Getting an official diagnosis as an adult is hard – but this year I got to know what being female and neurodivergent means
Far from feeling deprived when the world went into lockdown this year, I thrived. After a difficult start to 2020 grappling with health issues, I felt incapable of doing anything I’d planned, no matter how much I wanted to see my friends, work or travel. It ran deeper than exhaustion: during my entire life I had struggled with things that other people seemed to find easy, like socialising, employment, education or feeling comfortable in my own body. I often found myself overwhelmed, struggling to connect with people and suffering with sensory overload when faced with certain lights, smells, sounds or textures. I needed more time alone than other people to recover from being in the world, and selfishly, lockdown felt like a blessing.
I had been made aware of my differences throughout my life, fighting episodes of burnout and self-destruction, chastising myself for my inability to connect with strangers or just feel remotely relaxed. I was always restless, oscillating between distraction and hyper-focus on the wrong things. I found it increasingly difficult to function, but it wasn’t until 2015 that I decided to pursue the answer that some teachers, family members and peers had suggested: a joint diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).