Masks are used to scare off the evil spirits, but for me masks are use to ward off my autistic self to protect myself. So I guess I wear a mask whenever I feel like someone is gonna hurt me…
Regulating how I feel is hard for me. Speaking words that don’t come from the heart or mind get mixed up. Wearing clothes that don’t hurt me gives me anxiety everyday. Trying to eat food even though I can’t tell if I’m hungry has gotten harder day by day. Sleep is a battle depending on the day or week. Fidgeting with toys has become the norm lately. My heart has started hurting again every now and then. Putting on a facade or mask only happens when others have hurt me. It’s gotten better to function in society, but only with the mechanisms that are put in place.
When you look at me face to face, or you speak to me; you could never tell that I’m autistic. You could go through your entire life not knowing that information about me. But, once I unmask and feel comfortable with certain people and my surroundings, that’s when I feel better at being myself. To some that can look like lying or being deceptive of who I truly am, but in reality it was suppressing the person the God created me to be like everyone else on this earth that isn’t autistic. That why when you see me being extra loud, talkative, physical etc. that’s because I’m masking.
In the past with my other friends, I didn’t display those traits. Because all I did was mimic them; I played pretend and did whatever they did so I could fit in. So, they probably think now, “Well you never acted like that before?” You’re right I didn’t; just not around you. When I’m at home or with people that aren’t gonna make fun of me, I am perfectly safe enough to be my autistic self. But once I feel slight judgement, that’s when I switch to being myself to being a masked version of myself. Saying that sounds super selfish and mean, but in all reality it’s honestly to protect myself from being treated horribly.
When I use to work at the farm store, I didn’t tell them I was practically disabled. Because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was gonna get bullied. In the end… I still got treated that way and practically destroyed emotionally and mentally by that place. On top of an abusive relationship and other issues that occurred during that time. So I became a puddle of mud… Everyone stepped in me and it wouldn’t stop. As my life went on, I remained masked and never really portrayed my true self to others anymore, not even to my own husband. It was safer for me that way I didn’t get hurt.
Unfortunately, I ended up in the ER a few times where my heart started to freak out and I felt like death was upon me. Since those few times, I started to unmask my autism and just be my true self. But as some like myself, understanding, processing, eating, sleeping and just basically existing is a uphill battle for me. One day I can have small sensory issues, and then the next I’m nonverbal and I’m in constant pain. Being autistic is spontaneous and unplanned… It hurts that I have to ask questions, ask for special food and wear headphones because I cannot function in a neurotypical environment.
Putting on a mask is hard now. Once I have done it, I have to deal with the consequences of doing that. The next day, my heart is hurting, the left side of my face is throbbing and I’m severely depressed. (Still am…) I’m doing my best to live me life as the way God created me, but sometimes people hurt me and that makes me want to disappear or play pretend/make believe. It can’t escape anymore when I was little; I’m an adult woman. I have to basically lift my head up high and walk through this life as someone who is autistic. It’s not been easy for me; especially currently in my life as a twenty-six year old woman who is married.
I hope that the people who are around me will be able to understand me, be patient and ask me what my needs are. Not belittling me, not disrespecting me and thinking I will suddenly change who I am. I’m not a neurotypical person and I will not be changing who and what God created me to be for anyone. I’m wired differently and I’m happy about that.