I know, I know….it has been a while since my last article for MeDecoded. In March I wrote about dealing with life’s curveballs and how I handle them as someone who is #ActuallyAutistic, and those curveballs continued to hit me. My cousin who was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer aged just 42 passed away at the end of March, leaving behind her 3 boys all under 10 years old. The subsequent funeral was one of the saddest I have been to so far, and boy have I been to some funerals since 2013!
After this I pulled my socks up and despite the ongoing challenges with my Dad’s ill health, I got on with my work to launch the UK Cyber Security Association. So my lack of articles for MeDecoded haven’t been because of any further curveballs following my cousin’s death, but more because I decided that I would motor on with work that I enjoy doing.
It was my diagnosis of autism back in June 2018 and writing about it for MeDecoded that finally helped me to understand myself better. I made changes to my life and my work that would benefit me and help me move forward as “me” and not someone who was wearing a permanent mask to my condition and being someone I wasn’t. Working in an office was hell for me and having made the change to working fully remotely from home in 2015 to combine looking after my Aunty with dementia I decided I would always work from home from now on.
Working from home and remotely hasn’t been at all detrimental to my achieving what I want to achieve. I have had articles published on various cyber security topics in many leading publications. I have attended conferences and event as a delegate, panellist, chairperson and keynote speaker. I have been nominated for – and even won – awards for my work in the cyber security industry. No-one was more surprised than I was to find out that I had won SC Awards Europe “Outstanding Contribution to Cyber Security” award and that I won the “Cyber Security Personality of the Year” award at this year’s Cyber Security Awards.
I decided not to attend the ceremony for the first award I won as I thought I had NO chance whatsoever of winning. I was so honoured to be a finalist and I was up against some very prolific names in the industry who I thought would be far more worthy winners than me. Then when it came to the second ceremony, I wanted to go but I couldn’t because I was recovering from surgery. Again, I was so honoured to be a finalist and thought I had no chance of winning that award either, but I did win it. I was shocked and surprised, and it still hasn’t sunk in yet that I won those awards!
Away from my work and what I do, I made changes in other areas of my life. I do my weekly food shop very early on a Saturday morning when it is very quiet, so I don’t have as much sensory overload. I joined the gym again with the hope of getting back to where I was before I had my son who was stillborn fitness wise (I used to be an avid gym goer and I loved it). I don’t put myself into situations that I find stressful, such as family gatherings or parties. I hate socialising like that, and I hate making small talk. Conversely, I don’t mind attending conferences or events in my industry, although it does take me a few days to recover from them and the sensory overload I get. If my friends or family can’t understand why I choose not to socialise in this way, tough. If any of my friends in particular don’t understand, then they are friends who are not worth having.
Finally, a year after my diagnosis of autism, and having this platform to write about it and make sense of it and the way I am, I finally feel like “me”. Long may that continue.
We are always looking for people to share their experiences or thoughts on topics related to Neurodiversity. If you have something that you would like to share, then please get in touch.