I'm really happy to find so many people, especially women, on the spectrum as I'm struggling to find someone in person. I was diagnosed with Asperger's 2.5 weeks ago, aged 23... not too long ago! I've been finding it very difficult to cope over the last 10 months, and 2 weeks ago I was referred to an early psychosis intervention community mental health team by my psychiatrist after hearing voices and seeing things which aren't real. I'm really worried I cannot cope for much longer and will have to drop out of my PhD, which is the main area I obsess over!
Has anybody else suffered with this, is this normal for Aspies to go through? Does anybody have any advice about what helps, or any other useful ideas?
I'm looking forward to reading through people's experiences... Have a great day!
I haven't had that either, some doctor thought at some point it was at least worth checking if something psychotic was going on in my head but the person who assessed me figured out quite quickly that this wasn't the case. Think I read somewhere that autism does not increase the risk for psychosis, so that would not be any more or less normal than for anybody else. But then, stress can cause all sorts of weird sensations and anxiety levels are often high with Asperger's syndrome, so that could probably be a reason too, or both. If your psychiatrist referred you there then I guess they assume that it may be more than stress. However, perhaps if so, chances that you will not drop out of your PhD are better than if it is purely AS that makes you unable to cope because while AS won't got away and all you can do is to try and manage it better psychotic episodes and whatever is causing them can possibly be treated much better (depending on what's causing them).
If you get the feeling that you are unable to work (guess that may be the case now from what you are saying) you need to tell someone at the Uni about this. Don't wait until you get into trouble because your supervisor isn't happy and has no idea what's going on. Unis seem to be really quite supportive when students have serious mental health problems, after all, most of their students are in quite a vulnerable age group when it comes to that. As long as the nature of your project doesn't completely prevent this they would probably try and find ways for you and your supervisor to give you a chance of finishing (more time to make up for time off-sick, part-time option, support while you work there, postpone reviews for as long as needed...).
Probably all unis have students mental health advisors now, they are usually very nice and understanding people and they may be the easiest to help you for the time being. They can give you advice what to do now and whom to go to, they can perhaps also help with telling your supervisor about it if they don't already know, or give them some advice how to best support you (they'll probably need that too). Perhaps it will be necessary to take some time off in order to get better (if so, it's probably better to do that than to keep struggling with life in general and a PhD on top until everything falls apart). It may be hard to predict for how long you would need to be off or working reduced times, but if they can give you some reassurance that this is not simply going to lead to you dropping out of your PhD then perhaps that should reduce the stress all this is causing somewhat and may increase the chances that you do get better and well enough to come back. In case you get signed off sick it is probably still worth to get in touch with them if you feel able to do so, because the less alone you feel with this the better and they can at least do that for you.
Please don't suffer with that fear of what may happen on your own, it makes everything worse when there may well be several ways the Uni can support you now and in future.
Do you know how to contact them (that Uni mental health advisor (team))? If not and if it's all too much at the moment perhaps ask someone to find out for you?
Thank you for your comment, it means a lot. I am having my psychosis assessment on Thursday. I do get help from the mental health team at university. I actually see the psychiatrist through the university and I have a CBT therapist through them who was helping me with anxiety before my diagnosis. However I find through the NHS there is less support. The university are helping me make a formal complaint to my GP surgery, to cut a long story short I was denied mental health help and had a 3 hour breakdown (i believe would be a autistic meltdown) where nobody was able to help me or advice me on any further help... My GP didn't even know about crisis!!
My supervisor is very supportive and I have been in his group since my undergrad so I have help there. Unfortunately there is no sick pay during a PhD and if i run over my time I have to pay the university lab fees which i won't be able to do.
I have been assigned a psychiatric nurse, and see people now about 2x a week on average now and i hope it will begin to help. It's hard with this diagnosis as I don't identify well with other ASD people that I have come across. There is no advice/help on any of these sites that I've found for Postgraduate/ PhD students or the difficulties i face with my ASD.