My final blog on mental health is addressing Autism/Asperger's Syndrome and Borderline Personality Disorder.
It is said when you meet one person you meet with Autism, that's just it, one person. There is a huge spectrum of different forms of Autism and different severities of Autism. My husband and I for example are in the Asperger's Syndrome area, though they are now taking that term out and just calling it Autism. I can only speak as how it affects me though, since we are not all the same. For example, my husband is a genius (and a lot of people with Autism are as well), I did not get that part though. I am an artist, not an intellectual (not saying you can't be both).
So what is life like with Asperger's? It's hard to say since I don't know what it's like to not have it. I was diagnosed with it at the end of 11th grade, but it's not like an illness you catch like the flu or something, it's something you're born with. So while I know what it was like before being officially diagnosed with it, I don't know what it's like to NOT have it.
Ever since I was a kid, I've always known something was different about me from other kids. I got bullied a lot so that didn't help much either. While I did play with friends, there were a lot of times where I just stuck to myself. While I didn't get the genius part like a lot of people with Asperger's get, I got a very different thing. I'm odd for someone with Asperger's honestly. Most people with Asperger's (again, I said most not all) aren't really in touch with their emotions. They feel emotions don't get me wrong, but they don't really understand what they are feeling. This is why they often appear to not feel things, they don't understand what they're feeling so they seem cold and distant. I know they're not cold though. Before my husband and I started dating, sometimes my husband seemed cold, but I know he's not cold and he has learned what some of these feelings are since we've been together. On the other hand, I feel emotions too strongly. I get hurt easily because I take everything to heart. My emotions are stronger than most "normal" people. When I love, I love a lot. When I hurt, I hurt a lot. When I'm pissed, I'm REALLY pissed. Etc etc.
People on the Autism spectrum typically don't understand social cues. They make absolutely NO SENSE to us. We could say or do something really offensive and not realize it because we just don't get it. If we are offensive, please tell us, bluntly (don't beat around the bush), but gently at the same time. We really don't mean to be offensive. My husband and I went to a church for maybe about a year and were in a small group there. It was a couples group. Honestly, I felt like I didn't really belong, until towards the end. People seemed to start talking to me more. I had gotten in trouble once for sharing too much. I was really struggling with my faith, and when I asked the group to pray for me they got upset and told me not to talk abut that. It really hurt, but I eventually got over it. My husband and I had told them if we said or did anything offensive, they needed to tell us because we literally don't understand social protocols. They never told us we did or said anything offensive. Sometimes we'd even go up to the leader and ask, "How did we do? Did we say or do anything offensive?" They would say, "No you were just fine." One morning after church, the senior pastor came up to us and said the group no longer wanted us anymore. It came to a shock to us. I actually started crying. He said, "It's not you they have a problem with, it's your husband! He acts like he's trying to take over the group!" That really infuriated me. My husband was not trying to take over the group. He gets passionate about the Bible but he was not trying to take over. If they really thought he was trying to take over they should've told us! We never went back to that church again. Even thinking back about that stirs pain inside me.
The other thing I was going to discuss was BPD or Borderline Personality Disorder. Some doctors have diagnosed me with this, others have said it's just part of my Asperger's. It's a bit difficult to explain because I still don't really understand it. All I really know are some of the symptoms I've had. I suppose being really emotional is one of the symptoms. Like I said, when I get hurt, I really get hurt. I struggle with self-mutilation. Now, if you struggle with this, that doesn't mean you have BPD, but it is a symptom. I've done it since the 9th grade and a bad medication was actually what triggered it for me. I was off and on with cutting but last year it got so bad I was doing it three times a week. At that point I realized I really had a problem. Not only was I doing it more often, but I was cutting deeper as well to get the same effect. I did it to either feel numb or punish myself. Was it the right thing to do? Of course not! But it was what seemed to help me. At the time, my psychiatrist told my husband to just let me do it because I will eventually grow out of it. In January this year, I decided I was going to stop and find a better coping skill. There have been times I've come really close to cutting again, but I have not cut since around January 14th, so nearly nine months! My hope is if I can go a year without cutting I can write a free e-book for those who are struggling to quit but want to quit. I want it to be a free resource so money isn't an excuse. If you really want to quit, you can! You need a lot of support to get through it, and you need to learn better coping skills, but it is possible to quit! There are other symptoms, but I don't feel comfortable right now to get into them. If you are struggling with BPD or think you may have it, you may e-mail me and we can talk about it. Just put in the subject of the e-mail that you found me on my blog: firstname.lastname@example.org