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My Business partner, Tan, recognising my neurodivergence saved my life.

I shared yesterday how I was slowly killing myself with alcohol and other self-destructing (non-)coping mechanisms trying to live like a neurotypical person and wondering why I just couldn't "get my shit together".

Tanya and I had been friends for many years. We had worked together previously and actually bonded over our kids being Autistic. After my marriage broke down years after we finished working together I remember her saying to me on my back deck when I was doing my usual writing myself off each night to survive, "The reason you are struggling so much is because this is not who you actually are. You definitely have ADHD and I think you are Autistic too, and you are trying to live a life like you are not"...

That conversation happened a few years ago now and I thought she was crazy. I gave Tan a lot of shit when we worked together. She was quirky and probably a bit weird to me as she owned who she was. She didn't get officially identified AuDHD until after we worked together back then, but she had owned it by the time we had that chat on my back deck.

Boy did I resist it.

It took me well over a year before I even started looking into a diagnosis for myself. The first year of a marriage separation is tough and I struggled to just keep my head above water. Lawyers, friends choosing sides, custody issues, kids struggling, backstabbing, sabotaging - a neurodivergent's overwhelm nightmare. The second year I knew I needed some answers for myself as my life felt like it was spiralling, and then Tan circled back into my life with a, "are you ready now and had enough of this f*cking around?" vibe as she does, and I started the process of surrendering to get a diagnosis and putting supports into place. I can hand on heart say that if I didn't I probably wouldn't be here today. Living a life not seeing my kids every night on its own was too much for me, without everything else adding on to it and I wanted out.

I remember feeling like I didn't deserve her support. I felt like I had made too many mistakes and that I was too shit of a person (you get told that a lot when you are constantly f*cking up not knowing you have Autism and ADHD) to deserve support, but now being on the other side I get what she saw - a struggling neurodivergent man that just needed the correct knowledge and tools and that I would be on my way. Once you find your answers for yourself you want to pull out as many other people drowning in the same river you were. It's why we created this Business - as well as wanting to stop the cycle for the little ones...

It took me over a year to officially get diagnosed Autistic, ADHD and Dyscalculia, and geez I did some damage to my life during that year. Questions like "why was I missed?", "What would my life be like if I was diagnosed earlier?", "My kids were diagnosed 15 years ago, why did the penny not drop for me?". I remember feeling 'ripped off' and angry at those in my life for not picking it up either. I remember feeling scared, scared about what that might mean about me, so scared I wanted to jump out of the car when Tanya was driving me to my first Psychology appointment to start the diagnosis process. My flight response was in overdrive and I was projecting this anger at her - why was she doing this to me? She just sat there silently crying, feeling my fear and continuing to drive telling me it was going to be ok. The shame I feel when I look back now, though I know I would do the same as her for others now in a heartbeat. Once you know you know.

During the processing of de-masking I found that I wasn't the extrovert I thought I was; I wasn't the overweight person who didn't care about his health I thought I was; I wasn't just the funny guy whose pure purpose was to entertain everyone else; I wasn't someone who needed alcohol to do literally anything social (whose liver was very close to having me not here any more) and that I wasn't the shit person that I thought I was.

All of those things were a result of me not knowing my neurology and sensory profile and trying to live life with a "fake it til I make it" mentality... when the "make it" never came.

I know now that I am me. I am a good person. I am a loving person. I care deeply about my clients and family. I have gifts to offer this world. I am worthy.

So I share this meme by @neurowild (Instagram only) because recognising, accepting and loving who you really are can literally save your life. Once we are living our authentic neurodivergent life we see neurodivergence in others with an unconscious familiarity and comfortableness.

It's also why I share so transparently. That was the agreement when Tan hit me up about this Business. We help others by sharing our stories - even the shameful, ugly bits so that others who can relate can find their way home too.

- Rob x

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