This is a sleep history.
When I was in elementary school, my social struggles developed into an intense fear of other people.
I sought out friendships, connections, but lacked the basic communication skills necessary to traverse the social world. I didn’t know that I lacked body language; I didn’t know that my mind was unable to catch the nuances of non-verbal communication. Needing people, interested in others, I repeatedly jumped into interactions, only to stumble for reasons I had no way of understanding.
Final semester, 1998
The ongoing Aspergers Syndrome (AS) and depression series been staggered out here over the course of two years, so I wanted to provide an overview of the entire discussion in one location. This will include a brief synopsis of each segment, as well as a links to each post.
Let’s call it a personality screensaver…
Two questions this time around. One from a parent…and one from a lady diagnosed with Aspergers who wants to know how anyone could feel good about life on the spectrum.
Thoughtful questions. My non-expert, answery type things: in effect.
I lived at home during my college years. I was beginning to struggle with depression…it wasn’t a full thing yet, but I was too spacey and low-energy to both take classes and hold down a job. But by my junior year, it was becoming a challenge to pay for gas, meals, stuff like that, so there was no avoiding it. I had to find work.
So, the employment thing: it started in 1995. I was 20 years old.
These are the jobs I’ve had.
The question I receive the most: “A family member who is on the autism spectrum is also experiencing severe depression. What can I do to help them?”
I offered some initial thoughts in a recent post, but this time around I wanted to focus on a very specific facet of this issue. (Click here for a post that collects and summarizes every article in the Aspergers and depression series.)
One of the recurring themes in these questions is not just depression; it’s that the person is having a hard time accepting the diagnosis. The individual is described as hating their spectrum traits to such an extent that they refuse to accept the diagnosis or even discuss it. Those writing in about this frequently report that they have tried to offer positive, practical descriptions of the spectrum, yet find that this approach is only making things worse.
(This is part 6 in an ongoing series devoted to the topic of autism and depression; click here for a post that collects and summarizes every article in the series.)
As a kid on the autism spectrum, I received a lot of pressure to blend in and hide differences. As an adult on the autism spectrum, I now know what the consequences are for that kind of pressure.
When you are young and traits that are part of who you are receive negative reactions from people- especially from parents and teachers- it can very quickly erode your sense of confidence and well-being. This, in turn, creates a perfect storm for self-loathing and depression.
When I was 32 years old, I found myself facing a dilemma.
After socially isolating for a about a decade, I began therapy and was diagnosed with both depression and autism spectrum disorder.
The psychologist said that, in addition to managing the depression, we needed to spend a fair amount of time just talking…simply sitting around, conversing…so that we could begin to map out how my mind was processing social data. Once we had a better understand of that, we could then make a game plan.