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Thirty years. That’s how long it took for me to get the right diagnoses. Thirty years. Of struggles. Of shame. Of depression and anxiety. Of bullying. All without knowing the true causes and what was really going on.

I never would have believed you if you told me a few years ago that I was autistic. It wasn’t until all three of my children were diagnosed with autism that I started to see the similarities and begin to question.

At first, I thought there was no way. Wouldn’t I have known by now? It just can’t be. So I threw myself into research and online questionnaires. All of it pointed to the same conclusion. Autism.

That’s when I began my journey of getting diagnosed. It took almost three years. But finally, I have my answers, and at 30 years old, I have been diagnosed with autism and ADHD.

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At first I felt a wave of relief wash over me. Peace. After all this time I have my answer. I know all those struggles I’ve had my whole life, they were never my fault. The names and labels I was given growing up–rude, stuck up, brat, spoiled, lazy, on and on it goes–none of it was ever true. I was an undiagnosed autistic child with ADHD who never got the help I needed—of course I struggled.

How validating it was to finally put that together. To be able to put a name to what I was dealing with. To be able to understand it and give myself some grace and let go of the burden of guilt that has plagued me for so long.

To know that my other diagnoses and struggles–depression, anxiety, panic disorder, PTSD, excoriation (skin picking) disorder–all tie together, and much of it stems from years of struggles I didn’t understand and not having the right diagnosis.

In so many ways having my answer has brought me such a sense of closure and validation. I had anticipated this diagnosis for years and fully expected it to be nothing but a relief. So what a surprise it was to me when a wave of conflicting emotions hit after my official diagnosis.

Sadness for the years I spent struggling and not ever getting the proper help. Anger at the way I had been treated throughout my life. Fear that somehow this new diagnosis would make people see me differently and what it would mean for my life going forward.

A strange mixture of wanting to share all this to bring awareness and help end the stigmas surrounding things like autism and mental health but also being afraid of what people might think if I start being so open about all of these struggles. I wasn’t prepared for all these emotions to hit me all at once.

Now I must move forward with this new information and continue to process and work through the emotions that accompany it. But more than anything, I have to say that none of this would be possible were it not for my kids. If I had never had children, I could have gone my entire life not knowing. Because of them, because they were first diagnosed with autism and ADHD, my eyes were opened to this world I didn’t know anything about, and I was able to get answers for myself.

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It’s still odd for me to realize that we are an autism family. Myself and my three children. That’s one of the things I’m processing. My hope is that by sharing our life, our story, that we can make a difference. That we can be a part of the movement to end the stigmas and help people understand what autism is. That we can provide hope. That we can show people the middle ground.

I’ve learned that people often go to one extreme or the other when I talk about autism. Because myself and my children fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, people often either see the times when we seem completely fine and they don’t understand how we could be autistic, or they see the bigger struggles on a bad day and don’t understand why that’s happening because they had only seen the good days.

I want to change the way people view autism. And that can’t happen if I don’t honestly and openly share about our lives. So even though it feels scary, and I’m unsure of what happens next, I will share about our life. I will be honest about the good, the bad, and everything in between. That’s the only way to bring change.

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So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Moriah Couch

I am happily married to a hard-working and loving husband. I'm passionate about mental health as I have struggled my whole life with depression and anxiety, and more recently was diagnosed with autism, ADHD, excoriation (skin picking) disorder, and PTSD. I am a SAHM and homeschool my three beautiful children. All three of my children are diagnosed with autism, and two of them also have ADHD. I'm a follower of Jesus on a journey of maintaining my own mental health through it all and sharing my experiences in the hopes of spreading awareness and encouraging others along the way. You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram @lifewiththecouches

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