I always knew I was a bit different from the other kids at school. I often felt misunderstood and isolated. In many ways I still do. Anyone who knows me will tell you I have an extraordinary obsession and passion for horror films, despite frequent pleas from my mum to watch something a bit more pleasant like the Sound of Music. I also have a deep interest in current affairs, politics and social issues. This is partly drawn from my own experience of mental health issues and the curiosity and interest in the world around me that comes from my autism.
Often I enjoy using my knowledge to bemuse my friends and family by talking about my love for obscure films such Female Prisoner Scorpion and Zombie Flesh Eaters, yet I see my imagination and spontaneity as probably one of my biggest qualities. To me it is just a sign of my creative imagination. I can easily go from watching the Lion King to an obscure Italian horror any day of the week. You just have to have a look at my film collection to get a flavour of my eclectic cinematic taste. Below is a poster of my favourite film of all time, the 1963 gothic chiller from the Italian master of the macabre, the late Mario Bava.
Perhaps my favourite scene to be found in cinema is that within James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935) when a lonely blind old man takes in Frankenstein’s creation and gives him refuge from a misunderstanding world, a world which is blind to his humanity.
In a way this both describes how I sometimes feel or sometimes, the exact opposite. I have heard many people call autism a hidden disability and I would very much agree with this. Indeed, it is very likely one of the reasons why I have gotten a diagnosis at the age of 25. At the same time, I find it hard to express myself when meeting new people and this can be extremely frustrating, especially in job interviews, when you have to sell yourself to strangers within 30 minutes. I often have so many things to say and opinions but can’t get it out due to my anxiety and so am unable to show the talents I know I have. It is when I settle in somewhere where I am really able to show what I can do. I just wish that more people could see past my initial shyness but will always be grateful to those who have.
When I eventually got my diagnosis this July it was an equal mixture of relief and anxiety for both myself and my parents.
I am not ashamed to admit I may have some bad days, where I doubt myself and wish autism wasn’t part of who I am, that I could be a bit more ‘normal’.
I need to learn to recognise my unique quirks are not weaknesses, they just make me a bit different. Being normal isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Who would want to live in a box packaged by society anyway?