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How Having Autism Affects My Depression

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I have learned what makes me feel better when I am depressed, but when I am feeling depressed, I can’t even force myself to do those things. And the feeling that I can’t do those things makes me feel worse. When I’m depressed, I feel so insecure and worthless that I have to hide from others — from the world. Such feelings make me not go to yoga class or go running, which both made me feel better the last time I was feeling down.

In some severe episodes of depression, I feel numb and I don’t feel like I am alive, but I just feel like my body is floating around without feelings or emotions. When I’m severely depressed, even my favorite songs don’t cheer me up. Depression comes down on me like a giant, and I can’t breathe, only cry with despair. The only thing — the bravest thing — I can do in these severe stages of depression is to write about my feelings, which I’m doing right now.

I first time I noticed I was dealing with depression was about four years ago, in my second year in college. I found myself stuck in bed in my dorm, with no energy to do anything. I blamed myself for being lazy, for not getting out of bed. No matter how much I blamed myself, it didn’t help. About four years later, I still have depression. The difference between now and then is that now I know I have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and deal with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. I know my brain is wired differently from neurotypical people, and I know I get clinically depressed for several days every two weeks. Still hard, still painful, still frustrating, yet it’s easier to accept myself as who I am after knowing the reasons behind my struggles. I still tend to blame myself for not doing what I am supposed to do to help my depression, but I also know I have to accept myself as I am.

Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like if I weren’t autistic… I would be able to keep my friends as friends and simply enjoy meaningful relationships with wonderful people around me. If I had the same mindset for relationships with others as neurotypical people, I might have friends to talk to when I’m depressed. Some people on the autistic spectrum like to be alone, but we are humans too. We want and need relationships to be happy, and we feel loneliness. I have some great friends around the world, but I’m not good at keeping the relationships going. I feel stuck between my thoughts that I need human connection and my fear of getting emotionally close to others. I am confident to say I am happy to be autistic, but it doesn’t remove struggles in my life.

With depression, I feel small and stuck in the feelings I can’t even describe, but I always pray and hope tomorrow will be a better day and I can smile again.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Getty Images photo via LewisTsePuiLung

Originally published: March 12, 2018
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