0 Blogging About Autism: Do Autistic People Get Suicidal Thoughts?

Friday, 11 October 2019

Do Autistic People Get Suicidal Thoughts?

I Often Feel Like I Don’t Want to Be Here
I have chosen to answer this because I am moved to by the number of times I find myself saying “I don’t want to be here.” I am not suicidal writing this but I am very sad and the sadness never seems to lessen or go away for long. I am not sad about my life with my fiance because I love him to bits and I am so lucky to have found someone who truly understands me. His family are also in that special and very sparsely populated group of people who take the time to understand someone like me who has a different brain. I will discuss why I often feel this way and I hope that it answers this question in a way that might make people think about how they treat others. I write in hopes of bringing about positive change for others and myself.

My family know I have a different brain and one of my so-called family members used my problems with social cues and naivety to get away with abusing me sexually, psychologically and physically beginning from 11 years of age.
I was fully Danielle before the world had started to pick me apart and attempt to make me look and act more neurotypical. That is how I remember when it happened because I got harrassed in my first year of secondary by boys making degrading and sexually inappropriate remarks about my hair colour. I moved through many schools and they all were full of bullying or harassment.
The different forms of abuse my brother made me endure continued up until I escaped the family home in my early 20s. My mum knew there was something wrong with me and her pursuit in life has been to find out what that is. She said it was so I could get all of the help and support that I need. I sometimes wonder if there was more to it than that. I feel that she looked for the worst in me because when I couldn’t make or maintain friendships she told doctors I didn’t want any friends. Not being able to make friends is not the same as not wanting to have them.
When I was very much suicidal she didn’t care because she was too busy being angry at me for daring to want a life that didn’t revolve around her. She made a big fuss about how she would have to get me a bank account which she never did until 2 or 3 years after I had left. I think her biggest concerns upon me leaving had little to do with my safety and everything to do with me being independent or perhaps the fact that I might tell someone that her son had abused me.
Break Down
I threatened suicide at that point I was in the middle of a very massive breakdown. My life had only darkness back then and there were no rays of light shining through. Mum got other members of my family to emotionally blackmail me into silence. She then proceeded to slap me and then threaten to throw me into a mental institution because I wanted to tell the police what happened or at the very least get psychological help to deal with it.
She denied me that help as I sat in the car with her outside the psychiatrist's office she cried and begged me not to tell on her son.
Thoughtless Words
Mum has spoken of wanting more children in her past but the doctors advised her to stop because it would be dangerous for her to do so. Her reason for wanting more children was apparently to prove that the doctors messed up the children she already had. Let's just stop and think how that would feel if it were you and your own mum was trying to create a child that wasn’t as defective as you and only stopped in her pursuit of that because she had no choice.
I have felt so insignificant and unimportant to the people in my life who really are supposed to care. I find it so difficult to face the fact that the person who brought me into this world could treat me as horribly as she did and still claim to love me. I also have seen that my life had less significance to teachers and even my own mother and my sister at one point too.  Teachers ignored me being bullied even if it was physical. One of them would slap me on the head in P1 because I couldn’t process fast enough and she assumed I was being stubborn.
One of my sister's friends would come into our bedroom and mock me and my sister would allow it to happen. She treated it as though it was somehow normal and I saw that behaviour when my brother abused me over a very long and damaging period of time. I saw in how people reacted to how I was being mistreated that somehow I was less to them. Less worthy of protection, less worthy of being listened to, less worthy of love, less worthy of any sort of consideration at all.

 I still see it now in how some family members speak out against abusers but want to protect the one who abused me. This feels like a clear communication to me that I mean less to them. I guess I am a fool because I still love my family. I still notice with certain members of my family that when I speak they stop listening and pay attention to someone else in the room.  Is this conscious or a subconscious thing? I don't know but I notice it very much.  This can occur anytime in which I am speaking to them and regardless of what the topic is.
I have set a boundary now and only see my parents once a week when they call to mine. I will never see my kind brother again because he lives with my parents and the bad one. I tried to encourage him to leave but he is also autistic and he feels too afraid of what the world might hold for him.
He thinks everyone is out to get autistic people and that it is like the times of Hitler and people want us dead. I don’t feel that way but I do believe there are plenty who don’t like us and plenty who wish we hadn’t been born. I am not ignorant to that fact but I am just glad I am not as unkind as they are. I should also note here that my kind brother was severely bullied at school and they isolated him instead of the bullies. Why do schools punish the person being bullied?
Society and Family Can be Dismissive of Autism
This is a particularly heartbreaking thing for me to discuss and it affects me quite a lot. It is the main reason why I keep on saying “I don't want to be here.” I discuss it because I really hope for change. Imagine you have a mother who wanted to create a child that wasn’t as defective as you. Yet everyone you meet outside says you don’t look autistic or makes assumptions that you cannot be as badly as affected as you are. Your mother has been with you day in day out until your early 20s. People who say things such as “you don't look autistic” only see you occasionally and for short bursts of time.
In that period of time, you are masking so as not to stand out. You learned when you were younger that standing out led to bullying and rejection and so masking is the only choice for survival and to get through life in one piece. You are also traumatised by multiple terrifying things that have happened to you. People assume this is what is wrong with you and you just need to fix the trauma and they are right in a way because the trauma is massively impacting your life. However, the trauma does not negate from the effects that autism is having because it is screwing many things up too.
The Vampire
Meanwhile, autism is underneath it all messing up your executive functioning and draining all of your energy in many various ways. If it was just one of those executive functions being hit it would be difficult to live with but you might be able to take charge of your life in spite of it. But it's not just one thing in my case and in the case of many other autistic people many things are being impacted daily.

 For me, it affects my eating in various different ways emotionally and psychologically and sometimes leads to choking on food and even drinks because my brain struggles to juggle any more processes than it already constantly is. To maintain my weight I have to keep a weight log which I enter after weighing myself morning and night. This visual cue is what reminds me to keep on making healthy decisions. I also use a calorie counting app because I would not be able to judge the right amount of food just by looking at it. I don't appear to get any fullness cues and I could literally eat forever. My calories are little boosts throughout the day in terms of something to look forward to. I guess you could say I am nearly always depressed. I still use food to cope but I just have to count it and weigh everything out now.
Autism affects my thought patterns, imagination, face to face communication and often telephone communication too. It affects my perceptions and I rely on the few people I trust to help me with understanding. It leads to paranoia because it affects my perceptions.

Clumsiness, Walking, Stairs, Multitasking and Visual Cues
Autism makes me clumsy I am constantly falling over and into things and my efforts at communication exhaust me to the point that it actually gets worse. I have whacked my head off a hand dryer that seemed to me to be very far away. I have no idea how it happened or why I just know that it did. I tend to sometimes see things as farther away or closer than they are. I have fallen downstairs on quite a few occasions they all begin to look like one and I have to focus very intently and walk down them very carefully.
I also avoid walking over certain parts of pavements, road bumps or gratings. It distresses me when I do walk over them and causes incredibly uncomfortable sensations and often painful ones too. I get pains in my legs and feet that can have me on the verge of tears whilst walking. I push myself to walk as much as I can because I use to be nearly 20 stone in weight during the worst part of my life. I have had walking difficulties since before I was 20 stone in weight. As a child doctors said I would probably never walk or talk.
I never want to go back to an unhealthy weight and so I push myself to exercise as much as I can manage but I take a lot of time to recover too. I have maintained my weight a long time but my life is not easier for it. People ask me how I feel at the healthy weight I am now and I honestly don’t know what to say because I don’t feel any different. The only good part is that I can wear clothes that I actually like.
Even then autism causes inflexible thinking for me so my clothes are usually the same colour, pattern or style. I would not be able to simply wear something I am not comfortable in without my whole day being ruined and my mind being stuck thinking about when I can remove those clothes and put on something comfortable. I need help in picking out suitable clothing and once I have had something pointed out to me I tend to stick to it.
One of my feet often trips me up and I have been told all of this is coming from autism too. I have learned to hide my exhaustion because in school I use to sit down a lot even in the queue at dinner time. People in the queue mocked me for this and called me lazy. Adult life hasn’t changed much from the school life in terms of bullies and I am sick of the assumptions that some people make about people with disabilities as if we are not already doing all that we can.
It is always the people that don’t even have a similar condition who say insensitive things. Essentially autistic people are constantly juggling multiple things that other people don’t have to think twice about because those things come naturally to them. They don’t juggle those things because they are not disabled in those areas. Why is this so hard for some people to understand?
I need visual cues to remind me to do just about everything and my phone is loaded with reminders. The problem with that is that there are so many and I struggle with figuring out which thing I should prioritise ahead of others. My brain doesn’t seem to hold much inside just the bad memories and love for people. Other than that it can’t process tasks if I just tell it to. It really needs the visual cue to trigger a response and if something knocks my routine up the left my plans also often end up screwed. I am then stuck in worry and rumination and panic.
Autism affected me in pregnancy due to rumination and being overly sensitive to every little odd feeling in my body. One insensitive thing said to me led my thoughts spiralling out of control and I couldn’t pick them back up again. I tried to pick myself up again and I did everything that is recommended to be healthy for you and your baby but inflexible thoughts and restrictive, repetitive thought patterns caused by autism meant I could not see a positive outcome.
I could not cope with what was happening inside my body. I felt like I was so defective that I couldn’t possibly birth a child or have a body that could support it.
Growing up various members of my family expressed doubt in my ability to cope with being pregnant. My mum told me she asked doctors how I would be affected because back then they had said I had 8 or 9 different disabilities but had not said that it was autism. I did not receive a diagnosis for autism until I was 26 years of age.
Sensory Overload
I tend to find that if I am overloaded by something within my body or a loud sound in the environment around me my brain automatically switches to distress mode and in that mode, I am constantly stuck on thoughts of danger and worst-case scenarios. Sadly we lost our baby but autism is one of the reasons we probably will never try again. Everything in my life is so intense and when I was pregnant everything was even more intense. Imagine music is blaring and you wish you could turn it down but you are locked in a room with that music and nothing else. Sensory overload combined with ruminating is exactly like that.
Rumination, Slow Processing and Inflexible Thoughts
Rumination steals a lot of my time sometimes I catch it now but often I still don’t. When I was pregnant I was permanently locked in it and it seemed to alternate between crying and worrying about all the worst-case scenarios. I think a big problem is that I can’t reassure myself because I have imagination problems and I cannot see the bigger picture or even see the potential that things might go well.
During so many conversation people say things I do not agree with but at the time I cannot process their words and they think I have agreed. This causes me so much frustration when I finally do catch up and sometimes it takes a day or two to get there. I am often stuck in my own head with rumination. It sucks my energy and time from me and it leads to tasks ending up uncompleted.

Trying to be NT and Meltdowns
Trying so hard to be more NT is depleting my energy to a point that I often feel like I don’t want to be here. It is constantly expected of autistic people to be more NT even by family members. People can sometimes accept that you are disabled and still somehow expect that for one hour or ten minutes you will just stop being disabled. Autism doesn’t stop and I can’t turn it on and off to suit myself or others.
People don’t understand that meltdowns are a combination of multiple things that have been affecting you over a period of days, weeks and sometimes even years. We don’t just decide to meltdown and we are not lazy. We are pushing ourselves to keep on going in spite of everything. Sometimes because we are human we can’t keep on pushing. I feel more exhausted after social situations than I do after walking a lot and walking makes me extremely tired and sore.
Even pleasant social interactions exhaust me and that is not because I am anti-social its because my brain is not NT. I wish people would try to remember that autistic people do not have all of the tools for communication built-in and that it takes an insane amount of effort on our part to socialise. Masking is not a choice for me if I drop my guard people start asking questions about my autism. They make assumptions based on their often very limited knowledge about it and this leads to meltdown.
Autistic People Do Get Suicidal Thoughts
I have had them intermittingly throughout my life I think when they first began it was in primary school when I was being bullied and trying so desperately to fit in. The betrayal by my brother who abused and terrorised me for years compounded this. Followed closely by the betrayal from others in my family in regards to how they did not deal with it. Struggling 26 years without a diagnosis meant I only blamed myself on everything that went wrong when socialising.
Being abused by nearly everyone I ever really grew to trust definitely contributed to suicidal thoughts. Feelings of not being safe in this world I feel have contributed to suicidal thoughts. Knowing that I am often unaware of peoples intent and that I can’t even tell when they are being mean until sometimes days after is scary. Sometimes my suffering with autism and trauma is so much that I just think it would be easier to not be here but I have someone who loves me and that is what keeps me going.
Why Do Autistic People Get Suicidal Thoughts
Why do many autistic people sometimes feel suicidal? I think many of us do because we grow tired of never being understood. We grow tired of always wondering what is going on in conversations. I think our brains get exhausted from having to make an extreme effort to do what comes naturally to others. I find life with autism is often hard to bear but I have a wonderful fiance, an adorable cat and a few other lovely people in my life now. I am getting married in under 2 months and I have a honeymoon to look forward to. The problem with autism is that it usually ends up putting a dark cloud over just about every happy moment in my life. My brain takes me to places I don’t want to go and the monster of rumination which I speak of on my blog keeps me trapped there. I am pretty easily sent into flight mode and most of my life I am afraid of something happening or something that might happen.
Autistic People Commit Suicide More Than the General Population
I am not going to say all autistic people are nice because everyone can be good or bad. I do not believe that a disability could contribute to making people good or bad. I believe you choose whether you become a good or bad person and everyone should know the difference between right and wrong.
I do believe a lot of autistic people are extremely sensitive and caring but frustrated because like me they can’t always show how they feel face to face or sometimes even respond in a timely manner.
If I am talking about something important it is pretty difficult for me not to get emotional or cry. I can't control my emotions well at all. I am always trying to be considerate of others. I wish the people who aren’t considerate would be more considerate towards me and others like me.
17 Bits of Advice to Help Prevent Autistic Suicide
I know some of these things might not seem enough to contribute to suicide but I think they are and the reason is that many autistic people ruminate and get stuck on negative occurrences in their lives. I often have intrusive thoughts about bad things that happened years ago. Or even just conversations that I couldn’t make sense of and this causes me deep distress.
When my spoons of energy are low I tend to fall into rumination much easier. All the little negative experiences we collect on our journeys through life can build up and I think that applies to NTs too.
  1. Dear parents your child might have autism and the world can be a pretty bad place but isolating them could make them one of the suicide statistics. I often thought about committing suicide when I would cry myself to sleep in my bedroom and think that my whole life was going to be spent in an abusive home with a mother that wanted me to live in a very unhappy situation. Mum was trying to convince me that she was protecting me from all the evil outside. She was right there was much evil on the outside but it is cruel to isolate a disabled person and take away their choices.
  2. Dear people, who tell autistic people off for stimming why are you doing that? If you felt like you needed something to calm down and someone took that away from you would you think it fair?
  3. P.E teachers the child that is not participating might be autistic and shouting at them will only lead to damaged self-esteem and Impatient teachers the child who is acting up could be in meltdown or the child who does not answer fast enough may have problems processing caused by a disability they didn’t ask for.
  4. Dear people still at school don’t treat quiet people or people who are different unfairly. You might find they would have been your best friends later on in life but they might not want to know you if you treated them like dirt. Even if you have no reason to befriend the different people it still does not excuse treating them badly.
  5. Dear families of disabled people speak to them and not at them and this can also be said for people who work with disabled people.
  6.  Dear everyone autism is an invisible disability and how disabling it is can be varied for every individual who has it. Please stop making assumptions based on really stupid or superficial reasons. It is not valid to compare autistic people on how disabled you think they are.  If you don’t live with that person or spend a lot of time with an autistic person you really have no idea. If you spend a lot of time with them outside their home chances are you aren’t seeing the height of their struggles and you could be seeing their mask instead.
  7. Nobody wants to be disabled so please stop making autistic people feel as though we have chosen to be this way.
  8. It is heartbreaking to be autistic and I honestly feel so sad on so many occasions for what it causes me to miss out on. It is very disabling in my life and I believe that a lot of autistic people commit suicide due to not feeling accepted.
  9. Autism is not a case of mind over matter because it is a condition which affects the brain making it different. We can’t change our brains to be like yours and we mask to try and make NT happy or even just to be safe. Many NT have a part to play in being more understanding.
  10. If you want to give advice to an autistic person stop giving it from an NT perspective If you don’t understand why they can’t make friends for example. Don’t say “oh I just do this” or “I just do that” because this and that most likely won’t work for the autistic person and chances are they have already tried it a million times. They have a disability that makes their brain different from yours and sometimes what works for you can’t work for them. All this will do is make the autistic person feel like their best is not good enough.
  11. Dear employers stop expecting autistic people to jump through hoops that their different brain makes them unable to jump through. Or sometimes just unable to jump through without intense psychological distress. Seriously what is that? How would you like it if someone did that to you? urgh!
  12. If you knew how much effort it takes to process face to face conversations you would not tell an autistic person to smile or act more friendly on the outside. This is extremely insensitive and unfair to ask of someone with a disability that affects their brain.
  13. Dear people who wish to have relationships or friendships with autistic people. Don’t bother if you seek to make them more like you. This is damaging and unfair to the autistic person. If you want to change the autistic “quirks” they have then you don’t like or even love them. Autistic people are not your project to fix! If you want to fix something go and fix yourselves. Helping autistic people and perhaps cutting down on the suicide rates would require some people to think much harder about how they react to that which is not a mirror image of themselves.
  14. Dear anyone with an autistic family member be careful of the words you use around them. If they love you, your words literally mean the whole world to them. Whilst this applies to NT people and how much they love their family members too. Some autistic people struggle to see that if you are being mean that you don’t actually hate them. You will need to clarify your words if you think they are confused just ask because they probably won’t tell you through fear of confrontation. Also, this can lead to abuse because some people use it to claim the autistic person is always overreacting when they are definitely not.
  15. Dear people who drink with autistic people I want to say this to you. I am not a drinker and I have been perhaps slightly tipsy only once or twice and it was not really something I wanted. I gave in to peer pressure which I don’t usually do and I regretted it. On the very few occasions, I have drunk even a bit the negative affects of my autism are more heightened. I have decided to just be the bore and bring along some Capri Suns or other types of juice instead. I don’t need to drink to feel confused because I feel that way all of the time as a consequence of living as an aspie in an NT world. I struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel because I can’t imagine positive outcomes. With alcohol, I don’t just struggle to see it because it is completely gone. If you know an autistic person and they have a meltdown and they have been drinking. I truly believe this could be what would push someone who is already struggling with their autism over the edge. I don’t think we need that much of a push but if there is a big push in that direction alcohol is it. I would assume drugs are too but I wouldn’t know as I have never tried them and don’t intend on doing so either.
  16. Many people with autism will think about suicide because struggling to make or maintain friendships and to function normally in society is exhausting and depressing. It leads to a need to isolate for some people. Autism in itself is more than enough to cause suicidal feelings for those who are suffering from it. I know some people aren’t but many are and I ask that you remember that. You won’t be able to tell who is struggling by looking at them so stop assuming.
  17. Society needs to let autistic people be autistic and stop putting pressure on them to act or dress a certain way. With autism, all of our energy is going on trying to fit in and we never get to be ourselves or feel safe. Our safe and happy is often very different from an NTs idea of safe and happy and this needs to be took into consideration. 
As an autistic 30-year-old woman all of my paths have been dead ends up until this point. I hope the paths I am on now can lead to a good place and I will hold out that hope. Hoping is scary because so many bad things have come from hope up until this point.
The best thing that has come from holding on to hope so far is my fiance and meeting his wonderful family too. I use to have a number of reoccurring dreams that haunted me for months on end whilst in my mum's house. One was a dream in which I was in the middle of nowhere on an abandoned train track. I feel this speaks for how autism feels and how autistic people can often be left feeling by how we are treated. In one of the other dreams, I was attacked by a black panther and that was absolutely terrifying. I was being hunted in my dreams and in my day to day life too. Autistic people can often end up the hunted or just completely stuck. I hope that someday the world will be a different place for people like me.

None of the images used in this article belong to me just the words

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