Recently I wrote a post here that focused upon what autism feels like to someone on the autism spectrum – see my post https://normsmilfordblog.com/2016/11/23/trying-to-understand-others-without-a-frame-of-reference/. As the author of the story that I linked to stated, it was just her personal description of how autism affected her and her life.
A line that I found to be very apropos about almost any health issue like autism was referenced elsewhere on the same autism site – anonymouslyautistic.net – “if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person”. In other words, you can’t and shouldn’t generalize and characterize or stigmatize an entire group of people based upon one experience or one meeting with a person who is somewhere on the autism spectrum. Every person who lives somewhere along that spectrum is different and must be accepted with those differences.
The reason I found that site and the story that I referenced so interesting and useful is that it forces the reader to try to understand that they can’t really understand. It exposed a different way of looking at things and life that I called a “frame of reference”. One ends up admitting that they can’t even imagine what that different frame of reference must feel like and that at least provides the basis for doing something more useful, like accepting
and accommodating the actions and needs for someone who is viewing life through that different frame of reference.
I don’t intend to solely focus here upon the topic of mental or health issues in general; however, the research that I did for that first post did take me off to a journey of discovery about the information available and the number of web sites devoted to providing support for a wide variety of health issues. The site that the article about how autism feels was posted on – The Mighty – is particularly helpful in providing information about an enormous range of health issues, both physical and mental.
I did decide that, from time to time, I would pursue the approach of looking at posted articles that deal with or focus upon how a particular condition or illness makes one feel. The reason is that I believe that gaining an understanding what is causing a person to act or react the way they are is an important first step towards accepting them as they are and helping them, if they wish to be helped. It is just as important in learning when and how to back off and let the person have the space and time to deal with what is going on in their life. A recurring theme that one sees in the writings of people struggling with some of these issues is how annoying the bumbling efforts to help from well-meaning, but ill informed, “friends” can be. I am not a fan of the “intervention” approach to this topic.
Anyway, as I looked through the huge list of topics on The Mighty, one that I could relate to was Depression. I have known many people who suffered some form of depression and believe that I went through an episode (or bout) of depression in my own life a decade or so ago. For me it was just an episode and not a recurring or continuous thing. Many who suffer from depression cannot say that and must seek help in order to live a “normal” life. So, I set out to find an article on-line about what depression feels like, and found the site – http://www.wingofmadness.com.
While, I’m not sure about the site name, it does contain the same sort of what does it feel like and how can I deal with it advice as the autonomously autistic site and it is set up in the same way, as a site for those dealing with the issues to share with others. On that site was the post – What does depression feel like?
So, what does reading through this article this do for you? It gives you yet another “frame of reference” with which to better equip you to accept the person in your life who may be suffering through depression, whether episodic or on-going. It may help you recognize the symptoms that are manifested when one is depressed and perhaps better understand why they do certain things. Perhaps it will help you to not make the mistake of writing off that person or ignoring their actions in hopes that they will just “snap out of it”. If you have a friend or loved one in your family who may be suffering with depression, you may find this article at the same site to be helpful –
To some, posting this during the holiday season may seem to be inappropriate. However, for almost all of the physical or mental conditions that are referenced on the sites that I pointed you to; holidays tend to be the most stressful and difficult to deal with for people suffering through the misunderstanding of others about their view of, and reaction to, these “special” occasions. Rather than getting down on someone for being a “wet blanket” during the holidays, take the time to think about how they feel and find a way to help them feel more accepted and comfortable within a setting that is perhaps frightening and overwhelming to them. Sitting quietly with them in front of a fire and giving them a hug, may be the best present that you can give this Holiday season.
Let them know what love feels like.