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5 Things I Wish People Knew About My Depression as an Autistic Woman

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I always feel so frustrated inside when I’m trying to tell other people or medical professionals about how severe my depression is. I used to think that it was autism that defined me and made me feel alone and sad. However, it’s really my depression that causes me the most stress and anxiety.

I go through periods of feeling super happy and upbeat, and then all of a sudden feeling very low and mentally burnt out, and I am not sure why. I have tried to seek help for my depression. Yet, I’ve come to realize that the only person who can save me from my mental state is myself and not someone else. But, whenever I do need someone to talk to or vent to, it feels like no one listens. I feel the loneliness consuming me entirely most of the time and then the depression just builds up inside of me. I always thought that if I was myself, then people would like me and want to be around me. Yet, when I am acting like myself and trying to blend in with non-autistic individuals, I still have trouble socializing and making friends.

It feels like no one really understands how hard it is to redeem myself and muster up the courage to put myself out there again after I get rejected. It’s a never-ending cycle of trying to make friends and almost always being turned away. Not only does this take a heavy toll on my mental health, but it always causes me to believe that other people do not have good intentions, and do not care about me or my feelings. I feel like I am living a life that wasn’t made for me most of the time because I have to try so much harder to fit in and make friends. For the most part, people don’t even acknowledge me, let alone want to include me. I feel like I’ve been given a script and asked to play the part of a non-autistic woman. Yet, I do not know how to be that person when I am anything but so-called “normal” and will never be the individual other people wish I was.

What I want in life is not to be free of my depression, but to be able to manage it better and to be treated with more respect when someone doesn’t want to be my friend or chooses not to get to know me. There are so many things I wish people knew about me and my depression and I wanted to share some of them in a list below. Here are five things I would like other people to know about my depression as someone on the autism spectrum.

1. Sometimes, I need space from other people.

It’s hard for me to want to be around other people when I get super stressed out and anxious. I definitely don’t want other people to see me in despair because I think I am going to scare them off, and that they will see a side of my personality which they will not like or accept. I often spend time by myself, so I am used to being on my own and doing things independently. It’s challenging to socialize and want to make friends when I’m not the most outgoing and social individual.

2. I want to get better.

I have been in and out of counseling for years and seen medical professionals, as I really do want to get better and be able to cope with my situation in a more mature way. However, it is not fun when I feel like other people are judging me and not being supportive. It’s hard to break my cycle of negative thinking and be more positive, especially when my autism prevents me from being able to socialize the same as other individuals. Getting better doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that will take time and I don’t expect many people to understand how difficult it is going to be.

3. I struggle with anxiety, too.

It isn’t just
depression that hinders me, it’s also anxiety. So really, I have a lot on my plate to deal with daily. I constantly worry about how other people perceive me and whether or not they accept me for who I am.

4. I hope other people don’t think I’m “high maintenance” or too difficult to be around.

I know I’m not easy to deal with when I’m upset and in a bad state of mind, but I don’t mean to be a bummer. It’s not fun to go through
anxiety and depression, especially when you have a disability, and it’s something I wish other people were more understanding of. But, there are just some individuals who are always going to consider me too challenging to be around. It’s something I am going to have to learn to cope with, no matter how painful and brutal it may seem. Not everyone has the patience to deal with those struggling with mental health problems and it’s something I wish I realized in my younger years.

5. I will never 100% be cured of my mental health issues and will always be dealing with something.

I wish other people knew that as someone on the
autism spectrum who also deals with anxiety and depression, I will always be going through changes and experiencing some sort of discrimination, whether or not I am consciously aware of it. Life isn’t meant to be easy, so I don’t expect people to all of a sudden understand what I am going through and to start being kind and more respectful. Words can be hurtful when people purposely try to upset you and it’s something that I wish other people were more cognizant of.

I am a person outside of my depression and my voice will not be silenced. I wish people would listen to me more and try to be more supportive. I won’t let other individuals silence me or tell me that I cannot do something because of my depression. I am a strong and independent woman who doesn’t need another person’s approval to find validation or acceptance. I’m so glad that I’ve finally come to realize this.

Photo by Cal Gao on Unsplash

Originally published: June 28, 2021
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