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The Mask I Wear: PTSD and Autism

The more I work on PTSD recovery, the more I recognize the mask I wear. As I start to unmask, I realize that I haven’t had the privilege to live an unmasked life. And the more I learn about myself, the more I realize that I really haven’t had an unmasked life since the age of 2. Most importantly, I’m realizing how important it is to speak up.

Growing to Wear my Mask

I’m still working on accepting being different. I find myself feeling shame for being born the way I am. I accepted myself for my sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity, etc. but not for being autistic. It has everything to do with how I grew up.

By my childhood, I had the choice to either adapt or to be hurt for being autistic. So I wore my mask. And I wore my mask really good. I realized at an early age that my behaviors and way of life were deemed unacceptable in society. In certain foster homes, I was considered a demon child because of my sensory needs. I was made fun of or shamed for self stimming (fidgeting, pen cap chewing, etc.) all of which were silent.

Growing up this way made me feel as though my sensory needs weren’t necessarily important. In relationships (family, past lovers, etc.), there were indications of disbelief in my different needs and behavioral patterns. Which induces shame in being autistic under the PTSD mask I wear. This impacts my ability to express my needs and why I have such needs in areas of my life. I don’t want to be treated differently, just understood without judgement. So what other way can I avoid such disparity than to mask myself?

Unmasking in Recovery

As I heal from PTSD, I find myself having a really hard time navigating the socially perceived unfavorable characteristics of autism. Which include self stimming, bluntly saying things, needing to say certain things when something is off or wrong, and/or needing to do something in accommodation to attendance importance when I’m overwhelmed.

I struggle navigating these socially perceived unfavorable characteristic everywhere. But, I’ve been having a harder time with it at work. Which leaves me to acknowledge and voice my needs as it’s important.

In all, I’m basically trying to navigate the cognitive dissonance people have around autism that are created by the lack of understanding and education.

– Dez 🙂

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