Hanna Mashima is originally from Japan, a self-identified autist with OCD, Bipolar and Dissociative identity disorder.
Hanna builds her life around work and study, knowing the gap between her capabilities in professional capacity and private life.
This week she shared her path to self diagnosis, common misconceptions, and autism acceptance.
Tell me a little about yourself (your passions/work interests, etc.)
I am a professionally active, rule abiding, work dependent self-diagnosed autist (formerly my characteristics matched those of Asperger’s Syndrome).
Work is the only means I believe through which I contribute myself to the society, and I depend completely on work and my professional life.
Some say I am an “excessively” reasonable person, I am always logically reasoning to stabilise myself.
I am extremely asocial and private. I would say my OCD plays an enormous role in my daily life.
Describe your path to self diagnosis (How did you become aware of your Autistic identity)?
I used to get uncontrollable panics, I remember so clearly the first time I got it.
It happened on a train when I was about 10 years old, or younger. I suddenly started crying out. My parents did not care much for some reason, they thought I was tired and wanted to have a seat, and they were telling me that it was crowded and I could not have a seat, but that was not the cause.
I remember clearly that everybody in the train carriage was staring at me. I was old enough to be standing alone on the train, it wasn’t an infant cry.
Some gentleman stood up and gave his seat to me; he had a very gentle smile on his face.
I continued to cry, cry and cry. I got scared of myself, I had a view of myself from the ceiling of the train, not knowing what I wanted or why I did not stop screaming.
I have been told I was “weird,” and I had communication problems, bullied through my school years, but if I did not have the panics, I would not have thought I was autistic. When I heard the first time about Asperger’s Syndrome and the panic symptoms, it felt like I found a guiding light to learning about myself.
Describe your schooling experience (at any level). What did you enjoy about it? Where (if relevant) did you struggle?
I was the most studious child, and I was addicted to studying. Studying was my everything, unless serious bullies started.
I started to get bullied in girls’ school, and I stopped going into the classes. I could not.
I do not remember going into the class after I was 12 years old.
I was bullied online, on an online board. A lot of negative messages were written about me.
After “Drop out of school,” “This girl is creepy, ugly, go die”… etc., from an unknown author, I developed an immense fear and started seeing everybody as an enemy. It did not take long before I started shivering when I had to go to school, and, consequently, I lost my memory after 12 or 13 years old until I started working at 18.
What are some common misconceptions Neurotypical people have about autism (or about you)?
I have not spoken with many neurotypical people about autism, but it seems to me that they think autism can be cured, or we can get autism after birth, which is false. Even some neurodivergent people think that they “become” or “became” autistic later in their life. I do not bother arguing with this, but that would be the misconception I have heard.
Rate autism acceptance in the community you live in. What is going well and where is there room for growth?
I do not belong to any community in real life (offline), but I do actively participate in the online community which treats me amazingly.
The autistic people I encounter compose their thoughts and theories logically and extremely intellectually, and give me their opinions with reasons and rationales, while clarifying the intention and context of the articulation. It helps me to develop understanding of myself as well as the sense of belonging with the responder as well as the community.
Since I do need to logically reason everything before taking any actions, their explanation about things I do not know, or sometimes even things I already knew help me develop my perspective and expand my knowledge and expertise. They are incredibly generous people, and I hope I can stay there for a long time.
What advice do you have for others who might have self diagnosed and are considering whether or not to obtain a formal diagnosis?
I have not obtained a formal diagnosis from a doctor. I have been to a psychiatrist, but he told me I am doing cognitive process and reasoning well by myself, so he does not need to help me nor get me a diagnosis. I have also been to several doctors where they kept on giving me a depression diagnosis and antidepressants, which deteriorated my mental and physical conditions, so I would like to be and I would recommend anybody to be selective and careful with choosing doctor or medical institutions.
Getting a diagnosis is not the end of the journey. How you will be helped based on the obtained diagnosis is the critical path, so I hope you will get good therapists and doctors who can help you when you need them, and otherwise, you do not need to obtain anything really, as long as you are properly supported and you are not confused with your identity. It is just one of the means to help you develop your understanding about the self.
The post Autism Interview #207: Hanna Mashima on Self Diagnosis appeared first on Learn From Autistics.