From The Windmill – A Journal of the Diverse Voices of Women  

 Hi, my name is Catriona Tyrrell. I grew up at a time in the 1980’s when difference of any kind was not acknowledged or understood – more ‘swept under the carpet’, or worse still, condemned by children and adults alike. 

 ‘How do I see myself?’ It’s a question I have reflected on especially in the last few years. Some people say things are for a reason and whilst I’m not religious as such, I do believe that I was meant to be born different and subsequently become a warrior. By a ‘warrior’ I mean I possess an inner strength and desire to overcome things in life and to keep trying until I can do things. I have always possessed these skills even as a baby when I wanted to walk and couldn’t, and I simply kept trying until I could do it. 

In time, I came to realise why I was different. One week before my 23rd birthday in 2003, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum, or what was then known as Asperger Syndrome. A sense of relief came over me. I felt at that time, and even more so in 2019, when I was diagnosed with ADHD/ASD (very common) a sense of relief that I am neurodiverse not wrong or bad – just a different way of viewing the world. I like to use my “warrior strength” for good, to help those in a similar situation who may not be able to do so. It’s part of my strength. I see myself as a fighter, a helper and an underdog supporter.   

Neurodiversity has many positives. Me, Catriona, have many positives – I am loyal, I have an enquiring and analytical mind, and have a wonderful memory. 

I have been a Wyndham resident for 12 years. I am currently a Joey Scout Leader with 1st Point Cook Scout Group, girls and boys (it’s a mixed gender). I advocate for neurodiverse and am an artist. I also work for Wyndham City Council as a School Crossing Supervisor. I was a Queen’s Baton Bearer in 2018. 

In the last few months, I have felt a sense of peace and am able to face my problems head-on and deal with them. I encourage adults who feel they may be neurodiverse to accept themselves and get the appropriate diagnosis and support. 

In 2019, I feel a great deal of hope for the future. I plan on expanding my artwork and creative side and continue to work at Wyndham City Council. We all need support networks and I feel I have finally found them in Sharon, Casandra and Rachael in particular. I turn 40 in February 2020 and am excited to see what the next 40 years brings with continuing true friendship, support and personal growth. I hope and believe. I believe I can do anything I put my mind to and have a lot to offer. The bullying and isolation I have had in my past was very wrong and damaging, but not my fault and I won’t let it define me now.