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Mental Health and Autism

by Merrick Egber

It is important to know that everybody in this world has different struggles that they deal with, whether it be stress, anxiety, depression, mental illness, a disability, etc. Even people who look to be the most invulnerable have had to struggle. Even if you think that you’re alone, there is always someone out there who may have the same things you have, who may feel the same pain you feel. While we may be very different from one another, we all share the experience of being human.

I, myself, am of no exception. While I’m writing for the blog as a self-advocate, have had a healthy childhood, and am currently living independently, I feel a lot of regrets, enough to not understand why I would even be considered a “role model.” There have been times in which the intensity of my behavior, a need for impulse control, my severe depression, OCD, and my anxiety would lead to the conclusion that I wouldn’t want anybody to be me. It is difficult living with Asperger’s Syndrome, to interpret conversation in so many ways, to take everything so personally, even online relationships, and to not even know where to begin to start a relationship but to hold it up as a key to melting down everything.

Sometimes I wonder if I was blessed or cursed with autism. Certainly, it makes me who I am, as it does for so many people. It explains me in a way that I can only get, but it shouldn’t explain me entirely. I would wish that I could see my condition as being a gift, as others may see, and I would wish that I wouldn’t have all of these regrets weighing me down. But it is all about the experience of being human.

As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I think it’s important to bring light to mental health struggles.

According to Els for Autism Foundation’s mental health liaisons, Dr. Kimberley Watterson-Rivieccio and Jen Smyth, approximately 25% of adults in the United States struggle with a diagnosable mental health disorder, yet only half seek treatment.

Mental health can impact your physical health, relationships, productivity and overall quality of life. It can disturb your sleep, your metabolism and ability to function at everyday tasks. The reason behind this is the stigma that remains in seeking help. In hiding our struggles, we are ignoring that we are human, that we feel and sometimes those feelings hurt. Everyone has suffered loss and everyone has felt out of control at some point in their life. When these feelings impact day to day functioning, we need to reach out, and we need to know we are not alone and that it is okay not to be okay. We need to know that there are options and that feeling better is very possible!

“Some of the most comforting words in the universe are ‘me too’. That moment when you find out that your struggle is also someone else’s struggle, that you’re not alone and that others have been down that same road”. – unknown