Depression 101 for Aspies
Having a condition such as Asperger’s syndrome sounds complicated, however, we learn how to be in control, how to deal with it over time. We try this, we try that, and start noticing what gives good and bad results. It gets easier for sure. But what happens when you have two conditions? Maybe depression? Now we’re talking about something more complicated.
People with Asperger’s are still people; they still live and feel, they think and get sick, and that’s exactly what depression is: a sickness. Depression is totally different for everyone who deals with it, one that changes over time, but also one that affects Aspies, just like it has affected the one who’s writing this. Yes, it is pretty strange, but possible as well.
If you are an Aspie, how can you tell if you also have depression? The fastest and easiest way is to seek professional help as soon as you feel there’s something wrong, something that isn’t working as it should that makes you feel bad most of the time. Go to a psychologist, a therapist, your counselor as he/she knows what to look for and how to help.
If you don’t have the chance or if you just don’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with someone you don’t know, then put that Aspie self to work and read, listen to, and/or watch videos on the subject. Get immersed in it and learn about the signs, the symptoms, the behavior people your age and sex tend to show; yes, young people and adults are different and so are girls and boys in this kind of situation.
In this case, know that we all tend to change our perception just to make it fit the situation. What does that mean? You need to have a clear idea of what has changed within yourself. Here are some questions that may help, but remember everyone is different:
- Do I want to think about this right now? If not, why?
- Do I like to do what usually makes me feel better?
- What kind of content (music, books, TV shows, etc.) do I relate with now?
- Am I happy with the way things are currently?
- Am I doing what I like?
- Do I feel comfortable thinking about all of these questions?
These are just very general aspects of what depression is, which means you have to develop your own questions, and then look at the signs and symptoms depression has in your case. Does it match your criteria? Sound familiar? Can you relate? If that’s the case, then start changing your routine.
I know a change in routine is the last thing we as Aspies want to do. This is our haven, this is our safe place, this is our control, but keep in mind that this situation could get worse, and you don’t have to make a 180° change. Start small, the littlest of things you can think about, and as soon as you feel a positive change, do another one and so on, building a new haven.
One of the things I’ve learned is that nothing is rigid in this life, that we do need to change, so we can take it easy, mark the pace and be still in control of that change. Nothing goes forward or backward if we do not want it to or if we don’t feel okay with it. It’s already a complex situation, why would try to twist it even more? Go one step at a time, and always, always, ask for help.
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Now, for those who know an Aspie who may be depressed: remember that telling a person to feel okay won’t help him/her change how he/she feels. This is especially true for an Aspie who cannot understand how complex his/her emotions are because depression takes control and depression fights back. Trust me in that last one, as I’ve been battling with this sickness since 2012.
Instead of making us speak, or taking our shoulders and looking at us right into the eyes (which might totally terrify us and mute our tongues) send a message, write a letter, and respect the limits, or tell someone we trust to do it. If we aren’t that close, then we will share just a part of the story, maybe nothing at all, but with a person, we feel safe with, everything can change.
Do not tell us what to do, but suggest something we could consider; let us know there’s an option we didn’t think about, that there’s a way we might like to try. But do not let us do things our way 24/7; I know I needed those times when my friends made me talk and made me listen to them when they told me what I had to do after all my options had failed, and that’s something I’ll always thank them for.
This is not my way of saying that we need you to be there, even though all humans need company one way or the other, but to tell you that above all we Aspies and depressives need support, understanding, and respect.
For all of you, never ever forget that it gets better. It takes time, it takes work, it takes effort, but no matter what, it always gets better.
This article was featured in Issue 76 – Raising A Child with Autism