Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dysthmia

I have had a rough couple days. Today is looking to be better.  I have Dysthmia (dysthyimic disorder) which in short is a long lasting mild/moderate depression, as well as Asperger's.  It is less severe than major depression, but major depression can also attach itself to the dysthmia turning the usual depression into what is called 'double depression'.  I am still unclear as to whether dysthmia is a result of past trauma, and sadness, or whether it is of organic origin. In other words, I have no idea if whether it's environment or if it's a chemical imbalance outside of anyone's control.  I would like to think it's of environmental origin, as that would mean with some work and time it might go away.  It might be 'curable' as it were. 

This depression as  I remember it started when I was about 13.  These feelings that I am not the same as others, and I was so sad.  I began to notice my AS differences at about 12, but by 13 they were almost in my face.  They could no longer be denied.  I as I still do, have immense trouble with speaking with groups of people.  Auditory issues, sensory issues, as well as the inability to make small talk and keep up with the speed of how most Neurotypicals (NTs) speak make it impossible for me to feel included or add much to social outings.  This social disconnect is by far the WORST thing (to me) about having AS.  Being able to successfully integrate into a group of peers is essential to having a successful social network as a teen.  I couldn't do that and had no idea as to why.  I would go home after failing to respond to someone talking to me appropriately and ruminate.  I'd make lists of things that I could do differently, and role play differently situations.  I'd try to think about why it went wrong.  I thought that maybe there was something wrong with my hearing, because I can't hear individual words when there are a lot of people talking and background noise.  I thought it was the way I dressed, or looked, or....  That stuck.  I decided that it MUST be the way I look. I have since been seriously obsessed with my appearance.  Always finding it lacking, and thinking that if i could fix it, then I'd be more approachable and likable.  Maybe things might turn around for me.  It was something I could do in a situation where I felt so lost and powerless.  This was/is unrealistic as I was not unattractive.  Rationally, I know this, because I have been offered modeling jobs when I was not applying, and have been told by complete strangers at times how attractive I am.  I am not ugly, or fat but none of that matters when I FEEL that way.

So, that's where the dysthmia began.  It focused in on my appearance, until it permeated my whole life.  I find with many on autism spectrum they don't care if others think badly of them, or if they're left out.  I care less now than I did as a child.  I remember noticing in first grade that everyone else had people to play with and I had to swing alone because I didn't.  I remember feeling extraordinarily sad about it, too.  I thought maybe the teacher might notice and tell me why I didn't have friends like everyone else did.  She never did, but then again, I'm sure no one knew that I was unhappy, or wanted things to be different.  Now, I am okay being alone, and not having much social ties.  Sometimes, it bothers me, but then I know how hard of work it is to socialize now and it doesn't seem worth it quite often. 

I am now trying to use behavior therapy to help me with cognitive distortions that feed into my depression.  Particularly, Acceptance Commitment Therapy.  I take a little of that as well as a little Mindfulness Stress Reduction Therapy.  A little of this or that.  What ever works.  Though, I have to confess that I have not been meditating.  It seems so hard, and chore-like.  I know that it is.  I know that it is like exercising.  It's important, and the more I do it the easier it will be, but if I wait until I feel like doing it, I never will.  I may try for 5 minutes sessions, as 15 was too long, and 10 was still difficult.

I guess I will end this nonsensical post.  I was going to talk about dysthmia and how it's impacted my life in more detail and more structured of a way, but I rambled off subject.  I will leave it.  It's what came to mind as I was typing, so it is what I feel, genuinely.

6 comments:

  1. Not nonsensical at all. I could have written this same, exact blog post (just not as well). The hardest part was not that I was different, but not knowing why I was. It took me 20 years until I actually got some help (after a divorce) and another 10 to come to feel the benefit of the therapy. Given that my son has aspergers and I that see so much of me in him, I am so glad I lived through and experienced what I did. He once said, "You're the only one who understands me." Well I am sure there are loads of people who understand him, but I'm the one who is there for him now. Hmm, I might make this into a blog post...

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  2. Thank you so much for this post. I struggled with depression throughout my teen years and high school proved too stressful for me so I dropped out. I got my GED, and eventually, I got some help, but I still struggle daily with feelings of anxiety. Sensory issues make it difficult for me to focus on conversations in a crowded room, or even just if the TV is on. I'm just getting started figuring out what is going on with me, and I really appreciate blogs like yours which have helped me to see that, whatever is wrong with me, it's all gonna be alright.

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  3. Thanks for your comment. When my kids were younger and I didn't know a thing about ASD I was so terribly confused and lost. It really was hard living like that. I wish that I had had some guidance, so I wouldn't have felt so alone. It really will be alright. I promise you that. I think the uncertainty of it all was the worst for me. I don't care that my boys, and I have Autism. I just wanted to know what was going on and have some answers to work with. Good luck on your journey!

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  4. Thank you...this is my son to a T. He started much earlier with it...say 4th grade. He too comes home and ruminates and gets angry over encounters with peers. It just kills him that he can't be a part of the crowd. He doesn't seem to pay attention to the people who ARE his friends. He needs a new therapist...a really good one. Of course I will share this.

    Thanks again.

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  5. Yeah, I started getting down around 4th grade. That's the most common age to start faltering from what I've heard for any neurological difference. I don't know why, but I'm guessing there's a lot of change in not only the school curriculum, but a different social awareness typically develops around that age where kids start to really form groups and get cliquey.

    ACT therapy has helped me tremendously, because it doesn't invalidate my feelings (ie tell me that it's irrational to feel left out, because it won't help the situation) but helps me to learn to deal with the harsh feelings of feeling left out, sad, depressed, ect... It helps me learn to self soothe, and stay grounded in the moment, not anxious about tomorrow, or sad about yesterday. I'd really recommend finding a therapist that can do ACT (which is a 3rd generation behavior therapy, so newer schooled ones should be trained).

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