"Unputdownable. Newly diagnosed Brady tells her no-holds-barred account of living as an undercover undiagnosed autistic. Brave. Powerful. It's an education. Thank you Fern, we all thank you."
For most autistics existing in a world not built for them, anxiety is the baseline and constant background hum that their daily life has to play over. Brady had always displayed autistic traits, had meltdowns, had difficulty understanding the thoughts and feelings of others but she'd never been diagnosed. Until now.
Brady tells us: "If you've ever been on a night out where you got blackout drunk and have laughed the next day as your friends tell you all the stupid stuff you said, that's what being autistic feels like for me: one long blackout night of drinking, except there's no socially sanctioned excuse for your gaffes and no one is laughing."
The vast majority of people's understanding of autism, are informed by people who are autism adjacent, rather than the autistics themselves. In Strong Female Character Brady opens the doors to it all. The inability to see shades of grey, the masking, every intensity of interest, every challenge with change, interoception, alexithymia, every shutdown, every meltdown.
Brady takes us on her long journey to diagnosis and her maladaptive coping mechanisms. And what a heartbreaking journey it is when you're unable to translate any social situation and you have no social intuition. From being kicked out of home, to working at strip clubs, University with zero funding, the self-medicating. By the time she was 25, she’d had somewhere in the region of 50 jobs struggling to find her way.
And then she found stand up. "Everything about my personality made me a problem at university or in most jobs seemed to be treated as some sort of magical power in stand-up."
It wasn’t until Brady was diagnosed and she found a new kind of therapy that involved teaching how to relearn her way of being autistic, which for too long involved her hiding her stress for everyone else’s benefit at the cost of her own health. She's still living with it but is finding her way through, and in this book she disregards the potential judgment and mockery of others to share vital information. "All I can do is keep talking about it and hope you'll then go and make things feel better for the next autistic or misfit girl you meet."
This is such a brave and honest book, we have a front row seat as Brady shares the bleakest parts of her life. What an eye-opening account of living with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
It's razor sharp. It's an education. It gut-punched me. It made me terribly sad. It opened my eyes. But how it made me laugh out loud too. Again and again.
|Biographies & Autobiographies