This is my first time here so apologies if I do this wrong.
I'm mid 40s and have always suffered from anxiety/depression and am now seeing similarities between symptoms of autism and myself. Is the only way of getting a diagnosis through your GP? I'm quite paranoid and I think my GP thinks I'm a hypochondriac so I hate the thought of having to go to her, I'm sure she'll just think I'm attention seeking or making it up.
I actually went through the local CBT provider, who I did a self-referral with. I entirely skipped the GP process, I hadn't realised that was an option.
I called my local NHS-partnered CBT service and enrolled for an online course in CBT because I was struggling to cope. I had weekly phone calls with my supporting therapist, and during one of these calls I mentioned that I felt I could benefit from some more autism-specific help because I was confident that I am autistic. The therapist then requested my consent to refer me to my local autism team.
The autism team contacted me within around a month to arrange an initial meeting to discuss my needs, why I thought I needed a diagnosis, what sort of problems I have, some 'why do you think you're autistic' types of questions, then after another 2-month wait I received a letter inviting me to an appointment for a diagnostic assessment. Around a month later I attended the appointment, which according to the letter, typically lasts around 90 minutes. However, mine lasted just over two hours.
I was hesitant to go down the GP route at the beginning as I am also quite a paranoid person! I hadn't intended to do CBT in order to get a referral, but it was lucky that I brought it up and it turned out that referral by the CBT service was an option. You never know, CBT might also help you as well. If you do decide to try the route that I tried, I would suggest being honest with them e.g. "Hi, I have my suspicions that I have autism and I'm struggling to cope with the resulting anxiety/depression" and go from there.
I'd just like to wish you good luck - you're not alone in feeling this way. Embarassment, shame, fear, and feeling like a hypochondriac is really normal and something that I think I can say with confidence that most adult-diagnosed autistics have been through or are going through still. We're all here to support each other and sometimes we all need a bit of reassurance that other people can relate to our experiences, though the way that we navigate those experiences are all different. There's power in naming things, the desire to find answers is more than reasonable. Whether you find out you are autistic or not, I hope that you find the answers you seek and you can find comfort in them, I know I did.
I had no idea any of that was an option, so thank you, although I have just searched for online courses in my area and nothing appears to be available.
To be honest I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed so I think I'll leave it for the time being. My depression has been much better lately and although my anxiety is still rampant (I'm off work today yet I am sat on the sofa with butterflies in my stomach) so I would feel a fraud if I started enquiring about CBT when I'm not anywhere near my lowest point. Plus, I absolutely hate appointments of any kind, especially if I have to push myself forward and I'm useless at describing symptoms etc! I don' think I have the confidence at the moment for anything face to face.
But thank you for the information, I will continue to look into it all.
Hypochondriac is a medical condition. Not to be trifled with
You're very welcome. You may find it easier to search by "CBT" or "Talking therapies", Mind has a section on CBT as well, which you can find here.
Not being at your own rock bottom wouldn't make you a fraud, it's also helpful to remember that therapy is as much preventative as it is damage control. I understand why face to face could make you feel uncomfortable and why it could be difficult for you. What I find helps when describing symptoms is to write things down in preparation, even if it's just very brief notes e.g. what's happened this week, how that felt (even if it's physical sensations, it's all useful stuff).
Be kind and patient with yourself - you're not a fraud, and you're not making it up.
Welcome! The truth is, your GP's views cannot affect your requests. If they try to do so, then you can ask for another GP and state that this person is putting their beliefs ahead of your interests (which isn't even allowed anyways). I'd go to the GP and ask for the diagnosis :)
Much love <3