My Faith Isn’t Weak

Too much uncertainty affects everyone.

I hear that. Especially in lockdown, everyone got a taste of being disabled. But not many actually acknowledged this.

Introverts and anxious folks know what I mean. These are just part and parcel for most autistics. Obviously I cannot comment on behalf of others, but from the people I have known and read from, I can firmly use Set Theory to describe as follows:

All autistics suffer anxiety but not all anxious people are autistic.

I don’t know why this is hard to understand.

I am writing right now as I sit on my bed feeling despair. A very important religious festival just came and went that did help ground me somewhat. A realisation came to me as I had a short burst of emotion.

My faith is not weak. My brain is just made differently.

Anxious and depressed Muslims are normally told that their mental health issues are caused by lack of firm belief in the plan of Allah. I have firm belief. For example, I know just as dawn happens every day, that if I give in charity, I will get more in return. I have never been disappointed so I use this as a strategy to invest when I know income is insecure. Works a treat. See? Belief in the ghaib, the Unseen.

So how come I have this anxiety? It’s not because I am not confident that a result will come. It’s because I don’t know what it will be, when I will get it, what it will look like. I can accept those outcomes when they come. Like, will I get work as a supply teacher? Will I get more terrorist type comments when I wear a face covering? Will I have SWAT images going on in my head if I wear a visor? Which school? How long? Fixed term? Finances? Business? Caring? Moving? Selling up? Separation agreement? Financial settlement? U’s diagnosis? DLA tribunal? Wee one’s SLT referral?

I don’t have new clothes for work. I have the same wardrobe with very few additions from the past few years. Will I go back with the same? But I hate shopping! Kids still haven’t been kitted out for school!

I will leave by sharing a piece of writing I spontaneously conjured up few weeks back on a mental health Zoom for autistic women :

With the wind blowing, even the mighty trees bow to their Creator. Who are we to stand rigid? In our superior intellect, we still shrivel with the smallest of change out with our control. The grace of nature in it’s ability to adapt and accept what’s not in our control, should humble our ego. How can we not take change in our stride? How does the world continue to revolve, when mine has been turned upside down?

Our Core Beliefs

Despite being in and out of counselling over the past 20 years, I don’t ever remember being asked what my core beliefs were. I find it difficult to look inward and pinpoint my feelings and causes of my thoughts and actions.

Everyone bangs on about self-care, which is a foreign concept to me. At least I thought it was. It turned out that going to CBT last year was the best self-care I could ever do.

Together, with the therapist, I managed to articulate three core beliefs that my world revolved around. They were:

  • I am not good enough
  • I don’t fit in
  • That’s unfair

Throughout that year, with the help of identifying these core beliefs, I worked on dismantling my negative self-perception and how to change these.

My Aha! moment was when I stumbled across a lady with Asperger’s, I couldn’t believe the connection I felt with someone I barely knew. Her experiences were mine! I made my way to stalk autistic Facebook pages more and more and suddenly I felt myself gravitating toward a community that wrote, thought, and experienced the world like me.

Suddenly one of my core beliefs disappeared. I belonged! I fit in! I joined the Scottish Women’s Autism Network, where for the first time when I read, I read things I could have written. Where being coloured or Muslim made zero difference and being a woman celebrated.

What I realised was that all my life when I felt or believed that I didn’t fit in, it was because I was looking in the wrong places. I was desperate for approval from people who couldn’t imagine what my world was like. Even the one who birthed me.