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Neurodivergence/ autism TW

I'm currently feeling really distressed and confused about the stuff that I'm about to write about (which is why I'm writing about it). I'm also really concerned that I might not be able to express those feelings in a way that isn't hurtful to others for whom this is a personal topic, which is the last thing I want to do. Mods feel very free to edit any of this, and if what I say is hurtful to anyone I'm sorry and will be really open to any advice on how to talk about it better.


A couple of months ago I started seeing a counselor (again) saying I feel really out of place and alone because I never seem to fit in like other people do and I spend so much energy trying to figure out how to act in a way that will encourage others to accept and want me but I still seem to not be getting it right and I don't know why but it's exhausting and incredibly stressful and makes me feel so sad and broken and lonely. He said that's a common experience among people who are neurodivergent. After seeing him longer he said he thinks I have autism.


Stuff I've read written by people who have autism about their experience of it there's a lot that I identify with (and some stuff that I don't). When looking at the medical criteria for it (which I did with my counselor in the last session) it's similar, but I felt fairly attacked/ belittled by the stuff it said that I kinda identified with? I'm currently like 70% sure I could probably fit that label. But not really sure if using the label/ getting it 'confirmed' (or rejected) by someone who has the authority to do that would have any benefits?


My counselor's asked if I want to see a psychiatrist to assess this. I don't know if I should... Like I currently feel really hurt and like such a failure from a lot of my interactions with the world. And I'm not really coping with that. So if this might be part of why maybe I should do something about that and what else could I do, but... then what? Maybe they'll agree and say yes, but then that won't change my experiences. Maybe they'll say no, and that still won't change my experiences. And I'm not sure if I trust them to get it right? Like to me it seems a little unclear, and I'm also not sure if I trust myself to communicate properly the things that make me think I might be.


Also I've found that in my experience of professional help related to mental health stuff the rough ratios of professionals I've interacted with has been 30% seem intentionally callous or dismissive, 65% seemed neutrally unhelpful (which still hurt when I was desperate for help), and 5% have helped a little. Based on what I've seen of society I'm guessing it wouldn't be much better for professional help relating to neurodivergence.


I don't know if I should see a psychiatrist about this (I do know I'm scared to though). I don't know if it's ok for me to have or talk about these feelings, especially without a diagnosis. I don't know if there's any positive steps I can take without seeing a psychiatrist. I don't know if there's any positive steps I can take if I do see a psychiatrist. I don't know if I can handle being the way I am with the world the way it is. I don't know if I can change enough about myself or the world to make things ok though (or ok enough).


Any input welcome.




Re: Neurodivergence/ autism TW

Hi there!

I can relate quite a bit to your experiences. Almost every single mental health professional I've seen has suspected I have Asperger's, though I've never been formally diagnosed with it. Some have attempted to implement coping strategies on me that work on neurodivergent people, under the guise of 'I'm not suggesting you have autism, but...' (I didn't like that, she approached it like having autism was shameful!). 

Autism is tricky and highly stigmatised. I think by the way it's handled by society/ portrayed in the media, it would be normal to feel distressed and confused. When it was first suggested to me at about 10 my mother scoffed, claiming that while I did match some symptoms I was too old/'smart'/aware etc to meet the diagnosis. Today, while I tend not to use the label unless anyone specifically asks, I guess I do consider myself neurodivergent. 

It's important to remember that autism exist on a spectrum that varies from person to person, so one person's experiences may not match another's (there is some evidence that it effects males and females differently, for example). 

If you do go to a psychiatrist/ assess this further, they could give you advice/ coping strategies that may be proven to ease social situations for neurodivergent people e.g. strategies for keeping eye contact and making friends. If you are worried about their ability to help, in my personal experience psychiatrists have been one of the most helpful of mental health professionals I have seen (they've studied mental health for 10+ years, after all), though I know how difficult it can be to find a mental health professional you really connect with.

If you feel like you're worried about the stigma, I would suggest going online and researching accomplishments by people with/ retroactively 'diagnosed' with the disorder. For example, some medical professionals consider that Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Lewis Carroll, and so many other great minds may meet the diagnosis today!

At the end of the day, while a label may help target some coping strategies/ specific support, etc., it does not define the whole person you are! I hope you feel better soon. <3


Re: Neurodivergence/ autism TW

hey @hellofriend, thanks for feeling comfortable enough to post about this! @Hozzles has given some great insight already, and I'd just thought I'd chime in with my experiences with mental health professionals.


The first thing I wanna say is that it's definitely okay for you to be posting and talking about this without a diagnosis. Just because you haven't been formally diagnosed doesn't mean that your problems and feelings are invalid, and regardless of whether you have that label you still deserve help and support with your feelings of being alone and trouble fitting in.


I definitely agree with you that MH professionals can be a mixed bag, and there are unfortunately people out there who give their jobs a bad name. However, I will say that finding a professional that is a good fit for you can really make a huge change in your life. @Hozzles has already mentioned that getting a diagnosis can be a pathway for further professional help, and I want to say that having a diagnosis can also give you a lot of great community support as well. There are lots of support groups, both in person and online, for people on the spectrum, and it can be a really great way to feel less alone and to bond with others with similar experiences. Both professional and informal support can make a big difference in improving areas in your life that you wanna grow in.


Another upside to going to see a professional is that even if they feel like you don't have autism, at least you have that possibility ruled out and you can focus on other ways of addressing your problems. 


Last of all, I just want to say that your apprehension about seeing a professional is completely valid, and if you don't feel comfortable going to one it's really understandable. Something that might help is maybe finding a professional that you trust, and getting to know them beforehand. It might also help to read a bit more online about people's experiences with being autistic, and seeing if that makes a difference in how you want to approach things.


Re: Neurodivergence/ autism TW

Hey @hellofriend! Smiley Happy


Well done on going to see a counsellor again!

It is ABSOLUTELY okay for you to talk about the feelings you're experiencing, with or without a diagnosis. Your experiences are valid and important. And it's only by talking about them openly that other people can start to understand and help you with them.


I'm sorry to hear that your experiences with mental health professionals have been so mixed. I agree that seeing a psychiatrist won't change your experiences, and I admire the level of thought you've put into all of this. I'm wondering, though, if there might be other benefits to seeing a psychiatrist about it?

e.g. even if it doesn't change your experiences, you've mentioned that you're concerned that you might not be able to communicate your experiences properly - maybe seeing a psychiatrist, and talking to someone new will help give you a language around what it is you're going through, and make it easier for you to describe. What do you reckon?


Looking forward to hearing from you Smiley Happy    

// Spiral outward, keep going. //

Re: Neurodivergence/ autism TW

So update on this- I'm seeing my doctor about this to start seeking an assessment on Tuesday. Still worried. At the moment I've got a list of questions, a list of things that make me suspect I might be autistic, and a list of things connected to that which are causing me to struggle. It was nice coming back and reading everyone's responses again


Re: Neurodivergence/ autism TW

Thank you for updating us on this @hellofriend    - I hope the assessment goes well tomorrow. 

I can understand that you're worried about it - but great idea to write out the list of questions and other things. 

Keep reading through this thread if it helps, and know that we're here if you wanna let us know how it goes and how you're feeling Heart

I'm leaving ReachOut on the 5th of June Smiley Sad Say goodbye here