How to ask for help and support?

I am going through a rough time at the moment, but one of my biggest flaws is that I cannot ask for help or support, or even communicate what is going on.

Today I went to my GP as a last resort as I have been feeling suicidal and struggling with life in general.  Due to the ways I express myself (flat, non-expressive) I think a lot of people fail to realise how serious things really are and this is compiled with me not being able to communicate the severity properly either.

I need the support from other people, but my previous experience of this from my family wasn't great, if anything I was left feeling a bit of a nut case and a burden.

I need to tell my partner what is going on without feeling judge or a let down (this is from experience), but I just can't.  To make things worse he always asks me about how I feel, when as I have expressed in other posts, I'm pretty certain I have Alexithymia, so I don't know what I am feeling.  The best I can explain is good, neutral or bad, which doesn't help anyone.

I am seriously considering handing in my notice in at my job tomorrow, but I don't know if this is the overwhelmed depressed me taking action, or the sensible logical me that is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel - either way I need support and guidance to help steer me.

  • I can relate to what you say as I also really struggle to communicate, and also believe I have alexithymia. I have come to realize I have a processing delay between actually recognizing I am struggling and need help, then a further one of realizing I need help and actually getting around to/plucking up the courage to ask for it. I have improved slightly over the last year though, from I reckon about 6 weeks for that whole process to happen last Autumn to more like a few days now.

    I have few people I can talk to, or know about my diagnosis. As I write this I can hear my parents downstairs...we live in the same house but I couldn't tell you the last time I actually talked to them about anything of importance. They do not know about my diagnosis, not any of my thoughts/feelings or the struggles I have been going through. We just talk about the weather instead!

    I do know I find it much easier to communicate in writing than face to face....maybe you could write down your thoughts and give it to your partner, let them have time to read it, then talk? Would that help?

  • Hi Starbuck, 

    I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling.

    I think the suggestion to write down your thoughts is a good one. What do you think about writing a letter to your GP as well as your partner? 

    Handing a letter that explains your current state in person to your GP could be done at the next appointment you make. If you don't already have a formal diagnosis of ASC then perhaps this is also the time to raise it with your GP. If you're feeling overwhelmed and on the brink of quitting your job I'd urge you to revisit your GP as it sounds as though you may need to be signed off from work for a while. This will give you space to work out your feelings and probably lead to a better decision longer term. 

    For more immediate emotional support, a web search should bring up contacts for adult Mental Health community & emergency services in your local area. 

    The Samaritans can be contacted in the UK on 116 123 (quickest way to get in touch) or emailed on jo@samaritans.org if you prefer to write. 

    Mind UK has some good crisis support info here: 

    www.mind.org.uk/.../

    If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, you can call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

  • Hi Starbuck

    What you describe is very much like the predicament I feel I'm in. (Largely I have no one to turn to even if I were able to ask though.) I'm alexithymic too (online test here), and when someone asks me how I am, what I don't like is the difficulty saying rather than worrying about the insincerity of the question.

    It's not easy thinking there may be a communication barrier within a relationship either. It could be difficult for them to understand.

    I wrote a rambling article once on the subject of asking for help and support, specifically related to depression. Having been judged in the past, and not wanting to feel a 'burden', and being in the habit of ignoring your own feelings and needs. are all potential barriers in asking for help. In the case of autism, it's usually described as a 'mask'.

    Here's an old article that's supposedly about cancer, but it's more about the expectations other people can have of us and how those get in the way of honesty:

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/02/cancer-positive-thinking-barbara-ehrenreich

    And one more thing about loneliness if you're looking for a wider perspective: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/why-loneliness-can-be-contagious/

    I would suggest things may not be as bad as you think at your job and they do say don't take big decisions when you're depressed.

    Yes, there's something about not just what we say, but how we say it, that may lead to us not being taken seriously. In the case of a GP, they may well be looking out for physical and non-verbal signals as much as the content of what you're saying. The best suggestion I heard recently was to write down things as best you can and send it to your GP well in advance in a letter. A GP may resist reading something during the appointment.

    I've still not come to very useful conclusions (but will try to put things into practice in the next few days... I'm thinking of asking the GP for a referral to a clinical psychologist as that's the MH profession I've learned to trust most). Questions are

    • What to ask for help for
    • Who to ask for help
    • How to ask for help

    Who to ask can be divided into

    • Those people who you know but you don't think will understand the experience (subdivisions into casual friends and close relationships)
    • People who may understand the experience (hopefully some here or in local autism or mental health groups)
    • Professional help

    If it's professional help, then generally it's going to be in the context of some kind of diagnosis, although some just want to hear about life situation. The first group, of those close to you, you can ask for practical help and for positive suggestions of what to do. While they may not understand the diagnosis, they may understand some aspects of it, like insomnia or work trouble. Sometimes you also want mentoring or life coaching or spiritual guidance on a direction or how to tackle things, but there may be an autistic desire to 'get' life and be less of an outsider looking in, that in some way is never going to be satisfied.

    'Help' isn't necessarily a one way thing, and the most positive way of looking at things is often a collaboration.

    By the way, the Samaritans (116 123) don't fall into any of the above groups, but may be the easiest or only people you feel you can talk to sometimes.

  • Thank you to everyone for your posts.  I have taken a bit of time out lately to assess what's going on in my life and how I am both perceiving it and tackling it.

    I took your advice and wrote everything down, but didn't end up using in the way I thought with my GP.  Instead I read/referenced it so I made sure I got all my main points across.  It seemed to help although I still don't think the severity of the situation was fully realised, but it was better than nothing.  My GP prescribed a course of Mirtazapine, which I was really skeptical about if I am honest as I have a long track record of not responding well to medication, with the most recent one being to Amitriptyline.  Despite that though, the medication has really helped this time which is a relief as the night I published this thread, I was in a really bad place and struggling just convincing myself to carry on.  The new medication has eased my anxiety, helped my sleep and helped with the depression.

    Fortunately I didn't hand my notice in at work as I convinced myself this was the depression taking hold - this was the right and logical thing to do.

    There is still a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be, but I am so thankful the medication is helping as I really thought there was nothing left for me that would ease things.  I just hope it continues to work as I didn't realise how anxious I am all the time (even in my normal state) until taking them.

    Thank you for sharing the Alexithymia test - I scored 156 (High Alexithymic traits) so I guess that explains some of my challenges without a formal diagnosis - something else to add to the list!

    I will look at the forums as I am keen to find out more about this.

  • I am going through a rough time at the moment, but one of my biggest flaws is that I cannot ask for help or support, or even communicate what is going on.

    I have the exact same problem and can definitely relate to what you are saying! And what is difficult is that sometimes it takes a while to realise that this is causing life to be difficult. So, firstly you've made a huge process just figuring this out. And I'm really glad that you went to your GP and told him that you are struggling. I hope things will be a bit easier for you now. Best wishes with everything!