It feels so weird to be happy.
After a particularly damning battle with my depression, I’m finding myself feeling like a girl on fire ─ passionate, and ready to take on the world.
You see, anxiety is the devil on your metaphorical shoulder that says all kinds of things to disturb with your mind. I personally call my anxiety my Narrator. When I take my Prozac, the chemicals in my brain tell my Narrator to be happy. That is to say, I function in a relatively “average” neurotypical fashion.
When I get in my head, it personally means that the Narrator and the real Morgan are at war. Things that trigger the evil Narrator include not getting the help I need from School, feeling overwhelmed by my workload, and simply struggling to stay afloat.
What really adds insult to injury is that a lifelong struggle that comes from my autism disorder is self-advocacy. It is absolutely torture to address my Mom, a tutor at School, or a friend and tell them that I need help!
We Don’t Need No Education
For some reason, this year was exceptionally strenuous. Something just didn’t feel right. For me, ten-week terms go by faster than candy on a conveyor belt. The moment I seem to get my footing is week 4 ─ the middle of the term when midterm examinations are here and I’m left wondering how much material we have covered that would merit such a hefty test of our knowledge thus far.
Now, put all the stress of School together and add approximately five snow days to the mix. You’re kidding me, right? But I should preface this by saying that the fall term really set me up for failure by me magically putting myself on the honor roll ─ the first term back in nearly two years.
For Winter term, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. This last term felt lethal. I got out okay, but I needed help. I needed someone to just sit down with me, create a schedule, and make sure I had a firm foundation for success.
The rules regarding accommodations in the Student Accessibility Services ─ which serviced students who have disabilities or mental disorders ─ weren’t much for help. What really got to me is the fact that extra time was only allowed for students on disability aide who have chronic illnesses.
I got extra time on tests which came to be helpful from time to time. But why were they assuming someone with a documented mental disorder could plan out her entire 12 credit schedule and keep track of homework assignments?
I forced myself into taking a third spring term against my judgment telling me it’d be a bad idea. What little mental health I did have went out the window as the 12 credits I took felt more like 21.
Every morning, it was a literal miracle for me to get up out of bed. Anything else was extra credit. It wasn’t even as if I had a tedious schedule ahead of me that day ─ just School, and a dog walking job. My body ─ especially my brain ─ was just flat out exhausted by everything.
I Think I’m Breaking Down Again
Eventually it got to the point where I put myself on autopilot. Even my little job ─ letting out two adorable mixed breed dogs ─ became tedious. I only showed up to classes because we had paid for them.
It didn’t make matters better that my former counselor ─ an LCSW who allegedly had years of experience working with autistic individuals ─ was adding to the pain. Every session was more or less the same pathetic advice.
Help Me Lose My Mind
In case you’ve never experienced the misfortune of your brain imploding, I will try to explain what the fine details of such an experience entails. Anxiety is every worse scenario, every doubt, and every thought coming to the surface, unearthing itself all at once. These intrusive thoughts come at you with the speed of a thousand bullets.
Why did you dress in all black? You looked cuter in that dress. At least it has some visual interest in there.Is my butt crack showing? Do I need to pull up jeans, or finally wisen up and wear a belt more than once a year?
Oh shoot, I forgot to get out chicken for dinner. Not to mention, I forgot to give the dog a bone before I left, and water the flowers. Unlike traditional pain ─ a broken knee, your foot falling asleep, a toothache ─ anxiety’s pains are invisible.
I truly would be fascinated to see what went on in my brain when I was going through my suicidal period this year, and how that brain compared to my brain when it’s healthy. Simply put, I wanted to see my brain attacking myself. Anything to prove that this stress and pain literally was “in my head.”
Those of us who are neurodiverse shouldn’t have to live in a world where we are pathetically diminished for everything going on in our minds. We simply don’t take mental health as seriously as we should ─ and that’s not just my sole opinion. There have been countless studies that have addressed there being a mental health crisis in the United States.
The YouTube comedian Trae Crowder ─ or “The Liberal Redneck” ─ commented on the mental health of our armed forces that come home with PTSD. His stance mirrors my’n: We go all out to buy folks who lost an arm or a leg a new prosthetic, but if they come home with PTSD and “voices in their heads,” we dismiss them as our crazy uncle Carl.
We don’t take mental health seriously. Insurance may not cover the entire cost of live-saving counseling ─ which literally is a doctor for our minds. Because our pain is mental instead of physical, it can be difficult to judge what exactly we are going through, or what kind of mental disorder we have.
Fortunately, we have now discovered that there are dozens of various mental disorders, disabilities, and mental illnesses. This is not “making up some new hocus pocus science stuff we didn’t have when back in the mid-20th century.” Rather, it’s about making sure we know what someone has so it can treat it properly. You wouldn’t diagnose someone with cancer as having chicken pox, it would be unethical and incorrect.
Death And All Of His Friends
It’s a cold day in hell when a passionate person loses their lust for life. For me, depression is the result of anxiety, and anxiety is the result of my Autism. Autism is not being programmed in accordance to the neurotypical way of living.
Anxiety is stress from making sure you try to follow and obey the rules of society and of “normality.” For example it gets crazy when you believe that fireworks are going to kill you because of how every nerve in your body fires up, tenses out, and makes you feel like you’re about to get eaten alive. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is celebrating them, telling you, “just wear ear plugs, you’re missing out on how epic they are!”
The world seems to go against my very basic makeup. As I learned on Thursday, something as seemingly minor as changing the size of the frying pan I’m using to cook an egg on can throw me off my routine.
Depression is my body’s answer to anxiety. When your Narrator becomes more and more vicious and even louder than your actual voice does, you’re going to want it all to stop.
This is where things start to get interesting. In small doses, depression can be okay. For me, anxiety and depression can work together, under the control of the Prozac, and keep me balanced. It can help prevent myself from overworking myself, and provides a nice balance of Autism Morgan (my true self), and the Morgan that has to present as a neurotypical.
Spring term was a feeling of deja vu for all the wrong reasons, due to my inability to get myself out of my shell in order to advocate for myself ─ and my success. But this time, I fully was done, exhausted from having to feel this pain. Self-advocacy is a terrible life skill to be lacking in.
I felt like I couldn’t talk to the people who mattered the most about all of these problems that were destroying me. It was all in my head. I let myself go. I just couldn’t take my brain eating itself alive.
I’m Wrapped In Cellophane.
Suicide, in my mind, was never about giving up or finding an easy way out. And for the record, that myth should have been busted a long time ago. Suicide was the only way I could think of to silence my demons once and for all. To silence the doubt, angst, and the antagonism I was giving myself. I just wanted it all to stop. But more than that, I wanted myself back.
We’re On Each Other’s Team
As I was starting to drown, there were three hands in particular that would help rescue me.
The first belonged to my Grandma. We talked over Red Robin where she asked me how I was feeling and I explained what had happened. I’m so thankful she was a counselor and had worked with a variety of kids when she was at various elementary schools. It has been so fundamental in her trying to understand my Autism.
The second belonged to my best friend. In this life, I have found that all of my serious friends are people who get it. Adam, in particular, got it, as he’s been open about his struggles, too. Sometimes, just need someone with a Coke in his hand who gives you the best hugs. Whose conversations will never fail to make us laugh until we cry.
And then there was my mom’s manager. For some reason, all it took was me sitting down with her over Govt. Cup and really, really talking about how I felt and what I was going through.
The best part of the whole experience was her unique way of making it feel so normal. Just two women out for coffee. The prefacing and concluding conversations were just everyday topics ─ the welcomed summer weather, fashion (she has the cutest uneven a-line bob, and her glasses frame her heart-shaped face perfectly), and working out.
When we got to the main issue, she was respectful but firm. “I’m sure your mom told you I cried for you that night. I couldn’t sleep.” She continued to be respectful, but firm, about her stance. She opened up to me about her personal life story, which reflected itself in my desire to want to run away and find my own independence.
(She found her freedom through service in the military; I’ve obviously found mine by blogging.)
I have since changed counselors to someone who has also doubled as a life coach and instant friend. Each session feels like a meeting to discuss how I’m doing and what areas need some help.
Her attitude: “If you don’t end up meeting that expectation one day, or goal for the week, don’t panic. You’re allowed to have an off day when you’re in the process of moving on from your past and starting over.”
And with this in mind ─ and the faithful support of so many people ─ I have done just that.
I’m My Mother’s Daughter
The most essential part of the healing process has been my Mama. Someone who simply hasn’t given up on me through these past 6 months of putting her through hell and back at least once a month.
For her devout loyalty and services, I’m eternally grateful.
I never have taken her statement, “I will never give up on you” seriously. When she meant, “talk to me about your issues,” I thought she was just saying that out of obligation. Truth is, I was wrong (as I frequently am), and she did want to help me out. Desperately, in fact.
But even when I told her I give up and I was done, she was still there. If that isn’t a mother, I don’t know what the hell is.
She encouraged me to talk to different people, get the help I needed, and forced me to get out of my shell in order to advocate for myself. To state “I am angry with trying to refill my prescriptions with no luck, please help me.” Or to tell me that I needed to make an appointment for my psychiatric nurse.
And at the end of the 6 Months From Hell, she made sure that I had people to talk to and a new counselor. She made appointments with friends and family to make sure I would have someone to talk to. And she helped talk me off the ledge.
Honestly, what really did it for me was right before I got Govt Cup and she essentially said, “Pull your head out of your butt. If you want to go shopping, let’s go shopping and have a girl’s trip.”
And to this day, that’s exactly what I keep doing. I have since made sure to spend loads of time with family as part of my self-care, I take my medicine, and I’m sure as hell to make sure that I’m in communication with the most important person in my life.