Hello, I will go by John Doe. I used to post comments on this blog (often as a soundboard) and formerly used the name Hans. I don’t want to use that name anymore for obvious reasons. (I chose it at random at first though.)
It all began when I took my first job, that my spiral into depression and anxiety began after struggling so much. I researched, lists of symptoms, and could find a limitation or discomfort caused by each one, I became obsessed with my ASD and kept discovering more and more, one thing after another explaining why I struggled with this, why I acted this way, why it was like this growing up, why for this, why for that.
I’ve been learning many lessons, and they’ve come as a big punch each time. This condition has left me needing to learn more, what comes so naturally for others didn’t for me. And I continue to modify myself. I still obsess, not a day goes by where I am not painfully reminded. I wake up and the feeling is there “I have autism, it won’t go away, and help isn’t on the way when it could be.”.
We can argue all day whether people on the spectrum are capable of empathy or certain types, span the normal range of morality, intellectualize the reasons behind actions, be honest, or disingenuous. Everyone has their own bias and moral view of how much fault there is when someone like me or someone else with ASD says or does something bad or is unpleasant to be around. I will write from my own experience: it’s a very heterogeneous disorder.
But from observed behavior, we can see actions or behaviors that clearly are common enough that are not positive. To the outsider, it’s plain they happen for whatever reason or cause. How much we ascribe to the person themselves, actions that cannot be controlled, or the result of other things is up for argument too. What is a direct cause or indirect result also.
I have been medicated and sometimes they have changed my mood, almost my personality and definitely biases. I flip from self pitying, angry, ungrateful, and indifferent to how my actions affect others to moments of shame or guilt. Whether it is shame where I focus on my own actions damaging me, or if there is some legitimate guilt where I am concerned for others is hard for me to tell apart. And I only realize some of the things I do when it is hurtfully or angrily pointed out to me. Sometimes I know it in the back of my mind but I just don’t act on what I know, don’t truly learn and continue to behave a certain way until I’m jolted by being shown my action’s results. And is it then remorse or a selfish desire to avoid the wrath of other people?
I have been rude, bad tempered, and egocentric throughout most of my life. Is it my environment? Does growing up on the spectrum put a person in certain environments that lead to it? Are they innate symptoms because of biology? I don’t know. I’ve indulged myself in obsessions, been unable to shut up or not speak when I’m supposed to, made clueless comments or actions. I didn’t come about realizing it on my own, or at least for all of it. I have thankfully people who are not politically correct and the internet to see. And when I find out a new thing, I have to adjust. It’s like every year is a learning experience of what to do or not do. There is always more of “what I don’t know I don’t know.
Now I don’t know if I truly care for anyone, not even myself. I don’t think I have a personality or a self that normal people develop over the years. Do I feel? Do I not? Is it worth calling emotional or just animal? Sometimes feelings came in the past, certain warm good feelings, but they don’t occur consistently. It’s very situational. I can’t know for a fact, if I have what they define as a complete human soul. I have done good things for others but they were likely without the goodness or wholeness a normal person has that motivates them. That makes them worth not as much.
A lot of non-ASD people have done bad things in their life, but couldn’t those be from personality disorders, substance abuse, or environment? You could ask, I could, as a person on the spectrum if you would have done those easier. I’m sure there are people who have done worse or criminal acts, but would you do even worse than that if you were given the opportunity? Then we may be just as bad then.
On the news you see incidents of violence by people on the spectrum, and yes there are other people with different disorders like psychosis, brain damage, substance abuse, and personality defects. I don’t know about them to comment. A reply for the ASD cases is “they were bullied and had trauma” which is true, but plenty of people also go through those yet don’t act violent. I believe a normal person has self-control and awareness that holds them in check, plus an understanding or concern for their actions that is dysfunctional in neurological conditions, I don’t know qualitatively or quantitatively for ASD.
A psychologist from my past suggested to me something called “self advocacy” and also mentioned Temple Grandin after I told him of my these. He said: “If a person cooks food for hungry people and receives praise, that makes them feel good and is a place you could start”. Is that all that works? Is this method agreed upon since other things don’t work to convince autistic people to behave selflessly?
By the time this has been posted I may have switched over to some other state. Going back to being an angry young man like Holden Caulfield, blaming others. I don’t feel this is exactly me though. I remember a study saying people on the spectrum lack the same sense of self that normal people have. They create in themselves an outsider they can command. So if it is not motivated by being egotistical or calculatingly malicious, even then it is still egocentric. I believe this strong sense of an “other self” is why normal people can self-talk, give the correct meaning to things in the world without doubt or error, and not get stuck in loops – all while I am on autopilot. But if you can’t fault for the bad things, you could argue that people who are full of goodness (Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu) shouldn’t be credited with anything, which is nihilistic. And this musing is a contradiction I am aware to what I have previously stated. I can’t wrap my head around anything.
All I wish for is something to solve this, something to treat autism somehow and fix symptoms, bringing me to being like a normal person, I would know what is good and bad with the certainty of a normal person along with other’s so the existence of these dilemmas and paradoxes don’t have to lurk in the back of a person’s head. If we find a way to treat ASD well enough that it is removed from the equation, then less to question. It’s a selfish desire for me.
I’m diagnosed with autism as well and I while some of my experiences are very different from what you describe, some are identical or similar to yours. You don’t have to wish for a solution, there’s treatment available right now. Don’t look to allopathy though, they’re still in the dark ages with their one-size-fits-all pharmaceutical «treatments». Look here: http://iafnr.org or here: https://www.acnb.org. I’ve achieved a great deal of healing and expect I’ll achieve even more with time and treatments that change and grow alongside me.
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To further add: Looking at what I wrote, that impression I want to give is not a cold outsider pondering these things like a robot. I wrote this with my mind all over the place, and distress indeed (hence the bad grammar).
It really disturbs me, to see every once in a while, maybe it’s only 1 in 100, who knows, someone else on the spectrum act so cold or have no conflict inside while displaying cold behaviour without a repulsion towards this undesirable nature.
«Oh my mother died but I am autistic so I don’t care»
Such words to me are bone chilling for a strange reason. Okay, maybe you don’t care I would say to that person, maybe some people don’t always cry rivers when a relative passes away. But the lack of questioning that feeling points to an emptiness that is so chilling more than the original statement. As if they’ve let their disorder take over themself, which is frightening.
If a similar direction or push, some feelings or absence like that occured in me, there would be an even greater reaction of being aware it had been thought, and self disgust, questioning if I should exist even!
Some neurosis and uncertainty, a bit of struggle in a person with ASD, looks to me like a sign of holding onto something in the middle of living with a illness. Abandoning everything to apathy or indifference to not experience any anguish is becoming even more alone from the outside world than you already were (as a person with ASD)
We can look at Greek «autos» in autism to understand this,
i.e «occuring by or within itself/the same or aforementioned».
Autism is a unique non-psychotic lack of connection with a lot of the outside. We just have to hold onto what connection to the world there is. Being a bit mad is needed for being as sound as can be.
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