#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

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How #LockedInForAutism is hurting #ActuallyAutistic people

(CN Autism described as being locked in a box, autistic people being locked up, abuse of autistic people)

There’s a freakshow coming to your local Tesco supermarket. People are spending 50 hours locked in a glass box. They are Locked In for Autism. It’s a metaphor for autism. Because autism is just like being locked in a glass box in a supermarket.

Only it’s not. Of course it’s not. This is a campaign created by people from UK charity Caudwell Children who are not autistic and that does not represent the experience of autistic people. In fact, this misrepresentation is offensive to the vast majority of autistic people and only serves to perpetuate damaging stereotypes. Continue reading

Unreasonable

Notice Unreasonable beyond this point

“You’re being unreasonable”

My ex said that to me on a regular basis when we lived together. I didn’t always understand what he meant.  How I was being unreasonable? My autism was undiagnosed at the time.

After we split up, I mostly lived alone. I could do what I wanted and nobody would call me unreasonable.

Now I am living with my mum and I’m being unreasonable again. Continue reading

Gaslighting

This is a great post. I’ve experienced gaslighting by others, and by myself, to the extent that I ended up mistrusting myself completely. I’ve touched on it in my last couple of posts but didn’t have a name for it before I read this excellent blog by Rhi.

Autism and Expectations

Being an undiagnosed autistic has many challenges.

When you compare your reactions to things with other people’s, you feel like you’re getting it wrong. When other people take things in their stride, and your brain feels like it’s expanding inside your skull to the point you can’t think, then you feel like you’re overreacting.

And then there’s the gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a useful term, named after an old film where Ingrid Bergman is psychologically abused. Her abuser tells her that her memories are false, he questions her experience of her environment, he denies that things she remembers happening, have happened.

The result is that she ends up questioning her own perception of reality. She doubts her own memory. She doubts her sanity. She cannot trust that what she thinks is her lived experience is true.

Being an undiagnosed autistic can feel like the whole world is gaslighting you. From being…

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Diagnosis and misdiagnosis – why you should trust your own instincts

It was 1999 in a psychiatrist’s office somewhere in the depths of Charing Cross Hospital, London.   I’d been sent to see him for a potential diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The psychiatrist seemed bored or irritated. I was not sure what. I couldn’t, and can’t, read people.

I fumbled awkwardly through the reasons why I thought I had ADD. I told him of how I liked to daydream, not being able to organise or keep things tidy, I told him about the terrible meltdowns I had and how my friendships and relationships seemed confusing.

I was there because I’d self-diagnosed. It had started with a breakdown. One day I’d suddenly found I could not go on any more. I couldn’t get out of bed, put on my face and put on my mask, go to work and act normal. I just could not do it any more. I was very low, defeated and confused. 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…