So last month I wrote publicly about my recent struggle with depression. I do want to elaborate on what’s happened since then but the original post has enjoyed a reception that I am pretty grateful for – I got a lot of very nice tweets, comments, messages etc of support, and it’s certainly reassuring to know that, crazy as I may be, that there’s people whose positivity and support is much appreciated.
Anyway, one of the key aspects of depression, as I’ve found out myself, is that talking about it is the first step, but it’s probably more important to talk about it to the right people. I’ve made a few quite big errors in this regard – dumping on people who are ill-equipped, whether that be wantonly or incidentally – but I’m pleased to say I’m seeking some professional help.
On Tuesday I had an assessment with my local ADHD/ASD team because, with this depression, I want to really get to the root causes of it, and then take things from there. I’d made a doctor’s appointment some months ago explaining that, after giving this whole situation a lot of thought, and taking my own historical considerations – that is, thinking back and realising, maybe I wasn’t just “being myself” – into account, I’d a strong belief that I was suffering from Asperger Syndrome. I didn’t know a lot about it, but it’s a continual cycle of gaining knowledge about the condition and my own self. However, I did print off the page on Asperger Syndrome from the NAS, and annotated it with my own thoughts and reflections and my doctor referred me to this team.
I do feel that a diagnosis would be helpful to me – for too long I’ve just assumed “I’m wired a bit differently” but a diagnosis would be advantageous, as I could use it as a signpost to go some way to explaining how, perhaps, I act against certain expectations and that, at its most basic, it’s “not me just being rude”.
Arriving for the appointment was weird – I was pretty anxious the night before because this is a pretty big thing for me. I was more anxious walking in to the hospital because I glanced a sign saying “Mental Health” and it struck me. I felt a strange sense of “well, you’re going into a mental health unit, there must be something wrong with me” and “here’s me just feeling a bit crap, maybe I’m wasting my time”, but I went in.
The assessment was surprisingly pleasant, and surprisingly in-depth, too; exploring my reactions, expectations and also my developmental history. I talked about my concerns and what led me to seeking help, the emotional “events” that had happened and the discussion then went quite in-depth, from my childhood to how I react to certain situations even now. The psychologist I saw was extremely pleasant and I did feel at ease. I feel that so much about mental health is associated with unhelpful “stigmas” and it’s the real barrier to getting treatment. I do need to go back for a second appointment to finish up the evaluation but, as with most “new situations”, now I know what I’m in for, I can prepare for it a bit better and be less anxious. And, honestly, I’m looking forward to it – the nice thing about a psychologist or a therapist is their neutrality to the raw emotion of situations that lead to being in places like this.
I think that whatever happens – if I get diagnosed with Asperger’s or not, or Borderline Personality Disorder (which I definitely feel, on initial glance, I’m a candidate for; but this assessment is about finding out what’s really up in my head) – this experience is good for creating an emotional resilience I feel I am clearly lacking. I’m also learning a lot about mental health through this experience – and confronting to a lesser degree, the awful stigmas around it – which can only be positive.
Being open has helped me and I will try my hardest to continue doing so. This is a journey for me that I feel is worthy of being documented and open about – that way I get the support I need and it’s not something that just breeds horrid resentment if left to bottle up. So expect more posts about it as I work through this issue – both the macro (my underlying personality issues) and the micro (current bout of depression) – side of things.
Image credit: frinkiac.com