Early Life Learning Disability, Clinical Depression and Anxiety

Plenty of topics to cover, plenty of time to write about them. Guess I'll start where it started.


At an early age I was identified on the autism spectrum. They ran a number of tests on cognitive ability, memory, all sorts of things and I was labeled, placed under Americans with Disabilities Act for my schooling to help me out and I was tested every year through similiar methods in order to assertain how I was developing. I went to special education to help develop myself, one of the first things was learning how to speak while using my tongue to help vocalize as I didn't have that just come to me. Imagine speaking without your tongue, it's an odd thing. I went to tutors for math because for some things they just wouldn't make sense in my mind until it was talked over with me on a personal level and then it clicked. I also pursued math problems through much more complicated routes that arrived at the same answer, to the chagrin of many teachers who had to examine my chicken scratch work. It just made and still makes sense to me to do certain math problems in certain ways. 

There's a lot of joking on the internet about autism, about the odd little things about it. Some of them are in fact true and can be a bit comedic. I recognize that on autism spectrum sometimes people will get attached to certain things for no apparent reason, some of these things being strange. For myself I started to recognize a pattern in things I took up in hobby wise in gaming and would not stop thinking about them for hours on end. This manifested in a constructive matter for me as it gave me something to help relax me during the depression and anxiety but I'll get to that later. I'll go through weeks or sometimes months where I will just think about a game or a type of game nonstop, play that type of game nonstop and pretty much not have any interest in any other type of game for that time period. For others it's different things like certain characters of fiction, a brand of clothing or sports team. It just ends up being that way until they move onto the next thing eventually. 

I got lucky and didn't need an aide to help me get through the day or go to a special school. I managed to stay in public schooling and get fair grades with the support of my family who backed me 100%, something that I will be eternally grateful for. If someone asked me to describe my experience with autism in a sentence or even a paragraph I couldn't tell them. There are so many things that just add up to the experience that even these three paragraphs on the topic don't really delve too deep. I'm not a doctor, a psychoanalist or even a grad student. I'm just some guy on the internet talking about his experiences.

Now we get to the "fun" part of this little adventure. Depression and anxiety. Two words that summarize a lot of my experiences in life but again, let us start at the beginning. During my time in grade school I was bullied frequently, something that didn't exactly help out with my struggles with learning. I didn't really build a whole lot of friends due to difficulty speaking and being scared of others from being bullied. It was more of a one friend at a time deal until college. This story takes a bit of a dark turn here so be warned. I was sad a lot, really sad. My memory is pretty bad but I can still tell you about feeling just constant dread of school, wanting to stay home, wanting to crawl into bed and just sleep until everything went away. I even stated that I didn't want to be alive multiple times to my parents and my school advisor due to feeling so sad.

Well after a visit to a nice doctor I got the great news: depression. Now this was originally attributed to difficulties in schooling but later on after years of medication and changing circumstances, that it was of a clinical nature. For those of you out of the loop on that one, basically my brain chemicals don't fire right and one of the effects is sadness even though I should be happy. Later on anxiety disorder was added onto this due to difficulties with crowds and frequent panic attacks. High school was a fun time with these two elements working against me. Weekly trips to a psych and starting on some medication to help calm me down as well as give my system some much needed kick in the rear helped the process.

I've been on many different medications for the depression and anxiety, it was a rough road finding what worked for me, what chemicals my brain needed to fuction on a proper level. Medicine helps me function day to day and honestly I'm sure I'll be medicated for these two things until my last day. I don't have any shame in that, I don't have any reservations about it, it's just what helps me get through the day. Some days are rougher and some are better but in the end I'm a functional guy who is holding completing his bachelors in the spring.

As for the moral of the story, what you want to take away from it and what I think this story will do for you. Here's my perspective: don't got a clue. You can take away from this what you'd like, if anything. I'm not here to preach to you about treatment of autism or the treatment of clinical mental disorders, I'm just here to share my experiences on this weird road of life that I've walked and will continue to walk. This is the first time I've really confided this whole thing to someone outside of family or the doctors I've talked to, at least to this depth. There's a lot of strangeness in life, there's a lot of struggle, a lot of love and a lot of victories and really I'm just along for the ride to see where it goes.

Thanks for reading and if this does help you, I'm glad. Take care folks, I'm off to get some sleep or go watch a video on Youtube. Haven't decided yet. 

User Comments
Anon-1 you have just described my granddaughter's struggle at this present time, she has been chronicaly shy from toddler years,got attatched to one girl at school (best friend) very early,and has come throu school with her untill now, she is in the process of being diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder, probable anxiety,mild depression,she is 13,and it breaks my heart to see her struggle,her best friend is busy outgrowing her and she is at a loss,doesnt want to go to school, stays in her room ,everything you have said! When she was small her obsession was playing schools,its all she ever did,write registers and play schools, she didnt have any problems at all with school untill she left primary,now its a constant battle to get her to go,she is bright enough when it comes to learning, but at home (her safe place) (she lives with me by the way ) she is prone to meltdowns resulting usualy in damage to her surroundings and occasionally to her self (biting her hand,banging her head)
Anon-2 i lost my last comment ,i ended describing my granddaughters meltdowns,ive read your story and its made me realise what she is going through,and for you saying you are completing your studies in spring gives me great hope for her,light at the end of the tunnel, thank you for sharing