In this story: Mental health / Autism /

"I had felt like a burden, but my diagnosis meant that weight was lifted."

“I didn’t feel or find out till I was 23 I was Autistic. If I didn’t feel my mood changing and my behaviour changing, that depression may have started setting in I wouldn’t have known it was Autism and Mild General Learning Difficulties. Two years later I was diagnosed with OCD and Anxiety. That was why I was checking everything and cleaning the house at two AM because I have difficulty sleeping. I can’t sit at peace for long, I like to be on the move, on the go. I had felt like a burden, but my diagnosis meant that weight was lifted, I was gobsmacked.

The year before my diagnosis I lost my one true friend, my grandfather. He passed away 6 days before his birthday.

My whole world collapsed. I was a mess. I remember my grandfather was always giving me sweets from boxes of Quality Street, Roses and Celebrations- the ones he didn’t like! I remember him saying old fashioned things, and I would say “huh? What are you talking about pop?” He used to call me his butler when I would help him put his coat on when he was struggling due to his arthritis.

I remember me and him sitting drinking cups of tea out in the garden when we decided to take a break, just sitting, talking, watching the world go by. I always helped him with his garden, hence my love of gardening. It’s one of my passions. I like to take out my frustrations in the garden.

I can be a grump. A grump, a bear with a sore head. That’s what my gran used to call my pop sometimes, and it always made me laugh. I’m a grump when I’m not at Reachout. Reachout is my second home, I get homesick when I’m not there. Before the lockdown I would go to Reachout every day. I do monoprint, stained glass, designing with feathers. The weight was lifted.”

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