Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Depression & S(t)imming at the Lake

Sunset at lighthouse beach (2 miles from our house)

When I first learned about my Aspie brain, an immediate result was a change in how I perceived my bouts of depression.

First of all, these bouts had gotten fewer and farther between since I had returned to my natural born Special Interest of dance.

But there would still be Those Days...

Then I read and read and read about this particular brain and came to the conclusion that what I had labeled as Chronic Depression for my whole life was actually an out of control, misunderstood symptom of my brand of Autism.

This changed everything for me.  I felt free of the burden of the depression label.

I would have a bad day, sure, but I saw it as part of my neurology and not a personality defect or a "sickness" over which I had little control or the result of trauma from which I was not healing "properly."

This allowed me to tolerate it and just "ride it out."  Inevitably, it would be gone within a day or two, because I no longer just sunk into it and drowned.  I saw it as temporary.

I see these days as temporary.

But they can still feel like CRAP and they can be startling because they happen so infrequently.

I had one of them on Sunday.

And it turned into a real Pity Party.

You probably have had a similar sort of Pity Party: "I wish I had a 'normal' brain.  I wish I could socialize and go to parties and listen to music in bars without melting down. I wish I could be busy like other people and not need so much recuperation time. I wish noise/smells did not cause me physical pain and make me angry..." and on and on.

Basically, variations of "I suck."

Luckily, I had to go teach a Kundalini yoga class, which started the coming up for air.

Then my partner, Marcy, and I went to the beach to watch the sunset.

There were about two other people there.  Not anywhere near us.

There was NO WIND (a major rarity for this area).

Just bird sound and the gentle lapping of our Great Lake.

And a stunning, breathtaking, slow sunset.

We ate grapes and munched on trail mix.  I took a ton of photos.  We squished our feet into the gravel-y sand, and let the soft water wash away the day.

Just being near the lake is a big stim for me.  (I don't mind the word stim...I kinda like it. I know it may offend some others, but I don't really care.)

But being near to the lake, having it be so quiet, no people...that was utter perfection.

It soothed me enough that I could feel myself return from that Pity Party.  I could feel myself inside myself, solid.  I could hear myself thinking clearly.  I could remember that I actually like this brain.


  1. Good for you, Christine!

    There's a lesson here for all of us. I actually don't think any of us should see depression as a personality defect or sickness over which have had no control. None of us should identify with our depression, because when we do, then we become "depressed." Depression is a cloud that comes over you—and sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to feel that way, for a short time—but the cloud will move on if you let it and if your needs are being met.


  2. Christine,
    I have been reading you for many years, since just before you started dancing again, and I have gained so much insight from your writing. I have been especially following your new words here about your Aspie experience. I've taken some of the online tests, and while I don't score quite to be considered to be Aspie, I share many of the traits you write about: enjoying and recharging with alone time; sensitivity to noises and smells, very easily overstimulated (is that a "bad" word?), definitely not enjoying going to bars (I'm not a night person, and it's always so dark and LOUD in there!).

    For many years I fretted over "what was wrong with me" and feeling like an outsider, until I finally came across information about the differences in people--The Highly Sensitive Person was especially helpful. Now I'm at the point where I've accepted and actually cherish my introversion and realize that it's not a negative thing at all.

    I had a similar experience to yours this past weekend...I am lucky enough to live near the ocean; Saturday I was there with and surrounded by many other people; Sunday I went to an area that is quite deserted. It was so wonderfully recharging! I laughed to myself over the idea that other people wouldn't understand how I considered that I had a blast being by myself, stretching and doing yoga poses, wading in the water, reading, and just enjoying nature.

    There is (at least) one part of this that I do struggle with...I believe that I have a purpose here to "help" others, to make a positive contribution. I do work in a helping profession and wholeheartedly give to my patients and connect with them on a personal level as best as I am able. But I can't help wondering if/how my own introversion and need for alone time is helping the world. I know it is necessary for my own health and happiness, but I can't make sense of how it is helping the greater good. So I was wondering if you have any thoughts about that.

    Sorry this is so long-winded; it's just that there are so few places to discuss these ideas. It's been great to witness you finding your way.

    1. I think it's as simples as "not everything about YOU is about everyone else." Meaning, you do good work; you are helpful...but YOU are more than the sum of how you help others. You do need to take care of yourself. You deserve to be taken care of as much as you take care of others. We are not here to be assistants to others' lives only. We are here to have our own experiences, to grow our own spirits. You count.

  3. Thank you for this, Christine, you'll never know how helpful this is. "We are here to have our own experiences, to grow our own spirits." Of course! Seems this should have been so obvious to me, but wasn't. Thank you.