Never-Ending Autism...It’s been almost a year since I was given the news of my condition, and while I’m still trying to adjust to the situation. Much of the resentment and fear still remains, and I doubt it will ever truly go away and regardless of what people say, it is a big deal – not as big as, say, an earthquake in Tahiti, for example, but in the world of my brain, it is.
My condition has led to me harbouring plenty of internalised shame and baggage, of which I am certain I will never be rid of despite my hopes that it one day might happen. I honestly don’t know if my condition is a beautiful blessing or a crippling curse, an epidemic or an empowering accoutrement.
I am a film critic, a pseudo-academic and I have two degrees (and a lordship – but that’s a long story). I do not have a partner but I do have several cats who seem to fill that void adequately. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing remarkable about me; never was, never will be. I say these things not to highlight the mundanity of my existence, but rather to transparently illuminate that I am, by all perfunctory standards, a reasonably functioning adult and a pretty productive member of society. And yet, I never feel like one.
In many ways my condition has perhaps granted me special “gifts” that I otherwise would never have; I possess an impeccable memory, a keen eye for small details, a deep and versatile knowledge of my craft and a myriad of other areas that could be considered opaque or kitsch. But everyone’s face looks the same; every conversation feels like there’s an invincible and impenetrable wall between me and the other person I’m engaging with (or attempting to); simple phrases may as well be in a foreign language and rudimentary tasks often feel more akin to Heracles’ labours.
I find myself in a constant state of struggle, wrestling with myself to try and find some familiar ground – trying to brute force my way through by reason what makes sense in an otherwise unruly world. It’s an enormously burdensome process, exhausting and draining. I have to analytically break-down anything and everything that is said to me and how I should respond to it. Such a lack of instinctual cleverness and intuition on my part makes for a profoundly disorientating and confusing experience.
The life of someone afflicted with my condition is an intolerably lonely and blisteringly painful one. I am ashamed of who and what I am and, crucially, I am ashamed that I can never be content with it.