Creative Submissions

Bridging the Silos: Autistic Menopause Study logo with pastel coloured circles

In Fall of 2022, we invited creative submissions from autistic participants with experiences of menopause. While we received paintings, poetry, and graphic art, we welcomed any creative work which could be submitted electronically. You can find our call for submissions poster and Creative Submissions below. The Creative Submissions phase has closed, and we are no longer seeking submissions.

A poster advertising Phase 2: Creative Submissions of the Bridging the Silos: Autistic Menopause Study. This phase closed on 31 December 2022.

“Birthday” by Anonymous

A colourful painting with dark reds, blues, and browns with the letter A emerging in the middle.

How does this work relate to your experiences of autism and menopause? “I painted these in autumn 2021. The ‘Birthday’ of the title refers to my autistic birthday – I was diagnosed in August 2021 aged 56. The image is deliberately ambiguous – it could be a final menstruation (though mine was six years ago) but it could also be a rocket taking off into the light. There is fire there, both of the overheating menopausal body and the fire of a new stage of life and self discovery as an autistic per-son. Also anger at years of struggle because of not having this knowledge……It also relates to my non-binary identity. I am using blue as a shorthand here, a with pink and white in the upper image, as a nod towards gender…Menopause has stripped away a lot of life masks that I was carrying – around how I relate in the world and about my gender. It has become much harder to mask and make everything okay for others before myself.”

“Blooming” by Natalie L.
Magnolia in Watercolour

A pastel watercolour painting of a pink and white flower.

Rollercoaster” By Tracy B.

Rollercoaster of a lifetime

Swash buttling, battering away

Amongst mood swings

Put up a fight to the

Outside world

To shield sensitivity

That I am tough, defiant

Look at me, I can ride

The ride of perimenopause,neurodiversity.

My life long lessons

Prepared me for this time

Unpredictable lament some days

Of perilous symptoms, irritability

A toast to overwhelm and emotions

Processing from yesteryear

A chance to meet past influences

A chance to take life by the horns

Build resilience, see the ride through

Of hormome deficiency

To learn and reach out to others

Joining me on this rollercoaster

To speak out, be heard

Knowing I am not alone

What does your work mean to you? “I can express and step into who I fully am.”

“A Few More” by Cath R.

A flow chart titled "A Few More" that shows all the things the author has to consider in addition to the timing of various forms of medication.

What does this work mean to you? “It begins to describe what I don’t actually have words for…I want people to know that there are things that I experience that I cant adequately put into words…I want doctors to better understand how it feels to be me and on all these differently spaced medications.”

"Menopause; I’ve Changed"  by Sarah D

Late to the party;
No time to find me,
And embrace my strange,
Before comes The Change.
Derange.   Rearrange.

Cognitive fog fail.
Flushed red senses wail.
Burning, not warmer,  
Multiple trauma.
Masker.   Performer.  

Never gone away,
Black dog stays to play,
With anxiety.
New intensity.
M.E.   Brutally.

Decades long tired.
Exhausted. Wired.
Self never mattered
Hormonally battered.
Tattered.   Now shattered.

Contemplating death;
Suicide; last breath.
Sleep, calm, peace, could bring
End of pretending.
Faking.   Now breaking.

Samaritans call.
Held gently from fall.
Different, not flawed,
Emotion explored.  
Outpoured.   Reassured.

New recovery. 
Self discovery.
Me, who I am, real.
Understand my feel.
Surreal.   My new deal.

ADHD found.
Holding to the ground.
Prescribed HRT
New stability.
Safety.   Security.

Autistically me.
Authentic ND.
Live life, not survive.
Beginning to thrive. 
Alive.   So alive.

Now at the party;
Making time for me,
No more self-estranged.
Menopause.   I’m Changed.
De-raged.    Rearranged.

Brief description of work: “My experience of reaching menopause as a late-diagnosed autistic woman feeling as though I had no idea who I was. Then being forced into this thing that changed the person who I didn’t know at all. It is a work about self-discovery with menopause being the catalyst for this.”

CJ, Canada
Forty-one: A reflection on peri-menopause

Silver hair on chin
Marriage woes begin.
Glance in windowpane
Puberty again.

Starting to take stock
Hormones run amok.
Life stops making sense
Stuck in present tense.

Like I’ve lost my drive
I barely survive.
Autism not in mind
Label-less, I’m blind.
I.D. eight years off
When the penny drops.

Strong words are spoken
Different, not broken
Fifties are my time
Second spring sunshine.


August 2022

What does this work mean to you? “I write all the time but usually just for myself. This project has allowed me to examine my theories on late autism diagnosis and the overlap with menopause, or what I’ve termed ‘puberty in reverse.'”

“I thought it was Menopause but it was Autism” by Meltam A.

My feelings are knotted…
Lost, eluding me
always chasing them to understand,
not able to catch up.
The darkness, I can’t tell…
sometimes I drowned,
I tire of running away.
Living in turmoil..
sometimes you enjoy,
sometimes you fade away
to sound…
with sound…
to words…
with words…

I noticed that I had put on weight in all of this emotional turmoil, despite intermittent
fasting, not eating more than usual, and walking every day. I started to swell regularly
and had hot flashes. Suddenly, I was burning hot and sweating as if I had a shower. And
my periods were starting to get delayed. It was the beginning of menopause. The
menopause knocked on my door in the most challenging period of my life. It coincided
with the news that in Turkey, farcical indictments had been brought demanding life
sentences for 16 civil society leaders, including myself, connected with the 2013 Gezi
Park protests. This is an ongoing process.

I had often heard other women talking about how menopause had affected them, and I
believe whenever I get mad despite myself for the first time in my life. But I was wrong.
I was very emotional. So much so that even when laughing, tears flowed from my eyes,
and I hated it.

My insomnia hit the ceiling, and I became very close friends with the eye condition that
frequently had me seeking emergency care. I have to use sunglasses, drops, eye
ointment, a hot compress… Finally, I was tired of myself… But there was more tocome…
One day, my friend gave me a book and said, “This book is about you. “Aspergirls” by
Rudy Simone.” I was shocked as I read the book, confused as much as I was shocked.
As I got more confused… could I be an Asperger? No, I couldn’t… how could I be an
Asperger? No, it’s impossible… I’m in menopause… I had read about autism because
of my friend, but I had no sense of connection until that day. But… But maybe there
was something else.

I had so many similarities with the woman in the book that it was as if someone had
secretly observed me and changed my experiences a bit, transplanting me to another
culture and another country. The same pain, the same dead ends, the same questions,
same problems, same…

I am always the weird one. I’m so smart. I’m so absurd. I’m so stubborn. I’m so
intelligent. I’m so honest. I’m so abnormal. I’m an eccentric one.

Even though I now live in Wales and have found many answers about myself since I
came here, the puzzle is not complicated for me. After self-identifying myself as an
“aspie girl,” I have my new questions and many health problems: Meniere’s disease,
insomnia, eye problems, hot flashes, very emotional… I know the last two symptoms are
all about menopause… But I need to see my GP because I need some pills, especially
for my Meniere attacks.

I remember very well that when I entered the GP’s room, I started crying as soon as I
started talking, but I don’t know clearly what he asked and what my answers were. At
the end of the appointment that day, I was prescribed medication for Meniere’s and was
referred to the Autism Centre for assessment. The GP also urged me to make another
appointment for my panic attacks and depression.

I went to the GP to get help for my menopause but suddenly switched the emphasis onautism and depression. He ignored my menopause. I have no idea how ve ended up
focusing on autism and depression because I don’t remember what I said or how I
behaved. I thought I just needed a hormone test… because hormones change as you
age… But…

The fact dawns on me that, in a way, I’ve never been aware of myself, that I’ve been
poking around in my life to try to get to know myself. I thought I was a calm person, but
when my friend explained some of my behaviour, I realised I wasn’t calm; I had just
learned to dial my temper down. I had known so well that even menopause couldn’t
provoke it. My hormones, my problems… But…

I read 32 books about autism before I went to my appointment at the autism centre. And
I discovered that I only entirely accepted the idea that women could be Asperger in the
early 90s. I mean, just because they’re female, a lot of kids, young girls, and women
have had to grapple with misunderstanding, misdiagnosis, inappropriate drug
prescription throughout their lives. Many women have spent their lives just like me,
struggling with why am I like that, who am I, why am I different, am I an alien, trying to
manipulate an explanation, trying to find solutions to the physical illnesses that regularly
appear… But…

It was only two months after I went to my GP about my menopause that I was officially
diagnosed with “autism”. The expert who diagnosed me explained, “We used to say it
was Asperger syndrome, but now Asperger is in the spectrum of autism. And yes, you’re
in the spectrum of autism.” Suddenly, everything froze. I couldn’t control my tears.
Autism… Autism… Autism… This word is echoing in my brain. So many years, so many
questions, so many quests…

The question “Who am I?” to which I could not find the answer for years suddenly
disappeared. After that moment, I learned who I was. Everything became clear. I wasn’t
neurotypical. My brain and my perception worked differently, so why couldn’t I adapt to
this world? From this moment, discovery and understanding will start for me. I’ll discovermyself with this new knowledge. As soon as I know who I’m not, I can find out who I am.
How my brain and my perception work, without any masking…

I realise that my wiring system simply makes it harder for me to do many things that
come naturally to other people. On the flip side, it is essential to be aware that Asperger
can also give me many magical perceptions that many neurotypicals simply are not
capable of.

By the way, I’m definitely in menopause, but I wonder if menopause affects me in any
real way after this diagnosis.

Because I have discovered that there are many intersection points between some
common traits of autism and some common symptoms of menopause, for instance, I
have always struggled with insomnia, mood swings, forgetfulness, irritability and anxiety,
symptoms that are all part of entering menopause. I’m so lucky because my GP
recognised that my problems were more deep-rooted than menopause.

I went to the doctor for my Menopause, but it ended up being ‘Asperger/Autism’, but I’m
so happy to have received this diagnosis. It has given me the key to understanding
myself. Now I will take the time to sift through my memories and past actions to have a
new perspective.

I think, secretly, I wanted to be like other women when I was in menopause. This time I
believed I would have the same experiences as other women. I would be like them. Yet,
my understanding of living through this was different… I failed again. But the good thing
about it is that I’m an aspie; menopause is much less complicated due to my existing
difficulties. I thought I was menopausal and faced the fact that I was autistic.
This diagnosis was liberating for me. Why am I coming out? I believe it will be a
fantastic discovery for me, and hopefully for others, as I will share all my experiences
through this blog. There is still not enough Autism spectrum awareness even today. Ifirmly believe that if those on the autistic spectrum share our experiences openly, it
wouldn’t only help other autistic people, it would help neurotypical people better
understand both us and our behaviour.

Sometimes despite you
cascades run down inside you,
you’d never know how to stop it,
because you never get used to having waterfalls within.
Sometimes despite you
warmth spreads over your heart,
you’d never know how to cool it down
because you’ll never get used to it.
Sometimes despite you
if the voice of a mature mother touches the depths of your being
to the parts you avoid
you would become petrified.
You wouldn’t be able to stop your tears from falling despite you.
Because you are petrified.

What does your work mean to you?
I don’t think I can survive in this world without writing. Writing, painting or dancing is my remedy.