Written in March 2023
It may seem strange to say I have to accept limitations on what I can do post-diagnosis, because it implies that I did not have these limitations before diagnosis – despite being just as autistic now as I was before I had the piece of paper confirming it.
The reality of it is that I had these limitations before; I just wasn't aware of why I had them and what their exact nature was. I didn't have a reason for any of them, so for the most part I just assumed that I was rubbish at dealing with life and the world, compared to everyone else who didn't get hearing problems when they were tired (auditory processing issues), for example, or who wasn't completely flummoxed by last minute changes and unexpected events.
Additionally, as I have got older, I have become less able to cope with sensory stimuli and the demands of a full time job due to coping mechanisms becoming eroded (burnouts will do this to a brain) and the natural process of changing tastes and capacities as we age. Nobody can pull an all nighter, or have a wild weekend in their forties and cope with it as they would in their mid-twenties.
These limitations are easy to accept, because they're in my best interest and now that I know the reasons I have these limits I can stop with the metaphorical self-flagellation about being a useless human being. There's a good meme about labels, which I'll add here if I can find it, but the gist is that having a label/getting a diagnosis is positive because you can finally understand that you're not a horse like everyone else, and you're not a horse who's rubbish at being a horse; you're actually a perfectly functioning zebra.
There are things I've done, places I've been in, which weren't in my best interests, and looking back I am a bit annoyed with myself that I put myself through some things which I would not have done, had I known that they were going to cause me pain and anguish, and have a fallout afterwards.
On the opposite hand, had I known about my autism all along then I might have not done some of the things I have done, which I am glad I had the chance to do. I might not have moved to Hertfordshire with three sheep and lived in a caravan in the woods for six months while I learned to butcher, but I'm glad I did. I would likely have avoided going to festivals, but I am glad I did (for the most part anyway). More to the point, I might not have been allowed to do some of these things, or not had the support I had because of the ideas of others about what autistic people can and cannot do.
So, accepting my limitations was more of a “gratefully welcomed” type, not a begrudging, difficult type of acceptance.