My journey to a diagnosis

I started realizing that there’s something different about me, when I was 15. Ever since I’ve seen dozens of doctors, therapists, psychologists and counselors, but my autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was overlooked by each and every one of them. It took seven years until I finally got my diagnosis. Here’s the story behind my journey.

I was depressed
When I was 15, I started to feel really sad all the time. I lost all of my interests and it was hard for me to get up in the morning. I couldn’t explain what was wrong, but I just felt really bad. At that point in life I had never met anyone else with mental health issues and it was nothing anyone ever talked about. So, I felt like I had to keep it to myself.

My first assessment
A year or two later I finally decided to tell my mom about how I felt. We tried to find a psychologist, but they had really long waiting lists. When I was 17, I finally got some appointments at the child and youth psychiatry to get a mental health assessment. I was sure, I would be diagnosed with a depression, but that’s not what happened. They suspected that I could have a beginning borderline personality disorder.

Self-harm and eating disorder
I felt totally misunderstood by the assessment team. It seemed like they only wanted to diagnose me with a personality disorder, because I had started to self-harm. Personally, I had a really hard time seeing any of my other symptoms match to those of a personality disorder. Because I felt so misunderstood, I started to eat less and exercise more. I wanted to lose weight so that the assessment team could see that something really wasn’t right. Unfortunately, the only thing that happened, was that I developed an eating disorder.

Moving to Denmark
I started seeing a therapist. It went ok, but without having the right diagnosis we obviously didn’t get very far with therapy. Years went by and when I was 19, I felt like I was doing well enough to move to Denmark. You can probably guess that my problems didn’t just suddenly disappear. I was still having problems with self-harm and eating/exercising. So, I went into treatment again. I felt misunderstood again, so I stopped after a few months. But I was doing well enough to have a functioning everyday life.

A real depression
After a year in Denmark a lot of things in my life changed. I was supposed to move and start a job as an au-pair. I was totally overwhelmed by all the changes and also reacted that way. I got totally depressed and for the first time in my life I even had suicide thoughts. This time I didn’t just feel depressed, but I actually got diagnosed with a clinical depression.

New therapist again
My depression was so bad that I had to start seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist again. Soon, they started to suspect that there could be more than just a depression. They wanted to test me for a personality disorder. I still didn’t feel like I had a personality disorder, but I wanted to know for sure. This time it was totally ruled out. It was even a specialist who tested me, and she was really sure, I didn’t have a personality disorder. You could think that someone now suspected autism…they didn’t.

Tossed around in the system
Over the years I’ve been tossed around a lot in the psychiatry system. I tried to keep this story short, so I didn’t mention all the psychiatrists and therapists I’ve seen. But even in the two years between my depression and my ASD (autism spectrum disorder) diagnosis, I’ve seen several mental health professionals.

Finally, my ASD diagnosis
Now, I mentioned my ASD diagnosis, but I still haven’t told you, how I finally got it. Here’s the story: One day I had my TV turned on while sitting with my computer. I suddenly heard a lot of things that fit perfectly to me: need for structure, social difficulties, mental health issues etc.

I turned my attention to the tv program and found out that it was about autism spectrum disorders. Right away, I was sure that I had autism, too. Luckily, I was still/again in treatment, so there wasn’t any waiting list, but I could ask my psychologist to assess me straight away. It only took a few weeks or months and I finally got my autism diagnosis.

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