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"I have quite early memories of thinking there were parts of myself that I should keep hidden. Over the years, this seed grew into the narrative that told me I was a bad person, I was broken, that who I was wasn't ok. I learnt there was safety in going unnoticed, and so over the years I stopped trying to be visible and learnt to make myself small, to stay safe."

Oh, I relate to this so much, Louise. I have distinct memories of watching people in order to know how to act and what to say. And sometimes the mask would slip and people would say "Becky that wasn't like you!" Except it was! I, too, spent a long time thinking I was a bad person and that this was why bad things happened to me - because the people doing the bad things could see the real me.

I want to be more visible and open about my needs but I find it hard because I am still awaiting on my "official" autism diagnosis. I feel like until I get it, I'm being a fraud but I'm having to do it on the NHS and it's a 3-year wait. 3 years seems like a long time to go without my needs being met...

Thank you so much for writing, Louise. 🖤

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Thank you so much, for sharing your experience, it really resonates with me. The me people thought they knew and the one that really was, it was so exhausting trying to keep the two apart!

Please remember that self-identification is valid, there are so many reasons why people can't or choose not to get a diagnosis. You are welcome in whether you have one or not (although I also remember feeling the need for one before I got mine, so really want to make space for that part of you). Regardless of diagnosis or neurotype, we all have different needs and we are all allowed to ask for them to be met.

You are allowed to give yourself permission.

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Thank you so much, Louise. I think it's that fear of saying "I am autistic" and then going for my official diagnosis and the professionals saying "No, you're not." Like, I know I am! I've had complete strangers read my writing about my life and say "I don't want to pry but have you ever looked into being autistic?" or "I 100% relate to everything you're saying and I'm autistic."

I think it's that fear mixed in with being truly seen. Mask off and everything. Which is exactly what you have written about!

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Yes, I resonate so much with this, keep being gentle with yourself x

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