When Your Tears Do All The Talking
by Melissa Lushington, "Don't Cut Corners...Unless It's Cake" - Blog 3
Hello Again Everyone!
Welcome back for yet another blog! You know, children cry, often a lot. They’ll cry over a lost toy, they’ll cry because they’re hungry, they’ll even cry because they feel alone. Many people know what it’s like to feel alone, especially people like us. As a small child when I didn’t know I was autistic, and when I didn’t know what autism was, I always felt alone all the time. I felt alone because I couldn’t talk, I didn’t know how to talk to people even when I tried. I would often sit or stand alone by myself watching everyone else my age be together, play together, and enjoy one another. People would often ask me if I’m ok, and I would say that I am when I really wasn’t. I wasn’t ok because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. “Why can’t I talk to people?”, “Why am I always alone?”, “Is it really because I’m that shy?” These were questions that I thought about all the time, but the one question I thought about most is: “Am I going to be like this for the rest of my life?” That question would haunt me all the time, it made me secretly cry when I would try to bottle my feelings, it made me sad as well as nervous because I was always fearful of never being able to talk to people and always feeling alone because of it. This sadness, these fears, and these worries that I would often have, led me into on and off depression. To anyone that thinks depression is something that just makes you feel sad, there’s a lot more to it than that.
Depression makes you feel defeated, it makes you feel worthless, it makes you feel like it’s your destiny to be alone and miserable, and it makes you want to give up on everything. While depression may be challenging enough for the average person, people with autism have it much more difficult. One that makes it the most difficult, is being able to detect someone with depression who is autistic. The reason why according to the website AutismSpeaks.com, where MD director of Massachusetts Christopher McDougle states, “Many individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show little facial emotion. This does not necessarily mean they’re depressed! In other words, their affect doesn’t necessarily match how they feel. However, it does make it more difficult to recognize depression in someone with autism. In addition, many individuals with ASD have limited or no speech. So, they may not be able to tell us how they feel.” Another reason according to AutismSpeaks.com, is the overlap in symptoms that also make it difficult to diagnose an autistic person with depression. Many symptoms such as sleep behaviors, energy levels, social behaviors, and food appetites can easily be stemmed by someone that has autism rather than depression.
Another thing that people should know about depression is that it can drive autistic individuals to fatal life-ending choices such as suicide. Have you ever thought about suicide? In another article on this topic, Jessica Wright, Senior News Writer for Spectrum they reported on a research study done in 2015 which stated, “…a 2015 study found that only about half of autistic individuals who took their own lives had been diagnosed with depression, suggesting that their depression had gone undetected.” In that same article, it has been reported that the estimated range of depression in autism is 10 to 72 percent. It even reports that depression may at times show itself as insomnia and restlessness in children with autism than that of more common feelings of sadness.
In conclusion, sadness and depression was something I experienced a lot as a child growing up, and I never said anything about it to my parents or my brother because I was worried about how they would react. I’m sure many of you feel the same way, and that’s ok. It’s ok because you’re entitled to how you feel, and you’re entitled to express how you feel in any healthy way that helps you cope. You’re also not alone, and that’s important to know too. Like any other depression, there is a way to treat it, and that treatment involves talking to someone, taking medications, or even getting some professional therapy. I just don’t want you to battle this alone, scary thoughts can happen when you’re alone, and those scary thoughts can lead to fatal tragedies, so it’s always best that you’re not alone in times of depression. Also, if you know someone who is autistic and has depression, make sure that you’re there for them so that they’ll see how much they are loved, supported, and valued. Help them see that they matter, and remind them of how much they matter, and that they’re not alone. In times like these, it’s important to remember that no one is alone. Thank you.