Depression as an Adolescent, Hormonal, Aspie

Hello. Happy Thursday night, or early Friday, perhaps you could say. The weekend is almost here and I shall greet the weekend with a post as a cheers to the weekend! Depression is a thing I have struggled with immensely in my adolescence and is kind of that big ‘real’ event in my life. The lesson to learn here (and that I learned as a 15 year old!) is that depression really is no joke and can be a serious and deadly mental illness. I had a 4 month mental breakdown, I call it, with the serious symptoms of depression. I blamed myself for everything. I could not concentrate on anything for more than 20 minutes,  and if I managed to concentrate for 20 minutes it was a damn good accomplishment. I kept on dwelling on the stupid things I did, like how stupid I sounded when I asked for a chair, and how worthless I looked moving it. The world was scary and I did not know how to deal with it at all.

AN ‘ASPIE’ FLAVOR OF DEPRESSION:

I say aspie flavor of depression because really, my nonverbal learning disorder troubles manifest themselves throughout this depression.

Defining terms: Nonverbal learning disorder: 

If you do not know, non-verbal learning disorder is basically what the title suggests. I have trouble picking up on things that are not explicitly stated to me. This comes out in school especially, with the inability to pick up the big unstated picture. In this case, the student will remember the details and the things the teacher says directly, but cannot pick up on the overall, unexplicit picture. I had this problem big time with history and so it was really hard for me to remember a war or time period because the details were just details and it was so hard to connect them all into a big picture. In high school, this was still a problem and it took me writing out a battle 3 times on paper to paint the big picture in my head.

It can also come out socially, as in non-verbal cues, in which the moods, thoughts, and feelings of people are not explicitly stated.

This is not an official diagnosis, so it often comes with other diagnoses like ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome. So, at the time, along with my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, I was also diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disorder.

Non-verbal Learning Disorder ‘Thinking- prints’ On My Depression:

  1. Dweling on little teeny-weeny DETAILS

I focused and blew out of proportion my tone of voice when asking for a chair. It was a minor detail and did not mean that much in comparison to the big picture of the whole action and what I was doing, as a mere human being with needs…yet somehow I did not consider it as just this minor detail, but a really big action. And that was the thing: every action was of the same level of importance and significance to me; I had no sense of higher rank order, or the end result of something, for that matter.

2. Failure to see the big picture

3. Failure to read body cues

It was what my college counselor accused me of. I did not look around. Part of it, I wanted to block my whole grade out and appear as this virtuous, emotionless robot, but also, I did not really know how to read people, or like what to look for. If I saw the cues, I knew, but my brain never knew how to just calm down and look at people’s cues. I would have to consciously direct myself to do so… It was scary to me like I was not supposed to do it.

Despite these innerworkings of the toxic thinking of depression, I still had the neurotypical symptoms of depression: exaggerated, black and white thinking, hopelessness, guilt, wanting to die, loss of interest in fun activities, and just finding life a chore in general.

What is Depression Like?

Describing my depression to someone else always finds itself to be the most difficult thing on the planet. It is not that I do not remember my feelings and experience with it; all of it plays back in my mind so vividly as a movie on the big screen. The problem is, I cannot make this person see the emotional movie that plays in my head, and I don’t know where I would begin to explain it to him-nor what words to even describe it. Words can only do so much when it comes to feelings and emotions…I cannot quite capture the debilitating force of depression’s mental prison- that moment when it first hacks your mind and then proceeds to trap you in a swirly hypnosis of negativity and grief all the while it feeds you scary thoughts and nasty tasting food that makes you feel dead on the inside. How do I say this to people when they ask what depression is like?

To quote a common proverb, ‘No one knows what someone truly goes through until they walk a mile in their shoes’, and this cannot be more true in the case of mental health issues. I can explain how rough the walk is with depression; I may even be able to show the damage it has done with the blisters on my feet. However, the actual feelings, how illogical it makes one, how it turns killing oneself into saving oneself from pain-those things are hard to understand in every day conversation and even harder to explain. It is an invisible battle and to explain what others cannot see requires more than just casual conversation. For this reason, I wish to depict the struggles of depression, and so have attempted to unveil the quicksand of dredge which depression wreaks on its hapless victims.

I have identified 4 key aspects to understanding depression:

  1. Duration
  2. Intensity
  3. Toxicity
  4. Invisibility

I will discuss each of these aspects in this post.

1. Duration 

You may be thinking that duration is a straightforward answer; duration is simply how long the depression lasted; surely this is simple to tell. My response to this: no, its not that simple. Depression is a part of life and life is never simple. Duration of a movie, a car ride, are both straightforward but there is nothing straight nor forward about defining a time range on human emotions-its more like a rough, jagged line. Clinical depression is not like the common cold in that one day it just appears and then goes away after some time. My depression was at its worst for a straight 4 months in my sophomore year, but it happened way before that and lasted way after it. Depression emerges and creeps its way into your life often way before your notice of it and so its origin is unclear and it  NEVER GOES AWAY. Those darkness-dwelling, self-defeating thoughts permanently make its home in your mind and it then becomes your job (you never applied for) to develop coping mechanisms to combat the thoughts to work your life around the depression.

The thoughts of depression and being trapped in your mind may seem petty and weak to be controlled by because we cannot see them but I promise you its anything but and takes a lot to fight. I wish to just elucidate this phenomenon in this post.

2. Invisibility

My school life just put the cherry on top of the heavy, luscious, rich hell cake into which God had baked my life that year. Of course no one knew what was going on at all- not even the bright red cherry of my so called school life.

My circle of friends at lunch turned into a hostile debate team where everyone just attacked everyone verbally, and my one best friend just abandoned me for another girl while  simultaneously, my Aunt, to whom I always came for her keen yet lovingly positive advice, slipped into cancer’s harsh, fatal, hands. My grades slipped and I did not speak in my classes.

Every day in all of my classes the continuous echoes and toxic thoughts in my head would shout ‘Everyone hates me’, ‘Everything is my fault’, and, ‘I cannot do anything right’ but no one heard these thoughts. No one saw the woeful dread of doing my homework the night before worrying about talking and going over it. I had to be perfect and say the best most profound thoughts because I did not deserve to speak and run my mouth otherwise, but I was too stupid to do so. No one heard these thoughts and how was I ever to explain them.

I was fighting a war, and I was on a losing streak for 4 straight months. I was breaking. I physically couldn’t speak in class, nor even get up in the morning…All I wanted to do was cry over my stupidity, guilt, and worthlessness. Desparation and exhaustion set in fast. I made efforts to fight my negative thoughts. I would make plans on how to speak in class, but when the moment came I just, I just did not have the right mind set. It was like being trapped in a cage my mind put me in and no one could see this cage. I wanted to be my energetic, driven, lively self, but all this drive seemed lost and I was withering away under everyone’s radar. It felt like I was knocking on the door, begging to be let in, but no one was inside to hear. I was fighting and putting in so much effort, but nobody saw this.

The radiant take away:

Outsiders physically, visually can NOT, recognize the effort to fight depression because of its invisible nature. Mental work does not achieve anything beneficial nor anything physical, so it is overlooked or just not seen. Perhaps for a valid reason in far as evolutionary psychology goes. Nonetheless, the struggles are struggles just like overcoming real, physical handicaps. So, the demands on a depressed mentally handicap person are the same as any other person, and the reality that the depressed individual is just not able to do the same things as the mentally healthy person is not seen. As the expected consequence follows, there becomes this discrepancy between the amount of work and effort the depressed person puts in and how much praise and rewards the depressed person experiences. A depressed individual may work doubly hard to fight off her negative bearing thoughts, but the work and effort other people see that individual put in is only physical, not mental. It is easy to see the accomplishment and effort a person with a prosphetic leg puts into running a marathon successfully. It is not so easy however to see the accomplishment in going to work despite negative thoughts. Everyone has negative thoughts and we all fight them so we think depression is the same way, and not that intense.

What is an accomplishment for a depressed person, is just another daily task for a mentally healthy person. To illustrate this, imagine you are learning how to juggle. You put so much time and effort into learning how to juggle and finally can juggle 3 balls at a moderate pace. You then show people your awesome juggling skills and they give no reaction, and proceed to juggle way more things than you, at a much quicker pace. This is what depression is like. Everyone seems to be better at juggling life than you are, and the little triumphs and baby steps you make to juggle life like a pro, go unnoticed, making you doubt your juggling abilities even more…and so ensues a tiresome series of fights that only end in one way.

3. Intensity

One important thing to remember in this post is that depression is really intense. I have been hoping convey in this post that depression is not just feeling sad and having negative thoughts-because we all do this at one point. It is a brain wound…and the chemicals in the brain are altered and so the function of thinking is flawed. There is not this control. It was like my tantrums when I was little.

I would argue the sadness in depression is even more intense. It just feels so real and the amount of greif I felt was like my heart was really broken: It no longer could float on my chest and just sank into my stomach like a ten ton weight carrying everything. The negative feelings about myself were so real and it just made my stomach hurt so much. It felt like my heart was sinking down scraping the edge of my stomach to make this straight painful line that went down my stomach scratching a fault line against it and kept me in bed. The feelings just brought physical pain and I never knew that was a thing. My head would hurt, often simultaneously with my stomach. It would just feel so heavy with confusion and guilt, and the fact I could not escape my mind just made me even more scared and hopeless. It was like 3D feelings!

4. Toxicity

Perhaps because of its invisibility and intensity, depression, once developed, becomes very toxic to the individual and makes it so hard to get over. Depression is overlooked as a mental illness, and really…drastically misunderstood. People equate depression with sadness, but it is more than just a feeling. While the effect of depression may be a  sadness, (but much more intense!) the inner workings of it are even much more complex than this and once it develops in someone, that individual is not just constantly sad, but locked up in the insanity walls of her own mind.

Like quicksand pulling its victim down, depression, dressed up handsomely, dreamily, and seductively, pulls its victim away from people. This is to say, the negative thoughts, the negative feelings, the reasoning: they all seem so true and real and even right to think, as if any other reasoning or fact could never be right.

This is depression’s power- it dresses up its thoughts in cloaks of reality and reason, when underneath the cloaks, is falsity to the tenth degree. In this way, depression allures its victim by taking over her reasoning. This is not all. It even hijaks her memory. The person will reconstruct her past events as evidence that she is a failure. This is how depression is so toxic to a person’s individuality. The person begins to hate the very thing that makes her, her.

Another aspect of depression’s toxic nature is the vicious cycle. A depression individual lacks the adequate reason to combat her negative thoughts. Let’s say someone is bummed out because they did not get the job they had really hoped for. The mentally healthy person will think of ways that could have contributed to this outcome, like maybe the job did not fit her personality after all, the day of the interview was just bad timing, the interviewer was off, etc., and then proceed to think of ways to land a successful interview. All these thoughts have one thing in common: they stem from having a high self-esteem. These thoughts all preclude the idea that one deserves to have a job, and the hope that one can get a job. A depressed person does not think he/she deserves the job in the first place, and may even lack any hope to obtain one. So one just falls and hopes but then falls again because the individual’s reason is not present.

Self-esteem is so important!  it is just as vital to our functioning as a heart. I say this because self-esteem is our spirit as humans, and provides us the hope and drive to live life and be ourselves. Adequate reasoning and logic to cope with life’s disappointments is not there, without self esteem, and little speed bumps and disappointments just pile on the individual until the individual is mentally broken, and covered in dents and bruises from the bumps. This is to say the self-concept bruises so easily when it is not protected by self-esteem just like skin that bruises so easily.

So, one disappointment happens and the individual stumbles about life with this wounded self-esteem while the memory of the fail-the bruise- constantly plays back in his mind-that big noticeable, eye-sore, black-and-blue, bruise. As the self-esteem is already weakened, it gets further wounded, with more evidence that one is a useless, pathetic, failure. Memories play back which draws the individual to watch them in a twisted relish of sorrow. The depressed individual is powerless now; unable to put up the proper fight. Finally, he/she has no desire to even leave the house. It is in this way that depression creates a vicious trap that wears down one’s self-esteem until there is nothing left.

Conclusion

So, these are just a few aspects of what depression is like, and how it is and becomes such a debilitating problem for people with it. Essentially, at the core, depression is a yearning for love-Love from both, oneself and others. As I built my self-esteem back up, however, it all became clear: When I love myself, I am healthy and courageous enough to spread this love to others. Depression makes one dependent on others for their self-worth, which always falters because you are the only one who can truly love you. A sort of, mean, paradox of depression: You want others to love you but it is only you who can truly love yourself.  Until you love yourself, every relationship with friends will be unsatisfying. That is to say, becoming happy and lively starts from the inside out. When I appreciated my strengths and accepted my weaknesses, I could then be comfortable enough to carry this disposition into my interactions with others. Furthermore, by accepting my own shortcomings and praising my strengths, I also accept others’ weaknesses while praising their strengths. In this way, I grew a love that I would spread to other people. The goal here, then, is to grow something to spread to others-this thing, is self-love. Depression drains an individual of every little bit of self-love she could possibly spread. Thus it is clear, we all need to love ourselves first. As much as I hate to admit it, elementary school teachers had it right all along: “worry about yourself first”.

 

 

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What is Going on in My Head? UNICORNS AND RAINBOWS

I’m tired when I am out with other people but an energizer bunny when I lay awake alone, in my head, in my empty room. This emotional burden makes me so tired yet prohibits me to fall asleep. Doing relaxing things I love like running and ice skating are not as relaxing as they could be… because of the 10 ton boulder of thoughts on my mind. I just want to break free and express myself… Oh can I please lift this boulder from my mind? My mind is perpetually captured in this perpetual fog. Which one is perpetual? So which one can I change??

It is the voice in my head laughing at me when I walk up to the grocery store. It is the mental barrier to human connection when talking to people. It is the ghost in my room and the phantom in my dreams. These experiences are the echoes my mom’s fatigued desperate cries  I have Asperger’s and am less than the other happy ‘normal’ kids. The freedom to be myself… Every day of my waking life I expound ten times more energy fighting to escape the imprisonment of my mind. Fighting my anxiety that I am a good enough. I am okay. My actions are good. I am a good girlfriend. I am a human being. I am allowed to make mistakes.  My boyfriend does love me. Clinging to that love from the walls of my prison

Relaxing childhood play? what? Evasive smells and sensory overloads. My mind is weighed down by a 10 ton boulder of all the memories of my childhood. The rejection of friendship and taunting of inescapable weaknesses. I try to twist the taunts back to them and control my temperature only to meet stern eyes and judgmental glances. What did I do wrong and what is wrong with me? Everything I do is stupid. Then mysterious games of tricksters and jokers that left me confused and bewildered. The offer me wildering flowers only to turn withering. The evasive touch playground play beneath the sandy sand pits of fast feet and scream filled air of good vibrations……NO…..NO….I….NO-ISY VI-BRA-TIONS. It is PULLLLL-SING. The touch of skin two boys creep up. aggressive panic switch pulsing in my mind. a group of 3rd graders tackle me. Slither sleep there is no sleep without thinking of that and the attack on my mind and my body. Ostracism and isolation. Fights and arguments. It’s always my fault. My behavior is ugly. My face is ugly. I’m stupid.  The total heart break and PRE-TEEN REALITY CHECK…..crushed my world. Crushing….landslide…until I had a change of worlds that left me the enemy. How am I the bully now? I am hostile and people respect me. I’m crushed. Now im A CRUSHEE?? Is it true?! Him?! I don’t know any friends in my class. Every girl likes make up and justin Bieber. EW. I am not like the girls in my class. awkward middle school. I got my braces off I will talk now.  I hate my face. I cant do anything right. I cant talk. I hate myself. What’s the point of life when I’m bound to go through another helpless silent day? Im embarrassed for the disgraceful sorry excuse of a human I have become. I want to change. Im GONNA CHANGE. I WILL DO THIS. I WILL MAKE A PLAN I CANNOT FAIL CUZ IT WILL BE SO EASY TO FOLLOW BUT ALAS. The plan. Why cant I just stick to my plans. I cant even stick to my plans anymore. Im worthless. What…is…wrong with me?

There was a lot I wished to say. I wish I would have overcame my depression sooner. I wish I would go through it now, with a strong mind. I wish I could talk to more kids. I wish I could have conveyed my loneliness, depression and anxiety to the kids. Everyone was nice. The small school was a unicorn. I had so much to say. I wanted to tell everybody this is the first school kids did not bully me. This school was a big change for me. I had no voice. I could not express myself, but I so badly wanted to, and to connect with someone.  The thing is, only… maybe… four years of my high school experience bothers me. And in a world full of unicorns this means I loved my high school experience. But I do not hate it. Not in the real world. Things are much more… complicated…

 

***INTRO AND EXPLANATIONS:***

I’m sorry I did not post last week. I was working on this and I did not know where to go with it and wanted to capture everything right and needed a break. I had a lot of emotions and frustration on my mind. I have attempted to take you readers on my seemingly 100 mile trek with Asperger’s in a high speed rocket launcher with feeling and sincere thoughts.

I grapple witth all the things I wish i would have done, but we all wish we would have done things and that things would have turned out a different way than they did. This is wishing and sure the idea of unicorns is nice and its all wishing and these exist somewhere where unicorns are. …But the real world is now and accepting that and making do and making what you want from complications and things that are not so simple and happy. That is beautiful. that is what reality has… and it can be beautiful like …a rainbow.

Early Asperger’s Syndrome Experience

As I write this post, I have a lot of feelings that I don’t quite know what to do with. I feel sad, angry…confused. I know my parents love me and were just trying to make a happy life for me, but all I went through pierces my heart. It hurts and burns but if it heals, it will be a beautiful piercing. By now, ‘you are probably thinking, “oh my gosh what is this post going to be about?’ I have attempted to capture my feelings and thoughts during the major things that my parents did to me to get rid of my Asperger’s Syndrome symptoms…and thus make me more socially acceptable.

Growing up with Asperger’s syndrome involved a lot of discipline and medicine. It was the early 2000’s-the mainstream, popular, go to, mental health model was to mitigate my Asperger’s symptoms and to blend in with normal kids.  In America, Natural medicine and exercise were very very underground, if not non-existent and unknown. Then, to make matter worse, there was not the philosophy of being yourself and accepting everyone’s weird quirks. Autism knowledge barely existed nor any mental health awareneness. ….SO… I grew up, taught to overcome my Asperger’s, that is, to get rid of my flappy hands…or my hyperactivity… or my obsessive passionate monologues…or the way I dressed.

My tantrums, on the other hand, I get it.. they had to be fixed. I wanted to fix my tantrums, but I had no control. Okay enough back story. Let me narrate, or attempt to narrate my experience with discipline and medicine (but in this post I I will only discuss discipline). First. A backstory on my tantrums.

…which brings me to discuss…

Tantrums: A real life Hulk

 

Three men carry my toddler body out the door as I scream I do not want to leave. I remember this discipline vividly. It was one of the few tantrums I had in public (but boy when I had them they were bad!). I remember that vividly. It was because usually when my mom says we gotta go home it takes like a few more minutes… or a half hour, because, well, adults end up talking. I was having fun with my cousins and NOW when my mom said we had to go, there was not this leeway, we had to go, THAT MINUTE!! I remember all the rage I had at this and I couldn’t stop it. My dad and three other guys in my family had to restrain my limbs as I tried kicking and punching…but I remember being touched like this just made me more angry.

It was like I was the hulk. Certain smells, someone touching me, or just sensory overload, my persona faded away into a beast of rage. It was like a beast hijacked my body and started raging. However, I always managed to control my rage in public, but at home I yelled, scream and threw fits. Home was my punching bag for what I could not do in public.

A big take away is that I could NOT control my tantrums, in fact i could not control the little actions in my bad behavior. I did not have the reason, knowledge, or support I needed. This a big theme in this post. In fact if you take away anything in the post…take that:

I cannot control my actions.

Despite my lack of control, psychiatrists advised my mom to discipline me and be more stern as well as give me medicine..and so that is what happened.

1.    Discipline

My mom mainly resorted to discipline to correct my behavior, and she tried just about every form of discipline in the book. She tried taking my valued toys away, hitting me, yelling at me, locking me in my room but nothing worked. When I wanted something I was determined, and when I was in a tantrum, I was unstoppable and invincible. I had STRENGTH.

 

My childhood was full of me being punished however, and it was grim and dark. I did not mean to misbehave. That was the thing. I did not want to, but sometimes it just came out. A lot of these memories I lock away in my mind and it is hard to confront them. The punishment and being out of control of my actions…are both scary things. People do not want to be out of control. And..I wanted love and acceptance but it felt like no one could understand… so they could not accept. ☹

Some of the things I would be yelled at and punished for were:

  • Yelling at and throwing fits when my friends and I had disagreements or conflicts (like a friend cheated or me being accused of cheating)

 

  • Misbehaving in public: yelling inside, doing something out of the norm (like sit unlady like in a skirt).

Whenever I misbehaved like this, my mom would belittle me and poor out her negativity on my behavior. She yelled how could I be so dumb, oblivious, or mean.  Then proceed to say that my aunts and uncles, or whoever witnessed my god forsaken behavior,  think I am a brat and that I should be ashamed of myself and that I am a demon child for my behavior.

The thing was, I did not mean to do these things. I did not want to misbehave, and especially did not want to be disciplined. Looking back at it now, I knew that something had to be done with the conflicts so I would not get walked over, but I did not know how to do it in an appropriate way. I was only having a human response in the only way my brain knew how-to throw fits and yell.  In my toddler mind, however, I tried so hard not to be punished and to ‘behave’ …yet I always ended up failing. It put so much negativity and distrust in me because I felt like I did not have control over my actions. That would mean, I could completely mess up just like that and sabotage a friendship or team-ship without even knowing it or being conscious of it! (which is just the basis of social anxiety!)

  • A lot of times I thought I was being myself and behaving, but I was met with hitting, screaming, or being locked in my room.

LOOKING BACK NOW….

Everyone assumed I should know how to handle conflicts and control my emotions. So my behavior must be on purpose, but this was not the case. I felt out of control and lacking knowledge, and no one guided me on what I should have done, except that what i did was wrong. It is inuitive-and it should have been for me.

Consequently, I could not stick up for myself properly. When I was at school, my tantruming froze, however and I was just not comfortable there. I felt like I wasn’t home so I could not show my tantrums. So, I let everyone walk on me and bully me.

**********************************************************************

Nevertheless, growing up with Asperger’s when there is not enough awareness and knowledge of ASD is a battle. I love my mom, and I do not criticize her or blame her because she spent all her efforts trying to get help for me and she just wanted a happy life for me. Becoming a new parent there is already so much to learn, and the parents are blind. There lies tons of knowledge on raising kids in the library; We have done this  (raising kids) literally for a million years. But autism in a society that has high norms and expectations bthat is new as having high expectations and social norms is fairly new! So… The poor new parents fight the Aspie kid, the parents fight the school for proper treatment, accommodations, and to punish the bullies, and may even fight society to ensure a kid employment and a happy life.

Treking Through High School with Depression

As I’m dragging my zombie self to my classes I encounter the college counselor screaming at me. I had missed the college meeting.  She scolded me, shouting, “I must have known surely since it was on the announcements the past two days…I had friends that could tell…I must have noticed my whole grade was gone and I was stupid if I missed all these”. My heart sunk but it wasn’t that I was stupid. I just was mentally sick…but she was so quick to assume I was not sick and was just being careless.

The reality: 

  • I sat alone disconnected, or  with two juniors I knew very well at the time. The thing is though i was disconnected and I never looked around because I was scared to encounter menacing faces nor did I think I had the right to do so. So I did not notice everyone was gone. I’m trying to block out my grade entirely.

 

  • I missed the announcement for the meeting because I could not get out of my bed to go to school…and I have no friends in my grade to tell me of the meeting.

 

  • Do I tell her all this? …I just apologize and let her words sink their teeth in my brittle skin. To this day, I remember the amount of embarrassment and shame I felt the whole rest of the day and it only made my ‘good day’ into a treacherous bad day. The soundwaves of her voice hitting the ears of everyone else, her judgement eyes, and the opressive heat of the sun and my mind made me want to melt into a puddle. I just wanted to cry but I had to be strong and wear my mask and act like everything was okay.

But I carried that black cloud of thoughts with me through every class and every little ‘activity’…’Once again I failed’ … I felt ashamed….

I suffered with my mind my whole life, since I was 6. I had the rare case of childhood depression, but nonetheless, I repeatedly recall my petty juvenile mind wanting to die because the world would be better off without me. Depression is not impossible for children to have, as i have proved, and adults of course suffer from it as well. However, in this post, I focus only on adolescent depression because I believe, from my personal experience, depression is the most intense at this time. In this week’s post, I describe 3 struggles of going to high school with depression.

  1. EVERYBODY IS BLIND!

The raging of hormones along with the crippling depression in high school makes it so toxic. Your body is changing and you are shy and timid, to begin with, to talk to people, to come out in the open, and say you’re different from your peers, is much more difficult to do than as an adult. After all, what sane teenager would want to say they don’t belong in any group at all and are perfectly okay with having no friends? It is your first life lesson and it’s hard. Adolescence is a time where you learn about life and deal with all these hormones and if you add any mental illness to the mix, life just becomes that much harder. Fully grown adults don’t even want to admit that they are alone. Yet here I was alone in my grade and I really didn’t know who to talk to. My aunt had been my go to for advice, but I stopped talking with her when she developed cancer and had gone without  a support system for 3 years. I did not want to tell anyone and no one could see what I was going through. My parents just thought I was moody and hormonal and the kids just thought I was weird.

The most toxic thing about depression is it isolates you and in this way, is just like being in abusive relationship, except that: your mind becomes the abuser. Your mind tells you others will not care or think you are crazy so you should not tell what you are feeling and thinking, all the while your mind gains more control. In this way, depression is invisible and toxic.

  1. The battle you cannot win

I am not quiet nor do I skip school on purpose. I want to stop skipping school and to stop being a silent observer. I wanted to be a good star student…to complete all my tasks and homework responsibly…to be open…and talk more like the popular star students, but I just didn’t have the mind to do so. It was so frustrating. It was like no matter how much strength I pushed back on my mind, I could never achieve the same as the normal kids, nor be happy. I was making all the efforts and intricate plans and I wanted to fight and was attempting to but no one could hear, like knocking on the door to be heard when there was a deaf person inside. I couldn’t concentrate on my daily homework for more than 20 minutes without crying. I felt helpless like no thing nor one could alleviate my feelings and make me a functioning human. It seemed so simple and so real a truth: I was stuck like this; I was broken, and a failure.

 

  1. The good days are only allusions of control

I wanted to fight and prove I was smart and healthy being alone, like a lone warrior. Yet other days it this hope was ripped from me and I also hated myself and couldn’t show my face to the world. It was a sick roller coaster that no matter of the ups and downs everything was bad as if the roller coaster was in some messed up hell and the whole time you are running away from the demon but he was on the track next to you and you could not run away from it. No matter what you did, and only you could see this and everyone else just sees a normal roller coaster at an amusement park.

At the time, I did not know what was wrong with me. I did not know this is what depression was like. I thought I was just always that freak that did not belong anywhere, and so I just dreamed and longed to find that social group where I did belong…or even to just some human I could connect with to validate my feelings.

Many people do not know how to handle depression if they themselves have not gone through it. -OR… Worse yet, they equate depression with their own times where they felt sad in attempt to relate to the depression. You haven’t done your homework, have not spoken in class or to anyone, peer or teacher, you miss school. Everyone assumes you are being defiant, are hateful, and just do not care, as if you are consciously doing these things as if these things are in your control to do or not do. In reality, you desperately are trying and want to be a good student, and do not hate everyone, but are just mentally unable to do so. The common fatal harsh misunderstanding of mental illness that society has is thinking that the sufferer can control her actions. Mental health issues cause the exact opposite in which case the ill person cannot choose her actions and is a prisoner to her mind in every sense of the analogy. And, when teachers and students do not understand this, the sufferer of mental illness only suffers more.

Accepting My Diagnosis

Greetings All!

So bear with me.. because now that I have introduced myself, I have to tell about my struggle with Asperger’s syndrome. People with Asperger’s syndrome, you may find these symptoms, feelings, and stories relateable; maybe not.

My struggle and diagnosis started very young-age 4 to be exact. I have been bullied for my odd ticks in school and made to feel miserable for my uniqueness and different ways of thinking from 1st grade to 5th grade. I have built myself up with the help of an exceptional 6th-12th grade charter school. I acquired social skills and restored my confidence, but my overall self-esteem still struggles. I have recognized that people will not judge, and that I have the social tools to change and rearrange any social situation I face, but I cannot accept my diagnosis. This is where I am at right now in my mental healthy journey. You could say its denial, and just healthy wonder to some extent.

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The thing is, I am social and always had that interest in others and even social skills.  In elementary school, I was never that popular outgoing kid, but I always remained so on purpose. I guess you could say I never had a desire to be apart of my classmates. The boys chasing girls was so trivial and to join would go against everything I stood for. I did like socializing, don’t get me wrong: I loved playing house with others kids and playing in the sand and building a city with them. The chasing game was not my thing nor any of the popular kids’ fu-fu style games. I was always on the outside looking in, like a little girl, lonesomely looking out the window of her room, hugging a teddy bear, longing to be outside with all the frolicking kids in the grass. It was not like I was locked in my room. The door was open. It was more like I was locked in my mind I wanted to do my own thing and stand on the sidelines and just observe. I wanted to join in with the popular kids, and I hated not being able to, it just was not fun to me. Despite this, I faced bullying and a lot of school problems because of it. I had occupational and speech therapy and kids also teased me for going to these and having to be taken out of class.

I link my Asperger’s syndrome to the childhood bullying. Thus when I think of me having the disease i cannot help but to simultaneously feel defeated and anxious as my brain, consciously or unconscious recalls being defenseless in social situations. This phemomenon is confusion and it feels like I’m trapped in my mind. No one can really relate to me so they do not understand the sadness, I feel.

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So, the story: after throwing my shoe at my moms head while she was driving, i finally convinced my mom that I was not like all the other kids and my tantrums and fits were a little more than the average kid’s. When I threw the shoe at my mom’s head, she swerved, and a cop pulled her over, thinking she was drunk. My mom was in tears at this point, having to deal with me and then being pulled over. The cop then suggested the children’s hospital to diagnose me and put me on meds (because medication is where the mental health therapy gravitated towards at the time, of course, but more on this later.). So, after a month staying there, I received my diagnosis. I was 4 years old. I was put on so many pills every so month but nothing worked. I saw a countless number of counselors and psychologists but the change never came, until in my teenage years. After fourth grade, I stopped taking all pills and have not had such pills since. I became a normal, ‘manageable kid by age 11.

So, it begs the question if my diagnosis was real. I could have just been a more difficult, hyperactive child. It did not help that my neighborhood was full of old people and I had traumatic bullying and special classes for which I had to be pulled away from the ‘normal’ kids, to attend to.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

So, returning back to my thinking and statement i have been asserting all along: I do not want to accept my diagnosis. I am grappling with if my diagnosis was false. Maybe the doctors were pressured to diagnose me, and just wrote down something. How do I know it is right?

It seems like a trivial thing to be obsessing over, right? -But I respond with this: It affects me personally. This disease followed my childhood and my family members all were told I had it. It doesn’t help that my mom was happy to tell it to everyone whenever I misbehaved or acted odd. It is like my punishment was being labeled with this syndrome and then a glaring look towards my way. So many negative perspectives about myself have projected onto my self concept because of this diagnosis. While it served as something I had to live with and overcome, it also was the biggest bully of my childhood that called me a freak and a demon child whenever I had too much energy or could not express myself, or just did something unique or quirky. I say it like had it when I use words like overcome, but I just mean change my flaws. The thing is, this syndrome planted its blossoming flower on my self-concept so now the reality of the flower involves my self-concept. It is not just a question of if I have Asperger’s syndrome; it is an issue of what my self-concept is, specifically ‘who am i?’ .

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

For one, it happened so long ago. Then mental health care was nothing like it is today; there was so little knowledge on high functioning autism, yet alone, ‘Asperger’s Syndrome.’ They could have misdiagnosed me or hyperanalyzed my symptoms as Asperger’s syndrome. Secondly, Asperger’s was not apart of High functioning autism then, and so my diagnosis may of met the loosely characteristics of the syndrome alone, but not the refined high functioning autistic diagnosis.

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Photo by João Jesus on Pexels.com

I was curious. I have looked at others’ stories of their aspergers, and to my surprise, I came across a lot of older adults saying they wish they had been diagnosed earlier. WHAT!?!

…They go on to explain that growing up, they always noticed they were different from others, yet did not know what was wrong with them. Harris (2016) on the Guardian talks about Jon Adams, specifically, who thought something was just wrong with him, yet he did not know what, and the feelings of no belonging just forced him to like things he didn’t like. Huh. Well, now I am a bit ungrateful. I was diagnosed and knew I was a bit different, while people before me did not know and could not receive that solace, nor the help I received. Moreover, if I did have Asperger’s Syndrome, i was able to have the help I needed to feel that I was like everyone else.

So at this point, being diagnosed with Asperger’s or not, you are still made to feel different. and it hurts. People’s attitudes around the syndrome project negative personas onto our self concept, and the growing is just not easy.

While others wish they would have been diagnosed with the the syndrome earlier on in their life, I was lucky enough to have their wish happen to me. -but at least in my circumstances- it only haunted me and put me on unwanted pills. Instead of a solace for my happiness, Asperger’s syndrome became a chip on my shoulder and the dreamy  subject of my social anxiety and depression.

Despite all this and my dreary experience, I think mental health has come a long ways in treating mental health. Society has grown in its knowledge and therapies available for Asperger’s. So in consequence, people with mental disorders feel more welcome in more and more social scenarios (but the negative vibes have not gone away). I hope we continue helping people overcome whatever mental issue ales them, and do so in a positive uplifting manner.

~Infinity

Reference:

Harris, J. (November 2016). ‘All my life suddenly made sense’: How it feels to be diagnosed with Autism late in life. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/19/autism-diagnosis-late-in-life-asperger-syndrome-john-harris

 

 

Introduction

Hello there! I wanted to introduce myself and tell you what my blog is all about and where I am coming from. I am in my early 20s and have grappled with anxiety, depression and being misunderstood ever since I was born…and I mean quite literally. I received a diagnosis of aspergers before it was apart of autism when I was 4 because I was just different and people were trying to find out why I was not a social butterfly like all the other angelic kids.

I mean, I was demonic, at least, I don’t want to think of myself as that. My parents referred to me as that. It wasn’t that I was mean or violent, but I was very determined, hyperactive and stubborn. I still am today but in a more acceptable, mature way: I am a go getter and will not stop at my goals. …So to be publishing my problems instead of doing something out in the world is a little counter intuitive to me, but the fact is I like to write and express myself, and I am so thankful for the internet to be able to do so freely.

My childhood started with a diagnosis of aspergers and being that weird child but the problems only became manifestly burdensome when I entered adolescence. I faced major depression and crippling anxiety. I never got tested for these. I was mad about the aspergers diagnosis and I have adopted a negative view of naming my diagnoses. I’m messed up and I struggle, there is nothing to it. Maybe treatment would help now? …but when I was kid all it brought were tons of pills and therapists with sleepy voices.

My story and time of growing up is unique. I now realize that as I was growing up the world was criminally bias against mental health. It is quite amazing much the attitude toward mental health has changed in the past 16 years. I point to the media for this because of the portrayal of bullying and the true mental, emotional anguish of the protagonists with mental disorders. It is not a bad thing because I think awareness is great, but subsequent over-glorification of depression and anxiety is a side effect that still needs to be addressed. There is still a ton we do not know, like how to cure it and how to integrate mentally ill people with mentally healthy people. If someone was a cripple, we would still connect with them, but if someone had a mental handicap, we are more reluctant to connect and still give several yards to prevent making that person our ‘BFF’.

Social skills and knowing how to connect mean the difference between connecting and establishing last relationships. That is how it is but how do we then make this possible for the mental handicap population?

This is my perspective. I will post my experiences, as well as reflections, with my mental health issues. My story is pretty unique as you guys will see, just my social support, my luck (good and bad), my school environment, and my passions. If you have a story, questions, thoughts, please feel free to comment. I love discussions and learning what other people have to say. I really just want to inspire others and share my experience.

-Infinity