Over the course of five weeks we will be sharing a series of blog posts with you, written by an autistic academic who was diagnosed later in life.
She was assessed for autism as a child, but says she missed out on the diagnosis as little was known back then about the female presentation of autism. Thankfully, she had the chance to be reassessed as an adult.
She prefers to remain anonymous in her writing due to the stigma and discrimination that still exist within her industry, but she is happy for people to get in touch with her with any questions or feedback.
If you would like to get in touch please email us
If you've missed any of the previous blog posts, please find the link at the bottom of this page.
This is part four:
I am twenty-four, and I am a problem.
I do fairly well at university - academically. No one says why, but my family all recognise that I’m not capable of living on my own. Whilst other students drink and party, I go home and immerse myself in a fantasy world, endless stories about pain and rescue and acceptance. My lecturers say I’m a genius, but I have no friends.
Somehow, my wonderful supporters encourage me to complete a science PhD. I take fledgling steps from the nest, living in a shared house with other students. My mum is close by in the same town and I go home with my washing every weekend. For a time, things are good. I force myself to go to social things. It’s exhausting but I have friends, my first boyfriend. I seem to be a new person, someone I like. But things spiral.
I cannot keep up the social maelstrom, the relationship, the amount of time and physical closeness he wants… but I can’t put this into words. I am the consummate people-pleaser by now, so I disappear inside. I become a puppet girl, but I discover that running and dieting makes me feel better – makes me feel nothing. I don’t need to feel anxious or despair. No matter how bad I am socially, no matter if I’m a mediocre scientist… I can be good if I’m thin, if I’m as thin as possible.
Anorexia is powerful and I am sucked deep down. For many years I exist in this muted, submerged state. It makes me feel clean and good. It makes others feel very bad. My family shout, plead, threaten, cry in turns.
My sister is struggling with her own life and health, and here I am, throwing mine away. First the cutting, then the depression, the being suicidal, now this – why am I always doing something?
My mother holds her as she cries.
Click here to read Part Five