Guest Blog 12- Living with autism and depression  

Living with autism and depression

 

Having been diagnosed with Autism at 13 and depression at 15 years of age, both have played a considerable part of my life and my mental health for the last seven and five years respectively. The motive for writing a blog on this subject came from watching a documentary about the experiences of people with autism and how it affects their life. This got me thinking about my own experiences of autism and how it co exists with my depression and in which ways hey manifest in my daily life. In this blog I want to best describe my own experiences of the two and possibly debunk some of the myths about these. Like depression makes me an unhappy person or having autism means I can’t have relationships and friendships with neuro typical people. Neither of these are true, both have significance influence on how I live my life.

Furthermore, I feel there are many misconceptions about both these issues. Having watched the documentary about autism I thought long after about the narrow view of autism it portrayed and how if I told people I was autistic, if this was their only explanation of autism, how incorrectly they would view it’s affects on me. For those who don’t already know, autism is a very large spectrum and there is no one thing that all autism people have or a certain ‘type’ of autistic people. Being mildly autistic many people I meet and indeed know are unaware that I have autism because like the majority of mental or behavioural disorders it does not always manifest itself in a public way. I do not walk around with any physical sign that I have autism or depression, however both are considerable factors to my mental health and to how I live on a day to day basis.

Calling it a disorder also for many may be questionable form of language. The last thing I want from people reading this blog is to think I in anyway view my autism as something negative or that I resent having it. Autism is intertwined with who I am. All of my behaviour is determined by who I am as a person, connected to that is my autism. One key part of this is my interest in democratic elections and political data analysis. It is undeniable that my fascination with this has been driven largely by my autism. In fact, as a politics university student I am currently carving out a career working within this. So ultimately, my autism is providing me with my ability to pursue my current career. Therefore, looking back over the last 7 years I can safely say there is nothing I resent or regret about my autism and for those reading this article who have autism, this shouldn’t be something which you’re ashamed of or something which should hold you back.

One of the most difficult aspects of my mental health journey has been learning listen to live with depression. During my GCSE’s I became very depressed and life became very difficult before being put on anti depressions. However positive I view my autism, it is undeniable that at times it can be overwhelming and a struggle. Social situations, knowing how to react in difficult situations and increased pressure can all be far more of a struggle for myself than neuro typical people. It was this that got me thinking about how my autism and depression interact with each other as it were. The ages of 15 on wards can be very difficult emotionally for teenagers and I don’t believe there is enough understanding or support for this. It is at this age you are undertaking your first real exams, looking at getting for your first job, looking at a level or college options and effectively planning the next stage of your life and determining which direction your life is going. For a ‘normal’ person this would be difficult. But for someone who has autism and already has struggles because of this, this stage I your life is incredibly difficult. It is this stage of my life I was diagnosed with depression and have been medicated with daily fluoxetine tablets since.

Living with both autism and depression can be rather difficult. On one level, the autism causes me to often have feelings of being overwhelmed or increased anxiety, on the other the depression seems to be an end product of this. Feelings of fatigue and just feeling defeated after these feelings have come. My purpose of writing these blogs have been to detail for me, how living with autism and depression has been for me and the ups and downs of this. Opening up about mental health is something no one should be ashamed of. Our mental health is what makes us who we are and should be dealt with the same as physical health not seen as something which is taboo to talk about or something which is stigmatised. The greatest things that have happened in regards to my autism and my depression is my diagnosis of them. The diagnosis of my autism allowed me to look further into what it was and develop a greater understanding into how it effects my life. My diagnosis of depression allowed me to medicate myself and has since I have been able to have a deeper level of control over this. It’s ok to not be ok and if any of this blog has resonated with you I urge you to seek help, it will help you so much.

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