My autism and mental health
I was diagnosed with autism after getting into therapy through the NHS after suicide attempts and self harming. I found that I had not only masked my autism, but my mental illnesses as well. I strongly believe that my lack of an autism diagnosis and a lack of support has caused the majority of my mental illnesses.
Looking after my mental health
To look after my mental health, it is important for me to communicate about how I am feeling and things that have been happening in my life with somebody who can help me (a doctor, therapist, social worker, etc). This helps me feel less isolated and helps to put me on the right path to get the support I need.
I also find that distracting myself can help me cope with any negative emotions or problems that arise. For example, I listen to music to help me block out my auditory hallucinations and negative thoughts, and I like to do crafts as a stim when I am overwhelmed. I also like to make lists and set goals for myself daily.
Seeing my progress and the positive things I have been doing in the form of checkmarks on a list, photographs, and completed crafts I make while stimming, really helps me to cope with my mental illnesses, and is great for my mental health. I feel that my autism sometimes means that I struggle to recognise some things which may seem obvious to neurotypical people (such as hidden messages behind what somebody is saying), so having physical evidence helps me to feel grounded and confident in myself and my abilities.
Mental health support for autistic young people
I wish there was much more mental health support for autistic young people. Since turning 18, my therapy was stopped for a transition to adult mental health services. I have been on the waiting list for therapy for almost three years, and regretfully, I do not believe that any therapist would be able to help me as much as I need.
From my experience, mental health professionals are not trained in autism or how to communicate with autistic individuals, and some do not even know what autism is. I have been told by a supposed 'autism specialist' that I would likely not ever be mentally well because she did not know how to communicate with me in a way which helped, and I have asked for support and been called manipulative for this.
I strongly believe that all individuals who work in healthcare and childcare (especially safeguarding) should be taught about autism and how to communicate with people with autism, so everybody with autism can have access to mental health support.
Learn more about how to access mental health support.
About the author
My name is Lucy and I am 20 years old. I have autism, and have suffered from mental illness from the age of 13. I have depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, anorexic symptoms, paranoia, and borderline personality disorder.
- Read what Ieuan has to say about his mental health and autism
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