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.
This is part 5 of an ongoing series that examines the interplay between Autism Spectrum Disorder, Aspergers and depression. Other posts have offered a breakdown of how to both detect and distinguish co-morbid conditions like depression (part 2 in particular, which focuses on how depression can “hide” behind autistic traits; all other links can be found below). This time around, I wanted to take a different approach and offer impressions that are more subjective in nature.
Part 6 will conclude this series with a look at coping strategies.
I started drinking alcohol in college. One of my friends, he had a frat guy roommate and these parties would spring up around us on a regular basis. My friend and I, we’d be sitting there at his place watching old VHS bootlegs of Doctor Who. Then we’d hear cars pull in to the driveway. We’d hop up, frantic, immediately switch the television to ESPN, try to mask our nerdiness. Humans would proceed to file in. Frat guys, sorority girls, dozens of them. And that was it for the rest of the night, just drinking, drinking.
Two very different questions from readers this time. One about a situation involving childhood depression. The other about determining when adults should seek an ASD diagnosis. Thanks to everyone for their questions, it gives all of us a way to discuss and think about these challenging issues; it is much appreciated.
I’ve always had a difficult time calibrating my social needs.
I have social needs, I’ve just never been able to pin down what they are, how they work. What happens is that I tend to isolate a lot, until the loneliness gauge goes deep into the red. Then I throw myself into the world, seeking interactions…at which point I pinball around erratically, guided by the random interference of external forces more than any internal sense of direction.