My name is Martin and I have lived with OCD since I was 13. I was also recently diagnosed with ADHD and Autism.
I worked in the community sector for several years as a Disability Support Worker and Education Assistant. I enjoyed working with the kids and felt like I really understood them.
After I was mugged on a bus and had a head-on car accident, I lost my confidence and sense of safety. I was also experiencing difficulties at work including communication issues, harassment, and bullying. Feeling overwhelmed, I started mixing with the wrong people and left my job. Everything went downhill from there.
My Recovery Journey
I’ve seen a lot of specialists over the years and had been struggling to get a diagnosis. It took a long time, but I finally got an Autism diagnosis in 2019. It was such a relief to know. I didn’t realise I was on the spectrum and now I recognise I am.
It took me six times to get the right fit for a psychologist, but I have now found the right person. She is great. She gives me lots of information on taking medication, ADHD and more. I am also working with an OT on reading body language and expressions. Mum used to say I wasn’t a good listener but now I am learning to listen and am looking at body language more and expressions. I’ve been taken advantage of in the past and am learning how to set boundaries. I also used to talk for a long time to people, and I am learning to break away. I’m also going to Tamara yoga, which is trauma-informed yoga. It’s really good.
My Psychologist told me about a Facebook group for people with Autism that has meetups, which has helped me a lot, and now I go to lots of other meetups – there is so much out there! It’s all about networking to find the things that are right for you. I attend a lot of meetups with Activate Mental Health, like photography, and during COVID-19, their Zoom meetups. I have had to cull some of my meetups though as it had been overwhelming me – I was going to so many!
NDIS and MIFWA
I am getting so much support now; support I wasn’t getting before. It’s helping me to get back my confidence and connectedness and to climb up the ladder and outside of the dark hole. I really believe I am in the right hands now and I feel safe.
I have an NDIS plan and plan partners including Autism Association of WA, MIFWA and other supports. I feel the NDIS it is very organised, and if I ever have any issues, I talk to my Coordinator. I like the NDIS and can see the benefits even though it took me a while to get my head around it. I attended an NDIS information day, which really helped. Don’t do it alone, that’s what I say. Ask for help!
I started attending MIFWA’s OCD Group in 2017 and completed the My Recovery program after I had left my job and was struggling. I used to also go to the Lorikeet Centre. I remember once we went sailing at the Fremantle Sailing Club. It was fabulous and a great activity. I liked going there but I stopped as I need to know my boundaries and to get myself right first.
Now, I have a support worker at MIFWA who rings me up every Friday. He’s really good. I like him and I like the phone support, especially during COVID-19.
I am also attending MIFWA’s CHIME workshops. This is the second time I’ve done it. At first, I felt a bit self-conscious using Zoom and looking at myself, but my psychologist told me it was a very common thing for people with Autism. I’m getting more knowledge this time I am doing it, and I am feeling empowered to do more things now in moderation with small steps for a better future ahead, to not to be too hard on myself, and to be kind to myself if I am having a bad day.
I Am Always Learning
I am always learning. My psychologist says, ‘he never stops learning, he’s got so much to know.’ And I am going to keep learning more.
I’ve learnt I can’t rely on medication alone and that I need other supports and systems. Also, that my OCD and ADHD play off each other. I’m doing exposure therapy and I’m working with my psychologist on getting organised by keeping a paper diary and synching my phone and iPad calendars. I used to fumble a lot but now I’m getting organised and getting better. Now I know I have ADHD, I also limit myself to one coffee a day.
It takes me a while to process things and so I like to look at things a few times so it sinks in. I really like TED Talks. I love speakers who talk slowly so I can listen, process things, and understand, such as Tony Attwood. I have learnt so much about Asperger’s from him.
What Next for Martin?
I’m looking forward to better things for the future. For one, I will be starting to get back into what I used to do. In Term 3, I’m getting back into leading horses at Carine Open Space, something I used to do it when I was a support worker and really enjoyed.