On this page I offer some further information about the specific areas I have experience with. There is often overlap with these conditions and there is research to show high numbers of autistic women suffer with burnout and/ or PMDD.
See more at https://www.additudemag.com/pmdd-autism-adhd/
Autism in females presents very differently from autism in males. Being socialised from birth to fit in, many women have spent their entire lives 'masking', pretending to understand social rules and fit into social situations while covering up feelings of confusion and shame for not being able to function in the way allistics (people not on the autism spectrum) do. Autistic people have a highly sensitive nervous system and a need for more rest, processing time and sleep. Ignoring our needs and pushing ourselves to function as allistic people is costly to mind, body and soul.
A late diagnosis (self diagnosis is valid) is often a pinnacle moment (or series of realisations) that comes with a range of feelings. It is often experienced as a relief and an explanation for the struggles over a lifetime. There may be feelings of anger that a diagnosis and support did not happen sooner. It can also lead to the joy of unmasking, getting to know who you really are and creating a life that feels good from the inside, rather than worrying about your life looking the way society deems it should.
You may have a sense that nobody knows the real you, or even that you don't really know yourself without the mask you have been wearing. You may have a sense of loneliness or feel like an outsider. Maybe communication differences with allistics mean you do not really feel heard even when you speak. Perhaps you feel a sense of shame around being different.
So often we hear about autism as a 'disorder' and the emphasis is on the 'impairments' to functioning in society. Yet if we truly get to know and accept ourselves and respect our different needs, we can set ourselves up for a more easeful, joyful and harmonious life. There is so much to being autistic that is positive. I see and experience the many ways that this difference in neurological wiring can be a strength.
I can support you to listen to your needs, to advocate for yourself and to develop your own particular brand of self-care that helps your unique self thrive. I can help you explore the strengths and positive aspects of your neurodiversity as well as support you with the challenges. I can support you to release the shame of being differently-wired, flourish being who you really are and create a life that feels good from the inside out.
Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) is a brain sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations through the menstrual cycle. It can feel like a cruel and debilitating disorder that makes it difficult to function for half of the cycle. Symptoms of PMDD can include: rage, intense irritability, mood swings, intrusive thoughts, depression, anxiety, extreme fatigue, a deep desire to be alone, noise and smell sensitivities and suicidal feelings. The symptoms of PMDD can make it extremely difficult to function in everyday life and may be disruptive to relationships, work and child-rearing. Neuro-divergent people often experience a heightening of their neuro-divergent challenges in this phase of the cycle.
You may have been struggling for years and had a range of diagnoses that weren't accurate before you identified PMDD as a cause (self-diagnosis is valid) or were diagnosed with PMDD by a medical professional. It can often feel like nobody understands and there can be a sense of shame around not being able to function through the month as other women do. Though it is important to advocate for adjustments in the workplace, having to disclose a diagnosis of PMDD to one's place of work can bring up a range of difficult feelings.
Many women have tried everything to help themselves feel better and have sought help through the medical system but are often left feeling unseen, unheard and dismissed by professionals. Women with PMDD often feel like they have limited 'good weeks' or even 'good days' and with limited treatment options there may be a fear that anti-depressant medication (SSRIs) or hormone therapy could make things worse.
Counselling can help to explore what may be happening in the thought-stress-PMDD cycle, find ways to manage stress and ease tension, help navigate the challenging days, support you to feel your emotions, guide you back to the wisdom of your body, express some of what you are holding in, break the shame spiral, explore further ways to ease symptoms and be heard by someone who gets it.
It is counter-cultural for women in this society to listen to themselves and give themselves what they need. Society encourages us to work harder, give more and push through, which means we ignore the signals that our body is giving us to rest, relax or rejuvenate. The demands on us and the multitude of responsibilities and roles we take on can be exhausting. Our adrenal glands pump out cortisol and adrenaline, along with other stress hormones, in response to these demands and external stressors.
Living in a state of overwhelm or chronic stress, where the demands on us outweigh our capacity to deal with them, can lead to feelings of burnout. Symptoms of burnout include: an inability to stop or rest, insomnia, feelings of depression or low mood, anxiety, 'frayed nerves', becoming tearful or angry when being asked to do something, chronic exhaustion and lack of energy, 'brain fog' or the loss of ability to think clearly, a loss of purpose or meaning in your life. Living in this state long enough can lead to a depletion of cortisol, or adrenal fatigue, where our ability to handle stress is severely compromised. This is a state that takes much time, patience and support to recover from. Heeding the early warning signs of burnout is crucial to avoid this state of adrenal fatigue.
As women in our culture it is very common to experience burnout in some form. As well as the challenges that burnout can pose, it also offers an opportunity to reassess a way of being that isn't working and to do something different.
I can support you in establishing a way of being that supports you to look after yourself as well as everybody else.