It’s a simple, straight forward sentiment: don’t worry, be happy. Simple but not easy. It’s true too. We all struggle with what if’s, uncertainties in the future, and potential pitfalls to what we have planned. We spend our entire present not being present but trying to secure our future.
It’s interesting that before I could spell to communicate, my future was already determined and it wasn’t a pleasant one. Why cry-or worry-over spilled milk they say.? And my spilled milk was soured, dried up and crusted over. I didn’t need to stress over my future because I already knew what it held: more nothingness, more unrealized potential and a big dose of a wasted, purposeless life. I had years to get comfortable with an ongoing, constant level of frustration and anxiety that became a part of who I am.
In a way it’s easier to worry now that I have a voice and hope for a future. Before, there were no potential pitfalls or obstacles, just certain ones. I had a constant level of anxiety, but now I have a constant level with sky high spikes because I have sky high hopes. It’s miraculous to have access to learning, relationships, communication, but there is a nagging that sits in the back of my brain whispering each time a door is shut and a mind is unaccepting of my abilities. It tells me ‘You still aren’t going anywhere. Society will never accept you. Forget about being embraced or valued.’ This is a lie, but my body chemistry gets tricked every single time. My rational thinking is overwhelmed by the wave of my emotions and the accompanying physiological response. Fight or flight when threatened? I fight.
So who says autistics don’t have emotions? The same people who complain about our ‘behaviors’. I hope you can sense my sarcastic tone because I beg to differ. We have emotions alright, big ones that manifest in big, weird ways sometimes. Our bodies aren’t always able to cope with them or handle them as discreetly as neurotypicals. We can’t help it, try as we might. Instead we get labeled and stigmatized and punished and isolated. But not supported like we need to be: we need profile specific support in anticipation of each of our unique body reactions. We also need access to communication to help guide this support and to give feedback when situations are misinterpreted. We deserve to speak into our own lives, just as every other human can.
I thought we’re all about diversity and tolerance these days? Why should I be discriminated against because my brain and body were created differently? I can strive to be my best me. Why can’t you give me the support and grace to help me do that? We preach equality based on skin color, gender, age, ethnicity, but not neurodiversity? NOT COOL.
Neurodiversity: it’s a thing.