World Mental Health Day: an introspection

This post is an edited version of a thread I posted on my Mastodon account.

It's #WorldMentalHealthDay, and as good a day as any to come out with some realizations I've made about my own mind.

I'm diagnosed with moderate depression, and have been taking the pills – on and off and with mixed results – for several years now. But there are some things that make my symptoms atypical: I don't have problems with sleeping or with appetite, and my mood is worst in the afternoon. Typical depression leads to reduced appetite, or possibly binge-eating, and is worst first thing in the morning.

I've always known I was weird; although I was a happy, clever child, I was different to the other kids in school, and I didn't fit in or make friends easily.

Released from the embrace of university at 22, I returned to my home town and found myself friendless and unguided. Using my camera as a prop, an excuse to be there alone, I started going to gigs, and made some connections in the local music scene. We had an internet forum, and I was able to communicate in writing much better than in person. But when out in the world, I relied on alcohol to make social situations easier, and soon became dependent on it. Recovering from alcoholism and coming into a stable relationship, office job (as a computer programmer, of course) and adult responsibilities at the end of my twenties, I fell into depression, which has lasted ever since.

But recently, partly through some kind people on the Fediverse, I've been finding out more about autism. For a while I've thought I was somewhere near the borderline of the spectrum, out in the infra-red, but because of the Rain Man / Dog in the Night-Time archetypes, I didn't think I quite qualified. What I've read recently has changed my mind. I'm now sure I count as #ActuallyAutistic, and the depression is a result of autistic burnout - a phrase I hadn't even heard until a few weeks back.

The realization is starting to help me find new ways to understand my mental state. I'm going to talk to a doctor about it when I get the chance, but I've already waited 39 years, so there's no hurry, and the self-diagnosis is helping already.

So I'd like to express heartfelt thanks to @shoutcacophony and @stackingstones for posting so many good autism links and raising my awareness. You are heroes. And I'm also really grateful to the people who are out-and-proud autistics on here, for setting an example: @jessmahler, @mew, @Inskora, @cassolotl, and many more who have momentarily slipped my mind. Thank you all.