What is the difference between mental health and Autism?

Source of writing www.naturalempathiser.com – feature photo from my 2016 journal

It is thought to be believed, that mental illness is most common for people on the Autism Spectrum than in the general population, and is more often, overlooked.

My life has been filled with so many confusing questions, some answered, but the majority of the time, the answer doesn’t seem to fit when it comes to expressing or explaining me.  I remember my response when it was first ever verbally said, that I may be autistic, two and a half years ago.  That is the first time I had ever heard it, in that context directed towards myself, I was 28 years old.  Bearing in mind, I had already been thought to have, postnatal, PTSD, depression, then bipolar, and medicated for these.

I was also in the system since 12, many a professional trying to help to the point I had to go into care despite my parent’s best efforts.  All these people from all walks of life and job title, so many a professional with many an opinion, technique or medication. In my opinion they were and still are, relevant pieces in the puzzle that is me, the process of untangling, but still not allowing enough to balance my scales.  Linkable to the fact that ASD is something entirely separate but interchangeable from mental health, and I seem to fit to well in both, currently diagnosed ADHD, which is biologically more a male orientated diagnosis, were as mood disorders are more commonly diagnosed in women. (I am a minority it appears, still treated like the majority, no wonder damage control varies.

This has all happened in the time frame of 2016-2017-2018, but the reality is, it has been more than half my life, and all my life.  Sometimes I find it so ironic how people worry abound legalising cannabis.  There was a story I signed a petition for with regards to a young boys meds for his fits, containing a key ingredient found in a marijuana plant.  Unbelievable what that family and boy had to go through due to debates against facts and fiction, easy to go buy a pint or vodka though, turning many into nutters by choice.

Well believe me you, from personal experience, prescriptions, and tested medications, used for all sorts, can be, and has been for me personally, the most aiding and disabling trips I’ve ever had, in my entire life, unless educated or experienced, opinions influence, make sure it’s for the right reasons.  Everything has a side-effect, what works for one, may not for the other, the key is knowing your own internal balances to ensure your scales aren’t tipping. (equilibrium/balance).

Something I learnt back in 2016 when I was put on a mood stabiliser is, epileptic medications are used to treat some with bipolar.  One actually helped what I once described as the black cloud from suffocating me, but I was far to medicated to give a clear outlook.  Dramatic word choices I use at times I know, but verbally, words can fail me majorly and that was the only way, I could describe it.  Meds seem to work really different for me in many a way, also I’m extremely aware of my bodies internal chemical balance depending how inertly focused I am. (just don’t know the words sometimes or how to explain)

Further down the road of discovery, and also an opinion of a gentleman on our very first meeting, was once nicknamed my action man, and a woman I called the delicate flower (the hand over process when one nurse leaves for good), ADHD was my action man crisis nurses opinion, which I’m currently diagnosed, and finally, it appears for me and those I hold dear, we may finally be on the right path to answers more suitable or helpful, the unanswerable in some ways, Autism.  Autism I now believe given my understandings, is separate from my current diagnosis of ADHD (mental health)

I will never forget mine or those that are closest to me, first response or opinions to the thought of me being Autistic….. no chance, and that is putting it mildly, obviously influencing my way of thinking, and those around and relevant, to some regard.  The reason I thought this was because of the narrow-minded view and education I had on the subject, also what others, my entire life’s views have been, even professional.  I have no obvious physical deformities (there are and were some), but i am beginning to broaden my understanding through experience, just being me, and educating myself, I have learnt so much more.

Every time things go skewed, it’s usually due to interactions or input from people, other human beings. Maybe relationships is a more accurate word for this setting, and not just intimately, regardless of what shape and form, relationships seem to be the answer or word, making the most sense.  Looked at more acutely, people, linkable and compatible with emotions. Time and time again, I tell people my need, not my want, but my need for time to gather ones thoughts uninterrupted or influenced, unless chosen, never seems a possibility, just a pipe dream.   No doubt everyone can relate to some degree and beg for space, but it is fundamental to keep my mind healthy and functionable at points, or the aftershocks are defragmenting.

This has led me to the question, what does mental health look like in someone with Autism, given current knowledge.

My thought process is as such, if I can figure out what areas of my mental health is skewed and fix or enable them to be less problematic, maybe just maybe I can figure out what autistic traits are interfering and impacting on my life, in a negative way because there are many a positive.  My theory is, once this is figured out I can learn the abilities to counteract, making it easier to cope and get my life finally on the right track, where I may be currently disabled.

I feel so trapped and it is becoming more and more suffocating internally, eventually manifesting and spilling outwardly.  Always a similar pattern with similar outcomes, just slightly shifting and changing whilst I continue losing and winning battle after battle, will I ever win the war?? Or were the odds never in my favour?  No doubt more unanswerable questions with many a different view so I will move on from this way of thinking as the odds are in my favour, when I make them.

I wrote an article about self-hatred, anxiety and depression a time ago, now my research has taken me deeper into the questions asked or relevant to that first Article.  Roughly 40% of individuals who are autistic will suffer one anxiety disorder at any time, compared with the general populations statistical figures of 15%.  This can then influence and create sadness and depression.   Vulnerability and stress seem to be the key words popping up time and time again when finding the words to describe how I feel.

I have always given the impression I rebel against the label, or so I have been led to believe, which is not entirely true. I just want more of an accurate or closer fitting one, given as wide a scope of the situation as possible for all parties involved or relevant to this exchange of information, so I can get access to the help already available out there, but unreachable to myself and others, who could really do with it. This has led me down a very long complicated path, which at this present moment, seems to be more focused and orientated around Autism.

Leaving no other choice but to personally search for answers to questions such as where on the spectrum do I fit? What do the 4 categories results of the RAADS actually mean or tell ones-self and others? When do I start following the cookie trails in my medical records, or should I even do that? I can tell statistically and through research that this genre of writing seems to be needed, therefore I will continue to write what I discover on this journey, for all those interested, as I’m tired of hitting a brick wall due to time restraints, debates, negligence, my disabilities or disorders and my gender.

My way of processing data seems to be, naturally categorise everything, for deeper analysis and understanding. Knowing what is relevant and irrelevant is a complicated process all humanity relates to and stumbles upon daily.  They deal and react given their own unique coping mechanisms and abilities, accessible and relevant to the situation.  I appear to put labels/categories on everything to help me remember and to put relevance, where there was possibly none, depending on where they fit in my head given that days abilities.

“There are definitely things I will never be able to do, but, I can learn new abilities to contradict the disabilities.  I try to achieve this by creating better order, where I once may have been disorderly, to the best of my capabilities”

Every time questionnaires are pulled out I swear I internally implode and metaphorically poop my pants, depending on the setting, context, understanding on what I am actually being questioned for or, if I can even answer the question by paying enough attention where relevant, it has my hackles, guards, and walls shooting as high as possible.

Aggressive I’m told, but a more fitting word may be protection with enough cause for it to be my primary reaction. I’ve been on the receiving end for trio of decades repairing the damage, it is not for the faint hearted hence why I rely on my primal instincts to guide me, they have kept me alive since a young age, where people intentionally and unintentionally have failed.

Please remember it is my health in question here not yours, I am not just a label, category, or statistic, I am an individual pointing her voice out there in the only way I know how. All I ask is to please tread more carefully and have the support necessary for dealing with the landmines and implications you happened to stumble upon in my mind, without a second thought to damage control. Trust is a two-way thing, and it’s getting harder and harder to trust those, who continuously say one thing, but do a complete other, leaving disappointment and a lack of hope.

I was reading through the words I had to pay for, written by my clinical psychiatrist and she had asked me to write a time line, life story, keep a journal and we were supposed to do the RAADS but I had never understood that or had the time to recall the words.  I have created a free way for my clinical psychiatrist and any other professional aiding in dealing with my care, can have access to my words, understandings and insights, hopefully limiting lack of communication and confusion, resulting hopefully in effective results from the limited time slots available, for helping an individual..

Now however, I have completed one to the best of my ability available on another post which is better than nothing I suppose.  I apologise for the time delay, I always seem to be reflecting on what I miss, but I do get there in the end.

The overall score for yours truly, a 30 year old whose gender is female, in a long-term intimate relationship alongside being a mother to, a preschool boy and a tween girl, who given my knowledge and understanding meet autistic thresholds for Autism but back to their mothers score on the RAADS, of 171.  I will retake soon and see what the results are as I believe I have more understanding into the questions therefore the patterns will have changed, my compass shifted.

When I understand more of the words within the question, its relevance and what the results tell, or give insight into, for the clinician or those relevant, yourself included, I’ll post an article, but I stumbled upon this piece of writing below today.  I remember how lost I felt when I lost all ways to communicate, when my mind was that tangled and crammed full, it was reflected in every angle of communication, but most devastatingly so in the words I wrote, refusing to allow them a reality I went into a complete malfunction of sorts.

February 2018 (my skill returns to give comfort to oneself)

How to start!!! The ultimate question that has left so many pieces of paper blank, possibly writers block implemented in my brain for the past few years.  I miss it, my mum says its something I’ve always done is write it down.  When thinking back she is right, it is when I’m not getting what I’m wanting to say across verbally, I write.  I have not lost the skill, just the ability to use it in the short-term, even what I write is so below my normal skill set but I don’t care I want it back, therapeutic arguably and the more I do it, the more it improves, the better I can communicate as proven back in February 2018 with my GP, a  man I have struggled with emotionally over the years, butted heads with, but formed a genuine bond in which together, we can now laugh at the history in past memories over the years. 

I will never forget our first meeting end December 2012/January 2013. I had just moved to the land of the lost, after seeking refuge.  We had our appointment and his eyes unsettled me to the core near the end as they noticed things my poker face couldn’t hide, asked questions that no other doctor has, in the context he done it, maybe compassion is the word I’m looking for.  I clammed up so tight as his brain and eyes were far to observant and sharp, unsettling me and leaving me feeling vulnerably exposed.

I remember the phone conversation with my mum after where I described him as one of these hillbilly doctors, probably living in some cabin in the woods (not stereotyping something from the movies at all here!!) I’d just moved from the city to the country, I was used to the conveyor belt treatment).  His eyes unnerved me because they appeared to look as if they could see through my armour, past the chameleon that is me, as if he could look into my very soul, I left with my tail dangling between my legs.

He wanted to help, always has and regardless of the struggles, he always will if he is able, and that was why I cried out for help to him, as I was failing with everyone else.   I knew he would listen and try everything he could to help, I just had to communicate it right so that he could.  I feel honoured and privileged to of had him as my doctor, a pillar to the community and that’s not just my words, most sought-after doctor here, a credit to his profession and believe you me I’ve only met a handful like him over the years, I wouldn’t be where I am at the moment without his support, understanding and patience when my behaviour is less easily explained.

I have a plan, a focus, fixing my inner foundations and structure…. That’s if I don’t flat line on appearance and become trapped in an inner hell, looking for anything to clutch so I can come out the other side.  After my appointment back in February 2018 where I handed over words so raw and open to me, overwhelmed was an understatement, silent tears flowed, triggered by anything happened for hours, got stuck in my past, these words are found in the post defining a rebel is someone who does not fit the ‘norm’.  

Being around me can damage your own mental health when I am like this and verbally communicating, dissecting as my mind raced all because I managed to get the words down, someone took the time to read and I knew I had got across what I wanted to say.  At the time his answers gave so much relief and hope it was intense.  I wanted to hide, thought of hospital, hiding in my room in a pain no one should have to witness or be around.

Through time I became more high, metaphorically running around looking, listening reflecting on ways I could fight the dark fog threatening to suffocate me. I then became higher emotional instead of low, flat and deflated if that’s the right word, my mum understands my language and even though verbally to anyone else, they wouldn’t have understood, just left the conversation exhausted and confused, my mum managed and helped to change my perspective slightly. 

Best I can explain but to the next point, triggered from the change in perspective, ignorance can be bliss, but I no longer have that option, knowledge and understanding is what I’m lacking, so fix it.  I read mass amounts always have, but have stuck to more fantasy and supernatural, time to come out of fantasy and into reality no matter how badly I want to avoid it.  

What I’ve found on mental health has been exhausting, a point-less or more in some ways, so decided to start looking in to the one I refused to believe many a moon ago, ASD but resources are limited and time consuming.  I have found a book written so brilliantly, I have decided to read the whole thing in one setting.  Would have been done February 2018, would have been an all nightery as the first 50 pages had me so intrigued but I had promised to switch off, if there is such a thing, to try switch of. 

To date I have still not managed that book and to many tasks to list as far too much has clouded my focus, knocked it off or changed it entirely for that moment in time (mostly out of my control).  Unfortunately that bit of space with no influence has not been possible and I’ve exhausted the resource that is me yet again. When it does become a reality and space is not just a fantasy, I image I  will have already found most my answers and more, eventually they will become reflective, time frames are just to long though, that is something requiring immediate attention. 

My compass is forever shifting as I pass by, no matter how tiny or huge, always shifting to point me in the direction I need, want, or must be at that present time.

www.naturalempathiser.com for more reading, understanding and depth

Further Reading

  1. My Feministic journey, into the spectrum
  2. Trip down Memory Lane
  3. Mirror-Mirror, Show me my true reflection
  4. My Journey through Mental health
  5. The words of Lilly falls Beautifully unfinished
  6. Welcome to the natural empathiser

 

A Personal SOS call, to save one’s soul

07 July 2018

It was a warm sunny day, one where I could socialise with no small talk or pretences, debateable and comical at the same time.  During one of the more comical sides to this good hearty conversation, my friend was telling me what type of animal mine and those dearest were in relation to our months of birth.  I came out a fish who is someone that doesn’t have an opinion, we all laughed.  Initial reaction doesn’t fit at all but later after some reflection, I don’t ever have an opinion as such, just a point of view or understanding giving the situation or events taking place, constantly changing to fit an ever changing external and internal environment.

I do not belong to any group or what one would consider social ‘norms’ but I’m okay with that.  The more I open to the ones that do understand me, the more benefits, but I do wonder if those supposed to help will ever be in touch.  Appointments I never receive letters for, due to no fault of my own but the individuals.  I miss appointments, terrible for it, especially if there is no immediate relevance it slips from my thoughts which myself and those attached are aware of.  I’m told it is a part of my disability and there are groups, courses and help that can aid me with coping mechanisms (where are they?? Started this journey Spring 2016.)

I take responsibility and apologise to all relevant, but I’m not paid to help myself, if I could I would.  What I mean by that is, if I had the support or help that I’m told I am entitled to, I wouldn’t miss appointments. Also, if those who are designated and specialised to help, can’t even get the admin side done right what am I supposed to do? I need these little slithers of time handed to me like scraps, not with my GP, he does all he can, but with those specialised to help. I don’t have crystal balls therefore, I lack the ability to know you have made an appointment with me, if in fact you do not let me know verbally or written how am I supposed to attend this, 1hr a fortnight, or the most important which I get no more than I can count on 1 hand, a year.

There are many reasons to why I write, but how or what I am writing about can be influenced or depended on, by anything and everything relevant to the cause. The purpose and reasoning behind this piece of writing, expressed through these words, in this context, is to reach out to those able and willing to help, who have the capabilities, social standing and authority, with the education, experience and knowledge to look in more depth, at this individual who keeps confusing 30 years on.

I am an adult and have been for some time, that makes this harder.  The systems over the past 2 decades have done more harm and created more confusion, that I am only just beginning to scratch the surface of being able to understand.  I am warily empathetic and understanding to the notion that although this wasn’t their intention, that they were only trying to help, you didn’t, because you were too busy trying to fit me into boxes, you’re missing the individual.

These criteria’s and boxes needing ticked are just guidelines and in no way set in stone.  So why do the same patterns that fail keep happening clearly time and time again, if this was not the case through experience and first-hand dealings, I wouldn’t be writing this particular blog.  This cycle needs to end or be shaken up because I don’t care what label fits, so long as I can start living instead of barely existing at times, because the real tangible pain resonating in my brain, is from that metaphorical wall I keep running head on into.  How many times can I keep doing that before irreversible damage might be done, doesn’t bare thinking about. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have the funds or social class to privately finance that, or I would probably have had results and answers or understanding many years ago.  I’m only speculating because I have the brain and physical abilities to not be in the poverty stricken, from however you choose to look at them words, but I am.  Most of the damage needing repaired could have been avoided if one was to just look at the individual and take the time, not try to fit the individual into the disabling system when she’s already disabled enough.  I have started this, to voice my own alongside the echo of other people’s voices I have heard.  I want to try and communicate my inner thoughts, feelings and understanding transpired into written words, made by men and women alike, for more in depth understanding and communication with one another

Writing is therapeutic to me, and I have done it for so long for many vast and varied reasons, both personal and not.  What I am hoping to achieve by publishing and putting both my personal and generalised writing out there, is simply put, a platform for one’s self and others to express their hopes, dreams, failings, and discoveries relevant to my purpose and their own.  I’m just communicating in my best form, to be able to get my message across, hopefully with a response, to what I or others can aspire to be, past and present determining the future, as practical and mental teachings through learning continue their cycle.

I use my memory plus the knowledge and information gathered through all aspects available at the time, to conclude or come to an understanding or reasoning, given the facts and information available or sought out at that past moment.  I’m always watching and observing everything around me, some never written, or verbally voiced, just known to me myself and I, with regards to my perceptions and takings.  I’ve always been a people watcher, which may sound a little creepy but that is not the case, just paying heed.  What I mean by that is I’m always observing my surroundings, noises, vibrations, smells, energy etcetera.

I use the memories available and relevant to the event or situation in question, plus the knowledge and information gathered through all aspects of life known and familiar to me.  I then conclude given the facts and information available to me at that, moment in time to an answer with at least some understanding or a direction to find that useful information.  As I have said I’m always watching and observing everything around me, it’s something I can’t help.  I became an extreme people watcher during traumatic years in my early teens, but I suppose I always have been.  From there, I learn from what I have saw, felt, heard, learnt, or experienced, good or bad.

I like seeing the familiar in a new way, raising the level of perception above ‘normal’, making myself aware of my own self, in the fullest way possible which can contradict with a lot of personalities at times, where this is not their ‘norm’.  Take these very bold outlined words, then start adding some colouring to them, it could produce what follows. Evil, in a colloquial sense (which is just everyday speech), is the opposite of good. Branching and stemming from them words could produce a word more precise but commonly a religionists-associated word, which is “wickedness.”  As defined in philosophy, it is the name to describe the personality and instinct of individuals, which selfishly but often necessarily, feel the need to defend their personal boundaries against foreseen and unforeseen attack.

I suppose the birth of the natural empathiser is my own brand of realism, put out there for others to see if they so choose.  I want to give a little insight into the type of personal writer I am and aim to be through professional  and personal experience, and hopefully express my purpose in publishing my writing.  The purpose and intention of this blog is both personal and completely relevant to the society we live in.  My intention and way of life is to manipulate and exploit everyday knowledge, memories, and words, to a level of perception above the ‘norm’ to become aware of my own world, and others in the fullest way possible to one’s self.

Natural empathiser for me is a communication platform to those who may be able to assist, in some way on this quest for answers.  The reason I am doing it this way is primarily, because I don’t fancy changing my degree plans to accommodate, an approximate 10-year journey becoming a doctor or another pathway getting a PhD in Science, to be able to study and understand the human brain, in a more in-depth scale.  If I’m honest I really considered it, thanks to my university I seen a little sense because I don’t have to.  Many have already done this who could help if they so choose to spare me those precious moments of time.  Allowing me access to their knowledge and understandings of neurology (the brain) and psychology (mind and behaviour) more specifically, helping me solve the riddle that is me, and why I have been described the human Rubik’s cube that hasn’t been solved yet?

Someone out there has the answer, I’m following thesis, theory, hypothesis, fact, reason, well that is after sifting through the endless amount of pointless, irrelevant, misguidedly confusing jargon. It’s like a needle in a haystack unless you have a clear path, as I’m beginning to believe, by seeing the mechanisms and clockwork of my brain, visually.  This could help see the bigger picture so to speak, or be just another piece, regardless it will give insights and answers I never had before, where hypothetically and statistically, it is failing, or so it appears through the knowledge I have gathered and the way I am still treated.

I considered changing my degree plan to focus on neurology, to gain access to knowledge regarding brains, mine more specifically.  Do you know how long that would take me, how much time I do not have to spare for that especially when there are people with 10, 20, 30, 40 years’ experience already there.

May you be a specialist in neurology or psychology, as I need both to see the bigger picture.  If you are reading this and can help then this blog is targeted at yourself because to me you are unicorns, I have only ever heard, read, or spoken about yourselves, but never had the privilege in 30 years, of meeting that person who thinks outside of these boxes, and is interested in my individual, with the ability to truly appreciate it. Not necessarily true in some senses though, I have met a GP and a clinical psychiatrist meeting this description plus many others, but unfortunately their time is not a resource easily attainable, in the time scales necessary to this individual.

Sometimes help can be more disabling than enabling because it is too big a web of generalisation, too easy to become tangled and stuck. If an individual does not fit within the present order or required mental criteria, that we are not supposed to fit into exactly, what are they to do?  This led me to the question of how you help people suffering unnecessarily, because they cannot gain access to the help required for a multitude of reasons.  If you have a story, idea, solution or just a place where you can be amongst like-minded people, or a question you would like me to investigate, then please post or get in touch, I aim to respond within 24/48hrs, but responses should be much quicker. 

My Website is about voicing mine and others current predicaments, or stories needing to be voiced.  If you have a story you would like me to voice for whatever reason, you are unable to yourself, then hopefully I can help you with that, if you get in touch naturalempathiser@gmail.com.  To read my blogs/writing and gain some insight into who the natural empathiser is, and what the hopes and purpose of these group/pages/social media are take a look at my website in the making at; www.naturalempathiser.com, before contributing to the groups that follow. 

I’m trying to create a community of insight and understandings to clear up confusions where possible.  I read too many blogs repeating the mistakes I once appeared to do by blaming the people following the systems.  Follow or join the community I hope grows through time and understanding.  I am new to this and delving into a lot of unfamiliar territory but I’m a fast learner, so pages and groups have only been set up several days, but will hopefully be completely up and running within the next few weeks. 

 Follow or join the beginnings of;

www.facebook.com/naturalempathisers

www.twitter.com/nempathiser

www.linkedin.com/in/natural-empathiser-b044a2166

www.pinterest.co.uk/naturalempathiser