So this is a chance to reflect a little. I am an autistic man, currently living in supported accommodation. At the time I write this I’m feeling good. As I type a sense of relief slowly makes itself present ; every word contains a measure of my stress and anxiety. The act of describing myself in a way that requires no inter-action from others; and allows me to focus on the bombardment of shapes, noises and colors associated with various feelings, emotions and external stimulus currently in my vicinity. This provides an un-inhibited reaction from my body. I can twitch the muscles in my neck and scrape my nail across the skin on my left thumb to my heart’s content. My eyes feel no need to focus on anything other than that which make them feel comfortable, in this case the 126cm² area of keys directly in front of me.
This will be the first of many blogs I submit to the Boys In Mind blog page. I am in an amazing position currently, and thanks to the support and love of every member of the team I feel I have found my place in the world; although this has not always been the case. As a young man my journey has seen me suffering with severe depression, anxiety, substance misuse, the breakdown of both professional and personal relationships, and an education system not ready for the likes of me.
I like to imagine this state as being at the bottom of a dark pit with sheer walls ; at some points the pit has been so deep that no light has been able to reach me, and the very gift of life has been a weight so heavy it has crushed my soul. As time has passed this pit has never stopped being so deep, and I still find myself very much at the bottom of it on occasions. Although unlike my younger years when I would take the full force of this experience alone, I have started to notice blurred faces appear at the entrance to the pit, extending ropes to help pull me back out. In the beginning, the ropes were short, and the faces few, but as I grow, and learn how to extend my hand to those people who have always wanted to help, the ropes get longer. And the faces become more numerous. When I find myself at the bottom of the pit now, I look up and I see so many people all throwing their ropes down , all so desperate to pull me back up, and show their love and support.
It has only been through allowing myself to be vulnerable, and express my feelings that this growth could have ever been fed. I chose to ignore society’s objection to confronting a man’s mental health and instead looked those people in the eye and explained to them why I am the way I am. Much to my surprise once I opened up, so did they. I embrace the idea that no one defining feature makes me a man, and that we are all so very different. At no point does my need to express my feelings compromise my masculinity. Instead I feel empowered, I feel kindness, I feel more accepting and understanding of the world around me. I am stronger as a result of my openness and vulnerability, and it is my vision to spread this message far and wide.