So many experts seem to get certain things wrong.
I was reminded of this when watching a video that someone sent me. It was Jordan Peterson giving a lecture to a class. He said something that caught my attention.
“The thing about depressed people is that they are depressed about everything.”
This is close, but not true.
What makes depression so difficult is that it’s actually about ABSOLUTELY NOHTING. And it’s not the same as being “bummed out” because something happened, or somebody said something. It’s different from being sad.
Depressed people are not “depressed about everything.” If they were, then they’d be saying that they were depressed about their home, their lives, their jobs, etc. That’s just not how any of this works. But I do see how the likes of Peterson could get it wrong.
Depression is that 800-pound invisible gorilla who sits on your chest and tells you that you’re not going to do anything today. Sometimes I can actually negotiate with this gorilla and do things, but I won’t have a good attitude. Not having a good attitude runs against the expectations of the “normal” people out there.
And sometimes, I might not even know the gorilla is there. I sent an email to someone yesterday who is helping me with some work-related things, and apparently my depression was so visible in the email that he felt compelled to call me and mildly chew me out about my depression, as if I can control it.
He suggested that my depression functions as self-sabotage. Congrats on understanding one of the prices. I don’t set out to sabotage myself. That’s just what ends up happening. I know it happens. Again, there is nothing that I can do about it.
If I could control either of these things, then I’d simply control them and not be spending time with professionals to help with the various issues that are a result of these afflictions. I most definitely wouldn’t be talking with the person who called me after the email if I had control of these things.
These things are the very reason why I am one of his clients. If these things were controllable, then he’d not have a job.
Yes, I know that it’s bad for business, job prospects, or anything else. Anyone who has any semblance of logic in their minds knows this.
I’m Autistic, not retarded, and I use that word in a clinical sense, not in a way that is judgmental or otherwise mocking. Mental retardation is a serious challenge, and yet another situation where they can’t “just stop” it.
I KNOW that it gets in the way. The problem is there isn’t much that I can do about it.
THE CHAIN OF COMMAND
The depression exists and may or may not be independent of Autism. The Autism exacerbates the depression. This, in turn, exacerbates the Autism.
They knock each other about.
Add in a bad situation, such as being unemployed or going through a break-up, and both of these conditions are made worse.
One experience. One major change. One negative conversation. It doesn’t take much to kick off this nuclear reaction.
Masking is what I think my caller wants me to do. Unfortunately, it’s not something that I can do.
Besides being HIGHLY unhealthy, masking also takes a great deal of energy to achieve.
Consider the practice of “small talk,” which happens in the morning at work. A person walks in, sees me, and says, “Hey, DrumWild! How are you today?”
I first have to remember that they are not really asking me how I am doing. They don’t really want to know how I’m doing. It’s more of a PING, like when we used to use dial-up modems to get on the internet. It’s all that noise the modem makes before the connection that lasted about one minute.
It’s an utter waste of time, and I don’t know why people feel the need to do it.
So after I have evaluated this, under the pressure of a person standing there waiting for me to respond, I summon up the lie of, “I’m fine. How are you?” I ask this, knowing that they will not answer the question honestly.
Neurotypicals tend to play this game very well.
A person with Autism and Major Depressive Disorder, on the other hand, does not handle this well at all. Some studies suggest that the mental and emotional energy that it takes for people like me to handle small talk like that, is the same amount of energy that a college student expends when they are studying for a final exam.
And consider, this is JUST THE BEGINNING of the day. Imagine what a workday feels like when you’ve spent all of your energy on idiotic bullshit before you even get started with work.
People are talking, distracting, stopping by to interrupt. Supervisors interrupt to ask how the project is going. Each interruption means that I will need to spend 20-30 minutes properly getting back into the work. And this effort will inevitably be interrupted by someone else.
The world simply isn’t set up for people like me, and the neurotypicals [NTs] don’t care one bit. They view the Autistic worker as immature, broken, stupid, rebellious, and more.
One of the unfortunate hallmarks of being Autistic is that you will be misunderstood. This is guaranteed, and it may very well ruin your life.
As an example, I was working in an office, when a female co-worker came up to me and asked me to help her with her project. I told her, very clearly, “I am under my own deadline for this project right now. I should be done in about a half hour. I can check with you then, and help if you still need it.”
She stomped off in a huff, went straight to our manager’s office, and closed the door hard. A few minutes later, someone from HR came down and went into the office.
Then our manager came out and walked over. He said those dreaded words.
“We need to have a chat. Got a minute?”
I choked back tears, and the boss said, “Why are you doing that? You really need to get a handle on yourself.”
We go in and my co-worker starts in on me. “I asked him for help, and he refused to help me because I’m a lesbian.”
I was then tasked with defending myself against a stupid and baseless charge.
“Nobody’s sexuality ever came up. I told her clearly that I was under my own deadline and that I could check back with her in a half hour and help out then. If I had a problem with her being a lesbian, then I wouldn’t have purchased a $50 ticket to her kitty-cat opera, and she was using work email to solicit this. I don’t give money to people I don’t like.”
I have no doubt that this put me on a list for later downsizing.
I went on.
“My deadline WAS important, but now it has passed and I am in trouble. Apparently, her project wasn’t THAT important and she didn’t need THAT much help, if she had the time to come in here, lie to you, and start this bullshit conversation. So she has just destroyed TWO deadlines instead of just hers. I suspect she wanted to ruin mine because she believed that I ruined hers. This whole situation is garbage.”
Yep. I’m on a list.
THE AUTISTIC MELTDOWN
I’ve had those, sometimes at work. It might have the appearance of a temper tantrum, although it’s far from that. I could try to describe it, but someone was brave enough to have some footage of one of their own Autistic meltdowns, which may be helpful.
If this happens at work, your job will be lost.
If it happens in public, you could get injured, or maybe killed by police. This is why I never call the police, ever, for anything. They’d think that I was on some weird drugs, and kill me.
Adding Major Depressive Disorder to Autism makes it even worse.
IN THE END
None of this is whining, or seeking out sympathy. Rather, it is an attempt to help others understand.
If my Autism or Depression bother you, please understand that they also bother me, and I wish that I could get rid of both of them.
There are many, many times where I wish that I were normal. Looking for work, actual working, social events, or even just going out in public for “fun” are things that I wish I could do.