Research vs reality

Trigger Warning: Suicidal thoughts plus mention of eugenics

After I wrote my last post, I was surprised that a) I’d found the energy to actually finish a post and b) I felt a bit better. Just sharing those thoughts with the world, even if no-one read them, helped slightly loosen the stranglehold depression had on me. And people did read. Thanks so much to those who liked and commented.  It made me realise I’m not as alone as I thought.  I’m going to try to write more and see if it continues to help me so here I am. Apologies for the depressing content…

Anyway, whilst browsing on Twitter, I came across a Psych Central article: Suicidal Thoughts 10 Times More Likely in Adults With Asperger’s (It’s based on this 2014 study of people diagnosed in Simon Baron-Cohen’s CLASS clinic. I read it, looking for answers, help and understanding. But really it just highlighted the fact that while research may be finding out more about our lives, when it comes to help

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Bravery, cowardice and suicidal thoughts

Trigger warning: Please read with caution.Suicide, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, suicide plans. 

 

I haven’t blogged for a while.  I have a number of half written posts in my drafts folder but haven’t been able to finish them.

The reason is, I’m still depressed. The same depression I wrote about at Christmas has persisted and got worse. I suppose you could say it’s reached crisis point.

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#Depression – one autistic person’s experience

I am depressed. ‘Tis the season for it, just before Christmas.  Just to warn you this is a distinctly uncheerful post about depression with a content warning for mention of suicidal thoughts.

I often get depressed close to Christmas, having lost my bearings and my spoons in the race to get ready for the festive season.  It seems the happier everyone arounds me is (or pretends to be) the lower I get. Continue reading

Downward spiral

Reader beware. This is not going to be a cheerful post. It may have an unhealthy sprinkling of self-pity.

It looks like I’m going to have to leave my job. I’m in a job that is wrong for me. My mental health is suffering. I disclosed my autism and mental health to my boss and at first it seemed positive. I spoke to him again today. Didn’t manage it very well, I found it hard to get my words out. But the upshot was that, what i thought was positive, that I’d found some help at work (although I’m still waiting for the referral to come through) made him question my ability to do my job. He wondered why I’d need help to do my job.

And to be honest, I don’t think I can do my job to the standard he wants. My executive functioning is not up to it and probably my people skills aren’t either. It’s causing me anxiety. I wake in the middle of the night fretting about things I haven’t done.  And I told him this.

We’re going to review it after my week off next week but I suspect I know what the outcome will be.

Partially I’m relieved. I’ve hated the feeling of not doing well. I’ve spent a year dreading Monday morning.

However, overshadowing the relief is the stench of failure.

My career was the one thing that I thought I’d succeeded at. I haven’t managed to have a successful relationship or a family of my own. It’s been 10 years since I last had a relationship. I don’t own my home. In fact, although I’ve lived independently for most of my adult life, since I moved south last year I’ve been living with my mum. I’m desperately lonely but I’ve been doing better at losing friends recently rather than gaining them.  I can’t seem to connect with anyone.

Now I’m going to lose my job too. And it fucking sucks. I tried my best and my best wasn’t good enough.

This is the reality of autism for me at this point of time.  Rejection… loneliness… failure. I did warn you there was going to be self-pity.

I just feel so alone with it all though. I need support, but my referral hasn’t come through. I need a friend, but there’s no one to talk to, and even if there was, I’m finding it so hard to express myself that I’d probably just say I was “fine” because I can’t get the words out.

At the moment I feel like giving up. Getting drunk. Stopping trying.  What’s the bloody point in it all.

I’m stuck in a downward spiral.  Getting lower and more negative.

Oh I’ll pick myself up. I’ve found myself at rock bottom enough times in life to know I always find a way out. I can’t quite see it now but I’ll find my optimism wherever I’ve misplaced it.

Get through whatever happens with my job.

Maybe next time I’ll go for a job that plays to my strengths. I was just so desperate to get away from an open-plan office that I jumped in without thinking this time.  Maybe next time I won’t be so bloody stupid.  Maybe open-plan offices will go out of fashion. Maybe I’ll somehow overcome all the executive dysfunction that stops me from setting up a business.

But right now it just all feels too hard. To0 big a mountain to climb…

 

Stress and shutdown

I haven’t blogged for a while or been on Twitter. That’s because I crashed.

Broke down. Refused to work. Rebooting doesn’t help. Doesn’t make the error message go away and the operating system start.

It had been building for a while.

Work has been stressful for months. I’ve been taking on too much for myself and blaming myself for being inadequate. I’m a manager with few managerial skills and poor executive function so I find planning and big pictures difficult.  I am good at figuring things out, completing tasks, creating.

On top of it all there was the referendum and all the bad news that just goes on and on.

Things just built up and built up. I found myself becoming isolated. It was impossible to blog or tweet about it. I just didn’t have the words. I stopped trying to communicate online. I just kept battling on, hoping things would get better.

One day, I noticed the symptoms of an impending shutdown.  Talking was hard – it hurt to find words.  My executive functioning was worse than ever.  I found my morning routine hard to follow.  My spatial awareness was bad, I walked into people on the way to work. The world seemed louder than ever.  The label on the back of my top rubbed against my skin, itched and made me feel sick.  And on top of that my emotions were running high.  I had a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. But it wasn’t a day I could just closet myself in the corner and get on with work.  I had to attend meetings. Talk. Arrange things.

I somehow got through most of the day. Pushed everything inside me. Tried to stim unobtrusively in meetings. Fidgeted, trying to pull my shirt up so that the offending label didn’t touch my skin.

Then at the end of the day, when the meetings were over, I received an email that was the final straw and I had a meltdown.

Normally when I have a meltdown at work, I take it to the toilet where I’ll sit and rock and cry.  This time I couldn’t control myself. I am just relieved I didn’t have a full meltdown. The full blown angry, scary meltdown. I didn’t shout. I didn’t hit myself. I didn’t throw anything. I just cried. Loudly.  And I have nice colleagues. It just seemed like a stress reaction to them.  They comforted me, trying to help.

And then after the high emotion of the meltdown, I felt nothing. I thought I was OK. I felt no emotion. My lovely colleagues were solicitous, concerned about me, but I was fine.  I thought everything was OK again. The situation that had caused the meltdown was resolved.  The only clue I had that I was still feeling stressed was when I closed my eyes at night and my worries overwhelmed me.

It was only after last weekend when Sunday night came around and work loomed again that my mind said NO.  I am not doing it.  I was suddenly overwhelmed by a huge amount of anxiety and stress.  Could not go on.  Could not function. Could not prepare for work, could not go to work.  Couldn’t communicate.

Is it depression? Anxiety? Stress? Shutdown?

I think it’s all of the above. Feeding into each other.

I got anxious and stressed.

When I’m stressed my sensory problems, executive functioning, communication become impaired.

This leads to depression as I can’t do so much. I have difficulty communicating and have more arguments. I also find work gets harder and harder because I can’t cope with any noise and my already feeble organisational skills get worse.

Then if I can’t have a break, I become more anxious and stressed, the world gets even louder, communication even harder. I have meltdowns over the smallest thing, leaving the house is impossible. Functioning at all is difficult. I become more and more depressed, more anxious. And then a moment comes when I cannot go on at all. I just can’t function.

That’s what happened last week.

Total system failure.

I’ve had a week off now. I hid away and didn’t do much.  I’m feeling a little better now. The break seems to have helped a little which indicates that this time it’s a stress-related shutdown, not a full-blown depression. Time to pick myself up, dust myself down and go on. Quitting isn’t an option.  Not yet.

I now have to navigate new stresses. The awkwardness of returning after sickness. I hate being unreliable. I also don’t know how my boss will react to my having time off for stress at an inconvenient time for the business. I don’t know if it will put my job in jeopardy. How can I manage my work better so I don’t get so stressed again?  I am still terrified my mental health will get too bad and I won’t be able to manage work at all.  Been there before, don’t want to again.

All I can do is try and manage my stress. Don’t let work get on top of me. Try and ask for help. Get time alone.  Go to bed early. Exercise. Stim. Spend time on my interests. Look after myself.  Eat well.

I’m not sure it’s enough. I don’t know if more is needed to change to stop it from happening again.  But I also don’t know how to go about it.