It’s like you’re stuck at the bottom rung of a social ladder, and no one cares. Like your hands are slippery and the step is wet and every damn foot above has to step on your fingers. Asperger’s is like treading on eggshells blindfolded. It’s like playing a game where everyone but you knows the rules, and for some reason no one instructs you, but judges you instead. Every time someone says something, there are myriad things that can influence their real meaning. Their facial cues, their body stance, their tone of voice, the words they choose. And you’ve never been taught how to pick these up and decrypt them because you’re expected to know how to do it at birth. And that leads you to be the outcast.
It can get tiring, sometimes. Being the outcast.
I’m sure you’ve all heard this already. But let me reinforce this because this is important:
It sucks bad. Sometimes, really bad. And when life sucks, you can sometimes convince yourself that it’s completely your fault. Especially with a differently wired mind. Asperger’s has led me to depression several times before. Not only is it directly depressing, not being understood by anyone, but it opens the way to a million more mental illnesses and disabilities. And depression, let me tell you, is about as low as someone can get.
Twice now I’ve been in a hole so deep I didn’t think I could come out of in a million years. It’s so hard to get out. The pit wants to keep you there, it promises to take care of you if you just relinquish control, and attempting to climb out of it puts you face to face with the very problem that had shoved you there in the first place. And when you’re in that low a point, when you’ve already lost all faith in yourself and don’t think you can do anything, and you have the seductive allure of completely giving over control to the pit right behind you and you have to face your greatest fear head on, it’s very hard not to fall right back in again. And the problem with staying there for too long, the problem with hearing the same thing repeated to you over and over, is that you end up believing it – you’re not worthy. And that just pushes you deeper and deeper into the hole.
It’s so painful to be depressed, both physically and emotionally, and not just for you. Everyone around you has to watch you suffer. And sometimes they can be your greatest recourse, but they can equally lead you further and further. When you go outside, and you leave your comfort zone, everything is alien, nothing is understood. And now you’re vulnerable. It’s very easy for the depression and the anxiety to warp your vision, make you see things that aren’t really there. You begin to notice that people around you, people you’ve never met, they disapprove of you; and if you aren’t even worthy of some random person’s approval, why should you be worthy of the respect of your closest friends? Why should you be worthy of the love that your family gives? And what if you’re not? What if all this love, this respect, what if it’s all faked? Well, why not? No one else seems to like you, what’s to stop friends realising that you’re unworthy? And this is repeated, every second of every minute of every hour of every day. And when something is repeated long enough, regardless of factual evidence, that something can slowly convince you of it. It’s a jail that you create, and it’s a jail that you convince yourself that you belong there.
Eventually, after weeks and months of this, a particular sentence appears amidst the torrent of self-doubt and anxiety. “If you’re so unworthy of everyone, why are you even here?” And then, slowly, like a rot spreading through your mind, this cancer takes root. Why are you here? No one else cares for you. Even you don’t care for you. If everyone, including you, considers your entire existence nothing more than a waste of breath, why even live? In fact, feeling nothing would be much better than feeling so, so bad, all the time. And who would miss you anyway? The only people who notice your presence are those who realise how disgusting you are and move away. You’re already a ghost in the eyes of other people. Why not become a ghost in your own eyes?
And you ask, “Why not kill yourself?”
I went through this. I was thirteen, and I wanted to kill myself. Can you imagine that? A thirteen-year-old, barely halfway into secondary school, thinking about suicide? I don’t think anyone really realised, especially when I changed schools, but I thought of suicide regularly. And because of it, I couldn’t make friends, I couldn’t talk to anyone, and I very quickly became the outsider again. The very fear of becoming the outcast forced me to be an outcast once more.
Until I met someone. A shining beacon in this bloody hellhole. And, after almost an entire year of darkness, everything suddenly came into focus. And I finally saw that someone cared. And as I spent more time with them, I started to spot the love that everyone was showing to me, and I was just too buried in my own self-doubt to see. I was too convinced of my own worthlessness that I couldn’t see how highly everyone thought of me, how much everyone cared.
And when I came out of it, when I finally crawled out, I saw for the first time all the experiences that made life worth living. All of the friends I could make. All of the people still willing to love me, to care for me. And I’ve received almost nothing but love since.
In the years after that, I’ve had another major depressive episode and two more minor ones. The voice is still there. I think it’ll always be there. But, even through my darkest moments, I’ve learnt to silence it. By remembering all of the experiences I’ve had outside of these episodes. By reassuring myself that I just need to come out the other side and these experiences would be right there, waiting for me. And I can’t wait. And that brings me that little bit closer to freedom.
And every time, I’ve come out the other side with more and more conviction of this one fact:
Asperger’s sucks. Depression sucks. Hell, being alive sucks. But good God does living rule.