In my previous post I described how I’d reached a point where I could no longer cope the demands of my day to day life. My Doctor had advised I seek therapy via the NHS. I was given a phone number to call, which I did and it was arranged that I would be called back for a telephone assessment. The person I spoke to suggested it might be work related stress, which didn’t really feel like it was the case and it was agreed I would be put on the waiting list for therapy. There was a long wait, in desperation I phoned them to chase it up, they said it was still months away, but I could be seen sooner if I saw a student in training, which I agreed to. I received 6 sessions of CBT which although was a step forwards it didn’t really resolve the problems I was having. I could understand the concept of CBT, the logic behind it, but found it hard to apply to my every day life. At this point in time I’d also made a huge decision to accept volunteer redundancy from my employer, a decision I 100% didn’t want to make. I wanted to remain in my comfortable, safe feeling job. I took the opportunity as I’ve never had any money and struggled to bring up my daughter as a single parent. Taking the redundancy meant that I could have the finances to buy my own house with my partner. My mental health spiraled downhill during the period of making the decision and accepting it once made. The terror of job hunting was upon me. I found it hard to select jobs which didn’t involve lots of work with people, I didn’t feel confident at coping with lots of people contact in a new environment. As my mental health spiraled down hill I was referred to the Community Mental Health Team. I wasn’t eating, I was having frightening thoughts and my drinking had become more frequent. On top of this my existing job had a move into a new building in another location. The team offered me medication, which I refused because I strongly believed at that time that further therapy would help.
The Community Mental Health team decided I wasn’t unwell enough for them to help me, so they passed me back to the local wellbeing service. There was much to-ing and fro-ing at this point which I won’t bore The Reader with. Eventually out of the darkness was hope, the promise of intensive therapy to address my emotional regulation and social difficulties, on top of this I was advised to contact the Bristol Mental Health employment service. Without their coaching and support I wouldn’t have found new employment. A phrase which frequently cropped up was ‘your application was excellent, you just didn’t perform as well at interview.’ As I started the therapy I began to feel a bit better, the depression which I believe I was probably suffering from began to abate, and I started to feel a bit like me again. Unfortunately when my new job began everything hit the fan. The fear of being in a new place, new routines, new people terrified me. To compound matters I didn’t have enough work to do. Absorbing myself in something is my usual coping mechanism and without this I feel at sea. The therapy during this time kept me treading water, just about keeping my head up and staying in my job.As the therapy ended the therapist advised that she could refer me to the Autism Assessment Service as she felt that was potentially the cause of my difficulties. I didn’t know what to make of this as it wasn’t something I’d ever considered. When the therapy did end I fell into a black hole, the change, the removal of the routine hurt me like I’d been stabbed. I wanted to give up, to end it all. I had frightening thoughts nearly every day which culminated in me hurting myself, it probably would have gone further had I not called a friend for support. Looking back at this time I feel as if the sudden change of routine triggered a severe depression/psychosis. At certain points I could hear a voice, not my own internal one, telling me to do horrible things.I became convinced that the prevalence of crows meant that I was a terrible person. I became completely detached from myself, to the point that I could no longer recognize myself in the mirror. I withdrew from everything except work. Despite how unwell I was feeling there was still an innate sense of responsibility which somehow kept me working throughout this time. Letting work down was a rule not to be broken. I was sent back to the Community Mental Health team who supported me over the telephone during Christmas, when I opted out of everything including the family occasion.
I was still really distressed that the therapy had ended and wanted it to start again, I felt like the therapist was the only person who’d ever understood what I found difficult. Although I’d tried to explain things before to other people it never really felt like that understanding was there. To have that taken away with you, to be left with the possibility of having a developmental condition and an incredibly low mood was hard. Really hard. I was given a recovery worker who I felt like I didn’t connect with in any way, and my main obsessive focus was the continual request for further therapy. I felt like it could ‘fix’ me. I saw a psychiatrist who wanted to prescribe me medication, I explained that I felt so low there was a risk I could take them all, I was convinced I could get better without medication. I was told the autism assessment could take 7 months and I couldn’t have any treatment until that had been done. This felt grossly unfair to me, when I feel a sense of injustice I will pursue things obsessively. I wrote emails, I looked up information about NICE guidelines, without success I eventually wrote a complaint. As the same time I was offered a cancelled appointment and was given one the day after I received the phone call. My experience of assessment is continued in the next blog.