From a teen in the Netherlands: I feel so confused.Since I was 10, I have been an anxious person. I was bullied around that time, and I have always been made fun of. I feel like that never really affected me. Then, when I was 12, I remember feeling horrible sensations inside me. I don´t know if those feelings were sadness or anxiety, I just remember being in mere pain. Then, after I turned 13, those feelings were decreasing in intensity. I was definitely still anxious, but I guess I was used to it, so I really cannot remember my emotional experience at that time.

What worries me is that, now, most of the time, I feel numb. That is the first of the only three feelings that I can experience, and the one I feel the most: plain numbness. My teachers have always said that I have a nonchalant attitude, and I used to disagree, but now I do not. There are periods of time (which are very long) where I could not care less about anything in my life. During these, feel restless, cannot concentrate, and often find myself thinking of death, generally, or just full of pessimistic thoughts, but I cannot feel anything positive. I cannot even enjoy activities the way I used to.

Sometimes I feel a second, different feeling: I feel stupid or ashamed. I don´t really know how to describe this one. I feel like this when little, simple and insignificant events affect me tremendously for hours, but then I tend to just ignore them, and when I remember stupid things I have done in the past.

The third feeling is a mixture of hopelessness and abandonment, but I rarely experience it. When this feeling comes, I fantasize about being friends with people I know (most of them have only seen me, or know me but despise me) and talking to girls I am attracted to, begging them to stay with me for a minute. Then I feel truly sad, start crying and realize that I will be alone during all my meaningless life.

By the way, I am feeling so stupid right now, just because I am writing this to you. I lately also fear being a victim of crime when the second and third feelings come; most of the time I just visualize myself dead in a corner after being robbed.
P.S: I have high-functioning ASD.

A: Thank you for writing. Although I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a letter, I can tell you that the feelings you describe are consistent with depression. As you probably know, people with high functioning autism are often anxious. The isolation due to difficulties with social interactions and communication can also trigger feelings of depression.

If you are not already in therapy, I hope you will consider seeing someone for an evaluation and recommendations. Look for a therapist who is experienced in working with teens on the autism spectrum. Such a therapist will help you make sense of your feelings and also learn some compensatory behaviors so you can be more comfortable with other people.

I also suggest that you read some of Temple Grandin’s books. She is an articulate and helpful member of the community of people on the spectrum. I think you would find her story helpful. There is also an excellent made for TV movie that was filmed in 2010 about her life. Do check out her website as well: http://templegrandin.com/. I think her articles will be very reasssuring.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie