Oliver’s story


I am a Civil Servant working for DWP and my current role is as a mental health community partner across Greater Manchester. In the past my jobs have included Probation Officer, Community Firefighter, Trading Standards Officer and volunteering as a police Special Constable.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2011 at the age of 31 and had previously had short periods in my life where I believed I was depressed or anxious, and at certain dark times in my life, believed I might be a psychopath!

However my diagnosis made me realise that the mental health was actually secondary and that my ability to understand others emotions and motivations was affected by Asperger’s and I wasn’t a “psycho” at all; I was normal and I could learn to develop coping mechanisms.

Throughout my life I have experienced periods of self-doubt and even to this day I can find myself having to deal with high levels of anxiety which impact me socially and make me feel lost and out of touch with the world.

I would say since I was 25 as that was when I’d started to notice that I wasn’t progressing in my life the way I thought I would. Things I believed would happen just didn’t and I became very uptight and unpredictable in my behaviour.

Since being diagnosed with Asperger’s I have learnt to accept how my brain works and embrace the unique way in which “Aspies” view the world. I like to think that most people are running Windows and those on the autism spectrum are Apple Macs, we all carry out the same functions in life but our processing systems are different.

My mental health has brought me an insight into how challenging the world is in the 21st century and enabled me to do the job I am doing now helping vulnerable people reliant on the benefits system while their mental health is at its worse. Using my lived experience I am able to work towards positive change in accepting mental health issues are normal and we should all feel able to talk openly about our problems, however big or small.

If I had one piece of advice, it would be talk to someone! Don’t bottle it up and try and deal with everything yourself. We aren’t designed to do that. We are social animals and modern society can be very polarising making us feel lonely and isolated. Try going to a local park and trying some mindfulness exercises. Concentrate on the present and take everything in you see, hear and feel. I wish you the best of luck on your journey towards mental wellbeing.
My chosen object is a framed wedding photo as I recently got married in November 2017. This means a lot to me as 7 years ago I couldn’t see myself in a long term relationship, never mind being a husband, father and a homeowner.