Hi everyone, I’m Haylee. I’m 24. So I don’t really know where to begin. I have felt “off” from everyone else for my entire life up to this point. I have trouble maintaining relationships whether it be intimate or just friends. I have outbursts about “small” things practically everyday about subjects that are very important to me but not everyone else. I feel that in social settings I am only comfortable talking about things relating to science and my family just always calls me a “brainiac” and “too smart for them”. But I don’t feel that way, I just feel like I delve really deep into certain things. I know being on the spectrum means different things for everyone, and it’s different for adult women. But I want to know what I should do to figure out what could be going on with me. I want to know if I can function around others the way I want to. Please, if anyone has felt the same way, reach out and let me know that there is some kind of hope.
If you have concerns on how you are feeling then your best route is to speak with your GP and let them know everything that’s making you concerned. It’s not a quick and easy path, I was referred last October and have only just started the assessment process. They have said it can take 10-12 months from here to go through and from what I’ve read that is a fairly generous timeframe compared to some areas.
I felt very similar and kept trying very hard to do what I thought I was supposed to do and ended up having a full on breakdown at the start of last year. I always knew before this that I struggled with lots of things but seemed to float through on my intelligence. This can also be a hinderance as you know you can be super genius like in some area (usually ones most people seem to struggle with) and then feel completely naive and lost in other situations and then wonder how there is such a huge contrast.
I had just turned 25 when I had a full on breakdown and major outburst in the office. It was something so minor that on other days I probably could have dealt with it but at the time I had lots going on that wasn’t in my control and I just couldn’t handle it. It was at this point I had been sent to a mental health service at work and looking further back and talking about all kinds of experiences they suggested I speak to my GP and ask for a ASD referral.
It did feel like everything suddenly made sense and instead of beating myself for some of the struggles I have I can see why I have and actually in some cases I am proud at how well I did manage despite some of the challenges. It gives me hope that I can manage more going forward but I definitely need to be aware of my struggles and do what I can to ease them rather than do what I can to hide them.
I don’t know what advice or help there is for these struggles and again it varies on where you live. For me having a better understanding of myself makes a huge difference and knowing what I want and need to keep myself happy should hopefully keep me away from feeling the way I did last year. I still have lots of outbursts over things that I feel strongly about and I am not sure that will ever change or how I can address that, there’s always a reason and it’s hard to change that logic when you know you wouldn’t have done what you did if you hadn’t been triggered.
If it is something you want to look into you should be aware of what you want from a diagnosis if you did get one. I know I can manage working and if I’m honest it’s never the work, that I always seem to pick up easily and know I am very good at the job. I do know where I struggle and it’s not that I cannot do it, I just need a bit of help at times. I have a very good manager who eases me into each situation. Once I have done it and I’m confident I know what I’m doing I am good to go but to throw me in the deep end with minimal guidance can lead to a complete meltdown. I just need to know more detail and have to double check I know what’s expected of me and I’m on the right track. I really struggle with getting things wrong, I have a really strong need to get it right.
I don’t want to burn out in this role and it was fairly new before lockdown (came as a blessing really!) and after a year of rebuilding I have started again. I am lucky my sister is similar age and practically a best friend too, she’s been my rock and understands me better than anyone else. Without her I am certain I would feel differently about needing friendship at the moment. I split from a long term relationship (albeit part time for most of it) after my breakdown too so I know for me that is also the last thing I need to be looking for.
I know if I want to widen my circle it’s usually my work that gets affected - I can’t seem to manage it all long term. I’ve had a burnout every 6-9 months ever since I started working and can see I’ve had many wobbles at work and had to change my work pattern or take time off. I’m hoping moving forward once I’m settled in work and should be through the process of the assessment that maybe I can look at ways of trying to balance any kind of relationship on top of working but for now my focus needs to be on keeping this role long term.
If my breakdown showed me anything is I need to make sure I am okay rather than trying to keep everyone else happy otherwise I end up dipping and that’s no help to anyone around me. Work is now more of a priority (I’m lucky I work in something I love and actually want to be there most of the time) So I think it’s figuring yourself out and what works for you and being open with the people around you as to what and when your struggling with. My advice would be if you are struggling and aware you are then you should speak up, if you don’t and you continue to try and cover up these feelings eventually you will go bang.
As Bumblebee said, the GP is the best place to begin your journey of getting a diagnosis. I did it in my mid 30's and although it did take over a year from start to finish it was well worth it once I had the diagnosis. I was assigned a psychologist who went over my life through many discussions, including school reports, doctors notes, case files from mental health practitioners that had seen me over the years.
Although the process is slow and rather painful at times, you could come out of it understanding yourself more clearly and hopefully with more direction for the future. Once I was confirmed as having ASD, many things in my life and how I react and behave became so much clearer. Now I'm proud of my autism and embrace it, even in the hard times when everything becomes too much. For me exercise, and or being alone calms me down when all becomes too much; but we all have our own ways of coping. I too think about science a lot, and its one of my triggers that gets me way to excited and obsessed, so I tend to only visit that subject occasionally which works for me most of the time. Being connected to the world with heightened senses is overwhelming, but over time I have learnt how to control my reactions to this. Hope it all works out for you :)