An Autism Assessment As An Adult – Final Appointment

Well, its official, I am autistic.

Specifically Asperger’s, the assessment screening I had still uses Asperger’s as a diagnosis. It has taken me 24hrs to get my head around the report, and to work out what I am feeling, I think I have experienced a whole host of different emotions, but the main one is relief.

I spent most of my life believing I was broken or failing as a human being, why did I struggle so much when others could cope, a diagnosis of autism means I am not broken, I just have a different neurology. I finally feel heard and validated. in fact its a strange sort of feeling.

The last appointment was really interesting, we talked through the report, and she explained how some autistic people are predisposed to anxiety and depression, due to rigid thinking and ruminating about things and social interactions. The constant analysing can be exhausting and going over negative experiences many many times, can lead to low mood and being self-critical. I learnt quite a lot during this last appointment, and I am grateful to the psychologist for explaining things so well and allowing me greater understanding.

Now that I have a official diagnosis, I no longer have doubts or feeling like an imposter, I am autistic and have it written down in black and white. Apparently I will receive a full report and shortened version, the short version I can use for sharing with services and employers, should I need too.

I have been quite open with my diagnosis, I want to show my daughter that it is okay to be different, it isn’t a bad thing. Its like an iPhone and android phone, they may run differently and do different things, but they are both good at what they do and both as valid. If I were to hide my diagnosis from the people around us, what would that tell my daughter, she needs to be shown that autism isn’t something to be ashamed off and that you don’t need to hide that part of yourself away. Who you tell is a choice, but its okay to be yourself and ask for adjustments if you need them.

Autism has been a greatly misunderstood condition, there was a time when it was considered that only males could be autistic, and females were missed. Although, having said that, a huge amount of males were also missed as they went unnoticed. Things are changing with the help of the media and the celebrities who are sharing there journeys and their recent diagnosis, I misunderstood what autism was, as a male relative was diagnosed as a child, and I was nothing like him. I made a judgement. It was only when it was suggested I was autistic that I really looked into it and realised it was a lot more complex than I had realised.

Its time for me to be less self-critical and learn what autism means for me, its time to really listen to my needs and learn who I am. I have spent years hiding who I am, not allowing myself to be visible to others, because I felt not good enough and to prevent being hurt. Maybe now, that will change, but I know it will take work and a new found acceptance of myself.

I apologise for being quiet on here in recent weeks, It has been a crazy few weeks.

The legacy of childhood sexual abuse

When my child reached the age that I was when the sexual abuse started for me, it was a major trigger and my mental health took on a massive decline, and I quickly realised that we needed some support.

Although I reached out for help, the support for my daughter didn’t really take off in the way I was hoping, she was already struggling and experiencing anxiety and stomach migraines, and I felt that due to me experiencing mental health problems she needed some support in place for her. I didn’t want her to suffer because I was struggling and feeling like a weak failure as a human being, let alone as a parent.

I was already signed up for a social anxiety CBT course, I was able to have additional CBT sessions with the Therapist once the course had finished, it was during those sessions the Therapist diagnosed PTSD. (Not long after came the suggestion I was autistic, but thats not important for this post). Talking about the abuse and going through what happened left me feeling exhausted and ashamed.

I realised that I had been carrying PTSD around with me since childhood, when the trigger of my daughters age occurred it sent me spiraling in to burnout. I felt so tired and alone despite having people around me, its not something that is easy to explain and its certainly not something that you can just drop in to a conversation. I believed if my child had support, as she is what is most important, then we would be ok.

Just a child

One thing my daughter reaching the age I was brought me, was the realisation that I wasn’t to blame for the abuse, what seven year old has the ability to protect themselves from someone much older than them. Especially someone who was meant to be a trusted adult. At that age you believe what adults tell you, if they tell you no-one will believe you or that no-one will like you, you believe it.

I spent so much time trying to make myself invisible; I gained weight, I had my hair cut very short, and although I was already shy, I became more withdrawn. Being noticed, even now, would send me in to a huge panic.

As a child, you try to make sense of it, was I bad, what is wrong with me, is it my fault. I wasn’t at fault though, I was a child, a child who should never have been in this position. No child should have to experience what I did.

I sometimes wonder if my difficulties with communication and my shyness made me an easy target for abuse. Secrecy allows abuse to continue, difficulties with communication can help to towards keeping a secret.

From the age of 14 or 15, I bought endless self-help books in an effort to fix the parts of me I believed to be broken, I still have them and more, stored in a box under my bed. They didn’t really work as I was focusing on anxiety and depression rather than PTSD and Autism.

Trauma Counselling

I started Trauma Counselling in January from a local charity, who have been amazing, I have learnt so much about the impact trauma has had both physically and mentally. I am beginning to understand my triggers and symptoms, as well as the legacy trauma has left within my body.

I put off having children until I was in my 30’s, because of my mental health and fears that I wouldn’t be able to be a good mum. It has stopped me from having more children, I would have loved to have had more, but now I fear it is to late due to my age.

My body hurts; partly from the constant tension I experience within my muscles and partly due to reasons unknown. Tests have never came back with a reason for it, so I consider it to be trauma related.

I haven’t been able to escape the places the abuse occurred, every day on the school run, I have to walk past a couple places it happened. Although I thought I was doing pretty well at shielding myself from the feelings connected to the abuse, I realise that the (social) anxiety I experienced on the school run probably was due to facing those places, at least partly.

There are times when the world overwhelms me, there are times when suicidal thoughts and self-harm creep in and I become so low and tired. It isn’t so much about dying though, its about needing the world to stop spinning so I can step off and take a break for a while, its about needing to recharge.

Trauma has left me with the feeling I need to escape on a regular bases, its an intense emotion that is hard to overcome once it takes hold. I used to think it was the need to escape people, to start somewhere new where know one knew me. But now I feel that maybe it was the need to escape from myself and my past.

Over eating has become one of my coping mechanisms, one that has become very difficult to break, even though I know its not healthy and I am vastly overweight. Food has become a drug, it helps to block out some of the intense feelings I experience and it can be a distraction from my thoughts. I don’t drink alcohol, I hate the feeling it brings and the not being in control, and I certainly have never taken drugs or smoked. I need to be in control at all times.

I am incredibly self-critical; blaming myself for everything that goes wrong, for other peoples moods, and for experiencing anxiety and depression. In the past I believed my battles with mental illness meant I was weak and failure, and I would feel embarrassment and shame because of it.

Emotional flashbacks are so hard to cope with, I am learning to introduce breathing exercises and grounding techniques to help me to manage them. My moods can be very up and down at times, slipping in to a depression from time to time, especially when I have to many pressures weighing me down. Keeping a journal is something else I have found to be beneficial, it helps me to keep track of my emotions and if I feel my moods dipping, self-care becomes vital.

In an effort to block out the memories of abuse, it meant I blocked out the good memories too, and it was only during the autism assessments where I HAD to think about my childhood that some of the good memories came flooding back. Worrying about a vast number of different things and keeping my mind busy, meant there was less space to think and focus on the abuse.

Trauma Counselling has made me realise that I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. I have experienced symptoms, anxiety and depression throughout most of my life, yet I am still here, I have been working towards gaining qualifications and I am a great mum. I am working towards creating a great future for us. I am striving for change.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • Becoming Withdrawn.
  • Trying your go unnoticed.
  • Not taking part in activities they used to enjoy.
  • Becoming anxious or depressed.
  • Changes in behaviour – being aggressive, separation anxiety, self-harm, hyperactive or avoidance.
  • Sexual language.
  • Don’t like being touched.
  • Decline in school performance.
  • Bedwetting or toilet accidents.
  • Over eating or eating less.
  • Trying to change appearance.
  • Spending time alone.
  • Low Self-Esteem.
  • Self-critical – blaming themselves for things out of their control, negative self-talk.
  • Lack of confidence.

An Autism Assessment As An Adult – Part 3

My mum had her part of my autism assessment, it was done over the phone. I can’t go in to much depth about it as I was not present at the time; my mum has a really good memory and was able to answer a lot of the questions about my childhood.

It was interesting to listen to aspects of my childhood, at the time, to hear about the differences between me and my siblings and to hear about my mums pregnancy and my birth. My dad never made it to my birth, let’s just say it didn’t go to plan.

I had a thing for books even as a child, I loved reading and learning, so much so my grandparents would give me a readers digest book every birthday and Christmas. There were wildlife ones, one on rivers and lakes, one on woodlands and forests and so on. I loved those books and still have them now. I believe that I was an early reader, not as early as my child though, and English was my favourite lesson. Maths was a difficulty of mine, numbers still make me panic now, I mean I get to the answer eventually, but I panic first whenever I have to do any sums or come face to face with numbers.

The book thing has a life of its own, I have purchased so many recently, mainly on mental health, psychology, child development, autism, coaching, CBT, counselling and so on. The trouble is I hate parting with them afterwards and really need to get a proper book shelf unit rather than shelves attached to the wall as I am running out of room.

There were questions about friendships when I was I child, I never really had a group of friends growing up, I had individual friends, although they had a group of friends themselves. Friendships were hard as a child, I could never keep track of who had fallen out with who, how they could go from the best of friends one minute and worst enemies the next. Things are pretty much the same now to be honest, I still have individual friends, friends who are not friends with each other. I have also had friendships that have broken down over the years, I don’t always understand why, but sometimes it is through misunderstandings. There are certainly people that don’t get me and I don’t get them, I guess that is where the neurological differences come in. The way I see things are different to the way they are seeing things.

My mum helped at the playschool I attended when I was little, so I didn’t have the issue of separation until I started school. But, I was ok going into school at primary, it wasn’t until secondary school that I struggled going in and took a lot of time off and missed lessons due to hiding out in the library or medical room.

It was interesting hearing about the parts of my childhood that I couldn’t remember, like I said, my mum has an exceptional memory. I have quite a good memory in some areas, but anxiety has a huge impact on my memory, anxiety can stop you taking information in and storing it. There are days when I have no trouble recalling memories, but other times I have to work really hard to remember.

Personally, I believe that there are more neurodivergant people in my family than there have been diagnosed. So growing up, things that are considered as traits were normal within my family. It was when it came to friends and school when my differences and feeling like an alien came in to play. The awkwardness and social difficulties were and still are a daily occurrence.

I now have to patient and wait for the final appointment and the report, the waiting is the difficult part, as the need to know the outcome now is strong, and patient I am not.

An Autism Assessment As An Adult – Part 2

I must remember not to book more than one appointment in one day, I had trauma counselling this morning and the 3rd assessment appointment this afternoon, and I can honestly say I am exhausted. My eyes are really heavy, but part of that is due to the very strong scent of a cleaning product which was used in the house today, its irritated my nose and caused a massive headache. My head feels like it is buzzing.

I am feeling seriously deflated today, a bit uncertain even, and a little scared.

Autism Assessment Appointment Three

Todays questions were about communication, social skills, friendships and relationships. I tried to answer the questions as best I could, but I was feeling a bit anxious after talking through difficult events in my life in trauma counselling this morning, my ability to process and explain things were slow. I kept getting stuck, the connection between my thoughts and speech was shall we sat sluggish and restricted.

I have had to think hard about my childhood a lot in recent weeks, analyse different parts of it and its been difficult.

I asked at the end of todays appointment if it was to early to ask what indicators were showing, but my case is complicated due to the trauma, and although I have a significant number of autistic traits, it will be difficult to say whether that is down to trauma or autism. So I may come away without a diagnosis, thats not to say that I’m not, its just it may be to complicated to diagnose due to other factors. Despite the family history and sensory sensitivities, it will still prove to difficult to diagnose.

The annoying thing is the therapist who referred me said that if I got through the initial assessment it was highly likely that I was Autistic. He seemed pretty certain, and in all honesty it explained a huge amount of my life and difficulties. Now I am feeling frustrated by it all, feel like I want to escape and walk away from it all.

The stupid thing is, its well known that autistic people are at higher risk of abuse and trauma, it can make them a target because of their difficulties with communication. Trauma shouldn’t stop them from having that diagnosis, should it. I feel like I don’t fit anywhere, a square peg in a bunch of round holes.

I have always found talking difficult, but whether that was down to autism or Sexual abuse and trauma is difficult to say. We’re my friendship difficulties down to autism or trust issues due to abuse. Difficulties in school, difficulties with holding down a job, sensory sensitivities, was it all just trauma related.

Every week on the school run, I stand there seeing the conversations between the teachers and other parents, between parents and parents, wishing I had their ability to chat freely. To be included with all the school stuff for my daughter, to fit in and be a part of something. I tried to access help to be able to talk to school and explain things. It didn’t happen, its never going to happen.

Maybe I am a weird person and not autistic after all, maybe I am a broken weird person instead. My life had finally started to make sense, I had answers, now once more I am left hanging in limbo.

Perhaps I just don’t belong in this world.

An Autism Assessment As An Adult – Part 1

I was placed on an 18 month waiting list for an Autism Assessment, but i was given a date for my first appointment a couple of weeks ago, which only made it 16 months. I was 40 at the time, im now 41.

It seemed such a long time to wait at the start, but then life happened and I got distracted, and before I knew it the time was almost up. All of a sudden I felt unprepared, despite the fact that I had written and rewritten lots of notes to refer too, but so far I haven’t even glanced at them.

I was so nervous about the first appointment, I didn’t know what to expect, so I was unable to prepare myself for it. For the two weeks between being given the appointment date and the appointment coming around, I was highly anxious and worried. But, you know what, these things rarely turn out as badly as you expect them too. You would think that I would know this, well I do know this, but it never stops the worrying and anxiety before an event. My mind creates a million different scenarios of what may happen and what could go wrong. I have a strong need to know what the outcome of appointments and events will be, but I have know way of knowing for this, I just have to have patience and have trust in the process.

I am trying not to have any expectations, just to go with the flow and hopefully end up with the answers I need. An explanation for the difficulties I experience and for the struggles with mental health.

Autism Assessment Appointment One

The appointment was via video call and was not as bad as I was expecting; although I remained nervous throughout the 1.5hr appointment, the clinical psychologist was friendly and explained everything in detail so I could understand the process, so it helped to reduce some of the anxiety I had.

To begin with she carried out a risk assessment by asking certain questions, and talking about both mental and physical health. Then we moved on to other things, I can’t remember the order of them now, but it covered areas like my family tree, sensory sensitivities, likes and dislikes, school and childhood. We also covered the therapies I have had – 5 rounds of CBT.

When I am anxious I struggle to remember everything, which I hate and it causes me to worry. I normally ask for an email, like meeting minutes, after important phone calls or appointments, so I don’t forget important information. But, I wasn’t sure if I could in this case, I am sure at the end it will all be written up in the report.

To begin with I was able to answer questions quite easily, but the more tired I became the more difficult it became to string an answer together, I am not sure if she noticed or not. I had already had trauma counselling in the morning, and the day before I had a dentist appointment, so towards the end of the assessment I become really tired.

I am the type of person that over-analyses and over-thinks everything; did I say the right thing? Did I sound stupid? Did I say to much or to little? Did I say the wrong thing?. Have I left anything out? As soon as the appointment was over it started.

At the end of the appointment we set a date for next week for the next part of the assessment. I spent some time afterwards photocopying my school reports from the last 3 years of school, as those are all I had, I posted them this morning in the hope they would get there before the next appointment. They should do.

Autism Assessment Appointment Two

My brain feels a bit frazzled after todays appointment, I can’t blame it all on the appointment though, I had trauma counselling this morning too. There was only 2.5 hrs between appointments, and although I fell to sleep for 20 minutes between appointments, I feel tired. Trauma counselling left me with a lot of realisations and gave me a lot to think about.

The assessment went well, although I felt a bit awkward and didn’t know how to answer some of the questions, or how to word the answers. It was mainly about routines and interests this session, I really had to think and recall memories from childhood. I was asked if when people make mistakes when saying a word or in what they are talking about, would I correct them and be annoyed by it. I remember doing this as a child, I would quite often correct my older sister and tell her when she was wrong, until one day her mother-in-law pointed out how rude and hurtful it was, and I tried not to do it to anyone again. But, being asked that made me think about how my daughter will correct me when I say the wrong word or pronounce it wrong, or when she thinks I am wrong about something. Oh my god, I now realise how annoying it is when you are corrected often, my sister (and others) were just to kind to tell me how frustrating it was.

A lot of things that I thought were down to anxiety or trauma can overlap with autism. What I mean is things I thought were down to Anxiety could actually be an Autism thing.

There were some questions that I understand, but I didn’t know how to explain my answer too, the thoughts didn’t transfer over into words. I think I was feeling tired at this point and I couldn’t think as quickly or process as quickly.

It was a shorter appointment this week, I think part of that was due to it not being worth starting the next area, social and communication, in the time left. So, another appointment was made for next week. After the next appointment she will make an appointment to talk to my mum, about my childhood and what the pregnancy was like.

I am now sat here feeling exhausted and can’t stop yawning, I normally try not to have more than one appointment a day, because I know how drained they leave me. Especially when I have to think a lot and use my brain. I am also otherthinking, thinking of things I should have said and didn’t, and things I did say and shouldn’t have.

One thing I realised today was that learning is a special interest of mine, I enjoy doing online courses about subjects I find interesting, such as mental health, caring for children, psychology etc. Another of my interests is photography, I love going out for walks with the camera, taking photos of the things I find. But, I don’t take one or two photos of it, I take loads at different angles and on different settings.

I don’t know if I will end up with a diagnosis or not, the trauma I experienced probably complicates things, I tried to work out what she was thinking but the truth is, I have no idea. The need to know the outcome is strong, but I will have to be patient and go through the whole process. I thought I knew what I wanted the outcome to be, but I am not sure I do anymore. I am hoping to get the answers to why I am the way I am, why I experience the difficulties I do, and why I have always felt that I was broken.

I thought I would write a blog post about the process I am going through, it helps me to process it better, not only that, but I had no idea what to expect and thought this may help someone else one day. I assume the process is the same for all adults, despite the differences in the presentation of Autism.

If I have any advice it would be to allow yourself plenty of time after the appointment to chill, because it can be exhausting. Also, try not to book other appointments for the same day.

to be continued……………….

Autism – Visual Reminders

I am and always have been a visual learner; for me to take things in and to remember them, I need to see it in front of me, either in writing, in pictures or on a poster.

Last night, after feeling rotten for 2 days, I realised I had forgotten to take one of my tablets for several days. I kept feeling dizzy, a bit spaced out, and I felt something I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. It felt like there were static shocks rushing through my body and head, which I guess are signs of withdrawal from suddenly not taking the tablets. I have started today adding it to my to do list, to ensure that I don’t forget it again, the reason I believe I forgot to take it was that my routine had changed for a week and life became exceptionally busy.

To Do Lists

I have started to write a To Do List, as a reminder of the activities I need to do during the day, if I don’t have it written down I am liable to not getting around to doing it.

I include Self-Care activities on my To Do list, without it I will be unlikely to include it as a daily activity, and then wonder why I am exhausted or burned out after a week without it. I have to include self-care to replenish energy and mood levels, I believe its called energy accounting.

It’s not that my memory is awful, I guess its more that I get distracted by daily life and get wrapped up in my anxiety and intrusive thoughts, that there is little room for anything else.

And let’s face it, writting lists is stereotypically an Autism thing, is it not. But then, I know many neurotypicals who write lists and have a dozen highlighters to make them visually appealing.

Journalling

I have recently started to keep a journal again; In the past I start them and then life gets busy and I tend to stop writing. But, I realise it is something that I need to keep doing.

Journalling is a Self-Care activity for me, writing things down and being able to refer back too it when needed helps to reduce anxiety. Not only that, it helps greatly with my mental health, writing down anxious thoughts and getting them straight on paper rather than being in a muddle in my mind. Also, achievements are quickly dismissed and forgotten if I don’t write them down on paper.

My mind is a constant cycle of analysing and over-thinking information, conversations, body language, anxious intrusive thoughts, and working out what to say. Keeping a journal and getting it out on paper helps to reduce the constant chatter of my mind.

Trauma Counselling and Note Taking

Even when it comes down to self awareness and learning about the impact trauma has physically, emotionally and mentally, and why my body reacts to certain things, I need to write a note or list and make it visually appealing otherwise I will forget about it until the next time I come across it. Especially when I’m stuck in high anxiety or burnout, I need to see it in front of me to remind me so that I am not to hard on myself. Old habits are so deeply engrained that they will take over, and are easy to return too. New habits and new learning takes time and practice, lots of practice, to make them automatic.

I am currently learning so much through Trauma Counselling, one thing that dawned on my recently when circling the PTSD/trauma symptoms I experience, is the fact there were so many of them and some I hadn’t even realised were down to trauma, I carry those symptoms around with me every single day and yet I still get up, carry on with my daily routine of being a mum, I am currently doing a course too. It takes a lot of strength and resilience to be able to carry on with daily routines despite feeling all those symptoms every single day. I used to think I was weak because of my struggles and experiences with mental health, but the truth is I am strong and resilient despite it.

Another thing I have learnt is the impact trauma has on the body, the reactions it causes to certain things are automatic, I have no control over it, so there is little point beating myself up over it.

Posters

I am the type of person who loves learning and there is this need to know how things work. I have a particular interest in psychology and self-awareness. I am slowly working out what works for me and what doesn’t, I have started to put posters i have created into an A4 folder, and I am filling it with information to keep referring back too.

Timetable or Schedule

I use the calendar on my phone, using different colours for different types of appointments or activities. Seeing what I am meant to be doing and where I am meant to be at a glance helps to reduce some of the worry or anxiety. I need to know what I am doing so that I can prepare myself for it, build myself up both mentally and physically. I also have to plan my time wisely, try not to have to many social events in one week, otherwise I will burnout or experience a social hangover. Neither is ideal.

I need to put these things in place to make life easier on myself, it helps me to manage my time effectively and reduces the risk of experiencing Depression or Burnout.

A Mental Health Day

Sometimes you just have to shut out the world, shut it out for a day or two, a break from peopling. Sometimes the world is just too loud, too busy, and too fast-paced. The need to slow it down a little is strong, as is the need to escape.

Yesterday was spent at home, we didn’t even venture outside, watching films cuddled up on the sofa. Oh, and we did a bit of Rock Painting, which we are going to hide in different places around town for others to find. It was very much needed.

When Anxiety is high and my mood is low dealing with people becomes more difficult, knowing what to say and when to say it becomes more difficult, so it is just easier to avoid than it is to face people. I am still suffering from the effects of this week, from the interactions that I did have, and I am struggling to let it go. I let slip how I was really feeling, to the wrong person, I let my guard down.

Sometimes I just wish that I could stop the world from spinning, freeze it, step off for a while and take a break. Only returning to where I left off when I was fully recharged and rested. Perhaps my reactions to things would be different, perhaps I would cope with things a little differently, a little more calmly. I am exhausted, neither of us is sleeping very well, by the time my child manages to get to sleep it is past midnight, and then it takes me quite a bit longer to unwind and fall to sleep. My mind is a constant buzz of activity.

My child woke up with a Stomach Migraine, so, we took a day. A day to catch up on a bit of sleep, a day to chill and be silly, a day just to be. Shutting the world out. And, do you know what, it helped. Today I feel a bit calmer. Today I can think a bit clearer. Today I am less negative. My child has certainly laughed a lot more today, although she didn’t want to go outside still, although it hasn’t been the best weather for it so I can’t really blame her.

My child’s wellbeing comes first!!!

If she needs a day, then a day is what she will have, we can start again next week. She has quite a lot to contend with at the moment, so the school can wait. I remember how important it is to be able to have a day out.

I ordered another book yesterday, I really must stop lol, I have so many to catch up on. I have noticed that when I feel rubbish, I will order a book, a book to explain whatever it is I am struggling with. Trying to understand why I struggle so much. Let’s just say a lot are on Autism so that I can get a better understanding of why I do what I do and why I react the way I do.

The book I am currently reading is for parents to help their child to manage worries and fears, I am hoping that it will help to reduce my daughter’s bedtime worrying so that we both can get a decent night’s sleep. I know how it feels to not be able to stop worrying.

If the weather has improved tomorrow, we are going to head out for some fresh air, a walk through the woods with cameras is called for. Hopefully, the rain will have stopped. I haven’t been able to get many good photos to upload to my Instagram page for a little while, I have only posted a few old ones since Christmas.

Hope your weekend is going well.

Admitting Defeat

This week is turning into a shi–y week, I have had enough and I think it is time to give up. All I wanted was some help for my child, is that so wrong. My child means the world to me, the fact they are not sleeping and are worrying has me worried. We are both so tired.

Being laughed at from someone in a professional role, made me feel pretty worthless, I was already only just treading water with everything that has been happening. I can’t do it anymore, I really can’t, I don’t have the energy left.

All I ask of you is to listen to the children you care for, really get to know them, no child should slip under the net as it can leave them with a life time of mental illness. I thought writing this blog would help with that.

I admit defeat!!!

Lost Days

When things get difficult, I have this old coping strategy of dissociating, it hasn’t happened for a while as I was doing better. But, last week something happened that rocked my little family, and although my step-daughter reminded me of my strength, it has been tough going. I am trying to make everything ok for my daughter, I am trying to shield her from it and limit her worrying, but it is hard. Pretending that everything is ok when it’s really not, is not only heartbreaking, it’s all energy-consuming too.

Today, I woke up feeling like I have lost time, I feel like I’m sitting high up on a ledge watching life carrying on without me. It’s a weird feeling, one I don’t particularly like, but it served me well when I was a child and kept me safe. Although the s–t hit the pan and I am worried, I feel oddly calm, because it doesn’t feel real. It feels like I am watching it happen to someone else. I think I would prefer to feel anxious than this weird numbness. The anxiety I know how to deal with, well, to a certain extent, this numbness I have no idea.

I wish I knew how to switch it off!!!

I know that it is my brain’s way of dealing with trauma, coping with stress, and difficult situations. It happens automatically and with very little thought. I can’t control it. People keep accusing me of not listening, of being a bit off with them, but my mind is in overdrive and I am not really taking things in, at least not as well as I should be. I feel as though I am immersed in a thick fog.

It’s quite a lonely place to be in, and in all honesty, I am struggling with it. But, I am determined that I am not going to burn out, that I am not going to let it impact my mental health. I am hoping that writing is going to help with this.

I love my family, the current situation has certainly brought us all a lot closer, despite the physical distance. Being a step-mum, although it was difficult at times, is very rewarding and I love them dearly. You don’t realise just how much strength you have and how much you can cope with until you have no other choice, you just get through it the best way you can.

Autism and Me

When I asked to access the last round of therapy, for Social Anxiety, I had already come to the conclusion that there was more going on than just Anxiety, in fact, anxiety could only explain a small portion of what I was going through. During therapy, I was diagnosed with PTSD, which explained a lot of what I was going through, but again, it didn’t explain everything.

After a few sessions of therapy, and the therapist asking lots of questions, he asked if I thought I could be Autistic. To begin with, I wasn’t sure, I mean my nephew was diagnosed as autistic, and I was nothing like him. But, after reading the book, Spectrum Women, that the therapist had suggested and reading the resources that he had suggested, I realised that it was a very strong possibility. The more I read, the more I realised that I was Autistic.

Autism explained a lot of my experiences and difficulties, from school and work to friendships and relationships. I didn’t realise just how much of an impact different things, such as sensory overwhelm had on me. I finally get me and how I tick.

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