in my brain caused by my applying conscious processing power to things that occur naturally and easily without conscious effort for most people; things like hearing what people are saying in big crowds, timing their answer in a conversation, at the same time as subconsciously processing body language and eye contact.
At the end of the first year of recovery from burnout (yes, it was that long) I realised that I was autistic. After a further 19 month UK NHS wait I was diagnosed at age 52 with Autsim Spectrum Disorder – almost two years after frazzling my brain and falling over.
I want to keep this blog succinct, so I’ll assume that you’ll either look up things that you haven’t heard of before or will follow the links that I’ll put on the site. I edit and re-edit things to make them better, so expect the site to change!
I’m also aware that this is one blog amongst thousands, many of which tell very similar stories, and there’s nothing unique about mine. I just hope that you find a useful perspective in what I write.
The blog is going to be a mix of anecdotes and FAQ-style answers that I hope will be easy to navigate and be useful.