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.

On Trolling Autism Acceptance Advocates and People with an ASD

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Timotheus Gordon Jr.: MFA in Writing from SCAD-Atlanta

Good afternoon everyone!! A few weeks ago I’ve finally gotten my MFA degree after defending my thesis. It was a rough road, but I’ve made it. Thank you Lord!

Thank you all for the love and support throughout the process of getting my thesis together.

You can see my full thesis below. Feel free to read and comment on it. ;)

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Otherwise, enjoy your day and the second day of Spring.

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VERY Close to Getting My MFA

Good afternoon everyone! 2014 is getting to be a better year for me so far. My hunger to work hard and succeed is coming back, I feel renewed in job hunting again, I may be moving again soon (place to be announced), and I’m trying to expand my spirituality by reading both the Bible and the Qur’an.

Also…I’m proud to announce that though I’ve have a few more revisions to make, I’m officially slated to finish my MFA program by next month! I’ll know by next week about details on when I’ll defend my thesis.

It’s about darn time! Pray that my thesis will please the thesis committee.

Check out my new video for more details of my announcements.

SN: Thank you all for the love y’all been showing me, through follows, comments, shares, etc.

Dr. King and His (Indirect) Influence on Aspies

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Good evening everyone!! Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, the man responsible for dreaming of a more united, peaceful society (similar to what The Lord envisions). He was not only calling for unity and peace, like he did in his famous “I have a dream” speech. Dr. King wished for us to fight against our respective oppressors and yearn for freedom, acceptance, respect, and human rights.

It’s fitting that Dr. King’s mission mesh with my mission and the mission of those for autism acceptance, even if we have different topics to cover. Like King, I dream of an autistic community that’s accepted and embraced by neurotypicals. I don’t want to see a fellow Aspie continued to be silenced by those who think autism is a curse. I hate our high unemployment rate and certain organizations’ depiction of autism is only a child’s disease, instead of a gift that the individual may utilize in the future. I want to see more professional athletes, artists, politicians, techies, ministers, priests, artists, rappers, and other professionals on the spectrum make a difference in people’s lives while redefining the mainstream view of the autistic person.

What are your dreams for autistic acceptance? Matter of fact…what are your dreams and plans for a more just society in general, regardless of background? Feel free to comment on those questions as we continue to keep MLK’s dream alive.

SN: Don’t use MLK to promote free parties that has nothing to do with him and his work. What would King say if you were using his image to bring girls to the party and encourage them to twerk? I think Dr. King would rebuke you.

Supplemental Links

Autism Acceptance and MLK

Autism Acceptance

Letter to White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free on Supporting Autism Speaks

December 20, 2013

Dear White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free Executives,

I applaud you all for taking the time and money to give back to communities in need. The media give you crap, along with other major companies, about only focusing on the bottom line: profit. However, supporting organizations like Autism Speaks show that you all have kind hearts and want to be good ambassadors to the public.

While the support of Autism Speaks may seem to be only that of good nature, I will have to disagree with the partnership because it doesn’t fully support the majority of autistic (namely adults on the autistic spectrum). Autism Speaks may help bring autism awareness to the masses, but from my understanding, it only helps children on the spectrum. The voices for Autism Speaks are usually parents, educators, doctors, and politicians. We don’t hear about autistic people talking about their experiences, triumphs, and struggles. To make matters worse, they support plenty of treatments and possible cures for autism, but focus less on providing the adequate resources for autistic people excel in mainstream high school classes, college, and the workforce (the area that we’re struggling in the most). I don’t even recall them recognizing accomplishments of Temple Grandin, Jason McElwain, Donna Williams, Stephen Wiltshire, or any of the people with autism who made immense, positive contributions to society through their respective works.

As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome and a part-time worker, this support of Autism Speaks is not got good for business. Think of the diverse groups of people who work for White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free. How would your workers feel if you supported the Ku Klux Klan, knowing that a chunk of your employees are of color? Or how about the reactions of workers in the LGBT community when they find out, for instance, that at least one of the companies donated to anti-gay groups? In both cases, workers may quit their jobs and possibly even sue you for supporting “hate groups”, while customers boycott the products each company produces. Same scenario applies to workers in the autistic spectrum. If you all support groups that doesn’t favor them, then those workers would leave because that can send the message that autistic people don’t belong in the workforce. I don’t wish to see that happen to solid companies like those I mentioned.

So instead of wasting money on Autism Speaks, try researching and supporting groups that are for the autistic community and allow autistic people to speak up. Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and Autism Women’s Network are great organizations to give to and support. Talk to autistic workers about any work-related things that needs to be changed, accommodations that can aid them in working successfully, and anything that can be addressed (work conditions, treatment from co-workers and bosses, daily life as person on the spectrum, etc.).  Read up on more material on why supporting Autism Speaks, and other groups like that one, may be a controversial and bad idea.

Sincerely,

Timotheus “Pharaoh” Gordon, Jr. (a.k.a. T.J. Gordon)
Proud Writer, Event Photographer, and Aspie

Trapped in A Bottle

Happy Wednesday everyone!! It feels good to be back to writing Pharaoh’s Principles. It’s a long time. A lot has happened to me over the past month, but I’m glad to say to things are slowly but surely coming back to normal.

One of my struggles with being autistic is communication. At times, my mind could be go in many directions and my thoughts compete against each other, in hopes of one of them coming out of my mouth. It’s like a person clawing their way out of a bottle or whale’s mouth, fighting through other people and objects that are inside.

As a result, I can remain speechless for long periods of time. I can run out of things to say, don’t know what to say, or struggle with when to say things.

I’m working to be more relaxed and break that vocal barrier so that I can become more comfortable reaching out to massive crowds. I want step out of my comfort zone and keep up with conversations. Part of my job as a writer is to keep the discussion going in an article. I want to replicate that same thing when I talk to people in social settings.

How can I get out of that bottle?  How can I get the words to come out of my mouth naturally?