ASD: Went on first long vacation… suffering with reentry

For the past 5 years, I’ve been struggling to find the right balance between getting the right diagnosis, ADHD and antidepressants, trying to navigate atypical conditioned responses to typically simple tasks — like how to communicate my qualifications in a typically way.

The height of my wellbeing in those 5 years was when I was able to fall into a routine where I was able to do at least 5 days of 9-5 alone at home working on open source. That included collaborating in places that are unintentionally not yet inclusive to every atypical person, and my single-handed efforts to devise tools that would help someone like me overcome their communication barriers in trying to relate relatively immense conceptions and ideas. And this all is me problem-solving the reality I am living, where I am blessed with an atypical ability to problem-solve “unconventionally” (with the curse of being able to express them conventionally).

Unconventional problem-solving…

Like how I managed to find a new antidepressant that was going unnoticed by my doctors who have resolved to me having “treatment-resistant” depression with no other options but ECT or trials…

So, I was left alone to deal with this bleak choice between ECT or joining a study where maybe I get not the placebo. Somehow, I managed to over come the mental fog and conducted rational research in their own domain of expertise. I somehow found options they missed, and even recommended "Fetzima" being the one likely to work for my kind of depression.

It working can arguably be placebo, right… but needing to increase and decrease the dose over a couple of years gives this a more medicinal implication… That and the fact that the same doctors have found it to work wonders with once similarly bleak cases.

Now there is an atypical conditioned response that follows…

Because it is depressing to know that those who are paid money to make better the odds for those who are depressed are (1) not keeping up-to-date about medications approved in recent years (2) get away with it because people like myself are unable to complain without being dismissed as mentally ill (3) get to keep getting paid because when we are desperate enough we are resolved out by ECT or we end up doing their job for them if we are lucky enough to be able to.

After almost two years of “Fetzima” helping me make relative progress towards going back into the world, I had to lower the dose due to a possible link to a physical side effect overlapping with the effects of separate medical procedure that should have long subsided but have not. Lowering the dose slightly left me with a over 1.5 months of unearthing withdrawal effects… and 4 months later, I am constantly feeling like somehow I now feel pain that was being numbed away, physical and mental… and I am left seeing the relative-progress over the past 2 years as relative-stagnation (still going no where in life, and paying more than most just to have the privilege of a civil and polite alienation and rejection).

It has been a year since my diagnosis moved to depression and ASD, instead of and ADHD, and that is almost 16 years after the initial diagnosis of bipolar that was leaving me too heavily medicated to be able to conform to social norms and rationally be able to communicate that my logical and rational conclusion from actually taking this medication is that this either the wrong treatment or diagnosis because all it is actually doing is locking me in from being able to hold this discussion without being dismissed and patronized.

Once I wiggled out of 3 years of making relative-progress as bipolar patient, I finally actually finished my undergraduate, then graduate studies, and even had scholarships… not too bad. And this was all without medication initially, until I was hit with setbacks transitioning into my junior internship, leaving me pulled-together with 10 years of ADHD and depression treatments.

Those treatments were enough to keep me afloat enough in routine, but have not protected me from developing increasing complicated atypical conditioned responses to things that typical people might say one would “mature” by accepting them. And one of those things is that I will never be able to conform to the resume writing and interview expectations of the job market… not like my peers who have lied their way into employment (not exaggerating, but not able to be “mature” about it)… and say if I did, how can I “mature” out in the professional world full of those kind of “mature” values, void of “real” ones.

So yes, I am left navigating this rather (rationally) depressing existence… but it is not like I am staying at home because I refuse to conform to “mature” values, only to want to work closer to those who appreciate “real” ones — and one of those “real” values is I will never be able to fairly market for a job, not without help to overcome the inaccessibilities of conventional means of applying.

And so until this past August, I was trying to develop a portfolio, mostly all with my own open source packages that I ended up developing to overcome inaccessibility of the mainstream ones. I was using every opportunity to connect with people in places that favour a “real” appeal, while trying to find access to agents of “equal opportunity” for ASD people like myself to help me make an approach.

But on August 1, and towards making relative-progress from a wellness standpoint, I set out on the first long vacation away from those well established routines. And I returned on September 1 not able to pull those threads back together long enough to write a useful line of code, or contribute to the live discussions I attend in the open source space.

Now I am in crisis… to be continued.

Update: Regarding my unusual hopelessness (ie not depression in itself)…

I just connected it with unexpected variance in the Nicotine content of my vapes. I use both regular freebase (cloud maker) and nicotine salt (for immediate kick) and as it seems the bottle received previously is lacking the yellowish tint characteristic to nicotine salt.

Either it was missing or mislabelled. But the fact that for the first time in 5 years since quitting, I urged and actually ended up smoking, and the fact that this has significantly subsided since I refilled with new liquid that was in fact tinted as usual… it is a very convincing explanation pending a visit to the juice shop to verify.

@SMotaal I am so glad I found you. I am building a public benefit corporation for people like us, and stories like ours, at DIID: Divergent Innovation, Inclusion, and Design. Please reach out. I’d love to collaborate, and help you share your story.

I have encountered the same problems as you. I used to work at a Fortune 100 as a product lead until I was effectively managed out due to symptoms of my disabilities: Bipolar Disorder I and “severe ADHD.” Later, while out on long-term disability I was diagnosed with an abnormal brain scan due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which worsened my mood fluctuations and ADHD. The TBI diagnosis was bittersweet. I haven’t worked so I could tend to my health and midlife for the past two years.

I’m not coming back to play. I’m coming back to win.

I have determined is that the term “disability” and the stigma behind a mental health diagnosis have a nocebic affect on productivity. Diagnosing someone as mentally ill negatively impacts their ability to perform work at the same rate or quality as others. Stigma is debilitating and in many cases, a diagnosis drives the actual stigma which in turns undermines social health as well as mental and spiritual health.

We are commanded (in my case by judges), to take the medicine and cooperate with treatment. The medicines have side effects that are as bad as the symptoms. They cripple us and undermine our social function and health as they make us seem awkward or afflicted in public—including at work. That is, the stigma of being medicated. We also carry the additional burdens on our pockets, time, and stress levels—(and thereby, ability to produce)—of supervised medication management.

But if we don’t take the medicine we will suffer the symptoms of the diagnosis, but also the stigma of being unmedicated which in many of our cases (mine included) would preclude us from jobs my skills and work experience do merit.

For the record, the EEOC and a dozen law firms blew me off. The “undue burden” clause in the ADA which basically means companies can dismiss our requests for accommodations if they would disrupt business as usual. My disabilities disrupt my ability to do business as usual.

We’re different. We poison ourselves in order to pretend to be normal, and even when we try we are stigmatized for doing it wrong (, eg, “behaving erratically”). Then we have to justify ourselves, etc. to earn a seat but only if it’s not too inconvenient for the company; so we lose opportunities to grow personally, professionally, and socially.

They said helping me would have caused an undue burden. To whom is that burden due?

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Writing for me is a curse, I need to rely in the weakest links in my neurology, to be able to do it. And those links get weaker by the minute, because of how society continues to grow less accessible, to those who are not neurologically fated to see things the same way.

I wanted to share a friends link to the article I was preparing myself to write for almost a year now…