Part 80: It’s Dark in the Cutlery Drawer

Hello, and welcome back to The Autistic Writer. I hope you’re all well. I’ve had a tough week. Now, I’m going to clarify that a bit: The citizens of Ukraine are currently being killed or living in terror due to the Russian military action that threatens to destabilise the whole world. I’m tapping into availability by mentioning this, but the truth is there are horrible things happening in our world all the time. If these horrors aren’t in the headlines the way the Ukraine crisis is right now, it’s all too easy for us the act like they are not happening. The difficulties I’ve had this week are nothing compared to the troubles affecting the people of Ukraine and others. But I can only live my life, and within my own boundaries, I’m struggling quite badly. Let me explain…

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There are many commonalities shared by autistic people despite the breathtakingly complex array of autistic experiences. A history of psychological trauma, depression, and anxiety are extremely common among us autistic folk. I have a feeling that there is a particular type of depression, we could call it autistic depression, that is specific to autistic people. If you’ve ever confided in someone that you are suffering from depression, you might know that sometimes the admission can result in really negative or unhelpful reactions from people. A particularly nasty reaction is the “What on earth have you got to be depressed about?” comment, often followed by the offending person listing all the things you have to be happy about. Another less nasty reaction, but in many ways just as unhelpful, is the question, “What’s caused it?” or “What’s triggered it?” Why is this unhelpful? Well, sure, sometimes a spell of transient depression can have an obvious trigger. It’s not uncommon for people to become depressed after a bereavement, for example. Sometimes, a little therapy or medication can help the person recover, and they usually do recover from transient depression; that’s why it’s transient.

But there is a different type of depression; long-term or chronic depression. This is often a state of being for the afflicted person, colouring all aspects of their life a bleak grey, which might be treated but not cured. Therapy and medication help mitigate the illness for many people. But autistic depression is different again from this. Autistic depression is chronic, but many of us suffering from it might find that therapy and meds are of little help. Our depression is a direct result of being autistic in a world that is largely a neurotypical environment and culture. This week, I confided in someone about how depressed I was feeling, and this person asked if they could change anything to make things easier for me. My answer was that unless they can facilitate moving me to a planet of autistic people, the answer is no. Depression is a constant in my life. If I appear to be cheerful, this just means the depression is not quite as harrowing for a while.

The flare-up of depression caught me unawares. Suddenly, from nowhere, I was floored. It’s gradually eased a little bit over the last day or two, but I am currently functioning at a very low level. With this struggle and impaired functioning in mind, this week’s blog is going to be slightly different. I’m going to share how I’ve talked about how I’m feeling with the autistic community on Twitter. Below, I’m going to show screenshots of my tweets over the past week, with some commentary on my thought process…

Interlude: A brief message

I will never put this blog behind a paywall. I want anyone, anywhere, to be able to access this content at any time. There are costs incurred running this website, however. So if you like what I’m trying to do here, please feel free to show your support with a small contribution via Okay, back to the blog.

I tweeted this when it first dropped on me how awful I was feeling. I’m not sure what was going through my mind when I said I need to rethink everything I’m doing with my life. No changes I make will cure me of autistic depression. But maybe some changes will make my life a little easier, I guess.

I’m a very independent person by nature. However, since my catastrophic autistic burnout a few years ago, my ability to function has been diminished. I’ve had to accept I need help and support at times. This does not come easily to me, but there it is.

I realised at this point that my depression was going hand in hand with being burned out. There are different types of burnout, and I’m going through one of those intermittent spells when I’ve had too much to deal with, and simultaneously expected too much of myself.

I was upset and frustrated by this. I’m fed up with having health worries, and this situation stressed me out so much.

You can find The Autistic Writer on all your favourite social media channels

I can’t remember what prompted this, but it’s something I’ve witnessed repeatedly in my life.

This is particularly difficult for me, because I have problems with how I look, in particular, what kind of shape my body is in.

This actually happened, and in retrospect, it is quite funny. I basically had a two-layer coat on. I’d unfastened the outer zip, but not the inner zip. It was ridiculous.

As with the coat situation, when I’m particularly stressed or depressed, I lose my mental focus, forget things, and become ridiculously clumsy.

This tweet was prompted by a BBC News report about a supposedly (but not really) autism-friendly salon for children in my city, Sheffield.

The more depressed I was feeling the more I experienced this. I didn’t quite expect the reaction to this tweet, but it’s always nice when you find your own autistic experience is shared by so many others.

This is, of course, a reference to Spoon Theory, something many autistic people are familiar with.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully, I’ll be feeling a little better next time. Until then, take care, be good, stay proud.


Why Do I Write This Blog?

When I first found out I was autistic, I was a middle-aged adult and I knew nothing about autism.  I quickly learned that there was a serious shortage of information and resources for adults in my situation.  With this blog, I aim to inform about autism and autism-related issues as I learn, hopefully helping people who are on a similar journey of discovery.  Like anyone who writes a blog, I want to reach as many readers as possible; if you like what I’m doing, please share it with your friends and followers.  I will never hide this blog behind a paywall, but running the website does incur costs. If you would like to support, feel free to make a small contribution at BuyMeACoffee.Com.

You might also be interested in David Scothern’s blog, Mortgage Advisor on FIRE, which covers a range of topics including mental health issues and financial independence.

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