Doc suggested last week that perhaps my depression holds greater sway over me than my autism, and that I mask said depression with “an unfailing politeness.” For some reason, the depression was biting extra hard over the weekend, and I figure that’s worth a mention. As I’ve gotten older, depression has become more of a dull, constant presence than an overriding desperation—I was a cutter for a little while around age sixteen or seventeen (it’s cliché, I know…)—and one of my lessons from living with it has been “don’t believe everything you think,” but still, sometimes you’re just gonna’ feel like crap.
I do think depression has given me a strong sense of empathy for people who are hurting; the “unfailing politeness” I use as cover can make me a useful resource to people who are themselves in a place of hurt (and I’m sure there’s something to be said about my sense of self-worth that I’m frequently compelled to make myself useful to people). I can bring to bear my outsider’s perspective and some pretty good words for someone who needs them—not the best words, of course; we all know who that distinction goes to (Churchill)—but I’ve got encouragement and compassion to spare.
Using those qualities on my own behalf, however, is a trick I’ve not yet got the hang of. It’s a bar I’d like to reach: to see my own situation and the paths forward with the same clarity I see other peoples’. If I’m to be honest, that’s not really a new conundrum: are we truly more charitable to others in such situations than we are ourselves? Do we assume that other peoples’ circumstances are harder or worse than our own?
That’s not to say I think self-love and trouble accurately seeing oneself in the mirror are unique to autism, but I feel like one of us should have figured out a better way to get there by now.