Autism and lockdown

You may wonder what on earth I’m about to write, why I’m writing it and whether or not you should care.

During lockdown, like much of the population, I started to hit some darker places. Things became tough, I was anxious every time my phone rang and I struggled to find positivity when thinking about the future.

I decided that I needed to reach out to get help and thankfully I spoke to an incredible GP. That was the start of many lucky breaks I had in getting to where I am now. The GP recommended that I speak with Time2Talk – a service we are so lucky to have in Sussex. If you’re struggling with mental health and hit a wall, this free service will help talk you through and give you a plan to make things easier.

As mentioned, this was just the first step on my road to diagnosis. My first assessor asked me “have you ever considered that you might be autistic?” I’ve heard the phrase “lightbulb moment” before but not experienced it, but when she asked me this question my mind went into overdrive and I read everything there was to read on the subject and devoured every podcast, every medical website and every NHS resource. I was mindful that this one question wasn’t a diagnosis, so I began to research experts. After speaking with a few potential candidates, I found Anne Marie Gallagher. I’m so grateful that I did. She is an out and out expert in diagnosing adult autism.

From the very first phone call, she took the time to explain each part of the assessment process and treated me like I was her only patient. The care was phenomenal. I had a few more lightbulb moments, culminating in the halogen lightbulb moment of July 20th, when I was officially diagnosed as having Autism. Well, Asperger’s, but from next year they’re both considered “ASD” – Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

One of the key reasons that I’m writing this letter is that I am aware of at least two people in my extended circles that haven’t had a positive reaction to their diagnosis. I am not saying that everyone should be happy finding out something like this, but I am saying that I’d love to help them see that this is just another part of what makes them unique.

Thanks for reading.