This afternoon my writers’ support group met and one of the things we were asked to do was to create an image that represented the last year. Now for somebody that has enough trouble remembering what happened yesterday, this can rather daunting. However, I have enough experience now to trust in the flow and just go with it. Generally it seems to be best to go with the first image that pops into my head. In this case this happened when the facilitator put a pile of blank paper down. I saw the image of an atomic bomb mushroom cloud in my mind.

I hesitated though. At first thought this seemed rather extreme but after a bit of hesitation I reminded myself that the first image is the right one and went with it. I assume the cloud was representing the impact that my autism diagnosis had on me. But what else happened during my year? I could only think of my holidays. I drew a bull and an orange represent my two trips to Spain. A stone building to represent Malta, and a leaf to identify Canada. This got me thinking about other countries I had touched in some sense so I added an Irish flag because that is where my daughter lives now. The same daughter graduated from University so I drew a mortar board hat to show that.

I was a bit stuck after that, but eventually the mushroom cloud reminded me how I feel like my identity has been stripped away. I drew various symbols to represent my old self which it seems I need to drop so that I choose whether to pick them up again as my autistic aware self. Another pause followed. The black and white video of a nuclear bomb detonating went through my mind showing me how palm tress and first been blasted in one direction, then to be pulled in the other before being left in tatters to stand as a survivor. It seemed that I could be that tree and so I drew such a representation. I added in a shadow too to show as an after image of my old self, an analogy to the people vaporised by the initial radiation burst.

The feeling I take away from this sketch is that I have survived my autism diagnosis and the going forward, the next year will be one of rebuilding my life. I guess some wound healing may need to go on first though.