Throughout Minna’s childhood she always felt different from her peers, as if everyone else had been given a manual on how to function that she had somehow missed. She struggled with sensory overload and difficulty managing social interaction, constantly needing to excuse herself from class to take breaks. As she got older she sought professional help but was never taken seriously, being told that all people experience these sorts of discomforts and that it was no big deal. She was taught to deny her own experience of the world so many times that she started denying it to herself, until she reached a breaking point. Desperate to understand why life was so challenging she began researching human behavior, discovering information about autism that lined up perfectly with her experiences.

In this episode of the Major Pain podcast, Minna not only shares her journey to finally receive an autism diagnosis, but also explains from a first hand perspective what living with an autistic brain feels like. She describes autism as having a brain that runs on a different operating system than non-autistic people. Society is often ill-equipped to accommodate the needs of people who don’t fit into predetermined boxes, leading many to mask their true nature in order to fit in. Minna describes the exhaustion of masking constantly, feeling like she was continually hiding more and more of herself. After finally learning she is autistic, she is working to let go of unreasonable self-expectation to act like everyone else. She discusses a potential future in which people are accepted for who they are instead of constantly pretending to be something they aren’t, as societal evolution opens new pathways towards acceptance.

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