This is a transcript of a YouTube video I published six years ago.
Hello. This is my last video from where I’m at here in Maine because next week I start heading south again. It’s gorgeous here. I’m sure you can see what a beautiful day it is. Today I came out in the bright sunshine to talk about a dark topic suicide. I am a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, and before you worry, I’m fine right now, but I wanted to share that because I read an article this week by m Kelter of Invisible Strings.
I will have the link to that down below. And in that article, he mentions that two-thirds of autistic adults are suicidal. I’m just pausing for that to sink in two-thirds, and today I want to talk to that two-thirds.
The thrust of the article was that you should be very careful what language you use when talking about autism. Because we’re listening, we’re reading. I wanna be vulnerable today because a lot of people have told me they read my writing and they feel … they … they view me as so strong and powerful and proud.
And yes, I am all of those things, but I’m also very vulnerable and weak, and I struggle with depression and anxiety, and I want you to know you’re not alone. You’re not alone. It’s really, really hard to be an autistic person in this world. It’s hard to be anyone in this world today, but there are days when I am convinced that the world hates me and everyone like me, and it doesn’t take much convincing when there are people out there talking about stamping out autism and early detection.
So, you know, what does early detection mean? It means let’s, let’s detect the autistic people before they’re even born. Let’s make a world without … I’ve actually seen organizations in their mission statement say that they are fighting for a world without autism, and that’s horrific to me because a world without autism is a world without me.
There’s another article that I’m also gonna post down there in the comment box below this video. You’re not alone. It can get better. It does get better. Don’t leave us. We need you. We need you. How can we have a full understanding of autism without your voice? We need you. Don’t leave us.
So number one, you don’t over-commit.
Now, that’s a huge thing. You say, no, that’s hard. You make boundaries. You fight guilt and pressure and internalized shame. It’s okay to have boundaries. It’s good to have boundaries. Don’t feel guilty for saying no.
People will try to tell you, you should be doing more than you’re doing. ‘You’re not living up to your potential. You’re not doing enough.’ You’ll tell yourself that. You’ll think I only got one thing done. I got nothing done today. Nothing done today. I’m worthless. Believe me. I have those days. I have a lot of those days. The thing is, you’ve got to remind yourself that you’re working with a different processor, you’re working with a different neurology.
Number two, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This is easier said than done. I have a really hard time if I ask for help. You know, I’m really in dire straits because I just don’t do that. I learned over the years that it was pointless. I wasn’t gonna get help anyway. I was just gonna get blamed for my problems. I was gonna get told to try harder. So I just gave up. Don’t give up. Learn how to ask for help.
Find someone you trust and ask them to help you learn how to ask for help. Just know you don’t have to do it alone. Whatever it is, life. You don’t have to do life. You are not alone. We’re here, ask for help.
Number three, find happiness within.
Don’t go chasing happiness thinking it’s just around the corner, just over that hill in that person, in that job. Find it inside yourself. And a really great tip the article gave was to make a happiness list. I think this is a marvelous idea. I’ve done it myself.
When you’re feeling good, write down everything that makes you happy. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something big like travel. Or something small like smelling a puppy’s tummy, which makes me really happy cuz they’re so fuzzy and they just smell so puppy.
You know? I mean, if it’s running your fingers through the water coming out of the faucet, put that on your list. That makes you happy. Put everything on your list that makes you happy. Star Trek is on my list. Let me tell you a few episodes and I might not be happy yet, but I’ve pulled out of the funk I was in because Star Trek really makes me happy a lot.
Music. A really great thing to do is make a playlist that starts with music that matches the mood you’re in and it goes through shades of mood and ends with music that makes you feel really happy.
Like, I know it’s cheesy, but R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People”, you know, it’s just the right beat. I’ll get up and dance. I’m really happy, but I can’t go straight into it. I have to work my way there: if I’m not feeling it, that song just pisses me off.
Don’t compare yourself to others. This is number four. Don’t compare yourself to others.
And, yeah, because especially don’t compare yourself to people who aren’t autistic because they’re not autistic. They’re not, I mean, they’re like you because we’re all human beings, but they’re not like, you don’t even compare yourself to other autistic people. You know, if I sit around and compare myself to John Elder Robeson, and Temple Grandin, and Leanne Holiday Wiley. I mean, really, I don’t mean to insult these people, I’m actually praising them. These are really successful people. And Lynn Soraya. really successful people who are autistic. And if I’m feeling bad and I start comparing myself to them, I’m gonna feel like crap.
Because Lynn Soraya writes in Psychology Today, and John Elder Robeson has his own business and Temple Grandin, she gets to hug cows every day for a living. I mean, come on. What a life, you know? And I need to only compare myself to myself. Like right now, I’m sitting on this amazing grass hill with these trees behind me, in Maine.
I’m in Maine. Maine is glorious, and it’s sunny today. It’s gorgeous, and I’m so grateful to be here. You know, when I compare my life to my life, it’s pretty great.
Make another list, an achievement list. I know you have achievements. I don’t care who you are. You have amazing achievements. Look back at yourself five years ago, 10 years ago. Look back at what you were like when you were four or five, and think about yourself. Now you have amazing achievements. You do. I promise you do. And don’t give up on your amazing achievement list until you’ve put amazing achievements on there.
You know, when I’m sitting there with my car broken and no money, and I’m trying to work up the gumption to ask someone for help or do some other kind of problem-solving, it helps to look at my amazing achievement list. Don’t compare yourself to others. Make your own list of amazing achievements.
Number five, don’t second guess your decisions.
You have an inner wisdom. You have an inner truth. You can make the right decisions. You might need to ask for help. You might need a mentor.
Trust that you can make decisions. Don’t let people convince you. That you aren’t competent to make your own decisions and your own choices in life, you may need support achieving what you’ve decided to achieve. But don’t second guess yourself. You have wisdom. Do yourself. Don’t let other people tell you who you are.
That’s that’s your choice, who you are. Don’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t do. You know what you can and can’t do? Don’t you know what you can do? You know what will crush you and what will uplift you. Don’t let other people tell you who you are and what you can do and what you can’t do.
Number six, don’t feel guilty about taking me time. I mean, seriously. Everybody needs time for themselves. Especially autistic people. My goodness, we need time to recharge our batteries. Even really outgoing, really people oriented, autistic people need time to recharge our batteries. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first.
You have to take care of your own needs first. You have to don’t feel guilty or ashamed or let other people pressure you not to take the time you need. To rest, to restore yourself, to get your wits back about you, to, to recollect your spoons and your energy. And you need that. Don’t let people take away your me time.
Um, if you have kids, it’s really hard to get me time. But carve some out. Find somebody who will watch your kids. Somebody you can trust to watch your kids while you have some time away. Everybody needs me Time. You need to have time for yourself, time to do your own thing, time to do nothing. I take time to just stare at the wall or a tree or the sky or whatever.
I take time to do absolutely nothing, and that’s, that’s very important. And everybody needs that. Everybody needs that.
Number seven, don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. And now this one is really important because a lot of times when I get really depressed it’s because I feel like I did something completely stupid and sometimes it was completely stupid. I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I really screw up. I just really screw up and then I beat myself up over it.
I just, I dwell on it. I. Can’t let it go. I chew on it. I chew on it and chew on it, and I need to, I’m processing it. My brain needs, I don’t process things as fast as other people. Sometimes things that people process in a minute or less, it takes me days or weeks or years. So don’t let people tell you that you obsess over things too much because y sometimes you just need to chew on things, but don’t let you get yourself in a funk.
By beating yourself up over something you did or said. You can’t take it back. You can’t undo it. But what you can do is frame how you chew on it. And I have these things I say to myself, I, I like when I’m really feeling bad and I’m saying, God, I’m so stupid, I start right there because I’ve learned that I can’t, you know, those, those, those, um, what do they call them?
Those statements of affirmation when I’m really feeling down a statement of affirmation, you know, I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me. That’s just bullshit. Excuse my language. But when I am depressed, when I’m suicidally depressed, I can’t pull myself out of it by talking about how great I am because I don’t believe it.
So I start with where I am. I start with, God, that was stupid. That was stupid. Oh, I can’t believe I was so stupid. And from that I move into, I was stupid Sometimes everybody’s stupid, but I’m still a good person and, and every time I feel those bad feelings come up as I chew on what I did, I say, yeah, I’m stupid, but it’s okay.
I was still a good person. Yeah, I’m stupid, but I’m gonna get past this. It’s gonna be okay. Everything’s gonna be okay. It’s okay that I’m stupid. Everybody does that sometimes and, and see, that’s manageable. That’s a bite. You know, I’ve, I’ve bitten past that really deep self-loathing and I’ve entered a, a, a, a lighter period of self-loathing.
And from that, I, I moved to, Um, for, I moved from, I’m stupid to, I said something really stupid, but I’m not gonna do that again. Okay. Maybe I will do it again because I’m stupid. Nope. I’m not stupid. I’m not stupid. I made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s gonna be okay. I made a mistake. Now I’m in this lighter level of self-loathing where I’m almost now of self-loathing.
Now it’s it. I’m not stupid anymore. I made a mistake. I made a mistake. It’s gonna be okay, and it may take me hours to get to this point, but it, it’s about framing. I. What you’re chewing on and, and taking bites that you can swallow. You know, if I start out with, oh, it’s okay cuz I’m a great person, is this, I can’t swallow that.
I need a bite. And I need to chew through it. And so I made a mistake, but I learned I can learn. I learned from my mistakes. I’m learning from my mistakes. God, this sucks. It sucks to learn from my mistakes. I wish I didn’t make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s gonna be okay. I’m a good person. Good people make mistakes.
I’m learning from my mistake because I’m a good person. If I weren’t a good person, this wouldn’t upset me so much. I’m upset because I care. I’m a caring person. I care about whether I hurt other people. I care about what other people think about me. I’m a good person because I care about people liking me, being good to people, and having people be good to me.
I’m human. It’s okay to be human. Humans make mistakes. Humans say things that are wrong.
People can forgive me. I can forgive myself. I forgive myself for being human. It’s good to be human. It’s real. To be human. Being human gives me compassion for other people. Having compassion for other people is how I help others.
When I make mistakes, I learn and I can help other people. I can understand other people, I can forgive them and empathize with them, and that’s what I’m trying to do today. You’re human. You make mistakes. You’re different. People won’t always understand you. It’s a cruel world. People say and do harsh things.
It can be hard even just to keep yourself fed. It can be hard to find a space in life where people aren’t taking advantage of you. It’s hard. I know. I live it too. I’m there with you. You’re not alone. We can be human together. It’s a good thing. I love you.
If you enjoyed this, I don’t know why. I’m cutting that. If you enjoyed this video, click the subscribe button below. Follow me. I try to make videos every week. Try to be here for you. Open, vulnerable, sharing my life as I travel, and make mistakes and be human. Have a great day because you’re a great person.