Anxiety, struggles to communicate, loneliness

I’ve been processing being autistic, being a people pleaser, hiding my needs and emotions. I’ve done this being in a relationship where I’m being held accountable for the first time in my life. In previous relationships I hid myself, or just broke up. This is the first time in my life I’m realising my behaviour, and how it is based on my up bringing and unrecognised autism. I can’t hide away inside myself anymore, so I feel utterly exposed 24/7. My partner is very supportive, but I’m still just miserable most days because I’ve lost my lifelong security. It feels like a waiting game for my brain to rewire, but it’s painful and feels unending. Would appreciate thoughts, especially from anyone who’s been through anything similar.


Hi Dusty,

I recognise so much of what you say. I was diagnosed with Autism while I was at university and it took me a long time to “grow into” that diagnosis. The process you describe of going over the past and adjusting your view of yourself is something I experienced too and still do occasionally. It’s like being given a key piece of a puzzle that totally changes how the puzzle looks.

I also hide a lot behind a mask and it sounds like you’re used to doing that too. Dropping that mask and being truly you in front of someone, that’s huge. It is totally understandable that you feel unsettled. Being Autistic makes us so much more sensitive to how people respond to our behaviour. Actively avoiding tension is very common, particularly for people diagnosed later on in life (i.e. not diagnosed in childhood). You’re trying to overcome a lot of self-conditioning to appease people, that takes time and energy.

One thought that would help me sometimes when I was where you are is to think that I’ve managed life so far despite having undiagnosed Autism. It’s pretty amazing that we can function in a world made for “neuro-typical” minds without the support that we actually need. You need to give yourself credit for that and that’s from someone who I think has at least some idea of what you’re going through. It’s been hard, painful, even desperate at times for you I’ll bet. You didn’t give up though, despite all that pain.

This is going to take time. Right now, your brain is working so hard to process everything that your mask has dropped, and I can totally understand why that’s frightening. What if people just like your mask? That’s what I remember thinking. Turned out that people like the real me more, even if sometimes I just want to alone. I think you’ll find the same and find that you can build deeper relationships once you realise that.

Something that helped me was finding a counselor who specialised in Austim who helped me to understand better how my mind worked and what causes me stress. They made me realise that so much of what I do is to please other people; things I think I “should” do. With understanding comes confidence, and gradually, being this new version of yourself, your “Autistic-self”, will feel more comfortable. In the time in-between, be kind to yourself. You are not alone and I am so glad your partner has been supportive.

You will find your new balance. It may take time but, from someone a few years down the line, things get brighter and life starts to get easier. You are so unbelievably strong to have made it this far and someday you will realise that. x