LIAM CULLINS

Pondering a Lifetime of Struggle

I’m no stranger to having to suppress certain characteristics of mine. Being an Aspie (though many people may not be familiar with this term, considering Asperger’s syndrome is no longer considered medically relevant), I’m used to refraining from doing certain things that would seem bizarre to the average person. One big thing is something known as “stimming”—usually in the form of flapping the hands or bouncing around, or even both combined when Aspies are in deep thought. For me, it usually takes the form of pacing. I pace a lot when I think. For obvious reasons, I’ve learned to suppress that in order to avoid distracting people around me, especially when in public.

alex_lipstick_cheekAsperger’s syndrome is something that I’ve spent years coming to terms with. It’s a part of who I am, regardless of who does or doesn’t see its full-on effects, and if someone were to offer me a cure, I’d turn it down without a second thought. However, within the past year, another trait has surfaced that I don’t know how to handle—medically, it’s referred to as acute anxiety and depression. It’s a mental disorder, not just an emotional state that comes and goes. The reason I specify that is because I once thought it was just an excuse for being lazy in life, claiming that it was depression that caused them to not grab the bull by the horns and make something of themselves. I felt this way about someone very close to me. His name is Alex Deschaine (pictured on the right), and he’s one of my two best friends in the whole world. If you ever read this, Alex, I apologize for ever doubting you. Now I can finally relate to you when you say things like that.

I mentioned in my post ‘A Return to the Old Road‘ that my mom was actually surprised that this disorder hadn’t surfaced earlier, considering it’s fairly common in her side of the family. Since it started around the one-year anniversary of Nora’s passing, we initially thought it was just an emotional relapse. I ended up missing a few days of work because of it, but once it started to go beyond that time period, it was clear that we were dealing with something completely new. Every time I was getting close to something such as a work shift, a stressful class at USM, or a concert that I’d be performing in, I would start having a panic attack, at one point nearly trashing my bedroom in a fit of anxiety.

However, sometimes I’m not sure which is worse—the highs or the lows. The reason I decided that this would be the topic of today’s post is because until just recently, the whole day has just been me lying in bed, completely lost as to how to spend the day, and in the moment, how to spend my whole life as well. Even though I’m feeling better (my return to writing has greatly helped in this field), it floors me to think of spending my whole life on this mental and emotional roller coaster. I felt like I had to quit my job because of this condition, and though I’m soon going to be applying for another, I’m horrified to think that I’ll never be able to be employed in the long-term because I’ll flare up with anxiety every time a shift rolls around. In case you’ve been wondering, yes, I have a psychiatrist, and I’ve already met with him twice about this. I’m not two different medications atop of the two I was already taking, and I have a third one that’s only for use during or before an oncoming panic attack. However, I’ve yet to use it, mainly because, during this period of unemployment, I’ve been more depressed than anxious. You know how in cop shows, when someone’s been in prison for a long time, they sometimes say something along the lines of “I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I’ve done”? That’s how I feel from time to time, except for me, it’s self-inflicted imprisonment. There are times where I feel like I’ve become this creepy recluse, and I don’t have the independence I once had due to a lack of any money whatsoever.

Furthermore, I worry about the future. A lot. I read something on Facebook today that said people used to be able to get by working forty hours a week, but now it’s more like 100 hours a week. I once asked my mom whether or not it was a bad thing that I wasn’t able to support myself yet, and she told me that the cost of living today is the highest it’s ever been in this country. Now, that’s a topic I won’t get into, considering I’m not politically savvy enough to fully understand how that works or how to fix it. Heck, I just barely passed Economics in high school, though to be fair, while I liked my teacher as a person, his teaching style was so vague that it was hard to know what information was and wasn’t important. Anyways, I’ve gone off on a tangent. My point is, most of the time the future looks pretty bleak, and that doesn’t help my anxiety.

Time continues to tick onward. I don’t have the answers to these questions, at least not yet. I suppose in times like this, I just have to march on and remember that God is omniscient, sovereign, and He takes care of His people.

Featured image source: belterz on iStock

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