This guest post is by David Powell, a young adult on the spectrum who attends Grand Valley State University. This post is part of an initiative on our site called “In Our Own Words: Living on the Spectrum,” which highlights the experiences of individuals with autism from their perspectives.
About six months ago now I wrote a previous blog called “Understand Me.” The purpose of my first writing was to provide closure to those who thought of speaking about their autism, but something was in there way to prevent them from expressing their minds. I will say even with my outspokenness of my autism, it has only made a dent. The idea reminded me of a new product. The product comes out with its newest best model ever made, but yet only three months later they would come out with an even better one. My blog was merely a trend to society. People think about it for a week and get excited for the idea, but when that new product comes out, my blog and my autism is nearly dusted away.
The first month or so people rejoiced the person I was, and the person that I was going to become. I got an unbelievable amount of support that I am very thankful for in my life. Most support coming from my family, closest friends, coaches, and professors. After the first month though things turned down hill quickly. Suddenly I am getting that since of loneliness again, and soon fall into depression.
Depression has unfortunately occupied my life for the last five years, and has greatly affected it. These past four to five months being the worst I have ever experienced. I am still trying to understand why I got so sad after such a great event in my life. Maybe it had something to do with not having a girlfriend? Maybe it had to do something with my social life? Maybe it had to do something with my life at home? Maybe it had something to do with all of those? In fact it had something to do with all these subjects.
Personally I have never experienced dating a girl. I had gotten to a point to which I could not handle that idea anymore, and got very frustrated with myself. Frustration led to a sense of urgency, but when I knew that I would probably not get a girlfriend in the near future, I fell apart. I would say most nights during a week I cried myself to sleep, and most days I thought about it. If you have autism and have never dated a girl before, you are not alone and I feel what your going through 100%.
My social life went from having one hundred friends, to fifty friends, to six friends. Those six friends helped me through an unimaginable depression, and I am very thankful to those friends that truly understood the person I was and the person I was going to be. Loneliness is not a fun feeling, and when I felt that, they were always there for me. My advice is to find friends who understand you and ones that truly believe in your long-term goals because they are the ones that will help make you, or your son or daughter successful.
Depression is a very hard mental event to go through, and with outside externalities that do not help, yes life can get very difficult. At this point in time I have left the track team to focus more on graduate school, and have gotten even closer with my six closest friends. I get the vibe now that some of the people who rejoiced my autism soon forgot about it, and soon forgot what autism truly is.
The advice I leave for those with autism is this. Don't be afraid to express yourself still, you are still wonderful in every form. Find a strong core group of friends. Family will always be there for you. Don't be afraid anymore, find help if you are depressed. Be confident and patient for the right girl/guy because there is always someone out there that is just right for you.