Another Birthday

Hi, Everyone,

In a few days, on September 16th, I am turning 34 years old. I’ve always had mixed feelings about my birthday. Part of me is glad that I’ve made it another year and another can’t stand birthday.

Social media makes it easier for everyone to receive birthday wishes. All one has to do is make sure their birthday is viewable to all of their friends and that friends have permission to post on your wall. The ease of receiving birthday wishes is good but also annoying. Most of the posts aren’t genuine, and family and friends will write on your wall instead of texting or calling you. There is joy in receiving so many wishes, but at the same time, it is questionable about the number of people that genuinely care about your birthday.

I haven’t celebrated my birthday in about 8-10 years except for the small celebrations provided by my co-workers over the years. All of the challenges I’ve faced in my life haven’t deemed my birthday worth celebrating. As a child, my parents would have a party, but a cake, buy presents, etc. As an adult, I’m responsible for putting something together if I want something for my birthday.

My family and friends no longer plan things for birthdays. My family stopped celebrating birthdays many years ago. At this point, I don’t care about celebrating my birthday. Most of the social media birthday posts aren’t genuine, and family and friends are too busy to celebrate. I was told that if I wanted a birthday cake, I should purchase one and invite someone to share it with me since I have the means to buy it. Yes, I have the means, but isn’t the point of someone else wanting to celebrate your birthday to the necessary items for the celebration. I might as well by a cake any day of the year and call it my birthday. I’m sure plenty of strangers would be excited about a free party and food.

As an autistic person, birthdays are complicated. I absolutely don’t want a big party. All I’d like is a small get together organized by people, family, friends, or anyone else that genuinely cares about me. Autistic people have zero tolerance for fake people and BS. I’d greatly appreciate any celebration that came from the heart.

On my birthday, I’m sure I’ll receive a crapload of Facebook birthday posts, some direct messages, and some text messages and phone calls. Most of the messages won’t be genuine. I will always appreciate the messages from those that I know genuinely care about. I’ve thought about removing my birthday from Facebook to avoid the disingenuous messages, but I figured I’d let it go this year.

I know I’m very cynical about my birthday, but I hope that maybe I’ll be wrong this year. My partner bought me a pair of Apple AirPod Pros, which was super sweet and genuine. Perhaps I’ll get some more gifts from family and friends. I’ve lowered my expectations to the point where as long as my day isn’t crappy and decent, I’ll be okay.

Cheers to another birthday.

My Daily Struggle

Being on the autism spectrum, plus dealing with anxiety and depression, causes many other issues. It makes it more challenging to be around other people and often requires time to “recharge” my batteries. I am an extrovert, but being on the spectrum makes me prone to becoming “overstimulated.” Driving with others is a significant challenge. I will become “overstimulated” when too much is going on the road and inside the car.

There are mornings where I am drained from everything around me that I will sleep in till noon. All of this is a daily battle. Every day I am battling my internal struggles plus trying to be in a relationship, be successful in my full-time job, and taking courses. I am also trying to enjoy life outside of work.

I am someone who has seen mental health professionals all of my life starting from childhood. It wasn’t until adulthood, where I began taking antidepressants daily. Antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life, but don’t come without side effects.

Side effects include drowsiness, sexual issues, and of course, WEIGHT GAIN & INCREASED APPETITE. I have battled weight gain while taking antidepressants. In my early 20s, I enjoyed being thin and attractive, but after getting my first full-time job at USF in September 2010, things changed. I gained a lot of weight and struggled to balance my work, school, and home life.

This struggle continues to this day. I attempted to switch to other medications twice but ended up going back to the first one I was prescribed in 2008 / 2009. This medication improves my mood significantly, but my weight and appetite issues continue. I started going back to the gym last month and find myself getting physically stronger, but appetite and weight gain are my biggest struggles. I also struggle to balance this with my work life, relationship life, and school life.

I enjoy social media, but its hard not to engage in social comparison. I see others depicting their lives as ideal and not depicting any struggles. I see people having the time of their life with family and friends and loved ones. I see others showing off their hot and sexy bodies while with friends on the beach. All of this affects me mentally as I struggle mentally with my figure and well being. Social comparison is something I know I shouldn’t be doing, but naturally, it happens.

I know this isn’t a chipper post that depicts me showing off my body, pictures of a new baby, photos of a recent vacation, or any other beautiful life moment. This post is the factual truth of how I am feeling. I invite everyone who can relate with me to private message me to give each other the support we deserve. Thank you to all who read this post in its entirety.

My Life in a COVID-19 World

Hello, World!

I was emailing a researcher back and forth and came to find out that I haven’t written on this blog page in more than six months!  I am deeply sorry for not writing for a long time. So much has changed in the world in six months. COVID-19 has plagued the world, and face masks have become the norm of our society. For me, all of these rapid changes were very overwhelming, and I am still anxious about what the future of the United States and the world holds.

As an autistic man, the uncertainty of the future and break from routine has made me very anxious. On top of all the changes in the world, I also started a new job back on March 10, 2020. I was very excited to have finally excelled in a job interview and be offered a new position with a higher title and a higher salary. A week later, I and other works at USF were mandated to work from home until further notice. This was my situation for a little over two months. Learning a new job while living through a pandemic and working from home was and still is something that I am experiencing and trying to figure out.

Working from home was something I’ve always wanted to do, but working from home during a pandemic was far from what I desired. Besides, I literally just started a new, more complicated position and had no idea what I was doing. Trying to learn a new job while working from home during a pandemic has tested every bit of patience in my body.

My coworker that was tasked with training me has difficulty teaching people, and having them teach me while we worked remotely was ridiculous. Unlike some people that have a house with an office, my partner and I were both at home and sharing a 1-bedroom apartment. My laptop is only 11 inches, and I have no office space. March-May 2020 was one of the most frustrating experiences of my career.

As an autistic man, I need structure and routine. When learning something new, I need someone to sit with me and go over what I need to know. I also need my instructions written. I am very good at investigating and researching, but when it comes to my job, I require support from my supervisor and colleagues in helping me be successful. I am in the process of requesting workplace accommodations. I hope that my job will be able to accommodate me by having my supervisor provide written, concrete instructions and to have feedback meetings with me to limit my workplace performance anxiety.

Today’s world is beyond frustrating for me. There is so much uncertainty with the state of the country and a national election that can determine the future of the US. I don’t know when COVID-19 will end, and this is very scary. I am also scared about my job. I hate not knowing my job and not having the support I need. I know I need to work as hard as possible to teach myself, but it is so important to have the support of my colleagues. I am scared of the economy tanking, people getting sick, and the fear of losing my job.

I take antidepressants to help with my anxiety and depression. They help, but I fear the long consequences on my body from taking them. There is no one drug that “fixes” autism. Some of the traits of autism that affect my daily life can be treated with antidepressants. I am at the point of frustration because I always gain weight on antidepressants and experience other unpleasant side effects. All I want is to live a normal life without fear and without worry. The antidepressant I am on right now contributes to weight gain, no matter how much I exercise. I’d love to get off my medication, move away with my partner, and live a simpler life. I feel that the artificial demands of our society brought on by capitalism and greed have messed up the mental health of everyone. I am autistic but feel that I am different and not sick. I want a normal life.


Dear Friends,

This week I am talking about courage. One of the many challenges I have experienced in my life is confidence and believing in myself. I have a lot of difficulties bragging about myself and find the faults in myself before the strengths. I have worked at the same university for nine years, got my Master of Arts degree, and have interviewed for several administrator positions. 

In spite of my tenure and experience and degrees, I have been unable to receive an offer for an administrator/management position at my job. I’ve even won an outstanding staff award from the college I work this year, but this isn’t enough. I feel like the university would instead hire people who are fake and full of BS versus someone genuine and honest. I know that a lot of people love me in my current job. Still, I’ve never understood why and believed that if I was so wonderful that I wouldn’t be struggling in my career and struggling financially. If I was so great, why won’t anyone at my university hire me as an administrator/ manager? It feels like I am not good enough, and I don’t know what to do. 

People with autism (like me) have difficult selling and boasting about ourselves. We keep it real and look at our weaknesses over our strengths. When I see job descriptions, I think that I need to be proficient in every single skill that is listed, and I do not understand transferable skills. I’ve sought help with the career center at my university, but they haven’t been able to help me. I’ve read Temple Grandin’s “Different Not Less,” and she discussed the need for people on the spectrum to have a portfolio that illustrates their talent. Still, I am not sure what someone in my current job would keep in a collection besides awards and letters. Many of the people she refers to are in professions such as the arts, where many already keep portfolios. It makes me think that I should have chosen another career. 

The highlight of my week was reading about Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg. I admire her courage and speaking truth to power. She is only 16 years old but has made an immense impact on the world in such a short time. Her desire to improve the planet began after battling depression at the age of 11. She watched a documentary on climate change and was appalled at what was happening to the earth. Her parents saw how devastated she was and adopted a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

If you did not know already, Greta Thunberg has autism. Her passionate response to the climate crisis is similar to how others with autism would respond to something of high interest to them. Greta’s passion is stopping climate change, and she is determined to get the people around her and the world to do something about it. She is known for skipping school to protest in front of the Swedish parliament, and her action started spreading action around the world. Thunberg has spoken at international climate summits and spoken to several world leaders. 

Greta Thunberg doesn’t mince her words and is very blunt. Her goal is to convince world leaders that the earth is at high risk and describes the threats to her audiences. My favorite quote of hers was back in September when she addressed the UN. She states, “We are in the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” She states facts and points out BS from world politicians. 

Greta Thunberg is courageous and speaks truth to power. She encourages me to find out what I am passionate about and not to stop pursuing my dreams. Every day, she is made fun of and criticized for caring about the planet. Donald Trump even referred to her as a “teenager with anger management problems.” I cannot imagine the pain she goes through when she sees others making personal attacks on her and telling her that what she cares about is unimportant. Those of us on the spectrum experience significant pain when others do not have the same level of interest in what we find interesting. Additionally, if someone were to make a personal attack on us, it would hurt us even more. 

I encourage everyone to read the bio on Greta Thunberg inside the Person of the Year issue here https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2019-greta-thunberg/  . The article is a bit lengthy, but worth the read. Reading about Greta has inspired me to find the courage to pursue what I want to do and that people with autism can achieve greatness and can overcome insults and criticisms from those that do not believe in me. Speaking truth to power will have an impact, and hopefully, those in power will listen to the truth. 

I need to find the strength and courage inside of me to pursue my dreams. I sell myself short and need to understand my strengths better. People like Greta Thunberg are making a huge impact at such a young age and I am hoping that I can achieve something like her someday. 

Masking, Education, and Professional Challenges

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for all of the love and support of my first post. If you haven’t read the first post, please check it out. Today’s diary topic is on masking, education, and professional challenges. Masking, for me, is my survival mechanism. Masking is shielding myself from outside criticism and judgment. Those of us on the spectrum have been masking most of our lives without even knowing. I am pigeon-toed, and as a kid, my dad would force me to walk straight, although my feet were more comfortable the other way around. Actions such as flapping my hands and twirling my hair were unacceptable, so I had to push myself against those behaviors.

In addition to my autistic mask, I also had to wear another mask to cover up my traits as a gay male. I had to behave as if I was interested in the opposite sex when I was not. I wore this mask until June of 2008 when I came out of the LGBT closet.

Masking my autism is very energy draining and worked for the first 32 years of my life. In June 2019, I sought a diagnosis and received my diagnosis the next month. The diagnosis took time for me to adjust to, but it also took a ton of bricks off of my back. Coming out of the autistic closet has given me the freedom to be myself. I felt that I no longer had to mask myself to the point of daily physical exhaustion. At the same time, masking still has to happen because it is my survival mechanism.

As an adult, I mask all the time when I go to work and when I deal with everyday tasks such as paying bills or running errands. Masking is the most difficult when I am at work and when I go to class. I have to present myself as a neurotypical person when I am not. It is still not safe to be my full autistic self in these environments. Even with workplace and classroom accommodations, the daily challenges as a person with autism do not go away. I still drain myself of energy at the end of the day because I try to be the person everyone expects me to be.

I spent many years masking my ability to take care of myself. Although I have always had a decent job with fantastic benefits, I struggled with how to take care of myself. Instead of getting another job to supplement my main job, I used my educational, financial aid, and credit cards to survive. I always saw the situation as temporary and that I would receive a better paying job.

The challenge with being autistic is that corporate culture doesn’t accept us. Job interviews are a terrible experience and require masking to a high degree. Having a college degree is not what society claims it to be. I always thought that with my undergraduate and graduate degrees that I’d be able to get a high paying job quickly. This was not the case. I have struggled to move up in the world of academia. I have interviewed for numerous jobs since I got my master’s degree in 2016 and haven’t had any luck. I am fortunate to have had stable work for over nine years and very grateful but felt that I should have a job that used my master’s degree.

In response to having issues job hunting with my Master of Arts in Political Science, I decided to start my second master’s degree program, this time in management, in August 2019.

My decision to enter the Master of Science in Management program was based on the fact that it was a practical degree versus a liberal arts degree. I enjoyed the program until I got a C in a course because a group member failed to turn in the final document. I never experienced this before and felt very uncomfortable. My class had over 40 students in it, and the culture in the college of business is not the ideal for an autistic person. I really do not understand corporate culture, and my attempts to mask myself failed this semester. I was getting an “A” in the course until the group project.

At this point, I will keep trying to survive corporate and academic culture, but it will not be easy. Sometimes I wished that I would have gone to a trade school instead of college where I would learn a skill that would set me for life. I love knowledge, and I love learning, but our society values this only if it’s practical.

Masking our true selves is annoying and draining. Maybe if I had known I was autistic earlier in my life, things might have been different? I really don’t know. All I want in my life is to live as my true authentic self and to help others. I hope that the experiences I share in this blog will help others. If you want to learn more about autism, I highly recommend checking out the following resources from #actuallyautistic people

  • Neurodivergent Rebel https://neurodivergentrebel.com/ . Her website and social media have been so helpful to me and I highly recommend her. You can also check out my different media listed at the top right corner of the screen.You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
  • Laura Zdan: Checkout her Instagram account @laurazdan and her awesome podcast “The Not Neurotypical Podcast” available on iTunes and Spotify. Laura is both autistic and ADHD and a phenomenal resource. I find her very comforting and informative.

Let me know about your experiences with anything discussed in today’s blog post. I want to hear from you! You can contact me directly on Instagram or send an email to rnbudd86@gmail.com . Thank you so much!

Hello World

Hi, World!
After putting it off so long, I decided to join WordPress and start my own blog. I am excited to be a part of the blogging community. The purpose of this blog is to talk about my life and the challenges I’ve gone through and to help others who are also going through similar struggles. My blog page is geared towards the neurodiverse community but open to all voices. I apologize in advance if my first post isn’t the greatest, but I will learn with the feedback I receive. This post is about introducing the blog and introducing myself to the world. I will now use the rest of this post to introduce myself and solicit feedback for the blog.

My name is Raymond, and I am 33 years old and live in the Tampa Bay region of Florida. I was late diagnosed with autism in July of this year at the age of 32. Throughout my life, I always knew I was different from most people. Still, now, my diagnosis gave a name to why I was different than others.

Figuring out I was autistic took me time to process. In the beginning, I was happy to have a name, but at the same time, angry at my parents for not trying to find out earlier. I thought that if I had known about my autism that my life would have been more comfortable. Most of my adult life, I have struggled with relationships and finances. I didn’t seriously date until I was in my thirties and struggled with maintaining friendships and relationships with family members. I avoided anything that carried the risk of failing.

When I was growing up, all of my siblings were athletic, watched sports, and had a lot of friends. I was the shy and awkward kid that didn’t play sports and could talk a storm about my special interests. My special interests included history, politics, and current events. I rarely spoke to anyone when I was in grade school and didn’t make any friends of my own until high school.

I’ve always had sensory issues since I was a baby. My most significant sensory issues are with loud sounds, bright lights, and movements. Even as an adult, I cannot attend Halloween themed (or any other scary theme) events at theme parks and have difficulty in movie theaters and live shows. I would scream and cry like a little kid when my sensory issues were triggered, and I was very attached to my dad.

I was in special education classes throughout grade school but was never told why I was in these classes. All I was told was that I learned differently. My school counselors didn’t think college was a possibility for me and enrolled me in afternoon trade classes when I was in middle school. My parents didn’t want this to stop me from attending college.

In April of 2010, I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science, and in May 2016, my Master of Arts in Political Science. College was something that my grade school counselors didn’t think was possible, but I pushed myself to accomplish this goal.

My degrees are some of my most significant accomplishments, but this doesn’t leave me without challenges. I studied a subject that didn’t leave me with many career options. I’ve worked for the same university for more than nine years but have struggled to move up the ladder. I struggle with the networking portion of job searching even though I am active on LinkedIn. I even started another master’s degree in management to see if that helps.

Although I also self-identify as a gay man, I feel that being a neurodivergent man in a neurotypical world is my greatest challenge. For many years I had no idea what autism was, but now that I do, I am working on connecting with other neurodivergent people in the world for support and also want to be a person of support.

Thank you all for reading this first post. I appreciate everyone taking the time to learn about me. The stuffed hippo you see in my profile picture is named Tully and is a gift from my fiancé who crocheted him together for me. Despite all my challenges, my fiancé has been there for me providing immense love and support.
If you want to see more from me, check out my Instagram and Twitter pages @ramundo86 and stay tuned to this blog page. Feedback is HIGHLY appreciated! Please leave feedback in the comments or send an email to rnbudd86@gmail.com

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