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I thought it was Menopause but it was Autism...

My feelings are knotted...
Lost, eluding me
always chasing them to understand, 
not able to catch up.
The darkness I can’t tell...
sometimes I drowned, 
 I tire of running away.
Living in turmoil...
sometimes you enjoy,
sometimes you fade away
to sound...
with sound...
to words…
with words...

In all of this emotional turmoil, I noticed that I had put on weight, despite intermittent fasting and not eating more than usual and walking everyday. I started to swell constantly and had hot flashes. Suddenly, I was burning hot and sweating as if I had a shower. And my periods were starting to get delayed. It was the beginning of menopause. The menopause knocked on my door in the most complicated period of my life. It coincided with the news that in Turkey, farcical indictments had been brought demanding life sentences for 16 civil society leaders, including myself, in connection with the 2013 Gezi Park protests. This is an ongoing process.

I was handling the hot flashes but I had often heard other women talking about how the menopause had affected them, saying things like “I’m so angry, I can’t tolerate anything, I’m so furious,” and I imagined that I’ll be angry too. Maybe for the first time in my life, I'll be able to shout every time I
get angry in spite of myself.  But I was wrong. I was not angry or intolerant. I was, however, very emotional. So much so that even when laughing, tears flowed from my eyes, and I hated it.

My insomnia hit the ceiling, and I became very close friends with the eye condition that frequently had me seeking emergency care. I have to use sunglasses, drops, eye ointments, hot compress… I was tired of myself… But there was more to come...

One day, my friend gave me a book and she said, “This book is about you.'' The book in question was “Aspergirls” by Rudy Simone. I had read about autism and Asperger syndrome because of my friend but until that day… I was shocked as I read the book, confused as much as I was shocked. As I got more confused… could I be an Asperger? No, I couldn’t… how could I be an Asperger? No, it’s impossible… I’m in menopause…   I had read about autism but until that day I had no sense of connection to myself. But…  But maybe there was something else.

I had so many similarities with the woman in the book that it was as if someone had secretly observed me and changed my experiences a bit, transplanting me to another culture and another country. There was the same pain, the same dead ends, the same questions, same problems, same...

I am always the weird one.  I’m so smart. I’m so absurd. I’m so stubborn. I’m so intelligent. I’m so
honest. I’m so abnormal. I’m an eccentric one.

Even though I now live in Wales and I have found a lot of answers about myself since I came here, the puzzle is not complicated for me. After self-identifying myself as an “aspie girl” I have my new questions and a whole lot of health problems: Meniere's disease, insomnia, eye problems, hot flashes, very emotional... I know the last two symptoms are all about the menopause…  But I need to see my GP because I need some pills, especially for my Meniere attacks.

I remember very well that when I entered the GP’s room, I started crying as soon as I started talking, but I don’t remember clearly what he asked and what my answers were. At the end of the appointment that day, I was prescribed medication for Meniere’s and was referred to the Autism Centre for assessment. The GP also urged me to make another appointment for my panic attacks and depression.

I went to the GP to get help for my menopause but the emphasis was suddenly switched to autism and depression. He ignored my menopause. I have no idea how ve ended up focusing on autism and depression because I don’t remember what I said there or how I behaved. I thought I just needed a hormone test… because hormones change as you age… But...

The fact dawns on me that in a way, I’ve never been aware of myself, that I’ve been poking around in my life to try to get to know myself. I thought I was a calm person, but when my friend explained to me some of my behaviour, I realised I wasn’t really calm, I had just learned to dial my temper down. I had learned so well that even the menopause couldn't provoke it. My hormones, my problems… But…

I read 32 books about autism before I went to my appointment at the autism centre. And I discovered that the idea that women could be Asperger was only fully accepted in the early 90s. I mean, just because they’re female, a lot of kids, young girls, and women have had to grapple with
misunderstanding, misdiagnosis, inappropriate drug prescription throughout their lives. A lot of women have spent their lives just like me, struggling with the questions of why am I like that, who am I, why am I different, am I an alien, trying to manipulate an explanation, trying to find solutions to the physical illnesses that constantly appear… But…

It was only two months after I went to my GP about my menopause that I was officially diagnosed with “autism”. The expert who diagnosed me explained, “We used to say it was Asperger syndrome, but now Asperger is in the spectrum of autism. And yes, you’re in the spectrum of autism.” Suddenly everything froze. I couldn’t control my tears. Autism… Autism… Autism… This word echoing in my brain... So many years, so many questions, so many quests…

The question “Who am I?” to which I could not find the answer for years, suddenly disappeared. After that moment I learned who I was. Everything became clear. I wasn't neurotypical. My brain and my perception worked differently, so why couldn't I adapt to this world? From this moment, a new discovery and understanding will start for me. I’ll discover myself with this new knowledge. As soon as I know who I’m not, I can find out who I am. How my brain and my perception work, without any masking…

I realise that my wiring system simply makes it harder for me to do many things that come naturally to other people. On the flip side, it is important to be aware that Asperger can also give me many
magical perceptions that many neurotypicals simply are not capable of.

By the way, I’m definitely in menopause, but I wonder if menopause really affects me in any real way after this diagnosis.

Because I have discovered that there are a lot of intersection points between some common traits of autism and some common symptoms of the menopause. For instance, I have always struggled with insomnia, mood swings, forgetfulness, irritability and anxiety, symptoms that are all part of entering menopause. I’m so lucky because my GP recognised that my problems were more deep rooted than the menopause.

I went to the doctor for my Menopause but it ended up being ‘Asperger/Autism’, but  I’m so happy to have received this diagnosis. It has given me the key to understand myself. Now  I will take the time to sift through my memories and past actions now that  I have a new perspective.

I think, secretly, I wanted to be like other women when I was in menopause. This time I believed I would have the same experiences as other women. I would be like them. Yet, my experience of living through this was different… I did not succeed again. But the good thing about it is because I'm aspie the menopause is much less difficult as a result of my existing difficulties. I thought I was menopausal and faced the fact that I was autistic.

This diagnosis was liberating for me. Why am I coming out? I believe it will be an amazing discovery for me, and hopefully for others, as I will share all my experiences through this blog. There is still not enough Autism spectrum awareness even today. I strongly believe that if those of us who are on the autistic spectrum share our experiences openly, then it wouldn’t only help other autistic people, it would help neurotypical people to better understand both us and our behaviour.

Sometimes despite you 
cascades run down inside you,
you’d never know how to stop it,
because you never get used to having cascades within.
Sometimes despite you
warmth spreads over your heart,
you’d never know how to cool it down
because you’ll never get used to it.
Sometimes despite you
if the voice of a mature mother touches the depths of your being
to the parts you avoid  
you would become petrified.
You wouldn’t be able to stop your tears from falling despite you.
Because you are petrified.


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