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Featured Doctor brushing me off because of anxiety?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Bellacat, Oct 31, 2019.

  1. Bellacat

    Bellacat Active Member

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    I tried to make this concise but, well... you know how it goes.

    I find doctor visits highly stressful. The uncomfortable environment (bright lights, loud clock, weird smells), the doctor pounding on the keyboard while I talk. The pressure to explain myself clearly and concisely in a short time is intimidating and I think the way it affects me might be having an impact on the way my doctor interprets what I tell him.

    On my first visit with him I described the experiences that had me suspecting ASD, and after listening to me for five minutes or so, he said I had general anxiety. It's true that I'm anxious about certain things (like doctor visits) but I don't actually come close to meeting the criteria for GAD. Thankfully that visit was only to get a referral and I did eventually get the diagnosis of Asperger's. Now I've gone back because during one of my psych visits we realized that my monthly cycle is far more controlling over my life than is typical for most people, and we want to determine if possible whether it's an underlying medical thing or if I'm just highly sensitive to the monthly shifts.

    A few minutes into my appointment the doctor said it's all in my head and I need to manage stress better. Great, that's what I came in to find out. The problem is he only based this conclusion on general blood work results from my first appointment and one single question about how much I bleed during menstruation. He actually said "You look fine". I also "look fine" when I have debilitating cramps, headaches, and ovulation pain. Can he measure explosive mood swings, relentless fatigue and thoughts that brush up against suicidal thinking every single month? I don't believe those show up on a blood test. How can he possibly make this conclusion and dismiss me with so little information? I asked if it was normal to feel like garbage for more than 80% of the month and he shrugged and said "we're all different".

    His conclusion is that I'm very sensitive to what's going on in my body (true) and that when anything is unusual I become "obsessed" with finding out what's going on (probably more true than I want to admit). But here's the thing. I may be very aware of what's going on in my body and I am aware of that as well. I know my perception of internal sensations is exaggerated. That means I do realize that I'm actually fine even on days when I feel like I'm on the verge of death. I hate visiting the doctor and I would never go there on a whim just in case. My point is, I didn't just come to the doctor on a whim because I felt weird. I went there because it came up in a psych appointment that something is not right. I didn't even bring it up myself, it came up in differential diagnosis and was actually a surprise to me (I thought it just sucked to be a woman and that's that, but apparently it's not this bad for everyone). The question is, is this an aspie sensitivity type thing, or is it a medical thing.

    I'm not satisfied that my doctor gave my case fair consideration. It seems like his conclusion is heavily influenced by his perception of me as a generally anxious person. In the end I did get a referral to a gynaecologist, but he made it very clear that he only did it because he thinks my symptoms will magically go away when I'm told nothing is wrong. I mean I hope so, that would be great! But..they were there long before I thought anything was wrong too so I'm skeptical.

    Anyway... I guess the first response will be "find a different doctor". So far all the doctors I've been to have been similarly difficult to communicate with so I suspect it's either something about the way doctors in general are, or it's something about me.

    I guess this is mostly venting, but I do wonder if anyone else has experiences like this with medical professionals, and if so, do you have any advice to make it easier? I tried preparing with a list of my symptoms ahead of time, and that did help me feel a little calmer during the appointment but that didn't seem to affect the way the appointment went.

    Also, maybe it would be better to put this in a new thread but.. do other aspie women relate to this cycle problem? Is it a common issue with ASD?
     
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  2. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I am in menopause now, but when I did have periods, I went through the most horrific mood swings. I really, really hated having periods. I mentioned it to a doctor, told him about the problem, whether any medication would help, and he said there was nothing I could do about it. I don't think he realised how bad it was for me. Perhaps anti-anxiety medications might help, or herbal tea, and avoiding stress at those particular times. I don't know what else might help unfortunately, it was always a problem for me and the doctor didn't help me.
     
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  3. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    Do you have a self referral service in Norway in the UK we can refer ourselves to a counsellor who can actually be a psychiatric nurse that can help you with the doctor?
     
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  4. Raphael Outcast

    Raphael Outcast Active Member

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    I regret to be able to confirm this all sounds absolutely typical to me. Plus, in your case, an extra complication would be there is a general stereotype that women are unlikely to be on the autism spectrum.

    All of the difficulties you describe sound perfectly consistent with A.S.D. to me (note: I'm a schoolteacher by profession, not a doctor) and I can really relate to the difficulties of actually visiting the doctor; even the waiting room freaks me out.

    I am very lucky in having a nice doctor now; he gives me extra time because he knows the routine 10-minute slot may not be sufficient for me to calm down and express myself. I was very lucky in finding two good psychotherapists in the 1990s.

    But, with those exceptions, from the time I collapsed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1984 until the last time I saw a psychiatrist in 2017, in general I have found the medical profession and the psychiatric profession woefully unsympathetic to the difficulties of living with Asperger's and unbelievably blind to the condition itself; even my local so-called "specialist" A.S.D. team were not very good at recognizing it nor at handling someone (me) who had it.

    Two things in particular spring to mind:—

    1. The professionals don't tend to like it when the amateurs start diagnosing themselves, especially if the amateurs have been researching their problem on the internet.

    2. The professionals are mostly averse to diagnosing a condition they can't throw pills at: it feels like an admission of defeat, plus it doesn't help the pharmaceutical companies' share prices. There are no pills for A.S.D. so, in the eyes of many professionals, there's no point even considering diagnosing it.

    So good luck and don't give up—or at least, don't give up just because of anything I've said—and none of this is your fault. It seems to have become fashionable for the general populace to talk about the autism spectrum, but it has not yet become fashionable for them to actually know a damned thing about it.

    @Streetwise, my friend your part of the U.K. must have better mental health support than my part of the U.K., because getting a diagnosis where I am (unless you are mega-rich and can go private) is practically impossible! It's little short of a miracle I finally did get one. First suggested it to my psychiatrist in 1998; eventually got the diagnosis, after a lot of kicking and screaming, in 2014. I have a five-page Care Plan that says (among other things) I need a Support Worker; haven't seen a Support Worker in at least five years, increasingly long list of missed hospital appointments etc. because I don't have any support to help me cope with the appointments. Grrr!

    That isn't a Grrr at you, though. It's just a generalized Grrr at the unsympathetic and autism-unfriendly world. So good luck to Bellacat, in trying to engage in reasoned dialogue with that unreasonable world...
     
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  5. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    No diagnosis is no better for me ,I waited 45 years for my diagnosis, You can only self refer for mental health problems, what I meant was they might be able to intervene for you ,if they know you can’t manage yourself.
    The wait time was actually five months but I think they thought I was pretty bad !probably ?!when you’re standing in a doctors practice and then the doctors office rocking and you can’t standstill it causes them a problem ,still wasn’t the three months ha ,The wait time was actually five months , i’ve never heard anybody getting diagnosed within three months, six months is the quickest, said on the forum before ,I went five years before and one of the suggestions I made was autism and they inferred I was a hypochondriac.
     
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  6. Raphael Outcast

    Raphael Outcast Active Member

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    Hopefully Bellacat may be able to find some kind of Support Worker or "Autism Advocate". However, it can be a bit of a "closed shop": you can't justify your request for support without a diagnosis which indicates the extent and severity of your difficulties, but you'll struggle to go about getting a diagnosis without the support...
    Yes, I had that in the 1990s when I tried suggesting the pain and exhaustion I was reporting were not merely symptoms of clinical depression which could be cured by Prozac but could actually be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; and when I tried suggesting my depression was not the actual problem, but the product of a more fundamental underlying problem. It sounds as though Bellacat could be up against a similar attitude, no?
     
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  7. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    I don’t know about the medical community in Norway? whether they have the God complex ?the God complex is strong in the UK, There doesn’t seem to be any information on it on the Internet, just the usual from neuro typicals
     
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  8. Raphael Outcast

    Raphael Outcast Active Member

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    @Streetwise—Yeah, we can sympathize with Bellacat and share our own experiences of being given the brush-off and recount the similar attitude problems we have faced among the medical profession, but we don't know what the health service and social services and the welfare system are actually like in Norway.

    Once the doctors had me down as a depressive, that—throughout the 1990s and until 2003 or so—apparently gave them licence to ascribe any symptoms or difficulties I reported to my depression. Bellacat's doctor is apparently ascribing everything she's reporting to her anxiety.

    Among the cruel ironies of what Bellacat is describing is that chronic anxiety is a typical product of an underlying A.S.D. yet her doctor apparently declines to realize this; similarly, being sensitive to what's happening in your own body can go with A.S.D. physical hypersensitivity and acuity of awareness, yet Bellacat's doctor appears to be ascribing it merely to hypochondria or self-indulgent anxiety.

    Grrr, on Bellacat's behalf!
     
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  9. Bellacat

    Bellacat Active Member

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    Yep, that sounds exactly right. Thankfully my psych visits have been much, much better. My psychologist has a lot of experience with adult ASD and is very tuned into the nuances, masking, etc that can make this condition so challenging for other healthcare professionals.

    It's just a problem when I have to go back to the GP for any reason. The first time he doubted that I could have Aspergers, and then I got the diagnosis despite him. Now that I have the diagnosis it almost seems like it made him even more prone to the dismissive attitude. And yes it may be all in my head, but as I said before it wasn't me that decided to investigate this other issue in the first place, it was another healthcare professional. Surely that would give it some credibility, wouldn't it? Apparently not.

    I guess the challenge here is that I'm being told to ignore all the signals my body sends that something could be wrong. It sucks to live in constant discomfort but fine, I guess that's just how it is for me. But what happens when it really IS something? I can't tell the difference. I had a kidney infection once and since I'm used to my body "crying wolf" I didn't address it until it was so severe I had to be put on an IV in the emergency room and my fever was in the danger zone. They asked why I didn't come in sooner. If your body is complaining over nothing all the time and you just get used to ignoring it, real problems can easily go unaddressed. I asked the doctor about this and he said "You'll know. If it's actually something you just know". I disagree, based on past experience, but he's the doctor so.. I guess that's that.

    I agree, GRRR.
     
  10. Raphael Outcast

    Raphael Outcast Active Member

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    Um.

    Slow on the uptake, I hadn't realized you did have a formal diagnosis. I am very lucky in that my G.P. takes my diagnosis very seriously, and even seems to have read up on the condition and briefed his staff so that he and they can help me as effectively as possible, but there certainly is a general lack of autism awareness (or indeed belief...) among doctors in England, and maybe that is also so in Norway.

    So I'm inclined to think I would now vote in favour of you getting yourself a different G.P. if that is practicable.

    Have you heard of anyone with any variety of mental disorder who felt supported and understood by his or her doctor? If so, and if you can get yourself on the list, that would seem to be the doctor to register with.

    If not, perhaps at the very least a different G.P. would be more willing to accept your Asperger's diagnosis than the existing one who sounds like he's resolutely in denial about it. Your existing G.P. may even harbour some subliminal hostility towards you for having bulldozed past him and got yourself the diagnosis he said you didn't qualify for. Doctors are human beings, after all.

    Again I don't know what it's like in Norway, but there are a lot of doctors in England who appear to resent mental health as a frivolous peripheral extra thing that they're suddenly being expected to take seriously. Clearly you need a more sensitive and enlightened G.P. than that.

    p.s. Are there any mental health charities or A.S.D. charities that you could get some advice or help, or even any suggestions, from?
     
  11. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    I dont know if it is a worldwide attitude? but even the psychiatric nurse said dont make autism an excuse ?attitude appears to be physical conditions (like cancer )are an excuse !but not a physical difference which autism is(located in the brain ) !wont be given any consideration !, I think its in the eugenics category still, 80 years after Hans Asperger!
     
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  12. Bellacat

    Bellacat Active Member

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    That sounds like a dream to have such a genuinely caring healthCARE professional ;)

    One of my biggest frustrations is that I mask and camouflage very well so people in general have difficulty recognizing that there is anything "unusual" about me. It took me a day and a half to recover my energy from just that appointment, but he doesn't see that nor does he want to hear about it. I guess that's why it hurt so much when he said "you look fine". Yes I do, that means nothing.

    I have another psych appointment coming up and I'll bring this up then, and see what my options might be. Thankfully I generally do have pretty good health so don't have to interact with the doctor too much. So far he's just been the evil gatekeeper I have to pass through to reach the actual healthcare system.
     
  13. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    dont mask with the doctor gp(unless they specialise in autism )they only recognise (here is a list of names )kanners autism, Low functioning autism,ASD3, your country might recognise different names, if you want to stim (short for stimulation-self soothing) )do it to your hearts content while you’re with the doctor, he is blind to high functioning autism.
     
  14. Raphael Outcast

    Raphael Outcast Active Member

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    Yes, this sounds a very good idea. You surely won't be the first person your psychologist has seen who's having problems with a G.P. that won't take mental conditions seriously or factor them into his thinking.

    Yes I was lucky in having one amazing psychotherapist who turned my life round (it took her about 15 years, and I'm still a mess now, but at least I'm not a suicidal mess any more and at least now I can get some pleasure in life, here and there, and I'm living without medication, which I really prefer even though it's a challenge).

    In general I think "healthcare" professionals assume that their job title proves they care, so they needn't put any effort into actually caring at all. Grrr (again).

    Good luck!
     
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous Equestrian Aspie

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    I'm only 17 and living in the USA, but haven't had any problems, probably because my parents screen the doctors first. I'd definitely ask the professionals that listen to you their recommendations for doctors that they have worked well with. we did this when my therapist, although having an autistic son, kept comparing me to her kids and taking my success personally. my doctor's recommendation has helped me significantly, and I got comments from people who didn't even know I was on the spectrum saying I was doing a lot better, even if they didn't believe in autism or my other diagnosis themselves.
     
  16. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    have you heard from isadora:)
     
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  17. Raphael Outcast

    Raphael Outcast Active Member

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    No, and I think I can guess why not (alas), so I feel the best we can do is wait quietly. She's already expressed remorse for not coming back to the forum more promptly, so it wouldn't be right to pester her for updates. Plus I'm 46 years old, so I wouldn't want to freak the girl out by seeming to chase after her!

    Possibly she has been communicating with some members, of her choosing, by more confidential means?

    Anyway I'm fairly sure we will hear from her, when she has the time and is in a state to communicate.

    All we can do until then is cross our fingers for her, I fear. Or anyone religious could pray, of course, but I'm not religious.
     
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  18. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    mean that I just thought maybe she’d contacted you via the inbox
     
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  19. Raphael Outcast

    Raphael Outcast Active Member

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    Fair question. As it happens, I've contacted you via yours!
     
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  20. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    I won't endorse that doctors are just "like that." Instead, I'll suggest that communication with the doctor is difficult for you. Take another person who knows you well for an "advocate," even right into the examining room. You'd be amazed what a big difference this can make for you.

    It could be a parent, close friend, or life partner. I suppose it could even be a community support worker, although I question whether they would be interested in the role.

    I hope this suggestion works for you.
     
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