Depression is a killer.
“I don’t want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can’t even see it, something that’s drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.” – Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye
via Thought Catalog
John Elder Robison quoted Dr. Lisa Croen’s adult study of 2100 autistic adults aged 18-60 enrolled in the Kaiser healthcare network between 2008-2012.
- Almost 40% of the autistic population was treated for anxiety versus 17% in the general population.
- The numbers for depression were a close second – just a couple percentage points less.Suicide attempts were the most troubling – near 2%. Can you believe almost one in 50 autistic adults attempted suicide at least once in that five year period? That is shocking.
- Suicide attempts were the most troubling – near 2%. Can you believe almost one in 50 autistic adults attempted suicide at least once in that five year period? That is shocking.
Every person can neutralize stress and depression with awareness, acceptance, and responsibility.
Mind Shift #1: From Ignoring/Denial To Awareness
I’ve got high cholesterol. I never thought I had an issue with it.
“I’m thin, I work out, and I eat pretty healthy foods,” I thought.
However, when my doctor called me after one of my yearly physical exam, the numbers from the blood test did not lie.
My cholesterol levels were really high. I’ve been taking a statin ever since, given both my parents have high cholesterol, and my father’s father died of a heart attack in his late sixties.
I was not aware of my high cholesterol. But once I received the blood test data, I was much more aware.
The same may be true for you if you struggle with stress and depression.
You may be struggling with many symptoms of depression, but not realize it.
In particular, there autism and depression can often overlap, but they’re also very different.
Wonder if you’re depressed?
First, read M. Kelter’s article from Invisible Strings blog, called Aspergers and Depression: The Masking Effect.
Do you recognize yourself being described as you read the article?
Second, take this depression screening quiz from Mental Health America, based on the Patient Health Questionnaire.
Mind Shift #2: From Denial to Acceptance
One definition of acceptance, as per Google, is “agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.”
Ex-President Bill Clinton loved to eat a number of foods.
He struggled with his weight during his presidency.
Then he had emergency heart surgery.
He hired two renowned doctors, and has been eating an almost entirely plant-based diet ever since.
He says doing so may have saved his life.
Just as Bill Clinton struggled to accept his potential for heart disease (there’s a family history), you and I may struggle to accept a medical condition like depression.
Depression exacts personal as well as societal losses.
Check out S.L. Young’s Depression: Coming Out Of The Fog, to read some of the benefits of facing and accepting depression.
This video from the Veteran’s Administration illustrates a unique form of Acceptance as part of Acceptance and Commitment therapy.
Accepting that you have depression is the pathway to the next mindshift mindset, called Responsibility.
Mind Shift #3: From Paralysis to Responsibility
Responsibility – “responsible,
When we’re not aware of our depression, or we haven’t accepted our stress, it’s hard to take responsibility to manage the depression.
Here are some suggestions to take control of what you can when you’re feeling down:
a) Learn about the complex interplay between autism and depression.
Read M. Kelter’s series on Aspergers and depression.
b) Read my articles about stress and depression:
How To Deal with Stress and Aspergers
Aspergers and Depression: What Everybody Ought To Know.
c) Consider using MoodGym, a free resource from Australia, to help you reduce or prevent depression.
d) Assess how much of your stress and depression may stem from sensory processing issues.
e) Read this article: Depression: Coming Out Of The Fog
f) Consider seeing a psychiatrist and therapist to cope with your depression.
If you have insurance, take out your healthcare insurance care and look for the customer service number on the back.
Let customer service know that you are struggling with stress and depression. As for a referral to a psychiatrist and/or psychologist who is in your healthcare insurance network.
If you don’t have insurance, find a health center near you, where you can get help regardless of your insurance coverage.
If you’re wanting to know how to best support your Asperger/autistic loved one, check out these tips from M. Kelter at Invisible Strings:
– Avoid repeatedly pressuring someone to accept their spectrum diagnosis. If they are expressing a lot of negativity about it, pressure can make someone less likely to accept the diagnosis, not more likely.
– If you find that offering upbeat descriptions triggers angry reactions, it can be helpful to avoid words/phrases that might be perceived as “positive” and replace them with alternate phrases that are more generic and neutral (at least early on).
– Listen, not only to how a person describes their own life, but to how they describe other people. If it sounds like they are idealizing others, that is going to be a major source of self-loathing. To the extent that you can, try to bring some clarity to these issues by countering with neutral, objective explanations for social behavior.
– Prioritize. If the diagnosis is a source of anger, but it’s lumped in with depression and other emotional difficulties…consider working through some of the other issues first. Diagnosis acceptance may very well be easier if it is preceded by self-acceptance.
– Be patient; acceptance of diagnosis/differences may take some time. I know it’s deeply painful to see someone you love struggle with self hatred, but (to the appropriate degree) it’s important to give them the freedom and emotional space to just be so that they can sort through these shifting internal landscapes.
Imagine that, for weeks, you’ve been noticing you don’t feel quite the same.
You’re coughing, feeling nauseous, sweating, and you get the chills.
One day you stumble across an article on the symptoms of cancer, and it dawns on you that a lot of your symptoms match.
You are now aware of the problem.
But it can’t be! You’ve always been healthy, eaten right, exercised!
So you struggle with denial of the problem. Over time, however, you accept that you’ve probably got cancer. You got to an oncologist who confirms that problem.
You have now accepted the problem.
You research everything possible. You meet with experts, you get help.
Your oncologist informs you, after a few months of treatment, that your cancer is in remission.
You’ve taken responsibility.
Awareness, Acceptance, and Responsibility. These 3 Stress and Depression busters can save your life!
Your thoughts? Leave your comments below!