Through a New Lens: A Memoir of a Late Diagnosed Autistic

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At 38 years old, Meg Polier, is finally given the proper words for her experience in life. Explore the world of a late diagnosed autistic female as she reshapes her memories with the newfound understanding of who she really is.

B. M. Polier
Age Rating:

Tiktok Diagnosed Me?

This journey starts at the end, on TikTok of all places.

On August 20th, 2021, @brixdan posted a stitch on Tiktok with @danidonovan:

@danidonovan: “If a neurotypical spent the day inside your head, what do you think would surprise them the most?”

@brixdan: “I just want to note that I thought I was a neurotypical, but the more I watch these videos on neurodivergent, I realize... I’m not typical.”

Let’s back up a bit. 2020, a pandemic hits, I’m suddenly doing my library technician job at home, and the work is a lot of staring at a computer screen waiting for students to email us questions. So I started spending time on TikTok.

Tiktok has an interesting algorithm. First, everyone starts on the same “side” of Tiktok, the dancing and Tiktok trends - the superficial "fun" side. Then, slowly, Tiktok learns what you engage with, and it will randomly pop in not trendy things onto your For You page to see if the content is something you might engage with.

I started liking cat videos, so I slowly got onto the cat memes side of Tiktok. I started liking funny skits and started getting more humour Tiktoks. I saw a video of someone talking about chronic pain - I stopped scrolling and paid particular attention. This person could be reading a script from my brain. I liked this video, checked out the creator’s posts, and liked more of their videos. I entered the chronic pain and fibromyalgia side of Tiktok. I feel as if I have found my tribe, people who understand how hard it is to live in the world when your body is constantly betraying you with pain. I start sharing these videos with my family as they give perfect voice to topics that I have never been able to verbalize well to anyone in my life.

I spent 2020 enshrouded in a world of understanding around my fibromyalgia, and I felt seen.

When 2021 began, I was working physically again at the University Library. Being around my coworkers again, I felt like I belonged and could talk with these people.

I find it hard to open up to people, especially since, in 2015, I had tried to commit suicide because of what I now understand was autistic burnout mixed with rejection-sensitive dysphoria. However, when I pushed through this pain with the help of an outstanding psychologist, I went back to school, took a 2-year library technician diploma course while living in an “apartment” in my parents’ building, and graduated with honours.

In 2018, when I started looking for permanent work, I vowed I would leave my town and all the toxicity that was there and live alone without forming any new attachments because life had taught me people hurt me if I let them get close.

During the summer of 2021, feeling a growing sense of belonging in my new city and on Tiktok, I found a new side of Tiktok, ADHD Tiktok, that one of my chronic illnesses videos had steered me towards. ADHD led to neurodivergent, and the videos in ADHD/neurodivergent Tiktok sounded very familiar. Hence the burgeoning realization in August 2021 that maybe I wasn’t as typical as I thought.

Then it was decided the new semester of school in the fall of 2021 would be in-person instruction. I was getting close to my coworkers as I promised myself I wouldn't. Then a series of catastrophic incidents led to another autistic burnout due to rejection-sensitive dysphoria. In December 2021, I walked out of a meeting at work feeling a sense of derealization (a sense that the world around you is a dream; think the Matrix) and immediately wanted to commit suicide. Luckily, I was on the phone with my mom, and she reminded me that she couldn’t lose another daughter (my sister, Bridget, had died of complications from radiation and surgery for a brain tumour in 2010). So I didn’t kill myself. Instead, I went into the Tiktok rabbit hole and to a counsellor.

The counsellor made me realize that I had issues with interpersonal relationships and the Tiktok algorithm suddenly jumped me from ADHD Tiktok to Autism Tiktok. Between the autistic women of Tiktok and what my counsellor was working me through, things started to feel like they were clicking into place suddenly. I mentioned autism to my counsellor, and she evaluated me with the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). I scored "pretty high," and my counsellor determined I was most likely on the autism spectrum with Asperger's syndrome.

I would spend the next four months reading all the books and medical research I could get my hands on to understand this new diagnosis. This diagnosis, you have to understand, changed my life from a perplexed woman who hated herself to her very core to someone who liked themselves for the first time in their life.

I could examine my entire 38 years of life now through the lens of autism, and like a camera coming into focus, my life made sense.

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