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The Biggest Changes are on the Inside.

Words and artwork by Becks Harper

When I first shared my formal autism diagnosis with friends and family it coincided with a period in media of highlighting the issue around missed and late diagnosed autistic girls and women. The narrative was heavy on the message of "but look what I still achieved, how successful I have been in spite of this discovery." and a few times I was sent links to articles about autistic women who didn't know they were autistic when they were carving out their career paths, just knew they weren't having the same experiences as the majority of people around them.

I think the good intentions behind sharing these articles were to show me that I could still make something of my life. Since then, family life has taken its own route and although I was wanting to be in employment by now, I am not. I have other things going on.

But I am approaching all of these life events from a new angle over the last 5 years. From a place of realer self understanding, from a place of self compassion, from a place of less shame, from a place of forgiveness, from a place of trauma realisation.

I am working hard on myself like I was always doing, but in a way that really benefits me for the longer term, from the realisation that I'm not supposed to be doing things the way mainstream tells me to.

I don't have to keep leaning on things I was told in the past, the ways I was perceived, the self fulfilling prophecy voices echoing in my head can be ignored and then good things start to happen.

I am not so unsure about the validity of my own mental health needs. It's a constant practice to work out how to take care of myself and become more confident at asking for what I need and trusting that there will be others around me listening and responding.

When most of your life has been a bit of a mystery, to finally solve the mystery is just the very very start of what is yet to come. When there are over 30 years of previous life to put through the mill of new knowledge, while current life is marching on with all it entails, the changes are going to start from the inside. It's all happening on the inside and it keeps you really busy.

I look forward to taking more and more of those changes to the outside, and that will happen in the time that works for me and my life.

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