Identity crisis after loose diagnosis

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pastelanxiety
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24 May 2023, 2:04 am

After suspecting I'm on the spectrum for most of my life, a few months ago I got "loosely" diagnosed with ASD and am working towards a full diagnosis with the support of my GP. My initial visit to the doctor, which led to this, was for what I now believe is autistic burnout (didn't even know this was a thing until it was discussed and I did more research).

On one hand, I feel validated and relieved as I now know I'm not just "difficult" or "cold" as I've sometimes been labelled in the past, but on the other hand I am now experiencing what sort of feels like an identity crisis. I no longer have the energy, nor the drive I previously had, to mask as heavily as before, and it's really starting to mess with me. I don't know who I am without a mask on 24/7. A lot of my autistic traits I've worked so hard to stamp out over the years (out of shame and fear mostly) are now coming to the surface and it's overwhelming. I'm also dealing with others making comments such as "why are you suddenly acting more autistic" and "you've never been like this before" which can feel sort of invalidating.

I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar? If so, how did you deal with this? I'm feeling a little alone and lost because I don't really know where to go from here.



carlos55
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24 May 2023, 7:16 am

Yes this does happen sadly.

The brain is a strange thing and when given a label many people start to fully act out the label meaning more autistic.

Many psychological experiments have been carried out on this. You may have heard the well known one - many people falsely telling the individual they look sick, the person starts to feel they are sick.

So it’s something like this


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MatchboxVagabond
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24 May 2023, 9:08 am

TBH, I think the longer people go without being diagnosed or otherwise being identified as being ASD combined with the more effective we've been coping, the more likely this is to happen.

It's something that I'm going through right now as I work through the process of getting a formal diagnosis. It's a bunch of stuff that's individually not that big a deal, but in pretty much area of my life. I've gotten super self-conscious lately about my smiling to the point where I think I've forgotten how.

But, I do think that things will get better with a bit of reexamination and a lot of rest in between. In the long run, it's probably going to be a lot easier than trying to keep up appearances forever. It's one of those things that, once you see it, you can't really unsee it. And trying to go back to how things were is somewhere between difficult and impossible once that happens.



ToughDiamond
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24 May 2023, 4:16 pm

carlos55 wrote:
Yes this does happen sadly.

The brain is a strange thing and when given a label many people start to fully act out the label meaning more autistic.

Many psychological experiments have been carried out on this. You may have heard the well known one - many people falsely telling the individual they look sick, the person starts to feel they are sick.

So it’s something like this

I can see that happening. Like a negative placebo effect. I felt a whiff of it myself when I was diagnosed, and I think it still impacts on my self-confidence today - if I have to do something that's likely to be hard for somebody with ASD, I'll probably get more apprehensive than I would if I'd never been diagnosed. OTOH I suspect I'm less open to suggestion than the average person is, being skeptical about most assertions, so I may have got off light. It may be useful to remember that you're exactly the same person that you were before you began to see yourself as having ASD.



kitesandtrainsandcats
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24 May 2023, 4:28 pm

pastelanxiety wrote:
I don't know who I am without a mask on 24/7.


All I can offer is that it is a journey of discovery and that it is sometimes, often even, uncomfortable and certainly not easy.

Even so, as understanding of the core 'you' increases, the living of it will increase in ease.

Quote:
A lot of my autistic traits I've worked so hard to stamp out over the years (out of shame and fear mostly) are now coming to the surface and it's overwhelming. I'm also dealing with others making comments such as "why are you suddenly acting more autistic" and "you've never been like this before" which can feel sort of invalidating.


I took the "just the facts route" and responded with, They're surfacing because constantly submerging them has burned me out; the energy is all used up, gone, drained.

And among understanding responses to stating that, there will be various, and often unthinking responses along the lines of: "Well you shouldn't have done that for so long if it was going to burn you out" & "If you do these things this guru says you will get all that energy back and then you will be normal again."


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25 May 2023, 4:28 am

Welcome to Wrong Planet.

As mentioned this does seem to happen to a lot of people. I know it did for me. I was wondering what part was the actual me, and what part was me faking myself. It did bother me until I figured out that at this late stage, everything was so fused together it is all just me. Your solution might be different and that is fine.

Be patient with yourself, it took a long time for you to get to this point, so it will take time to undo it.


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25 May 2023, 4:54 am

I already considered this myself. I imagined myself, reenacted the whole idea even.

Especially since me 'coping with autism' isn't enough.

And so I'm prepared for it.

Doesn't change one crucial fact -- I'm not a typical person.
I still have non-typical issues and perks.
I still have atypical experiences and perceptions that most people couldn't relate.


Me minus the autism diagnosis label is still just as if not more problematic.

If I were, say, actually a severely traumatized NT this whole time -- then something extraordinarily messed up did happened to me.
To a point that in this current life time, in this reality, that no one could compare my kind of violence and aggression from other autistics of all ages and levels.


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carlos55
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25 May 2023, 7:50 am

Maybe for some especially with BAP it’s probably best not going down the diagnosis route.

If your coping well and in a good bubble what’s the point in undermining confidence

Life is short sometimes it’s probably best not to know too much if not knowing isn’t a problem


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25 May 2023, 2:16 pm

yes, but it was a relief for the most part. I had grown up believing I was thoughtless, incompetent, mean, spiteful, willful, hateful, bad and deserving only the worst of everything no matter how hard I tried. I suspected I was autistic at age 65 and got diagnosis at age 68. I am 71 today. I learned to love myself and forgive myself for all my past failures and misunderstandings, and that helped heal my broken heart. I am still broken, but I am on the mend! I have less anxiety and depression, I know what I like and what I dislike and I do not try to please others all the time although that habit dies hard after so much frantic practice at it. ( see fight, flight, freeze and fawning (appeasement) as responses to trauma). I finally have a couple friends who love me for being me, and not just for what I can give them or do for them. It does take time and a lot of emotional homework to understand the past, to forgive yourself and others for the past, and to begin to grow in understanding and gain new skills at communication, self care, making healthier choices and so on, but it does happen. You are definitely not alone. Take time to mourn all the things that "could have been" if you had only known about your autism sooner, had more support or understanding earlier in life, had opportunities that never happened, etc. Learn how to do your best self care. You are worthy of happiness and peace.


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