I really hate telling sad stories about my life because I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I mean, yes I have autism and yes I have a hard time making friends and yes I have struggled with depression and suicide for most of my life, but… I’m not dying. I’m not homeless. I have a family. I live in a country that allows me to follow religious convictions and express my opinions.
So autism isn’t really that bad in comparison. And I hate when people feel hopeless about autism because there is no reason to be hopeless. Autism is something that affects everything in your life, but there’s lots of things like that. We all have our problems that put a tinted lens on our life. Autism just happens to be the problem I’ve been blessed with.
But in saying all of that, I do want to tell a sad story for the sake of motivating others to do better. No, autism isn’t all bad. But yes, it would be a lot easier and a lot less disheartening if people did more to help.
A few stories have gone around over the last couple years about kids who didn’t have friends; their parent posted their need online and people responded to the call. These stories amaze me and sadden me because I was that kid. Not the one that got a response, but the one without friends on my birthday or friends to just hang out with or talk to.
I have had lots of people tell me that they would never have guessed I have autism. On a bad day, the only thing I can think is “Well, that doesn’t make it any easier to make friends.”
I have been teased in school, at church, in extracurricular activities. I have failed to make approachable friends in almost any situation you can think of. I am an extrovert so I’m usually not completely alone, but I am almost always lonely. And I have had birthdays where I have invited people and no one showed up and birthdays where I had no one to invite so I tried to pretend that I really didn’t want to have a party anyway.
Again, I’m not saying this so that you will feel sorry for me. I am saying this to make you think about someone else who might need you as much as I have needed people. I’m saying this so that you will look at your own life and the people around you and really see them.
Is there someone that you could give your friendship to more? Is there someone who maybe seems fine on the outside but is really hurting inside? Are you doing all you can to include people around you? And most of all, are you simply being a friend?
You never know if a friend of yours is struggling with autism or depression or grief or some other difficulty. Just be a friend to the people you can be a friend to and it will make the world a much better place.