So, with all the last-minute nature of things, I was quite anxious Friday morning and went in with my stomach in knots. I was welcomed in by the lady I’d been emailing and speaking to on the phone. She handed me a clipboard with a brief sensory questionnaire which I completed quite quickly. Just as I finished, another woman came in (I assume another client) and sat down diagonally opposite me. The therapist who ultimately was going to be assessing me came into the room and addressed the other woman first (before me) and they started talking about going running etc. which I just tuned out to, mildly annoyed when she finally looked over to me and said, “Ready whenever you are.” and I said, “well, if you’re ready to go then…” I didn’t mean to be deliberately rude, but small talk like that when someone might be quite anxious and irritated by the whole thing isn’t exactly helpful.
We went upstairs and into a small office which was comfortably dim but scantly decorated (no lights on but just indirect daylight through the window). The therapist was a retired Speech & Language Therapist brought back in to work with this service, which was only established two years ago. She spoke casually to help bring my anxiety down and started asking her questions to embellish on my responses for my questionnaire. Can’t remember if I mentioned it in a previous entry (and I’m too lazy to go back looking), but I sent three versions of my questionnaire through… the full version, which primarily was comprised of long passages from my “This Is My Truth” document I started writing last year, embellished with quotes from Aspergirls by Rudy Simone to back up my responses; a significantly redacted version to make it more brief, because I thought whoever got landed with it might not want to read the full long thing; and then a ‘medium-sized’ version, because I thought the redacted one might have taken out too much, so I put some stuff back but kept the Aspergirls quotes out. She said that she had read the redacted version, so I said at various points that some of my answers were expanded upon in the long version.
It was crazy how fast the time went with answering the questions. Some were harder to answer than others; remembering stuff about my time in school was particularly difficult, as was talking about my mother, but talking about how people using my desk at work and moving everything around upsets me (more than it reasonably should) led to me becoming quite animated. I had some advice from the public speaker I had befriended at The Autism Show last year to make specific mention of my “American-ness” possibly masking my traits even more because we’re encouraged to be more “bubbly” and outgoing.
After the open-ended questions (which took up most of the session), I was asked questions from another scaled questionnaire (similar to the AQ Test but quite a bit different) where I had to answer questions as “Always True”, “True as an Adult”, “True as a Child”, and “Never True”. Some of these questions I was able to answer quite easily (sometimes with a dropped-tone “yes” with a shade of embarrassment and an uncomfortable giggle) and the others I really had to think and make a best-guess answer. I think she said it was 50 questions long too, but it didn’t seem to take too long because it was quick responses instead of long explanations. She explained to me at the end of it (as a means to assuage my anxieties about being misdiagnosed with a mental health condition instead of Asperger’s/Autism) that when they have a client who presents with clear mental health needs (above and beyond what occurs in Autism) that for the second appointment they would ask the psychiatrist to attend, but she assured me that she did not think that I have any other co-existing mental health needs, so that was actually a relief. Next week is the ADOS assessment with the same lady I saw then and a clinical psychologist, and I was advised that I should know my diagnosis relatively quickly, as they recognise how difficult it can be to be left wondering for too long after. So, I think that means that by the end of this upcoming week, I may have my diagnosis after nearly a year. I can’t quite process it.
Believe it or not, I walked out of there (after three hours and forty-five minutes!!) feeling surprisingly happy and light, rather than overwhelmed and done-in. The worst part of the day was trying to get back to my office… let’s just say the motorway was crawling with people travelling back north after their half term breaks on the southern coast… aaaaand it took over an hour and a half to get to my destination. The only reason I went back to work afterwards was because there was a caseworker evening out planned over a month ago and I didn’t want to not go (yeah, a roundabout way of saying that I wanted to go). A nice evening was spent with my caseworker colleagues… cold drinks, conversation, a delicious dinner and sweet dessert.
Yesterday was another full-on day… met my tattoo artist first thing in the morning to go over my tattoo design that is going to be inked in three weeks’ time, then went to meet three friends from the admin part of my team for lunch and hung out with my closest friend from that trio for a few hours afterwards. I came home and sorted out my iPod with the second set playlists from the last two Manics concerts we saw – Cardiff Castle a year ago today and Swansea Liberty Stadium last Saturday. I was especially excited to find the BBC Radio 2 compilation of 80s songs which included their cover of (Feels Like) Heaven which was included in last Saturday’s second set.
I listened to the Swansea playlist this morning on my way up to my chiropractor appointment, which helped me feel calm despite waking up feeling a bit overwhelmed. I adore my chiropractor and it’s not so much that I was feeling overwhelmed or anxious about my appointment specifically because I know what to expect, but I think I’ve just had a lot of input this weekend and I feel my energy levels are diminishing. What didn’t help things on the drive there was that my Google navigation always seems to take me a different way to her new clinic, which means I have to keep using my navigation app because I’ve not yet learnt the way there so that I can drive without using it. What especially didn’t help were the frickin’ cyclists on the twisty-turny country lanes I was driving to get there and back. If I had £1 for every cyclist I encountered on the round trip, I’d have enough to have paid for my appointment. The worst was a man who was running uphill towards oncoming traffic… like, a good three feet over from the edge of the road. I was getting more and more cross as the journey went on and had to just come home.
I texted Paul to say that I wasn’t going to be going grocery shopping because I’m fed up with going on my own (which he’s tasked me with the last few weeks despite my protests) and am not leaving the house again (today, not “ever”). I’ve come home and put a load of laundry in the machine and started writing this entry… it’s taken me a good nearly four hours to get it all done, with a few breaks to hang the laundry outside and have lunch. I came across this article about Executive Dysfunction which beautifully explains what I feel when I become too overwhelmed with things and start “moving like molasses.”
And that leads up to this exact moment in time, wherein I will bid you adieu until after my second appointment.