So evidently, I'm super-depressed

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Yigeren
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22 Jan 2016, 5:16 am

I'm pretty sure my personality changed as I got older, too. I wasn't necessarily a very nice person. I cared about others but was often inconsiderate and rude. Lots of other negative traits.

Maybe the autism kept your real personality from showing when you were younger. Or you just matured. Happens to NT people, too.



AJisHere
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22 Jan 2016, 9:10 am

Yep, I was the same way. A bit misanthropic at times; not that I didn't care, I think it was a defense strategy. Maybe I want to make up for that now?


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Yigeren
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22 Jan 2016, 2:42 pm

Maybe you do. Or it could just be that you feel this way naturally. I wouldn't worry about the reasons too much. As long as it's true altruism. Some people will help others to get recognition, or to feel superior. That's not really altruism.

I was pretty angry at the world, but I was in a bad situation. And I was too immature to realize how stupid I was being. I'm still a loser, but not a misanthropic loser. Although I do have little tolerance for stupid people. I'm going to have to work on that.



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22 Jan 2016, 3:05 pm

Well, I tend to get really shy about recognition, so it's not that! :lol:

In truth, most folks have little tolerance for stupid people. Even other stupid people. They just learn to put up with it. Why do you say you're a loser, though?


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Yigeren
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22 Jan 2016, 4:16 pm

Low self-esteem. Being unsuccessful despite my high IQ and my talents. Inability to have a successful, healthy relationship. No friends. I'm poor. I can't manage to do all the things I have to do without getting overwhelmed and then totally neglecting some things as a result.

I think a large part of it is executive functioning problems, insomnia, and difficulty with stopping while doing something that I'm really absorbed in. My sensory issues also make it difficult to concentrate and get comfortable. Socializing difficulties obviously affect my ability to make friends or have successful job interviews. Oh, and I have a terrible sense of time. I'm either really early or late for everything.

Plus now my physical health is not great.It makes me mad, because I'm fairly young, and it's not a result of poor life choices, just bad luck.

Maybe I'm not really a loser, but that's how others see me, and that's how I've seen myself my entire life, up until I was diagnosed. Then I realized I wasn't a person with many, many problems, but just one condition that caused them all. But I still feel like one, I guess.

I have a lot to work on when I find a therapist.



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22 Jan 2016, 4:34 pm

Well hell; at least half of that is true for me, too.

It's kind of the same issues I'm struggling with. I just "keep on keeping on" as someone used to tell me. That doesn't solve everything (or this thread wouldn't be here), but it helps. My thought is that trying and failing is better than not trying at all; you can't learn anything from not trying.

For job interviews, have you tried DVR? I found things did get better once I had work. It can be stressful but it makes me feel better about everything else since I know that at the very least I can support myself on a basic level. Failing that, maybe do some volunteer work that catches your interest. That looks good on a resume.

For the rest of these things I don't know that I'd give specific advice right away unless you'd like me to. It sounds like you're looking for a therapist, and that should help with a lot of these things. My advice there is to pick the one that feels most important and urgent to you. I think a lot of aspies try to tackle everything at once.


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02 Feb 2016, 12:08 pm

AJisHere wrote:

I've certainly been approaching my ASD wrong. Last thread on this forum I talked about making war on it. That's probably not the right attitude. It's too extreme and it's not achievable. Trying it hasn't really gotten me anywhere. I do refuse to embrace it as many have... even the suggestion that I do so makes me feel like I'm dying a little inside. I cannot and will not like being autistic. Doesn't mean I need to hate it, though. On some level I've known that for a long time.




Drugs are bad, mmkay? No, not really. Not for everyone.

But I have been dealing with depression since I was a teenager. I did not recognize it as such for a long time, but I can see it now. I was vehemently opposed to any medication. My girlfriend’s mom (when I was 18) was a psychotherapist (go figure!), and I know she thought I would benefit from meds. Maybe she was right, but I was stubborn. I had my ups and downs for years after that. When I was about 26, I was at a pretty low point. My mom asked me why I was so sad and I just said with tears in my eyes, “I don’t know!” Well, that was the first time in my life that I acknowledge depression was a real thing. My method of dealing with it up to that point was essentially a pep talk out of it. I told myself I was happy so often and with such conviction that for the most part it kept me away from deep, dark moods. Since then, I have a somewhat modified approach. I at least acknowledge that it is real. I am not fundamentally broken. I let myself feel it more than the complete denial, but I still believe it is a conscious choice how I let it affect me. I generally practice what I call discipline of the mind. I know there are thoughts, or patterns of thinking, that will lead me to a morose place. I am better at recognizing those patterns at the very beginning and refusing to indulge them. Hence, discipline of the mind. It gives me a feeling of control.

Up until about a year ago, I did not take any meds for my mood. I have been at therapy for almost two years, and found that just talking about it in general was a huge help. I realized, however, that there were times when symptoms of autism made me agitated and unhappy. So, I saw meds doctor a few times and pretty much told him I didn’t want anything for depression. After a lot of introspection, I decided it was anxiety that was my biggest problem. I asked if there was a med for anxiety. I tried buspirone, and after a few weeks it started to kick in. It helped me feel a lot of things that I never really had before, that my anxiety had always drowned out. Best of all, I still felt essentially like ME. I was able to write my poetry like I always used to. It didn’t affect my thoughts. It just made the anxiety from the background noise/light/smells of life and other people diminish significantly. There have been a few times where I stopped talking it regularly, and I noticed my old self-destructive coping mechanisms creep back until I started taking it again.

I don’t know if that really helps any on the topic of depression. I just try and keep a rein on my negative thought patterns. I accept that it is a part of my personality and it makes me who I am. I generally believe that our struggles can make us better people. One of my most admired figures from history, Churchill, regularly described bouts of depression in his writings. He called it his black dog. The black dog is back. That sort of awareness is maybe difficult for people with autism who are prone to black and white thinking. But I find as I get older, my goal is balance. I know that I cannot eliminate the black dog from my life, but I can recognize it without letting it master me. Maybe that’s the best way to feel about autism, too.

I go to a support group for adults living with autism once a month. I told my therapist just last week that I wasn’t sure if it was still good for me. But that ultimately I wouldn’t keep going if I didn’t find some benefit from it. I still don’t feel like I fit in there, in a lot of ways, but after it met on Thursday I felt like maybe I was able to give support to others. And that is no bad thing.



AJisHere
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03 Feb 2016, 2:42 am

Thanks, looniverse!

I'm actually not on any meds at the moment. I have a prescription for anti-depressants but need to work out some nonsense with my insurance before I can get it filled; it's an older med that I was on a few years back with good results. I stopped taking stimulants since they tended to "yo-yo" my mental state over the course of the day. I used to be on buspirone myself, but I felt it made me too emotionally "flat". It was sort of a state of emotional lethargy. I didn't like it, but I was less anxious.

Of course, meds affect different people in different ways. It might be because it sounds like your anxiety comes from some different places than my own.

It's weird to me that you could not even realize you have depression. Sounds like you've had the same experience... which isn't fun, but it's comforting to be able to relate to someone like that. Me, I do accept it... but what's happened is I did not recognize it in recent months. It's changed from the last time... and control is very important, but there are also a lot of external triggers for it and I'm trying to put myself in a position where I don't hit them. I guess that's control, too. Control really is key, I think.

Are there any techniques or therapies you've tried that you can recommend?


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03 Feb 2016, 12:52 pm

Hello all,
I really relate to this:-

Quote:
... how closely linked my autism and depression are. They seem to feed off of each other in the worst possible way. Autism makes me obsessive, which makes me depressed, which makes me more obsessive... stuff like that. Being autistic makes it harder to establish the aforementioned support network, which in turn makes things worse.

.. and so much more that has been written in this thread.

I'm currently battling my way out of a long deep depressive episode, possibly the worst so far. Like some of you I have experienced depression since childhood but didn't recognise it for what it was and then later was in denial about it for a decade maybe before finally getting diagnosis and asking for help abut 7 yrs ago. It's not so much a battle as a siege. I'm waiting it out at the mo'. Meds aren't helping much (Mirtazapine for the last 5 months). Usual self help stuff not helping this time around. Even meditation which I'd previously found very helpful just doesn't seem to come to me any more. I've even lost my 'special interests' this time around. It's been the most de-person-ising (can't think of proper word there) experience ever. I have just found out today that I can have 12 wks Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) therapy on the NHS though, there is finally a little light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it's not an on coming train.

Kind regards,
Soldersplash.



AJisHere
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04 Feb 2016, 12:29 am

Thanks for the post, Soldersplash.

The thing that I find most striking about what you said was the comment on losing your special interest and how it made you feel. It's an interesting contrast for me because if there's been a silver lining to my own experiences with depression, that's it! To me, not having anything like a special interest is incredibly liberating. The thought of something like a special interest asserting itself if my depression lets up quite frankly scares the hell out of me. Strange to think it would be so different for another. I'm curious about your experiences with this.

But yeah, a "siege" is a great way to describe it. I'm kind of in a similar place for the moment. What's this IPT you mentioned? I haven't heard of it.

Anyway, really hope that you make some progress soon!


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04 Feb 2016, 6:23 am

Thanks AJ,
The loss of special interest hit's me hard because I tend to build my self worth on what I do. I know this isn't healthy but I can't help it. Valuing myself on just being isn't something I've managed yet. My main special interest is my job and my hobby so losing interest in that left me without anything. In previous episodes of depression or other difficult times I've always been able to turn to my interests to occupy me and get my mind off other things.

IPT (Interpersonal Psychotherapy) is new to me so I can't explain it yet. I'll defer to Wikipedia, the article seems to match what I have been told so far about IPT:-
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a time-limited treatment that encourages the patient to regain control of mood and functioning typically lasting 12–16 weeks.[1] IPT is based on the principle that there is a relationship between the way people communicate and interact with others and their mental health.[2] Interpersonal Psychotherapy of Depression was developed in the New Haven-Boston Collaborative Depression Research Project by Gerald Klerman, MD, Myrna Weissman, PhD, and their colleagues for the treatment of ambulatory depressed, nonpsychotic, nonbipolar patients.

I posted in another thread asking to see if anyone else had any experience of IPT. I'm about to check back to see ...

<edit> Nope, no one who has done IPT has replied yet.</edit>

Soldersplash.



AJisHere
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05 Feb 2016, 12:53 pm

Well, that makes sense. I can see how that would leave you in a bad place. It is good to have something to fall back on to keep your mind occupied.

I wish my job and my hobbies lined up with what I care about. That hasn't been the case, so my obsessions are very burdensome. I haven't had interests that really matter to me.


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09 Feb 2016, 10:03 am

AJisHere wrote:
Yigeren wrote:
I'm guessing it's because you're more social and empathetic in general. You're also very introspective. I haven't noticed a lot of men here with those traits as much as women.


That's what I figured. I think my personality was more similar to a lot of aspie guys when I was younger but it's changed during adulthood to something more like what you describe there. Maybe that stuff was always there. It seems common in my family, this mix of rationality with deep compassion. I'm just better equipped to handle the former than the latter.


My doubts about my HFA diagnosis has a lot to do with a major difference I see when around others on the spectrum. I seem much more adaptable, capable of integrating new information into old routines. I get seriously discouraged at the support group when the others expect to be the way they are the rest of their lives. There is no personal evolution!

It sounds like you're living out your own personal evolution at a rate in-between NTs and the majority of AS folks. I kind of feel like I'm in the same lane.

Your interest in other people and compassion reflects well on you. It shows you facing challenges from your younger years and trying to become a better (or more well-rounded) person. I saw another thread here were you were talking about what job you should do, EMT etc. I also understand what you mean by over-compensating for previous shortfalls in interpersonal relations. My undergrad is in accounting, over 10 years ago. I've been going part time to night school for an MBA. During the classes, I realized the management side was much more interesting than the numbers/business side. So I've branched into a dual MBA/MAM (masters in management). I've had gradual experience built up over the last 9 years at a part time job I do every spring. I went from managing groups of about 5-10 others, until last year I was in charge of training and running a room of over 50 people.

My point is, there are maybe some indirect ways of interacting with others that will satisfy your need for connections and your need for service. I like to think that as someone diagnosed with HFA I have traits that most people would desire in a boss. I am impartial and consistent. I don't just assume I know what other people are saying, I follow up and make sure I understand everyone. There are others. I feel like leading others is another possibility for someone like you to be helpful to others. It's not as direct as EMT or healthcare, but I know I feel good when I make others feel welcome and appreciated.

Back to the personal evolution. It seems you have become proficient with a lot of aspects of social interaction. For myself, I've been questioning the HFA diagnosis because I seem to have that figured out a lot more than the others at the group I go to. I have been doing a lot of therapy in the last nearly two years working with emotions. I have always been able to recognize them in others, but unable to identify them in myself. Like I would feel overwhelmed, even to tears, without being able to identify what the heck I was feeling. Just in the last year I have learned how to tell I am happy. I can't feel the feeling itself, but I can identify how it manifests. (In me, mostly when I start singing while I'm working around the house or feel like dancing)

So I've been working on this theory that I'm a hybrid of HFA and something else. I've seen it called empath or highly sensitive person, there are probably other names. It kind of stemmed from my realization that I can operate simultaneously in logic or intuition. I can see the big picture and the details at the same time. I don’t know if any of this applies to you or not. I also think you tend to be more extraverted than I am. I am about as intensely introverted as one can possibly be. Maybe that makes me take extra notice of some of these details. Notice there is a lot of overlap between autism and the traits below.

http://liveboldandbloom.com/08/self-imp ... ive-person

These first ones were more obvious:
3. Negativity overwhelms you (can’t stand pessimists! Ugh)
“Where others can tolerate raised voices, conflict, or anger, it sends you over the edge. You almost feel physically sick or in pain as a result of the negative energy around you. You crave peace and calm.”
4. Being in crowded places overwhelms you
6. Pain intolerance (I almost never drink hot beverages because it hurts!)
7. You must have alone time “You need time every day with no sensory input. You want to withdraw to your room or another quiet place to recharge.”
8. You avoid negative media images (I trust that it’s gruesome, I don’t need to see it)
10. You are more sensitive to stimulants/medications (I’ve actually had caffeine withdrawal so bad it makes me throw up)
11. You often show up with the symptoms of those around you
13. You are the dumping ground for the problems of others (people have always told me their life stories)
14. You often feel fatigued
15. You have a very vibrant inner life
16. You are sensitive to sounds and sensory feelings “Loud noises or sudden dramatic movements startle you. You also feel overwhelmed by bright lights, rough fabrics, and strong smells. You also notice very delicate smells, touch, and sounds.”
17. You don’t like too many things at once
18. You manage your environment
19. You don’t like narcissists (AMEN)
21. You are a great listener
22. You get bored easily (yes and no… I get tired of things quickly, but there’s always something else that will interest me)


These next few I used to think were illogical, but have been learning to rely on more and more over the last year:
2. You feel other’s feelings
You’ve noticed how sensitive you are to the emotions of others. Even before they tell you how they are feeling, you already know. You can enter a room and have a sense of the general mood of the environment.
5. Strong intuition
9. You can easily tell when someone is lying


This is something my therapist actually found for me: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/05/ ... an-empath/ It isn’t all on the mark, but more hits than misses.

Something to think about, anyway.



AJisHere
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09 Feb 2016, 12:06 pm

A lot to respond to there Looniverse, and it's really intriguing. I don't want to rush it, so I'll type up a detailed reply when I get back from work. :)


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10 Feb 2016, 1:36 pm

If it makes you feel any better, I'm kind of the same way and there's really no doubt about my diagnosis. The hyper-empathy you talk about can actually be tied into autism, so it doesn't necessarily indicate an incorrect diagnosis. It can be co-morbid with it.

Difficulty understanding emotions is characteristic of autism. It can be hard to understand what you're feeling, to label it, or to tell others about it.

For social interaction... I've long believed that many high-functioning (by no means all) people on the spectrum do poorly in social situations not because they aren't capable of doing well, but because they find it so difficult that they give up on it and possibly even convince themselves that they never needed or wanted these things in the first place. It sounds like neither of us has done this; we've pushed right through that difficulty and gained some ground on the social issue.

I don't consider myself an extrovert by any means. I'm much more social than most other aspies seem to be, but still an introvert overall. I do prefer to stick with a small group of people I know... I'm just quick to offer people the chance to get into that group. I like talking to people. People are what make life worth living, even if a good number of them are as*holes. The amount of bitterness and cynicism I see around these forums is heartbreaking.

How much social interaction I could handle in a career is something I need to figure out. I'll admit, I'm tired of people suggesting careers that require little of it, but I'll also acknowledge that there are likely some that require too much. I need to work with people, though. It's part of the reason I've flatly rejected career counseling advice that suggested technical fields. I don't give two shits about those sorts of things, so whether I'd have any aptitude for them is academic.

Back to depression... it was nice and sunny yesterday and I'd figured some important things out. I felt wonderful, not depressed at all. It was kind of amazing, and very enlightening because I realized that most all of my autistic issues are expressed a lot more strongly when I'm in a depressed state. Yesterday, social interaction felt a lot more authentic, I was getting things done faster, I was less obsessive and even just my physical movement was more fluid and less mechanical. It was really beautiful, and I'm trying to figure out what thought pattern supported this. It has to be more than just "it was sunny out".

Speaking of additional diagnoses, I think I might have undiagnosed ADD. With autism going on too, it would be easy for that to slip under the radar for 30 years... but I'm seeing signs, and one of my parents does have it. Figuring that out would probably be good; maybe it's creating some problems and going totally untreated.


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11 Feb 2016, 8:46 am

I had a great therapy session on Tuesday. The therapist pretty much backed me up on all my little theories. At this point I think my autism diagnosis is pretty much irrelevant. Maybe it always was. It helped me understand some things about my past, but as you say I've powered through the difficult situations. I never gave up or thought I couldn't do certain things.

Before my autism diagnosis I always thought I was emotionally different because my dad died when I was 11. The diagnosis actually made me doubt myself a lot more than before. Although it did help me learn how to deal with anxiety better. But, I think I am going to try and let go of the diagnosis.

Glad you're feeling better, too