Today is the one-year anniversary of my autism diagnosis, and I’ve been wondering if there’s a special name for it, like my birthday, but better? People who have spinal cord injuries call the day they were injured their INDY day (I’m Not Dead Yet), Redditor’s have a Cake Day, and I’m a little choked that I can’t find anything about a diagnosis day.
So, I move that we make one up—let’s call it . . . Main Sequence Day.
Now, if you’re not into astronomy, your first reaction might be that it sounds a little Sci-fi for you, but hear me out. Main Sequence is the mature star that forms out of the chaos of a cloud of gasses and space dust called a nebula. The story is actually pretty poetic.
A Star is Born.
Stars are born within the clouds of dust and scattered throughout most galaxies. [ . . . ] Turbulence deep within these clouds give rise to knots with sufficient mass that the gas and dust can begin to collapse under its own gravitational attraction. As the cloud collapses, the material at the center begins to heat up. Known as a protostar, it is this hot core at the heart of the collapsing cloud that will one day become a star. [. . .]NASA https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/how-do-stars-form-and-evolve/
So, for me, the nebula stage is what it was like to be an unidentified autistic. Life felt like it was hitting back; everything I did to fit in or to be myself seemed to backfire. I was pretty focused on keeping myself together, and eventually felt like I was getting a bit of a system in place, only to find this super intense feeling growing inside me. My protostar was the great autistic burnout of 2016, and the equally great relapse of 2018.
As the cloud collapses, a dense, hot core forms and begins gathering dust and gas. Not all of this material ends up as part of a star—the remaining dust can become planets, asteroids or comets or may remain as dust. [. . .]NASA https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/how-do-stars-form-and-evolve/
This is when shit got real. I had always been looking for answers, but now it was a relentless search. I felt like I couldn’t hold up the mask anymore—I had to unload the dust—though I didn’t know it was a mask until I found autism.
Stars are fueled by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen to form helium deep in their interiors. The outflow of energy from the central regions of the star provides the pressure necessary to keep the star from collapsing under its own weight, and the energy by which it shines.NASA https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/how-do-stars-form-and-evolve/
For me, I had tried on so many solutions to my issues that I doubted I had found the answer until the day I was diagnosed, which is why it is my significant day. I didn’t trust myself enough to believe that I wasn’t just making the whole idea up until a strange-to-me old white dude at a university blessed me with the words. I made up my mind that his validation would give me the jam to resist collapse and be the bright little main sequence star I am.
While the analogy isn’t perfect, the day kinda was. Is there a day where your identification as an autistic person that felt particularly significant? Do you have a special name for it? Let’s compare stories in the comments.