I'm new here, and came to this website because I've got some questions.
In September last year my depression relapsed again for the third time in three years. I went to my GP and she referred me for psychological assessment. At the assessment the psychologist referred me for therapy for my depression and anxiety but also referred me for an adult autism assessment. I thought nothing of the latter until the letter came through offering an appointment.
I attended the autism assessment this morning, and won't learn the outcome for a couple of weeks. But I don't know what a diagnosis (or non-diagnosis) is going to mean, and how it can help. I know I think differently to other people and struggle with some aspects of social interaction, but I work full time, I've got a mortgage on my own house, and I've learned to cope with being social. I'm 43, I'm just not sure how it's going to help make a difference either way.
Hi Graham, when I realised I was autistic, last May, I knew straight away that I wanted a formal diagnosis. I felt I needed it, not so much to prove the diagnosis but to confirm it, especially when I’m telling other people. It also became apparent to me that it was actually a necessity as I have been out of work now for several years. I have tried doing part time jobs that I thought I could handle, but it turned out that I couldn’t. I think I’ve been ‘passing’ for so long now that I can’t do it anymore and to be honest, neither do I want to. Now I am beginning to understand the situation better, I am able to make plans to create an income in a way that suits me, although at present, I just need time to process the diagnosis and steady myself. Deciding to get a diagnosis is such a personal thing and I don’t think I really thought about it too much or what the benefits would be but I’m realising that the biggest benefit to me, seems to be that I feel like I’ve been given ‘permission’ to finally be me. For me, this is life changing, it’s forcing me to really think about what it is I need and want in life and what I can give, without burning out and falling into depression and burnout. As I’m working that out, I can ask for the help I need and the formal diagnosis is supporting that and it is preventing me from falling back into what I’m good at or rather what I’ve done, what I’m used to, which is social worker/mental health practitioner, because even though I’m good at the job, as in, I’m good at working with the clients, the rest of the job is just too much for me. I’m working towards self employment/business owner as a metaphysician but I’m going to need support to make that happen as well as a good understanding or a better understanding of what is my ‘autism’ and what is me, so I can work with it and focus my attention on the positive aspects instead of trying to make myself fit into a box that wasn’t designed for me. I trust you will come to the right decision for you.
It’s fascinating that you used to be a social worker/mental health practitioner. I am a social worker now, working with looked after children. I like working with the smaller children because I find communicating with them much easier and it causes me less anxiety. This in turn has been recognised by my current line manager who has agreed to give me more cases with younger children. This generally means adoption work, which involves a lot more paperwork than other cases but I don’t mind that, paperwork doesn’t seem to bother me like it does other people.
I have worked in the social sector since 1998 though it has taken a long time to get to the point I am at today. A long time involving being in capabilities or disciplinary three times, being made redundant from three posts (in the public sector they only really sack you for gross misconduct, you get made redundant for performance issues) and going through burnout at least once. All this has meant that I am wiser now to not repeat the mistakes of the past, and a diagnosis is only going to help more.
I decided to disclose that I was seeking a diagnosis to my line manager because if she reacted negatively then this wasn’t going to be the right job for me. Luckily for me she didn’t. However I am conscious that the only constant in the public sector is change (something that also raises my anxiety levels) and I won’t always have the same line manager, so will just have to see how it goes.
I have thought about setting up my own business, but have no idea what I would do. Nothing I can think of would pay enough to keep me on top of my debts (mortgage, loan, credit card etc.) How did you decide your line of work for setting up your own business?