Depression, Autism, and Understanding the Autist’s Pain

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Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Pharaoh’s Principles!

Recently we lost a great actor and comedian due to suicide. Though we may have thought that Robin Williams should have been happy with all the success he had. But we’ve learned otherwise; despair still strikes regardless of how successful you are. Depression and pain is no joking matter, and it cannot be dealt with conventional means like blowing someone’s feelings off or telling the person to get over it. Depression is not like a cold that can be killed with quick remedies and over-the-counter drugs. The person really needs love, support, and understanding. Sometimes the support may mean giving that person space or not argue about why he or she is upset.

I can understand what Robin Williams or any one with depression go through, especially those who are depressed and have autism. I may not be clinically depressed, but I have experienced increased despair over the last couple of years. My depression is not frequent, but when something drastic does happen, it hits me like a sledgehammer. I tend to retreat to my own world and not communicate with a lot of people. I can ban myself from the social world, diving deeper into my obsessions, like watching Super Bowl highlights and watch my favorite movies & clips over and over again. I may even sob and question my place in the world.

Depression also affects adults on the autistic spectrum. According to a 1998 article, 65% of a sample of Asperger syndrome patients  had symptoms of psychiatric disorders. The suicide rate among the aspies and autists are high. I understand why. Some neurotypicals don’t understand how difficult it is to live in their world day after day. We try to fit in with our family and peers, attempt to play normal by hiding our “autistic tendencies” like rocking and avoiding eye contact, find work, form friendships and relationships, deal with overstimulation, read social cues properly, etc. But it can become a pain in the ass after doing those things constantly and not getting the results you want.  In my case, I’ve been struggling with unemployment/underemployment for a year, along with a failed relationship, legal issues, and the growing issues with being an adult with autism (e.g., reading people’s intentions without concrete and obvious clues, not being listened to, struggles with relationships). If all that come to a boil or bombard me at one moment, then I can meltdown and go into a depressive state.

However, I don’t think people are equipped to tend to the needs of the aspie when the person is depressed. In some places and cultures, depression is a sign of weakness. Or you may run into people who wants to try to talk you, in hopes of “curing the depression”. And of course, there are others who either run away from the depressed or over-medicate them. I’m not weak; I’m just going through a dark period in my life and I need a lot of support from I loved ones. If I was to go to a doctor, then I am afraid that taking medicine won’t cure the depression completely. And just because I’m sad doesn’t mean that I’m always a threat to society. Negative people can increase chances for potential harm. To make matters worse, I’m not good with expressing complex emotions verbally and sometimes I am misunderstood. Thus I, along with many autists and aspies, resort to staying quiet during sad times.

I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t give you medical tips on helping an autist who is depressed. But I do have some practical advice if you come across an aspie or autist going through a depressive state. The primary thing to do is to give the person some space if he or she requests it. Don’t ask the person a lot of questions on the cause of the depression or bring up things that can trigger further pain. Checking up on the person every once and while is good, but don’t question or upset him or her. Also, be sure to be in the person’s shoes and tend to HIS or HER needs. Dealing with depression won’t work if you looking at the autist from YOUR viewpoint. Try to understand what he or she is going through; listen to what the person is saying. Lastly, we may need understanding and space at times. But without love and kindness, the healing process may stunt. Hanging out, making inspirational cards, writing poetry, sending gifts and food, and prayer are some of things that a loved one can do to brighten one’s day. Jokes help too, but be careful because some humor may trigger certain painful emotions. And I like embraces too, though some on the spectrum may not like it.

Hopefully, more adults on the spectrum can educate people on how depression affect us and ways that loved ones can help us without causing meltdowns. I pray that neurotypicals read and share this to those who may not understand what autists go through on a daily basis.

Pharaoh G. Photography, Now in Business! (via Pharaoh G. Photography)

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Ladies and gentleman, my Canon Rebel and I are now ready to generate smiles and memories….plus a little revenue. Hehehehh.

Now that I’m going to be in a more stable situation for at least a year, I’m open to anyone who’s looking for a photographer to shoot on-site portraits and events. My photography is all about helping people capture memories and moments from events that cannot be replicated. I’m not looking for an high-end artistic value in my work, but I do want my pictures to tell stories about particular events I cover.

From now until summer 2015, I will be doing most of my work in the Chicagoland area, though I would also be willing take pictures at events in Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Detroit, and New York City. I will explore more places once I expand my business and recieve more clientele. Additionally, I will more than willing to volunteer for comic/anime conventions as a photographer, though in the future I will consider setting up a photo booth at certain cons.

I look forward to see some of you all at events throughout the areas I’m mentioned, and more importantly, I look forward to do an effective job at creating lasting memories at events through my lens.

Be on the lookout for weekly blog posts on the Pharaoh G. Photography site. I may be posting business updates from time to time, photography tips, and links to current events that I covered.

Friendship from the Aspie’s Viewpoint (Response Letter to Karen Willis’ Blog)

 

7/24/2014

 

Good afternoon Karen,

My name is Timotheus Gordon Jr., also known as Pharaoh or T.J., and I am a freelance writer, blogger, and event photographer in Chicago. I’m also an aspie…well technically I have high functioning autism because my communication abilities regressed around age 2 1/2.

I read your post, “Moving Forward in Life with True and Real Friends“. I was so moved by your post that I decided write a response/commentary to it. Being autistic myself, I definitely can relate to struggles with finding and keeping true friends. The following quote in the blog stood out to me:

My advice to you on this subject is that be on the lookout and be careful because people deserve to have friends that treat you right, accept you for who they are, and they give you a chance to socialize. A real friend is someone who accepts you for who you are as a person, they’re always there for you, and they treat you with respect. If someone doesn’t treat you right and be respectful to you, that person isn’t worth your time and not a real friend to you.

I should take advice and apply it to my own life. I agree with you wholeheartedly that real friends accept their friends for they are and be loyal to you. They don’t try to change people just because they don’t like lifestyles or ways of thinking that are different from their own. And true friends support you no matter what, even if they have to be honest and tell you the truth out of love.

Your post speaks to me. I go through a similar thing with my friends. In each stage of my life, I end up with only a handful of loyal friends. I start off with a lot friends and associates, but by the time I transition to a new phase of my life, my friend circle shrinks dramatically. I don’t know why. Perhaps most of my “friends” were only people who used me for my knowledge or wanted that chance to interact with someone on the autistic spectrum. Maybe I was unfit to hang out, because I rarely get invited to stuff. Or possibly life just happens and sometimes things happen. In some cases, my friendships did end with disagreements or conflicts-of-interest. I really don’t know why my friend circle is small, but I don’t worry about much. I know who would go to war with me and lead me to the right direction. Those are my true friends.

We, as people with autism, struggle with finding and keeping friends. They can be cruel to us or use us for our talents and information. Sometimes, we may not understand why some friends don’t want to deal with us. It can be due to our struggle to understand unspoken & complex social cues or follow certain social norms. We can’t read people at times. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t know about finding and keeping loyal friends. In fact, I would like to add something to your advice: a real friend is someone who can tell the truth and cares about your well-being. He or she doesn’t lie to your face or say things just to make you feel good.

I pray that you continue to blog and inspire those with autism; we sure need more voices in that community that can speak to the masses about what we go through on a daily basis. It’s time for us to tell OUR story on autism acceptance. I’m sure that you are inspiring people through your blog and book; I know that you’ll continue to do so after the book hits stores.

Best,

Timotheus

P.S.: I am looking forward to your book release. In fact, I think I’ll write a review for you once I get my hands on a copy of the book. :)

 

Pharaoh’s Principles: Navigating Worlds

world

  • the earth, together with all of its countries, peoples, and natural features.
  • all of the people, societies, and institutions on the earth.
  • denoting one of the most important or influential people or things of its class.
  • another planet like the earth
  • the material universe or all that exists; everything
  • a part or aspect of human life or of the natural features of the earth, in particular.
  • a part or aspect of human life or of the natural features of the earth, in particular.
  • a region or group of countries.
  • a period of history.a group of living things.
  • the people, places, and activities to do with a particular thing.
  • average, respectable, or fashionable people or their customs or opinions.
  • a person’s life and activities.
  • everything that exists outside oneself.
  • a stage of human life, either mortal or after death.
  • secular interests and affairs.

One word, but so many definitions to consider. That’s how a world works. You may be living in at least three worlds at one time. You can be in the world we call Earth, in which it is governed by universal rules. Then you have a world where you’re living in a local environment and society is according to that place. Add on your viewpoints based on factors such as upbringing, dramatic events, ethnicity, medical condition, etc. Add all those and you’ll have multiple worlds that may collide with each other at one point in time.

I’m writing about worlds for two reasons. The primary reason is that I’m starting my non-fiction book and the introduction will focus on how people can live in worlds within a world, based on circumstances and beliefs. Additionally, I want to show people that not everyone can fit into another person’s world. The second reason behind the post is my own personal viewpoints on living in multiple realities.

You see, I think that people on the autistic spectrum get ridiculed a lot for not understanding the neurotypical world. Sure, we may not get social cues or expectations on how to survive in the NT world. And their world may be scary due to triggers that aggravate over-stimulated senses. But we can say the same thing to NTs about not understanding OUR world. For instance, I can blog all day about people not understanding why I choose to talk about societal topics more than reality TV shows. I can lament about NTs’ failure to understand my thoughts without expecting me to communicate through feelings (I normally rely on events, facts, and tangible things to convey my points, not societal norms or complex emotions).

At the end of the day, and in any group on Earth, people aren’t meant to convince others to accept a particular way of life or thinking. Otherwise, we would argue about how to each a sandwich “correctly”, which varies from person to person. It would bore people and maybe even cause unnecessary conflict. If more people want to understand autistic people, then would it be better if more people can stop and explore the aspie world in depth? Matter of fact, don’t just limit it to just understanding aspies. Try applying this rule to any one you may not be familiar with. The more you listen and understand another world, the more giving and respectful you’ll be to that person. You might even begin to change perspectives on how you interact with things and people with in your own world.

Practicals:

  • Never preach to a person if your opinions differ from those of the person you’re interacting with. Give wisdom after looking into his or her world first. Also allow the person to explain the viewpoint(s) in question.
  • Research the aspects of a person’s life. In my case, I would appreciate it if you can ask my inner circle about how autism affects me. Reading credible books on my condition helps too.

Otherwise, that’s all I have for looking at different worlds…for now. Heheheh. No worries, I’ll be more in depth once I finish the introduction to my upcoming book.

Updates

 

Good evening everyone! I hope your summer is going well so far.

I have a few announcements to make, related to my endeavors:

  • I’m currently working on creating a new website for my photography. I’m looking to promote my event photography business more and start doing more paid work. I will still do free work for anime/comic conventions and non-profit organizations. It will be up by early August.
  • I’m working on my upcoming book and I’ve writing parts of my introduction since last Thursday. More details will be posted soon.
  • I will still write for Football.com this season, but since I moved back to Chicago and I’m figuring out which certificate program I will attend in the fall, I don’t know if I would continue to write about the Atlanta Falcons or write more about the Chicago Bears. I will make that decision by August, when I figure out if I’ll move back to Atlanta for a year or stay in Chicago in a year. I must write about the local team that I can have unlimited access too…and I got to have access to one of the teams’ preseason & regular season games. It’s just hard to
  • I may or may not attend the 20th anniversary of Anime Weekend Atlanta. I have to figure out my school, monetary, and transportation situation first. But I would really like to take pictures of the 20th AWA and volunteer for them again. I’m also looking to go outside my comfort zone and try to attend an anime/comic convention outside of the Atlanta cons. I’m shooting for Youmacon in late October.

Otherwise, that is all I have for now. Enjoy your evening and be on the look out for more posts. I have plenty to say, especially after I returned home to Chicago. :)

Pharaoh’s Principles #2: Anime/Cosplay FB Group Trolling

Pharaoh’s Principle #1: Toni Braxton’s Former View on Autism

 

Good evening everyone!! After months on hiatus and a messy end to Abilities of the Arts (my project that I helped grow for a year), Pharaoh’s Principle has returned. I will be doing this weekly for now on.

Before I go on, please read the following articles on Toni Braxton’s former view on how her son became autistic and the Christian response to it

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/24/toni-braxton-autism-son_n_5385477.html

http://guardianlv.com/2014/05/toni-braxton-says-sons-autism-is-gods-judgment-for-previous-abortion/

Braxton’s comment hits home to me in two ways. Though I’m spiritual and don’t like to prefer a religion over another, I’m strongly influenced by Christian beliefs. I’m also autistic myself; I was diagnosed at age 2 1/2. Both can be polarizing topics to talk about, since they are some controversial undertones to it. Autism and its role in the church is one of them.

I will give Ms. Braxton the benefit of the doubt. She mentioned that Diezel’s autism was God’s punishment for aborting a child before her second son came into the picture. But according to the Huffington Post, she has since changed her viewpoints. Braxton admits that her son is “is special and learns in a different way.”

As long as she learning that autism is not a curse, then I’m cool with her expressing her prior guilt in her memoir. Also, I understand her initial concerns because my family had that similar reaction when they first found out that I am autistic.  My father probably didn’t know how to approach me at first or was wondering if I would ever be the All-American son who can drive, play sports, and get married. I’m pretty sure that my mother would’ve hypothesized that my autism was a result of her past mistakes she thought she made. I can’t make further speculations because I didn’t comprehend either one of their thoughts back then, but I know that they were scared one way or another. But like Braxton, they don’t immediately go for the autism label. To them, I’m their proud, artsy son who loves his sports, social topics, cartoons, and adventures.

At first, I hated Braxton’s admission. It sounded like how the congregation can sometimes see my autism, as an impediment or curse from the deities. Yet I backed off after seeing that she was referring to the initial diagnosis, not a continuing belief.

However, I do want to pray for those who continue to think that autism is sin or punishment from God. And sadly, it’s not new. From the beginning, some linked any disability to the fault of the family or some kind of curse. It was brought up in the Bible, when Jesus’ disciples asked if a man’s blindness was a result of his parents’ sin. He replied:

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:2–3).

From what I read and know in my own life, autism happened so that God can work through people on the spectrum. It also happened so that God can inspire people to do God-pleasing works, no matter what condition you have or background you’re from. I believed that God worked through people like Temple Grandin, Anthony Ianni, Jason McElwain, Donna Williams, Blind Tom, Stephen Wiltshire, and even 50 Tyson (though we can question his lyrical content and delivery). And perhaps Ms. Braxton is slowly realizing that her Lord his working through Diezel to become a great person in the future.

Furthermore, the higher powers may be working on your child to grow into a great leader too. It takes believing in his or her abilities though, not focusing on the “negatives” of autism.