Autism & Depression: My Current Reality
As you all are aware of, there have been many challenges in my life within the past few months - I’ve publically shared about the situation with my friends along with my grandmother’s health - and there are other things that I chose not to share. I recently went to my psychologist as well as my psychiatrist, and they both noticed something different about me. A different demeanor, a different mood. I started to share my feelings, my thoughts, my actions, my life choices. Together, we all came to the conclusion that I’m depressed. And it sucks.
Depression is something that is all too familiar for me as I have been through spouts of it multiple times during my life. As someone with Autism, I realize that (as someone with a developmental disability) I statistically have a higher chance than the “average” person to experience depression or a mood disorder.
Please remember that depression is different from sadness. Sadness is a human emotion that is normal to feel. Depression is sadness that may be combined with feelings of discouragement, hopelessness, lack of motivation, etc.
Being depressed obviously isn’t fun: when I’m asked how I’m doing, I might say that I’m doing well. In my mind, I honestly think I’m doing well because I’m sad, but not as sad as I could be (if that makes sense). In other words, I’ve been told that I unconsciously trick myself into believing that I’m doing well just because nothing too horrible is actually occurring. I came to understand this concept when one of my friends asked me how I was doing, and when I said “good,” he asked, “ok, now how are you actually feeling?” I took a moment and thought about it, replying back “not great.”
As a High Functioning individual, I’ve noticed that there are a few things that help me when I am depressed. The first is just listening to me and letting me vent. As I have stated in previous posts, sometimes when I vent, I have so many thoughts in my head that once I start to “release” them, they won’t stop flowing out of me until I’ve said everything that I need to say. Even if I don’t make complete sense, just being able to be a listening ear really makes a difference. Another thing that really helps me is just being patient and staying in touch. It may sound simple enough, but it takes a lot to do so.
The two things that don’t help in my opinion is when someone either compares situations or takes a stance and/or mentions medications. In both of these scenarios someone may be trying to help, however, all it does it frustrates me.
Depression is different for everyone. I know that one day things will start to get better, I just hope that this day will come sooner than later. In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on self-care. That’s what matters the most.