I remember reading somewhere that people with Asperger’s tend to suffer depression more commonly than people who aren’t on the Autism spectrum. I don’t know if that’s true but it seems to make sense, especially when reviewing my own childhood.
In those days I had no idea why I struggled to make connections and I ended up being referred for counseling at a fairly young age. I told my counselor that I felt like a freak because I couldn’t behave like the other children at school and I had trouble communicating. She suggested I join a social skills therapy group as well as continuing the one-on-one counseling.
My anti-social colleagues
In my group there were two shy girls, one of whom I think had issues with her body image. These became my ‘sort of’ friends. There was a small boy who might have been hyperactive – I’m really not sure. The other member of our group was another boy who had anger management problems.
We played games like fruit salad and drew diagrams to help us think about how we relate to people. It was fun but after the group finished my ‘sort of’ friendships petered out. I was still the same person. A little more confident but hopeless at maintaining social relationships.
The black dog returns
A year or so later I had another breakdown. The depression came back and this time I asked my parents to let me see a hypnotherapist. (My previous counselor had been a GP referral.)
This proved a little more helpful, possibly because it didn’t focus on making me work with a specific group. Instead I got to speak to someone who made me feel comfortable.
I remember she had a sculpture on her mantelpiece that she said reminded her of me. It was a dark metal ball covered in spikes. Like the head of a mace, I suppose.
She told me I was spiky – which I already knew – but hearing it from someone else made me think about it differently. I was spiky because I was defensive, as a default mode. Why did I need to be on the defense 24-7?
She also introduced me to a litter of puppies that her dog had recently given birth to. They were gorgeous and so trusting. Not like the cat that used to live with my family, that had been unfriendly and taken a chunk out of my forehead one day. Or the guinea pigs that weren’t interested in you except to get fed. It was nice to feel welcomed by something that didn’t care what you said or looked like, as long as you were prepared to be nice in return.
Since finishing those sessions while still in my teens, I’ve gone through a lot of changes and improvements. I am not immune to depression. I have experienced several elongated periods of misery and despair. Fortunately the last of these was while I was still in my early 20s, which now seems a long time ago.
What has changed?
Over time I was able to prove that I could make and keep connections. As this was the main source of my pain there’s no reason for it to return.
Have you had therapy for depression or other aspie-related issues? How did you find that?