I gave my coworker a ride home last night. We had a good conversation along the way. Just before he got out of the car, he said to let him know if I need anything and that he and his wife would be happy to help out anytime. I love when people genuinely offer to help. Whether or not you ask for the help later, it is always nice to know that people care.
I was able to go bowling and play miniature golf with some friends tonight. We had a lot of fun and met some new people. I have been feeling somewhat empty today, so it was nice to just have fun for a bit.
I did not want to write this last night. I had good things happen during the day, but I felt depressed and just wanted to sleep. I am grateful for understanding friends though. Both yesterday and today, I had people reach out to see how I was doing. I have also been able to spend quality time with a couple friends in the last two days, which has been really nice and much needed.
I got off early yesterday, so we were able to go to a friend’s house to have dinner and play games. Afterwards, we met up with another friend to watch a movie, which was also really fun.
My favorite show started up again last night, so I was able to watch the new episode of “The Good Doctor” tonight. It hit close to home because I relate so much to the main character, but I just love that I can explain my feelings through someone people can watch on screen.
I did not have a good year in 2019. I was angry and upset and disappointed and frustrated with life and people and God. I still don’t understand, and I still have a lot of grief and anger and conflict to resolve. But I decided to stay up last night to welcome in the new year because I want it to be better. I want to make some changes, and I want to be happier.
I have been through a lot of changes in the last 10 years. I have gone from getting off antidepressants because I felt like they did nothing to taking an antidepressant that made me more depressed than I had ever been before to finding one that actually helps and prevents me from having constant suicidal thoughts. I have been through all the range of emotions from the happiest I have ever been to the saddest I have ever been. I have felt more loved than ever before and have been overcome by my emotions several times. I forgave people I never thought I could. I got to the point where I didn’t get angry or yell when my brother accidentally scraped the side of my new car. I made significant changes to my life and became the person I wanted to be.
Then, I spiraled down into grief and depression and physical pain like I had never known before. And it was hard, and I was hurt and angry. And it eventually got to the point where my reservoirs of faith and hope and joy were depleted, and I was not sure where to turn or if I believed in anything anymore. And I am still at that point in a lot of ways.
But… It is a new year. I watched a video this morning where Kristina Kuzmic challenged people to write down a specific good thing that happens every day. She said it changed her life and helped her find the positives even in days that were terrible. I need that in my life. I need more positives. So, for the next year this blog will be turning into a space for me to put down something positive from every day because I need it, and maybe it will help someone else along the way, too.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I wanted to say something about this because it’s important, and people need to know that there is no shame in having these thoughts or in seeking help. But on the other hand, it almost seems like a foreign topic to me. It feels like a forgotten language or past life with which I can no longer connect.
For the longest time, suicide was my biggest fear. I was afraid that one day I would not be strong enough to hold back the urges, and I would lose my fight with suicide and chronic depression. Suicide was the single most constant in my life. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to die. It is the subject of many of my earliest memories. And I don’t know why.
But now that I am on an antidepressant that inhibits depression and suicidal thoughts, they come much more rarely and even then, as fleeting moments that last no more than a breeze of wind passing by. Suicide is no longer a constant in my life. Part of that is due to therapy. Another part is due to friends and loved ones. The last part is due to antidepressants and personal choices to take care of myself.
Each part has taken years to build to get me to this point. And I guess the point of all this is that it is possible. It is possible to go from years, even decades, of suicidal thoughts to it being little more than a memory. I don’t know how it happens. For me, it was a million little things that led up to this point. It was friends and family and therapists and counselors and medications that drove me past of the point of insanity to medicine that changed my thoughts in ways I never knew were possible.
As someone that once contemplated suicide on a daily to hourly basis, I just want you to know there is hope. There is hope that it won’t always be this way. It may not feel like it now, but things really can get better. You just have to make it through this. And please know you don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to do this alone. It is never too late to reach out and get the help you need to feel better.
Not many people realize I have autism. It is not a topic that comes up very often in everyday conversations. And I have grown so much in my abilities to communicate and cope with my surroundings that I hardly notice it much of the time. Through all this, I have realized how important it is to have opportunities to learn and grow.
Most people take talking for granted. They see friendship and having conversations throughout the day as normal, everyday occurrences. This is not always the case for someone with a disability or for someone who is a loner or an outcast or even just an introvert. I remember being afraid of my voice as a teenager and young adult because I used it so little that I was constantly afraid it would not come out right when I needed it.
I have grown so much over the last several years because of the opportunities I have been given to communicate with others. I have seen the differences in my abilities to communicate because of the practice I get in communicating. I talk to people constantly at my work and at home with friends and family.
This has not always been the case in my life, and I first started noticing the difference when I visited my sister’s family on a regular basis. I noticed that it was easier to communicate and the words came more readily because I would always talk more when I was with my sister. I would read books aloud to her children. I would be engaged in conversation with the family and extended family. I was given the opportunity to use my voice more in those situations, and it created a notable difference in the rest of my week.
Since that time, I have been given an incredible amount of opportunities to improve my social and communication skills. I was asked to teach a class at church. I translated often at work and conducted orientation meetings for new hires. I gained a best friend that pushed the limits of my communication skills and allowed me to explore the social demands of friendship in ways I never had before. I was constantly using my voice and communicating my needs and using my social skills. They say that practice makes perfect. I am not sure if that is true, but practice definitely makes you better. The more I was able to practice my skills, the better they became.
My point with all of this is that growing up, I went to therapy and had scattered opportunities to learn communication and social skills, but it was not enough. I learned the skills necessary to place an order, ask a question, or do other things that were required of me, but it never came easily. It was a constant battle to communicate my needs and not feel lost in a world that I could not seem to understand. Now, communication and life in general has become much easier to handle. I know how to do things that I never thought possible in my earlier years. And things do come relatively easily.
I don’t know if it would have been possible for me to have more positive social experiences while growing up. I was an outcast and bullied and extremely cautious with who I trusted because of those things. But I hope that the world has changed enough that it is more possible for children today to have these experiences. I hope it is more possible for children with autism to learn social skills by practicing with their peers. I know the importance of those opportunities. I have seen how much of a difference they can make. And I hope we all try a little harder to give people the opportunities they need to become better.