When I was six years old I was diagnosed with autism. As I grew up I started to learn about the stigma attached to things and I hated having the label 'autistic'. At secondary school I kept it a secret because I wanted to be like everyone else.
Looking back, it feels like the wrong decision because keeping up the lie that I'm just someone in the crowd was very stressful. I kind of retreated into myself and withdrew from people and classes. My school work really went downhill and that pushed me deeper into this bad place. At my worst I wouldn't talk to people, I wouldn't sleep or eat.
No one expected me to succeed at school and I only scraped through exams that I should have done well in. It was only when I went to a special educational needs college where I had one to one sessions with a mentor that I was taught how to cope with the stress of social situations. In that environment I was able to embrace who I was and do well.
I have since graduated from university, have a fantastic job for a charity in Coventry and a lovely girlfriend.