Drowning. When I think of that word I think of one of the most horrible ways to die. Flailing around in the water with nothing to hold onto and no one to help you. You’re on your own in something that seems expansive, yet could be something as small as a bathtub.
Drowning is what it feels like for me on a daily basis as I battle depression and do everything in my power to find the happiness that I know is out there. It feels like my chances of finding happiness are slim to none, though that’s absolutely not true.
How do I know this? I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy and I’ve been searching for years. The logical side of my autistic brain tells me that if I haven’t found it yet, my chances of ever finding happiness again are getting worse by the day. The realistic part of my brain tells me that if others are happy, I can be as well.
The optimistic side of me wants to believe that today will be the day I stop drowning in depression and find my happiness, but as always, the day ends with me getting kicked in the junk, finding no happiness and feeling like an idiot for believing it was possible.
Sure, there have been moments where I stop treading water and find something to momentarily hang onto so I can enjoy a few moments of happiness, but it passes. Once it does, just like Leonardo at the end of Titanic, I can only hold on for so long and then I start sinking and it’s back to drowning in my depression.
What can we do as high functioning autistics to battle drowning in depression?
That’s a good question with a not-so-clear answer, considering that although we’re similar in many of our traits, each is unique as autistic individuals. One way is to get out of the house more and stop shutting ourselves off from the world. Yes, that’s easier said than done, but we need to make a conscious effort to do it.
I went to the chiropractor and comic book store this morning and as I drove away from the house, I realized I hadn’t left here in five days and that was only to go grocery shopping. That is NOT what I mean when I say to get out of the house. The kind of getting out of the house that I’ve been doing will only keep you drowning and that’s not what we want to do.
We want to get out and be around people or be surrounded by nature. We want to get out where we can interact, think about things and feel good about what we’re doing. I’ve lived in the Ozarks for a year now and though I have a couple people I consider friends, they’re not people that I’ve socialized with.
That means I either need to get out and find people I can socialize with (a very scary thought for the typical high functioning autistic) or I stay at home drowning. Drowning, in case it’s not already painfully clear, is the thing we don’t want to do.
Find groups, such as Meetup groups, that fit an interest you have or check with your local community center, ask someone you know or search the Internet. Talking to a psychologist or therapist may also yield some good ideas on how to stop the drowning and grab onto happiness once and for all.
If your psychiatrist has prescribed medicine, one way to stop drowning in depression is to make sure you take it on a daily basis and as prescribed.
I cannot emphasize this enough. I’ve looked back over the past few months and have noticed a pattern in my life. Although I really like my psychiatrist, I could do without his support staff. He’s at a large group and inevitably, every few months appointments get scheduled that are several days after I’ve run out of most of my medications.
When I mention that this is going to happen, I’m told that I can either take the appointment or I can not take it and wait longer. I’ve mentioned this to the doctor, asking if he could write an extra refill on my medications so I can get through to the next appointment, but I’m told he can only write so many refills.
Of course, I can always be notified of the mythical cancellation. so I can get in sooner. There has NEVER been a cancellation that I’ve been notified of.
Doing something physical is another opportunity to combat depression. Whether it’s yoga, walking the dog, hitting the gym, kayaking or whatever your thing is, getting out and getting your heart pumping and your body moving has been shown in study after study to lower depression in people.
Find something you’re interested in and do it with other people. Let’s face it, we’re all nerds in some way. By “all,” I mean neurotypicals as well as those of us on the spectrum. Find what gets your nerd blood pumping and engage in that nerdy activity with others.
I’ve been a comic book nerd for years.
Through my local comic book store, I found that they have Magic the Gathering tournaments with a $5 cost three nights a week. So, at my age, I’ve started learning to play and most weeks Tye (my autism service dog) and myself will head down there one night a week to play.
Is it scary to be around a group of people you don’t know? Yeah, at first it is. But then you realize that these people have more in common with you than you may think.
We get slaughtered week after week but I’ve found that the people I’m playing against are extremely compassionate to the fact that I’m a new player, will help explain things to me and will even give me suggestions even when it goes against their best interest in the game.
When I say “we” get slaughtered, I blame part of it on Tye. Why blame it on a service dog that literally snores on the floor as I play? Because it takes some of the heat off me!
So there you have it, a few suggestions on how to avoid drowning in depression.
This is far from a comprehensive list and in fact, books could be and have been written on the subject. Consider this a starting point for you in your journey to battle depression.
Now I want to know what you do to battle depression and also if you have tried any of these ideas and how they’ve worked for you. Use the comments section below to let me know.
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An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart. You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.
Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people. There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple. If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group. They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.
Speaking of Asperger’s Life Support, I host a weekly group Mental Health call with rotating topics for Good Men Project and administrator Chris G. of the Asperger’s Life Support group will be my guest this Thursday night (Sept 13) at 9 pm Eastern/6pm Pacific as we talk about the benefits of online support groups. Please feel free to join the call and join the discussion.
The call-in number is 701-801-1220 and enter 934 817 242 to get you into the right call. If you get there a couple minutes early, there will be a Politics call before us, so just hang tight!
Photos courtesy Pixabay, Unsplash & J.R. Reed