Throughout my life, I have tried to access various different sources of support. However, until recently I have found that they have been really difficult to access and I haven’t found them to be beneficial.
When I first started at high school, my Head of Year recognised that I was having panic attacks and I was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). I received various different forms of support whilst I was with CAMHS including one to one counselling, family counselling and group therapy. I used to find going to these sessions extremely difficult, especially the group therapy. I was 14 at the time and had been put in the older group as I seemed to be mature, however I found being in a group to be extremely difficult and wouldn’t speak in the sessions.
After leaving CAMHS, I went a few years without needing any additional support. When I starting University, my mental health started to decline again and this time I was referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). At the time, I did find the strategies given in CBT to be useful but found that over time the techniques became less and less effective.
A couple of years ago, I hit my lowest point and was in desperate need of some help and support. I was again referred for CBT but this time the waiting list was nearly a year long. I was also told that I should go to group sessions which took place over an hour away. Despite me explaining about my previous experience of group sessions and my difficulties in travelling, my person was not sympathetic.
I also tried to access private counselling whilst I was on the CBT waiting list. One of the counsellors that I worked with made assumptions about me from the first session and from there I found it really difficult to open up and speak to them. I find counselling session that start with ‘What do you want to talk about?’ really difficult as what I want to talk about usually had no relevance to the session! I even had one counsellor tell me that because what they were doing wasn’t working that meant I wasn’t trying hard enough! I did have some with another counsellor, who I got on really well with, but unfortunately they could only offer a limited number of sessions.
My mental health was also starting to have a really big impact on me in work as well as at home. I, therefore, started receiving support to help me with work. This came from my local Mind. The support that I received from them was absolutely amazing, my worker was incredibly supportive and understood me and the way I worked.
I eventually started receiving CBT sessions again. However, this time the techniques had no impact and I found the sessions really hard to access. My doctor made the decision to refer me to my local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). During my assessment with them, they realised that there was another reason for why I had been struggling. I could potentially be autistic.
Even when I only had a potential diagnosis of autism, I found that this removed some of barriers I had to accessing support. I was referred to The Stress Specialist (@stressspecialist), who had experience of working with autistic people. Working with Nicky was the first time that I worked with someone helping me with my mental health that I actually connected with and felt understood me. I can’t thank her enough for the support she has given me.
Finally, I have found a way of accessing group support. This has come in the form of peer support. Whilst I was extremely nervous and hesitant to go to the first session due to my past experiences, the facilitators immediately made me feel comfortable. I have attended many sessions since that first sessions, both in person and online, and always come away from the session feeling really positive.
It has certainly been a long journey to finding the right support but I finally feel like I am heading in the right direction.