I've lost my voice, people.
You hear about people losing their voice a lot but have you ever actually had it happen to you? It's bizarre. I think this is only the second time in my life that my voice has properly abandoned me. And by that, I mean for actual physical reasons (flu) not because I've been discouraged, ignored, undervalued or talked over (the standard female experience on this planet, obvs).
My voice has well and truly left the building.
To be fair, it was generous enough to leave in its place some sizeable swollen glands, roaring throat pain and fiery-hot ear canals that want to jack this whole hearing lark right in. Not to mention three Yardimci men who are quite happy, thank you very much, that they are not being nagged abut putting bins out or prepping packed lunches or the merits of The Traitors over Match of the flipping Day.
So, as I navigate this quiet household and the time needed to recover from flu, I wonder when my voice will come back. Will it come back in time for my author's talk in lovely Torquay next week? Will it come back so that I can return to work on Monday? Will it come back so that I can go see my son's band play at an open mic event at the weekend?
Or will it come back when I've had time to process my new diagnosis?
Yep. This week, I got a diagnosis that could change everything.
Or, perhaps, it will change nothing.
It all started with a GP referral earlier this year and was followed by months of waiting and wondering which were, in effect, a representation of a lifetime of waiting and wondering. Does that help you guess what the referral was for? What if I told you it feels scary to talk about it in case I am accused of jumping on some kind of bandwagon? Would you guess it then?
It does, after all, seem like the word de jour. Or maybe de l'anée. But for me, it turns out it is the word de ma vie. Of my life.
That's Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I'm not going to harp on about what autism is, because not only can you find that out here, but you will most likely already have your own ideas about it. You might know or love someone who has it, you might have read about it, you will have most certainly seen memes and GIFs about it on social media. You may even have it yourself. Or it has you. I'm still working out which way round it is.
Anyway, I got this diagnosis a mere two days ago. And that was after a pretty gruelling referral and assessment process. I'm still reeling from it all, if I'm honest. It's no wonder my voice has left me alone with my thoughts.
I know this is the kind of thing that will take a long time to settle. Whilst I feel pretty okay about it right now, I'm aware there may be periods of disbelief, anger and grief.
I'm no spring chicken. It's too late to adapt my education, to counsel my younger self, to mould my early experiences into something kinder, more nurturing. As much as I want to gather into my arms that lonesome little girl who would spend hours organising her toys into spreadsheets ordered by preference then feel guilty about it, I can't do that now. Instead, I need to gather up me. Forty-five year old me.
The list of things that are being reframed for me is extensive. Here are just a few:
Poor body image
Low self esteem
Intense sense of right and wrong
Constant feelings of rejection
Through the lens of autism, these things look different. They are still struggles, yes, but wow, do they feel softer now. Rounder. Squishier. Like I might be able to accommodate them along with the highlights, which I also now see through a different lens. And let me tell you, there are quite a lot of them too:
Huge emotions deeply felt
Strange and interesting friendships
Utter joy from simple things
Making my own joy
Lashings of time alone
The beauty of a life well ordered
My bond with my autistic son
That last one is important, and possibly what set me off on the referral path in the first place. There's nothing like raising an autistic child to realise how much of yourself is mirrored back from their eyes. I don't know why it took me fifteen years to see it.
And as a nice little parting gift from the psychiatrists who assessed me, it has also been recommended that I am referred for an ADHD assessment. Yet another word de jour. It remains to be seen if that one applies to my life too. I'll get back to you.
Whilst I sit here writing this, with flu hanging heavily on my limbs and my voice off partying somewhere along with my libido, it's hard to imagine that this is the start of a new life for me. It's hard to imagine anything when you're ill. So I'm going to whisper quietly to my autism that it doesn't need to decide anything just yet. It doesn't need to label and file and spreadsheet its way through all this.
Perhaps the motivation to write this blog post was enough. Perhaps I can leave it there and just be snotty and voiceless for a few days. That's got to be okay, right?
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch The Traitors whilst nobody's home. I need to enter Claudia's latest jumper into my order-of-preference spreadsheet.
(Or am I?)
P.S. If you enjoyed this blog post then make sure you sign up to get ALL Abigail's bookish news as and when it happens. You'll also bag yourself a FREE copy of Life Is Yours - the first book in the Life Is Yours Trilogy. Sign up here
#loveblogging #muminthemomentblog #mumblogger #mumbloggersuk #bloggerlife #mumblog #writer #uplifitingfiction #womensfiction #readers #bookishnews #bookstagram #autism #adhd #autismmatters #womenandautism #mentalhealth #neurodiverse #neurodiversity