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This is me... hello

by littlelostmonkey on 25 March 2011

Well I guess I should introduce myself. I'm a female student studying both HNC Interactive Media (at college full time) and a post grad certificate in Autism (at uni part time) who lives in sunny Glasgow. I've had numerous labels over the past years... shy, quiet, depressed, social anxious, a self harmer and the one I got most recently- Autistic.

I’m 23 now and I wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome until I was 21 years old. All my childhood I was told I was too quiet, too shy and too passive.  

I was bullied throughout school but it wasn’t until I’d left and started training to be a primary teacher at university (yeah, not the most brilliant of career choices!) that I started to have more serious problems. By second year I was getting extremely anxious and began failing my teaching placements. I could interact with the children fine, but just panicked when I had to talk to the teachers and tutors. At the end of my third year I got placed into academic suspension. I went and did Camp America with special needs kids and adults over the summer holidays but I couldn’t cope with trying to be around other people 24/7 and got sent home early.

I ended up basically having a breakdown and turned to a university counsellor for help. She was the first person who seemed to understand me. From there I saw a psychiatrist, was mis-diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and spent 10 weeks in the Priory as a day patient. Being forced through hours of group therapy was like torture to me and I ended up developing depression and began self harming.

I spent the year after seeing the university counsellor and psychiatrist. It was then that my counsellor started noticing I had traits of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)- that I was extremely passive, got very anxious about communicating, didn’t cope well with change and had certain sensory hypersensitivities, like noise and bright light. Several months later she convinced my psychiatrist to refer me to the adult autism team. After an assessment that stretched over 4 months I was finally diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome.

Initially I had very mixed feelings about my diagnosis. Part of me was really happy that I’d finally found out why I was struggling so much and that I wasn’t crazy like I was starting to fear! (well at least not quite as crazy) The other part was I guess in denial. I just kept thinking if I am autistic why has it taken 21 years for anyone to notice? My friends and family seemed to be in denial as well. My mum in particular couldn’t really process the information and kept saying ‘yeah, but it’s just mild, isn’t it?’. I suppose it’s taken me about a year for it to actually sink in. I’ve always loved working with kids on the autism spectrum and now I know why I can relate to them so much.

Despite getting my diagnosis of ASD over a year ago, my mental health difficulties didn’t magically vanish like I’d been hoping they would. In fact, my problems actually got worse. I was assessed by a psychologist over the course of a horrendously long five months. They knew about my ASD and previous social anxiety disorder diagnosis but still insisted that I was perfectly able to communicate my thoughts and feelings by speaking to them- all I had to do was try harder. This of course was complete rubbish and I became so distressed that I was actually suicidal and my self harm increased. At this point they decided to tell me that they couldn’t help me and that basically they had no idea what to do. I felt completely abandoned. I was passed onto my community mental health team- who also had no clue how to work with someone on the autism spectrum.

The past year has been full of ups and downs muddling through sometimes with my cpn supporting me and other times with me trying to teach her. It's not been brilliant if I'm honest... my self harming got so bad at one point I was in A&E getting stitches 4 times in under 2 weeks. My arms are a mess. 

At the moment I'm trying to cope with my Asperger's and 'emotional problems' (my cpn's words, not mine!), stop self harming, keep busy with college and try and move on from the past few years. I'm slowly getting there and I'll let you all know how I'm getting on.

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Candycan said on 25 March 2011

That was an interesting post. I wish you luck on your journey and I hope things become more settled for you soon. Having family members with Aspergers and rating highly on the scale myself I can understand how difficult some things can be for people with Aspergers. I hope you will be able to get the help you need. Write more soon.

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