Unlearning and Embracing My Truth: A Journey of Self-Discovery, Boundaries, and Empowerment

Unlearning and Embracing My Truth: A Journey of Self-Discovery, Boundaries, and Empowerment

For as long as I can remember, I've struggled to understand my thoughts and behaviours. However, it wasn't until now, at the age of 42, that I started questioning my previous belief of being bipolar and considering the possibility of being on the autism spectrum. Looking back, it's astonishing to discover that I was actually diagnosed with autism 13 years ago. While it hasn't been confirmed yet, every test I take comes out as borderline, aligning with the verified tests for women. Reflecting on my childhood, there were indications of my unique abilities. I was considered for skipping a grade due to my advanced skills, but my parents, who were high school dropouts, declined the opportunity. This decision affected my education, leaving me feeling unchallenged and unfulfilled. Only now do I realize that throughout my life, people have always referred to me as smart, but I never truly embraced it because everything I achieved seemed to be taken away. I believe I am gifted and exceptionally intelligent, existing within an undereducated demographic. While I've been on a journey to find out what is "wrong" with me, I now understand that there is nothing wrong at all. I have a unique gift. Additionally, my partner is undiagnosed and seems to be on the opposite spectrum, which could contribute to mirroring his chaotic behaviour. Having cleared out the clutter in my mind through this transformative journey, I now have the space to embrace my true self and acknowledge my strengths.

The Lifelong Search for Answers:

For as long as I can remember, I've struggled to understand my thoughts and behaviours. But it wasn't until now, at 42, that I've come to realize that I'm not bipolar as I once thought. Instead, I'm on the autism spectrum. Looking back, it's astonishing to discover that I was actually diagnosed with autism 13 years ago, but the true meaning of that diagnosis went over my head. I mistakenly believed it was related to bipolar disorder, not comprehending the vastness of the autism spectrum itself.

The Repetitive Path to Understanding:

One of the unique aspects of my mind is the need to repeat things over and over again before I can finally grasp their meaning. It's as if my brain requires countless repetitions to process and comprehend information fully. As frustrating as it can be, I now understand that this is a characteristic of autism and a part of who I am.

Unveiling the Toxic Cycles:

In my journey of self-discovery, I've also had to confront the toxic systemic behaviours that permeated my family. Education and therapy have played crucial roles in helping me recognize the patterns of abuse and conditioning that have shaped my life. Breaking free from these cycles has been a challenging but necessary step towards healing and personal growth.

Setting Boundaries and Reclaiming Power:

As I continue on this journey, I've realized the importance of setting boundaries and reclaiming my power. I have had to make difficult decisions, including cutting toxic individuals out of my life, including my partner, who I now suspect is also undiagnosed autistic. Through years of obsessive research, I have come to understand my own strengths and capabilities. My autism is not a disability; every test I take shows that I am borderline high-functioning. I am extremely smart, having written and self-published a book after completing 11 micro credentials, a specialization in Gender and the Economy, started a business, and taken on advocacy work for my community. I have also taken on the responsibility of caring for my sister's twin babies, authoring a workbook to accompany my book. All these accomplishments highlight the resilience and intelligence that exist within me.

Confronting Abusers and Sharing My Story:

In the process of uncovering past abuse, especially in the last 15 years, I have come to a painful realization of how much I have endured. It is excruciating to come face-to-face with this reality. However, I refuse to stay silent. I am taking on all my abusers head-on, armed with newfound strength and determination. The passing of my entire family over the past 5 years has given me the space to work quietly, without seeking advice from those who have abused me. I am sharing my story with the world because I know I am not alone. I want to shine a light on the complex nature of abuse, the power of self-discovery, and the potential for healing and empowerment.

My journey of unlearning and embracing my truth has been a transformative one. I've learned to set boundaries, reclaim my power, and recognize the strength and intelligence within me. My autism is not a disability but a part of my unique identity. While the road ahead may be challenging, I am filled with hope and determination to redefine my life on my own terms. By sharing my story, I hope to inspire others who have faced similar struggles, letting them know that they are not alone. Together, we can break free from the chains of abuse, embrace our true selves, and create a brighter future.

In shedding light on my own journey, I have come to realize that I am not alone. Many women, especially those on the neurodivergent spectrum like myself, face similar challenges. It is estimated that autism is often underdiagnosed in women, with many going undiagnosed until adulthood. Additionally, studies have shown that women on the autism spectrum, including those with ADHD, are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual assault and domestic violence. These alarming statistics highlight the urgent need for increased awareness, support, and resources for neurodivergent women. By sharing our stories and advocating for change, we can work towards a society that recognizes and protects the rights of all individuals, regardless of their neurodivergent status.

Here are some signs that women might observe in themselves or their children that could indicate being undiagnosed with autism or ADHD on the spectrum, along with struggles with mental health and being scapegoats in the family:

Social Difficulties: Women on the autism spectrum may find it challenging to navigate social interactions, often feeling like they don't fit in or understand social cues. They may struggle with making and maintaining friendships, feeling socially isolated or anxious in social situations. Similarly, individuals with undiagnosed ADHD may have difficulty with impulse control, interrupting others, or maintaining attention during conversations. These challenges in socializing can lead to feelings of loneliness and exclusion.

Sensory Sensitivities: Undiagnosed women on the spectrum may experience heightened sensory sensitivities, such as being easily overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, or certain textures. They may also have specific preferences or aversions to certain sensory stimuli. Similarly, individuals with undiagnosed ADHD may struggle with sensory overload or have difficulty filtering out distractions. These sensitivities can contribute to heightened anxiety and difficulty focusing.

Executive Function Challenges: Women with undiagnosed autism or ADHD may find it difficult to manage their time, prioritize tasks, and stay organized. They may struggle with planning, initiating, and completing tasks, leading to a sense of being overwhelmed or always playing catch-up. This can impact various areas of life, including work, relationships, and daily responsibilities. The constant struggle to stay on top of things can contribute to feelings of stress and frustration.

Mental Health Concerns: Undiagnosed neurodivergent women may often experience mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. They may struggle with understanding and managing their emotions, leading to intense feelings of frustration, sadness, or anger. These mental health concerns can be intertwined with their neurodivergent traits, exacerbating their emotional well-being. Seeking appropriate support and therapy can be crucial for managing mental health in a healthy way.

Scapegoating and Internalizing Problems: In some families, undiagnosed women on the spectrum or with ADHD may unknowingly take on the role of a scapegoat, being blamed for various family issues or conflicts. They may internalize these criticisms, believing that there is something inherently wrong with them. It is crucial for these individuals to recognize their own worth, separate themselves from others' problems, and unlearn the habit of shouldering blame that does not belong to them. This process of self-discovery and boundary-setting is essential for their overall well-being and sense of self.

Remember, these signs are not definitive proof of being on the autism spectrum or having ADHD but can serve as indicators for further exploration and consideration. Seeking professional evaluation and support from healthcare providers, therapists, or specialists can provide a clearer understanding of one's neurodivergent traits and help guide the journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

In reality, there aren't many indicators that suggest I have bipolar disorder on the psychological scale. It seems our society tends to label women who react to abuse as having a clinical disorder and using the term "bipolar" in this context is not appropriate in 2023. It is important to recognize the severity of bipolar disorder and refrain from discussing it in a dismissive manner.

When it comes to individuals who have experienced abuse, it is crucial to consider other factors and possibilities, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which may present differently than bipolar disorder. Here are some examples where abuse may be a sign of autism instead of bipolar disorder:

Sensory sensitivities: Individuals with autism may have heightened sensory sensitivities, making certain abusive situations, such as physical or emotional overstimulation, particularly distressing.

Difficulty with social cues and boundaries: People with autism often struggle with understanding social cues and setting appropriate personal boundaries. This can make them more vulnerable to abusive situations or manipulation.

Difficulty expressing emotions: Individuals with autism may have difficulty expressing their emotions verbally or understanding and interpreting the emotions of others. This challenge can make it harder for them to communicate and seek help when experiencing abuse.

Rigidity and adherence to routines: People with autism often thrive on routines and can become particularly distressed when those routines are disrupted. An abusive environment that consistently disrupts their routines may have a significant impact on their well-being.

Regarding manic episodes, it is important to provide a clearer understanding. During a manic episode, individuals with bipolar disorder may experience the following:

Elevated mood: A person may feel excessively happy, elated, or euphoric, often without a justifiable reason.

Increased energy: They may have an intense burst of energy, leading to a decreased need for sleep and a tendency to become overly active or restless.

Racing thoughts: Thoughts may move rapidly, making it difficult to concentrate or stay focused on one task.

Impulsivity: A person may engage in impulsive behaviours, such as excessive spending, risky sexual encounters, or reckless driving, without considering the consequences.

Grandiose beliefs: They may have inflated self-esteem or grandiose beliefs about their abilities, leading to unrealistic plans or goals.

It is important to note that experiencing mood swings alone does not necessarily indicate bipolar disorder. A comprehensive assessment by a qualified healthcare professional is necessary to determine an accurate diagnosis.

Here is a link for more information on assessing autism in Ontario.

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