Taking the plunge: part 3 (Occupational Health)

So I had an Occupational Health appointment this week. The referral was made back in February when I was having a few panic attacks. My workplace wanted to refer me and I had mixed feelings. I’ve heard that people who go to occupational health are just one step away from being booted out and I really don’t want that. Though I knew I had to go because if I didn’t and I had more panic attacks then my work could get rid of me because I didn’t respond to support. So off I went.

I had to leave work early (something that causes me stress anyway) because my appointment was in the afternoon. I could barely breath as I walked out of the school gates towards the train station. The newness of the situation was sending my mind into overdrive, thinking manically about what I would have to do, what I’d have to say. I kept scripting all different scenarios of what could happen. The main thing I was worried about was the doctor not understanding autism. The fear that I’d get into the room and the doctor would know hardly anything about it and look at me like I was mad for even thinking I’m autistic. I’d prepared myself for a lengthy battle where I’d have to explain every single thing that makes me KNOW I’m autistic.

However to my surprise that is not what happened, not in the slightest. I went into the room with the doctor and he was nice, nothing special but nice. I sat down not knowing what to do with myself at all. He asked me “do you know what the point of today is?” I said no just so that I would get an explanation and it’d give me a chance to understand how he is and what type of doctor he was going to be. So I didn’t really listen to what he said because I was preoccupied with my own thoughts on where this conversation was going. He began by reading the referral the school had made to him. I found this by far the most difficult part. To put this into context for you all what he basically read out was me going into detail about how my autism affected me. In February I’d explained in lots of detail to my manager about how it affects me in the workplace, how I struggle with interacting with my colleagues because I’m constantly worrying how weird they think I am and the comments, how I was almost diagnosed when I was younger, how I’d tried to seek a diagnosis as an adult.Β It was basically a full on personal report about all my difficulties and I found it very hard to listen to. It reminded me of when I was 16 and read all the referrals and reports from doctors from when I was 2 – [Name] struggles with … [Name] can/cannot … It flashed me back to that moment when I read all those reports. It’s always different when you say things in the moment and then you look back and realise how much you’ve said and how it sounds.

So after hearing him say all that he began with asking general questions to find out more detail. I explained all the different things I said. I had to get him to repeat a lot of/rephrase the questions because I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to answer them they were very subjective and those types of questions I always find difficult. On the whole he was very understanding he actually seemed to know a little about autism. He never once asked me to explain any of the terminology like sensory overload or explain what I meant by that description he just seemed to have a basic understanding straight away. It was the first time, from a medical professional, I’d felt validated.

The appointment ended with him basically saying: the workplace had put a lot of provision in their to support me (which I 100% agree with), that maybe to relieve my anxiety about my colleague interactions go that they could explain to them about me (that one I’m not sure about) and finally the most important one that he wants to put in his report based on what I have said from my childhood that I am most likely autistic. I wanted to jump up for joy! Of course he would never be allowed to make a diagnosis it is not his field but for someone in the medical profession to think I am autistic even seeing me as an adult really gave me a boost. Even though I KNOW I am autistic it is really great hearing it from someone in the profession. He asked me about pursuing an adult diagnosis but I need a bit more time after the last time I tried. It is a mentally draining process that is so hard to navigate and I think now is not the best time I’ve got a lot of planning of other things that I will mention in future posts. Because the thing is I AM autistic I know if I got assessed they would give me the diagnosis I was almost there when I was a child but my parents stopped the process. I am not someone who has been searching all their life for an answer. I know my answer, the doctors back in my childhood knew the answer and now a professional in the present knows the answer. The only reason to get a diagnosis now is to help me and I’d need one from the NHS. So I’ll wait for a bit to see if I take the plunge again. I’ve got a lot of other things that need sorting out first. An official medical diagnosis will have to wait in the back of my mind for awhile.

Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it. Peace out!

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9 thoughts on “Taking the plunge: part 3 (Occupational Health)

  1. I’m guessing you are in the UK. I also saw Occy health (as we call it at work), but I had my diagnosis by then and my line managers (one of them deputy Matron at the hospital where I work) were keen to make sure they are doing everything to help me. Little things, but they are making a difference. The nurse I saw was excellent and knew plenty about it, including females under the radar causing late diagnosis etc. She said this last 10 or so years has seen a massive change in awareness among professionals. The thing is, by law, as I have a diagnosis, in the UK the employer is obliged to look at accommodations for someone with “disabilities”. Yes, yes, I know, disability sounds harsh and awful, but that’s how it is, and it means you can get what you need. Re the diagnosis, in my area (East Yorkshire) there’s a 2 year wait for NHS adult assessment. And that’s after you’ve waited a month or so for the mental health and co-morbidity assessment. So we opted to go privately, which took about 2 months from my initial enquiry. If you are going NHS may I make a suggestion? Get the process under way right now. On the NAS website there’s an info leaflet about how to approach your GP about it. Once you are on the waiting list you can withdraw at any time, but at least you know you are in the queue. Any employer after that will have to look at accommodations and also if you work in a school I think it’s going to be hard for them to say they take good care of their autistic pupils if they can’t do the same for their staff. Take care and good luck. X

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  2. Thanks so much. Well my GP did a referral last July directly to a hospital. Heard nothing back. Unfortunately the GP I was with has closed down and they weren’t sure the referral went through at the time anyway. I assume all of this would have been transferred to my new GP. I don’t have the energy to go through the process again right now. It’s too tiring. So we will see. Thanks for your advice will definitely keep it in mind. πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ˜ƒ

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    1. Yes, all your records will be at the new GP. You can ask if they can check it was received at the right place, if you phone and ask to speak to a secretary. You might be able to do it by phone, no need to visit Dr. I’d have expected you to have some kind of acknowledgement by now from your local one stop mental health team. I got my initial letter in about a month I think. X

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      1. My one stop mental health team called me and told me there were no services in my area to provide an ASD diagnosis that weren’t private. They were trying to move me to anxiety related diagnosises.
        So I had to back to my GP to refer me to a specific NHS hospital from research I’d done on NAS website.
        I hate the phone causes so much unbelievable anxiety.
        TBH I don’t have time at the moment and too much frustration. I am emotionally drained.

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  3. Btw, I work in admin, involved in the preparation of hospital clinics and associated paperwork, so I know a bit about the referral process. Just read back my reply and it sounds like I’m being a bit of a know it all. It just happens to be the kind of thing I work in πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

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  4. Oh I’m sorry the phone causes you anxiety. I’m the other way, I find phone easier than face to face. I never know where to look when it’s face to face. And I do know what you mean about it all being too hard to deal with. I hope you get the help you need at work at least. And I hope you have good support around you away from work. X

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