UNMASKED: Snippets & notes from a lifetime collection of journals  (pre-diagnosis).
Advocating for autistic acceptance.

















July 22, 1994


I miss N [friend who died by suicide in 1991] so much. These times in my life … why do I have so much pain & hurt locked up inside me? It almost seems as though everything I touch is destroyed. Everything. My friendships, my loves, lives. Why am I here? I get so confused.


And I really miss … I must be the loneliest person. Even in a crowd of three million. Is he happier? Is it better? N? Mr. S [who died by suicide in 1989]? Kurt Cobain?


These [people] I admire – it’s no surprise that all my ‘relationships’ are so troubled. It is scary, how fatalistic I can be – so melodramatic it’s almost funny. Almost, unless I feel all this  unhappiness. Funny, in a cynical way until the cycle start up again.


What is going on with me. Oh, how that cheesy 80s music hits me when I’m down. I’m done.




Kalpita Pathak
Age 19



REO Speedwagon, Chicago, Journey. Not cheesy at all. And I didn’t think they were then, either – sometimes I masked in my journal, too. It’s a Hard Habit To Break (see what I did there?!). I love singing along to those eighties ballads. Sometimes that was the only thing that kept me going from moment to moment.


The state of being autistic is not what causes this cycle of existential loneliness. What causes it is being autistic in a world that does not accept us. We are then isolated not just from society in general but from one another and feel alone in our experiences, feelings, perspectives, interpretations.


The internet has definitely changed much of that – we have built communities online. We find each other, offer support and understanding, share our unmasked selves. Despite what society may think, these communities are not solely about the trauma; we also discuss our special interests, joke around, give book/movie recommendations, and celebrate our triumphs.


Still, in real life, we continue to suffer at the hand of society’s NT expectations. Many of us have no in-person relationships because we are held completely responsible for any misunderstandings and miscommunications. We are demonized when our autism isn’t diagnosed and pathologized when it is.


Autism awareness needs to give way to autism acceptance so we can be our authentic selves without fear of repercussions.