Most of the issues I work on with clients are also issues I am working on. This is because we are both #actuallyautistic individuals living in late-stage capitalism and trying to simply survive. Despite the fantasies presented by pop culture, we cannot cease being autistic, and just because I am a therapist doesn't mean I don't grapple with the same challenges as my clients do. I experience meltdowns and can become burnt out. It's difficult to find rest after a lifetime of masking and pushing myself to achieve.
Being human is akin to an onion with its layers. Peel back one layer, and more is revealed beneath it. Dismantling internalized ableism that has persisted within you reveals another layer underneath, and so the process continues. Concurrently, the world persists in its ableism and classism, causing various types of harm. As the process of being wounded is ongoing, so is the process of healing.
My autistic brain craves certainty. I genuinely wish there were a measurable way to demonstrate the effectiveness of therapy or to declare someone "cured" of a specific ailment. Regrettably, this is not the nature of therapy or healing. It isn't a clear-cut matter. To accommodate my brain, I liken therapy to embarking on a hike together. Our objective isn't merely reaching a destination; rather, we enhance our lives through the discoveries and experiences encountered along the journey.
Most of my clients approach me with the issues I highlighted. They are burdened by burnout, having masked their identities for decades. Allowing themselves to rest necessitates unpacking years of ingrained beliefs fueled by ableism. This ableism is intricately interwoven with capitalism and the notion that our worth hinges on productivity and achievement. Such is the reality of being autistic in today's world.
In therapy, there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling these matters. If I held the solution, I wouldn't grapple with them myself! However, I do what I can to assist, including fostering self-compassion, deconstructing ableism, learning strategies to support ourselves as autistics (such as stimming and cultivating a low-demand lifestyle), connecting with fellow autistics and the autistic community, and identifying coping mechanisms that genuinely prove effective for us. Each individual is distinct, and sometimes it involves a considerable amount of trial and error. We never attain perfection, as it's an unattainable concept, but we persist in seeking and learning what works best for us and our autistic minds.