Fern Brady is a Scottish comedian and BBC podcast presenter. She was diagnosed with autism in early 2021. In April she supported our Anxiety Breakthroughs campaign for World Autism Awareness Month, narrating our Anxiety Explained film. Here she explains her personal experiences.

"Getting diagnosed helped me realise anxiety doesn’t really look the same in autistic people as it does in others - for years I thought people who had anxiety could be easily spotted as they’d be hyperventilating and talking at high speed and that didn’t sound like me at all.

In my case, my anxiety is frequently misinterpreted in public as anger or general grumpiness - in private my anxiety resulted in exhausting and destructive meltdowns that led to me finally getting a diagnosis. I have alexythymia so didn’t even know I had crippling anxiety until my doctor explained it to me. Getting help and speaking to more autistic people and organisations signposted me towards resources that would help me better understand emotions and how to tackle anxiety. Crucially, being aware of all this also enabled me to be a better advocate for myself in work and at home as well as finally start to build a more positive self-image after years of thinking meltdowns were my fault."

Why I'm supporting Autistica

"I’m so happy to work with Autistica on this project as they include autistic people in the conversation and our love of knowledge and fact-finding means we’re actually pretty good at advocating for ourselves - so long as the information is available. Their research enables that."