Updated: Aug 23
One thing about burnout is it can pull memories to the surface to use fear to reinforce rest and isolation (for me personally anyway). At the time it’s hellish but it has helped me understand my past more and more.
When I was 12 in boarding school I lost my voice. A period of the inability to speak which was triggered by relentless bullying. It didn’t stop them, they didn’t leave me alone, instead I was attacked until I spoke. I am autistic but I wouldn’t find out until I was 41.
This meant I would script my words when needed, I did it from that day on, for 30 years.
I could only respond with words I’d heard said somewhere else, sometimes from other people, but, mainly from TV shows and movies.
Roughly about this time last year, a friend that I had known for a few months, gave me my own voice back. She has 2 autistic children and realised I was scripting and hiding a lot of who I was, still masking because of fear of being me. For about 5 months she messaged me several times a day, every day, saying she hoped I was ok and talking about what she was doing, listening to or watching. What she was doing was giving me countless ways to re-join the conversation and always understood when I couldn’t reply or didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t respond for days some times but she kept messaging.
At 42 she gave me my first real conversation and a way to regain my voice: my voice my words, to openly communicate for the first time in my life. I didn’t have that ability when I was 12 because I masked too young.
It saved my marriage, we are now closer than ever. It also helped me become an autistic human rights activist and reach people around the world.
Something as simple as a conversation absolutely and completely changed my life.
I think I’m lucky in some ways because if I hadn’t scripted, forced to do that, I couldn’t have said “I do” to my wife, or responded at all to my friend. I may have been mute my whole life.
As for my friend, thank you, I will always be grateful for your friendship. You helped free me from the mental prison that held me so long, I appreciate that you saw me, and for the chats.
All my best and love
Words – Ross A Fraser
Graphic Design App – Canva