Authentic Autistic Self: How to find it?

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colliegrace
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28 Nov 2023, 9:09 pm

Basically learning which of your traits are due to the autism.... and discovering how you hide those traits from others, and finding ways to unhide them.
As one example, maybe you like to info dump about a special interest. Now, you shouldn't just info dump on everyone you see, but find someone who doesn't mind being info dumped to, or spaces that allow for info dumping guilt-free.

I've found that my real self is awkward and may come across as less mature. I have to mask that most of the time, but one place I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not is at my peer support group.


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ASD, most likely have dyscalculia & BPD as well. Also dx'd ADHD-C, but don't think it's accurate.
RAADs: 104 | ASQ: 30 | Aspie Quiz: 116/200 (84% probability of being atypical)

Also diagnosed with: seasonal depression, anxiety, OCD


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28 Nov 2023, 9:11 pm

The thing is that if one has developed masking for a great number of years, where one automatically does it. (I can mask in three ways often at the same time and do/did other things (E.g. schollwork or college work or whatever I did at the time as an adult etc) which takes a lot to do at the same time. I find the second one below the hardest. Actually also have another masking again...

1. Ordinary automatic masking. Where I will change from who I am at home with immediate family, to who I am around others and I am slightly different in that I will be almost myself but not quite. I am not able to control this masking, and I know that rhis masking breaks when I go through burnout! I feel like I am glitching between masking and non-masking when going through burnout and for a long time while recovering. Feel like the girl who glitches on Wreck-It-Ralph!

2. Masking stimms. The hardest one to concentrate on other things while doing and the most mentally exhausting (And damaging if prolonged). I will be monitoring every single.hair on my body to check I am not stimming in one form or another... As when I stimm I often don't know I am doing it until I get told off (E.g. when I was in school, college or work). I do manually "Force stimm" during and after burnout as it helps prevent full on shutdowns. But think of constantly sensing every part of your body...Every hair that moves... Everything to check you are not stimming when you don't realize you are doing it... And doing this monitering while masking in other ways on top of it, andthen being asked questions on top that (E.g. when in school) have to be answered to avoid being in trouble...

3. Manually masking on top of the first mask Rarely did this on top of the second mask as while doing this masking, it seemed to cancel out auto-stimms? (In other words, as my concentration went i to this manual masking I didn't auto-stim. Don't know exactly why!
But this manual stimming is where I acted thick using my sense of humour with it in a hidden pretend way in order to both gain attention and a means of connection which I would normally struggle to do without it (Without it I can be a loner in social situations) and I developed this to perfection in secondary school, which I overdid in college and in some work enviroments. I could not not do this or I would be left out, but after around two years, this masking would break down and I would look to hand in my notice, because when this mask breaks and I get "Found out", others feel I have let them down and the bullying starts! (Not just by one person, but when in college, it was the whole class!)

4. Workmask!
Gosh! This is one I really developed while working on the railway! I copied a travelling salesman I used to know as he used to call in once a week for most of my early life until he retired. A nice man but deep down I believe he may have been workmasking? (Or maybe he was like that in character?)
He was loud but kind with it? He would always appear jolly and happy, and I knew it was to enhance sales. The railway was a loud busy atmosphere so I had to be loud and bold. I was masking this because if I unmask in such situations I am timid and quiet! I could lutwardly keep up a jolly and a loud/happy appearance which reflected in my face and my speech etc, (Also partly developed while working in the retail industry) where inwardly I could be terrified or sad and depressed and no one knew! Actually once admitted to my trains manager I had been feeling depressed and he said "Well.... You are the last person I would have thought was depressed!" He arranged five sessilns of private counselling for me ( Paid for by the railway. I was very greatful) where at the end the counsellor (She was brilliant) said she thought I had autism and should see my doctor.This was back in 2007. I knew my doctors I was with back the would not take this seriously so I never told them. Never told anyone else about that because it didn't sink in to me to be honest. But work masking... I did this each time I we t to work and just didn't do it at home. I switched it on when I entered the railway type enviroment. Also I did a similar thing but not quite the same when I was in charge of a bicycle department. (Oh... I can tell some stories! :D ).
I didn't realize how effective my work masking was until I had a workmate call in to see me about one of his bikes (While I was working on the railway) and I was at my house relaxing and as I was alone (Used to have my own house at one time) so I was unmasked. As shift patterns meant I was
generally overtired and exhausted, and it was my day off so wasn't in workmask territory and my other masking such as auto-masking didn't kick in, as he talked quietly himself, I was my quiet unmasked self. I didn't think about it, as he was only picking up his sons bike if I recall correctly.
Then the next day I was back in work, and he said "You are a totslly different person at home compared to how you are in work!"
This really shocked me at first as I did not realize how much I was masking! Also I did not quite know how to answer him as I never knew masking had a name, even though I was fully well aware that I did it!

I hope all this explains my personal experiences in what I call masking!


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colliegrace
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28 Nov 2023, 9:19 pm

One of my support groups does make a distinction between masking and "code switching". They consider "code switching" to be when you amp up a personality trait you already have in order to fit in. It's tiring, but it's still an authentic part of you, so it's sustainable.
They consider full on masking to be pretending to be something you aren't, and full on masking is not only tiring, but exhausting.


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ASD, most likely have dyscalculia & BPD as well. Also dx'd ADHD-C, but don't think it's accurate.
RAADs: 104 | ASQ: 30 | Aspie Quiz: 116/200 (84% probability of being atypical)

Also diagnosed with: seasonal depression, anxiety, OCD


Mountain Goat
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28 Nov 2023, 9:50 pm

colliegrace wrote:
One of my support groups does make a distinction between masking and "code switching". They consider "code switching" to be when you amp up a personality trait you already have in order to fit in. It's tiring, but it's still an authentic part of you, so it's sustainable.
They consider full on masking to be pretending to be something you aren't, and full on masking is not only tiring, but exhausting.


Interesting term! So masking I would call point 1 on my list was code masking. Not sure about point 4 because it was very different from how I would normally be... BUT it is still me in that I am not lieing. BUT I am not in my character that I would be if I was at home if that makes sense?
What I call point 3 would definately be masking!

Oddly, I absolutely hated doing Drama in school because I could not work out how to act while already masking? It felt all wrong! Evsn though the Drama teacher was my form teacher who was a lovely caring lady. It was more I just could not work out how to act on top of masking!

Does this make sense? I was told that those on the spectrum make excellent actors because they mask! My experience is I would have to be in a calm enviroment by myself or a family member I was close to, so I could unwind and unmask, and then I could act rather well! But in an enviroment with other people when I am already masking I was out of my depth! :P


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jamie0.0
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28 Nov 2023, 9:52 pm

preface, i'm not recommending this to anyone, but this is my personal experience

i believe i have removed much of my mask over the last 4 years

it all started when i went to a psych ward for personal problems, in there i read a book
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
by Mark Manson
in that ward i was going through a mental health crisis, and was very impressionable. when i got out i decided to care less of what others thought of me, at the time i didn't know i was unmasking. i only felt unhappy and thought that worrying about others opinions were the cause of my unhappiness. in fact i didn't realize i was wearing a mask at all, in retrospect i was wearing a full costume rather than a mask, and being that "unauthentic" was probably the primary reason which lead to my personal problems

i took it further, i decided to end every hobby, move every unessential thing out of the house and completely disregard the past in order to move forward, like a faux simulation of the house burning down and i am left with nothing so i can re-build

a lot of the beginning was filled with boredom, it was there that i learned what i enjoy thinking about without any influence. i think of it as mediation without the goal of meditating

i had no clutch in conversations, as i had no hobbies at the time to talk about. it was there that i learned how i enjoy interacting with people and need to work on active listening. i also learned at the time that i was really boring, without being able to rely on tv references or other forms of entertainment, i really do not have much to add to the conversation. but the best thing about personality is that in some respects, it is fluid. being boring in the past does not doom you to being boring forever. i did end up taking up another more healthy hobby to achieve some sense of interesting conversational topics, and it was a hobby that i never thought i would be interested in (nature photography, spirtuallity) not having a solid sense of identity at the time gave me more freedom in which activities i could trial.

i began to think more of myself as a set of values rather than interests and have come to realise that i love talking with people, i was more shy pre-crisis due to the mask being there because i was afriad that people wouldn't enjoy my company. i still dont understand it, but i cant exactly talk the neurotypical way, i may sound strange, but i enjoy when i find people who accept me and talk with me.

i also stim more because in the past i was told that it was naughty, and i'm at a stage in life where i don't care anymore.i've noticed less meltdowns because of it

my biggest takeaway was that, the criteria i choose to define my self matters just as much as what i define myself as.



TikvaBall
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28 Nov 2023, 10:08 pm

I can mask but I can't do it for very long, and if I overload the mask breaks down in a spectacular way. These days I let people know I'm autistic and that I'd appreciate if they would let me know if I do something wrong. When they meet me, they get my authentic self in all my goofy glory, and if they can't accept that, well heck with them. I don't need that kind of toxicity in my life. I'm nervous about finding a job because I'm afraid they won't be accepting, but then again, I'd rather know what they're really like before I worked there.



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28 Nov 2023, 10:15 pm

BTDT wrote:
Watch your stress levels. If you become stressed that may be a sign of masking.


I think this is bad advice, or at least badly-worded advice. Your advice sounds to me like "Don't do anything stressful!"

NTs get stressed and they don't mask.



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Deinonychus
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28 Nov 2023, 10:28 pm

colliegrace wrote:
They consider full on masking to be pretending to be something you aren't, and full on masking is not only tiring, but exhausting.


Keep in mind that you can be exhausted without masking, especially based on introversion and extroversion.

I give a lot of presentations as part of my job. I enjoy preparing and giving them. I'm basically getting paid to info dump about my special interest.

The only masking I possible do during these is eye contact. I don't know where my eye contact is supposed to go in a crowd so I'm not really looking at any particular person and sometimes doing "radar sweeps" at first, but after a couple of minutes I'm in the zone and not even conscious of where I'm looking.

They presentations are still exhausting because I'm standing and talking for more than an hour, my brain is going full speed ahead recalling lots of information, and I'm an introvert in a room full of mostly strangers. That would exhausting even if I was NT.