I’m 23, trans-masculine non-binary. I have autism and dyslexia and have struggled with various mental health issues most of my life. I’m studying to be a Physician Associate, and I’m very passionate about health care.
My whole life I have always felt different, especially when it came to my sexuality, gender, and emotions. I have been ‘diagnosed’ with general anxiety disorder, depression, OCD, borderline personality disorder, and PTSD, which was confusing to me. I have been to different kinds of therapies, but none of them seemed to help, and the anti-depressants I was on didn’t seem to have much effect. I tried explaining to many doctors, “I still feel rubbish, something’s not right,” but due to all these labels on my records, they said it was just poor mental health. I never really got anywhere with any of the help offered, so I was just left suffering and getting worse. I felt hopeless.
As a 3rd year Psychology student at university, I happened to study a bit about autism. I resonated with a lot of the information and case studies I read about autism. It felt very familiar, but I was 21 at the time and I thought surely, I would have known by now if I had autism? Surely my family and friends would have noticed something when I was younger? I read more about how people assigned female at birth were less likely to get diagnosed due to different presentations of autism. After two years of not getting any help, I read so much about autism, specifically autism and gender that I was almost confident that I might have autism. I went to see a GP. I came prepared with notes of all my symptoms and how I had been throughout my life, and I asked if I could start the process of getting a diagnosis. My GP was kind, she listened to me, agreed with me, and instantly referred me for an autism assessment.
I now have a new fantastic GP who is trans and takes a special interest in endocrinology. He has made my transition and my journey on testosterone very smooth, but not all health care professionals are like him. I recently made an appointment to start some new contraception, and the doctor said that he did not know about testosterone and transitioning, so he couldn’t prescribe me anything, which left me very frustrated and annoyed since I had waited two weeks for that appointment. I then had to call up for another appointment to see if anyone else could prescribe me contraception. I had to do my own research about interactions between medications, in case they too didn’t know about testosterone and trans health.
A lot of health care professionals say don’t google your symptoms and I agree and disagree with that. I think no one teaches you how to be a patient, or how to advocate for yourself. It’s important to know yourself and your body and even do a bit of research before you go to an appointment. There are many websites that explain things simply. This allows you to have more informed conversations with health care professionals or even challenge them if you think they should / should not be doing the things they are doing.