Suicide rates are nine times higher for those in the autistic and neurodivergent community than for neurotypical individuals (Autistica) – a staggering statistic that demonstrates just how devastating the impact of autism on an individual's mental health can be.

Yet still there is a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health care that doesn’t take into account the unique challenges and struggles of the neurodiverse community, meaning they don’t get the care and support they need.

It’s a topic that hits close to home for me. I have personally experienced the barriers and lack of awareness when it came to reaching out for help, and I feel compelled to share my story in the hopes of sparking a conversation and shedding light on areas where we can all improve.

Let me be clear: I am not seeking sympathy or attention. My intention is to raise awareness and offer support to those who may be going through similar struggles. I have never shared this story with anyone except my partner and members of a support group I attended.

However, I believe that speaking openly about our mental health struggles is vital. It is crucial to break the stigma surrounding mental health and to let others know that they are not alone.

I know that I am not the only one who has faced these challenges. My story is not unique in the neurodiverse community. I consider myself fortunate to be able to share my experiences and offer hope to others. However, it is disheartening to acknowledge that there are far too many stories that will never be told.

It’s vitally important to stress that if you are feeling overwhelmed, discouraged or desperate, please know that things will get better. That YOU will get better. If you need someone to talk to or a helping hand, there are phone numbers and support options listed below.

In March 2017, I made an attempt on my own life. Thankfully, I survived, and I am forever grateful for that. At the time, I had exhausted every possible support option available to me. I genuinely believed that taking my own life was the only way to relieve my loved ones of the burden I thought I had become. Looking back, I now realise how selfish and cowardly that belief was.

As children, we naturally turn to the adults in our lives to help us navigate the complexities of the world around us. And when we behave in ways that are difficult for the adults to understand, they rely on doctors to shed light on our behaviour and provide us with the answers we seek.

Asperger's Syndrome was diagnosed early on in my life, but unfortunately, it was never fully explained to me or my family. From my earliest memories, I felt an immense pressure to fit in and be “normal”. After all, being myself only resulted in being labelled as “challenging” by adults and “weird” by my peers. Like so many other autistic individuals, I began to mask my autistic traits as best I could.

Masking, to me, feels like putting your thumb over a hose pipe to stop the stream of water. It may work for a little while, but eventually, the pressure becomes too much, and instead of a manageable stream, it becomes a tsunami that explodes across everyone around me. It's a feeling that is difficult to describe, but I'm sure many autistic people can relate to it.

This is precisely what was happening to me. I was putting my thumb over the hosepipe, and by the time I came home, there was a massive explosion of emotions in the form of an autistic meltdown.

Naturally, my parents took me to the doctor, but despite having an autism diagnosis, I was repeatedly told that these “temper tantrums” (as they were referred to) were nothing more than attention-seeking or that I was just simply badly behaved.

I tried everything I could, everything the doctors suggested, but I couldn't stop the meltdowns. Every time I tried to be better, it just seemed to make things worse. And when I wanted to make sense of it all, the general feeling was that I was either severely mentally ill or doing it on purpose to hurt people. It broke my heart that the person I was caused the people I loved so much stress and pain while I was powerless to change anything.


The feeling of brokenness and helplessness followed me into adulthood. It's a feeling that I could never seem to shake off, no matter how hard I tried. I thought that moving away for university would be the solution to my problems, but unfortunately, my meltdowns and burnouts still affected me almost daily.

The only difference was that when I had the meltdowns, it would only hurt me. I learned to hide the autistic side of myself from the people I loved. It's a coping mechanism that I developed over the years. My self-worth was so low that I convinced myself it was the only way to live without hurting people.

My sole focus in life was to project an image of normalcy, even if it meant sacrificing other important aspects of my life. I would drink copious amounts of alcohol to numb the discomfort of being in unfamiliar surroundings or plunge myself into debt to keep up with the social lives of other lads in their twenties. My health and well-being were of no concern to me; all that mattered was the perception that I was just like everyone else.

This is how I lived my life. But then, out of nowhere, my world was shattered when my father passed away. Suddenly, I couldn't keep up the act anymore. I was consumed by emotions that I just couldn't comprehend, and I didn't know where to turn for help.

I needed to talk to someone to help me make sense of what was happening, but the words just wouldn't come. How do you ask for help when you don’t even understand what you are feeling? It got too much to be able to cope. 

I sought help from doctors countless times, but all they offered were anti-depressants, sick notes and Talking Therapies - the standard response for anyone seeking help with their mental health. I was desperate for a solution, but it felt like no one wanted to or could help me. I felt completely alone inside my own head.

I needed to understand why I couldn't understand my own emotions, why I felt safer being someone else than myself, and why I felt so lonely despite having a large social circle. The thought that my father passed away without ever truly knowing who I was too much to bear. The emotions became overwhelming, I was desperate, and that's when I made the decision to take action.


Initially, I was filled with frustration as my attempt had failed. However, as time passed, it dawned on me that even though my father never truly got to know me the way I wanted him to, he was proud of the version of me he did know. This realisation sparked a desire within me to understand myself better. If I understood myself better, I would be able to tell the people around me who I actually was. 

I delved deeper into what it meant to be autistic and discovered that it encompassed so much more than just rubbish eye contact or being obsessed with the Manchester music scene in the 80s (that’s just me by the way, not all autistic people are that boring). Despite my limited understanding and difficulty in expressing my emotions, the more I researched the more everything started to make sense. 

As the feeling of brokenness started to dissipate, I couldn't help but question why the doctors didn't provide me with the tools to heal myself when I was a child. Perhaps if they had, I wouldn't have found myself in a position where my self-worth was so low that I felt the need to escape.

Maybe if I had the words to be able to describe what I was going through, they would have understood that I wasn't simply seeking a sick note, medication, or a suggestion to “go for a walk”. It's clear that a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn't work. It's time for a change.

I understand the concerns that doctors, teachers, and even my own parents had about labelling me as “autistic”. They worried that it would make me feel different and stand out. But you know what? I am different. I do stand out. And that's not something to be avoided or ashamed of.


Labels aren't just words - they're tools. Referring to me as autistic doesn't take away my identity, it gives me a deeper understanding of it. Without knowing and accepting that I am autistic, I wouldn't have been able to find the words to communicate my emotions, build support networks, or develop strategies to navigate the confusing aspects of life.

I am now in a significantly better place. I make a conscious effort to surround myself with individuals who acknowledge that my autism does make me different, and who still make a concerted effort to include and value me as the person I am. While being aware of my autism does not eliminate difficult days, I am now equipped with the understanding that I no longer have to face them alone.

I am well aware that my story is not unique. Countless individuals with autism have visited doctors with the hope of being “fixed,” only to leave feeling more shattered than before. However, the reality is that they were never broken in the first place. They are simply autistic, and as I have come to realise, that is an incredibly remarkable thing to be. Embracing your neurodiversity is a powerful and liberating experience, and I am proud to be a part of this community.

It's time to demand that mental health care providers take a more individualised approach to treatment. We cannot continue to accept a one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to mental health. Each person's journey is unique, and their treatment should reflect that.

Support if you are struggling:

Samaritans: Call 116 123

Crisis Text Line: Text SHOUT to 85258 

Campaign Against Living Miserably (calm): Call 0800 585858 (open 5pm – midnight) 

Andy’s Man Club: Men’s suicide prevention charity, offering free-to-attend peer-to-peer support groups across the United Kingdom and online every Monday night 7-9pm with the chance to talk and get things off your chest. Find your local group here: Andy's Man Club | #ITSOKAYTOTALK | Andy's Man Club (  

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