IMPORTANCE OF SEEKING HELP: DEALING WITH AUTISM
Throughout our old lives, we were conditioned to ‘just get on with it‘, whether it was a sore throat or if you simply didn't feel you could face that Monday slog to work/school (in my case). Enter 2020. The year of hand sanitizer, furlough, and face masks. All our lives have changed. That mild cough has now forced you into isolation, and going back to work or school for many became impossible. For the first time in decades, the world felt what it was like to not be able to get on with it. This is the same frustration many of us face, with mental health, the inability to move forward with life, to do the simplest tasks. For instance, getting out of bed becomes a daily challenge - a battle of insecurity and toxic thoughts. Mental Health is an invisible pandemic.
Before I was diagnosed with Autism, my entire life consisted of various people telling me to, “get on with things” in many different forms. The most ordinary tasks, such as shopping for clothes became impossible for me and would result in a breakdown. At that time, my family didn't realize I was overwhelmed by the harsh changing room lights, irritating fabrics, and congested shops. Instead, they would have to endure the judgment of others insisting that I was a misbehaving child. My diagnosis gave an explanation, it revealed why I was struggling and opened the doors for me to find help and support. Not only this, but my diagnosis has also helped me to shape my identity, I no longer feel alone. Through various support groups, I have been able to meet others like me and connect with them. However, the most important benefit of seeking help is that I was able to understand my own condition and finally had closure. I could finally accept myself. It has been around nine years since my diagnosis with Autism, anxiety, and sensory processing disorder. I feel that now I am at the most confident and stable place in my life. All these years, it has not been easy. Mental health recovery never is, is it? But I accept myself for who I am, and by doing this I am able to help others educate themselves on not only my condition but also why eradicating mental health stigma is so important.
Although I have listed the benefits of seeking treatment, I believe many people in the society are frightened, many people allow themselves to reach a breaking point as they are not willing to recognize they are in need of professional help, or worse- they refuse to acknowledge it. To them I say, I understand. I understand the fear, I know how the media creates stereotypes around every condition. When I was diagnosed with Autism initially, I felt that my world was over, that I would never feel normal again. I had never met anyone before with this condition. I didn’t think that I would be able to live a functioning life. I thought I was less than my friends. However, through various therapy and support tools, such as being able to leave class if I needed time out or having chats with my school’s wellbeing team, I realized that Autism was not a label that would define me for the rest of my life, it was just an explanation as to why I found certain tasks more difficult than others.
Through seeking help I found myself, I educated myself and most importantly, I began to accept myself. I was no longer someone unable to face the world, I now have confidence and pride in the person I am becoming. I urge anyone who felt like me, to seek help. You are not alone, You are not worthless, You are valid.
Sometimes you can’t “just get on with it.”
Written by - Fay Mitchell
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