My mom recently looked through old family pictures over the years. She wanted to find some photos to post online from prior holidays. Several days later she said I consistently looked sad after I was about 10. I appeared weighed down by the pressures I felt growing up to succeed and prepare despite my repeated failures. I had one sick parent for about half my childhood, and had to learn to fend for myself the hard way. I simultaneously struggled to make and keep friends in school. If anyone out there is struggling like me, those kids and adults can't be blamed for slumping their shoulders. Does this sadness and despair really indicate Asperger's? Or do they instead project depression and Asperger's together? I am not a therapist, and am also unqualified to speak about prescriptions. As always, find a trusted mentor and professional to discuss your specific problems. I've just had countless questions the past several years, not just about my own case, but also to anyone who thinks their ASD encompasses everything they are, say, and do.
It's too simplistic and easy to dismiss the struggles of growing kids, and say they don't know how good they have it. I've caught myself wondering about some teenage boys, “You have a full head of hair. Enjoy it while you have it. Why on earth are you sulking?” This is a sign you know you're not a kid any longer. Taking other peoples' childhoods for granted fails to acknowledge that they may be struggling in hidden ways.
The NIMH classifies depression as lasting for more than a few days at a time. Have you ever felt any sadness and pain that interfered with your everyday activities, then brushed it off? Did this fester for so long that you saw negative other changes in your life? In addition to anxiety, depression and Asperger's might be a real concern for many kids. Don't hold in all your emotions. Older generations and some cultures might value that ability, but sometimes complaining is good if it helps you realize your fears and gripes are just as valid as the next person. No one can realize how hurt a developing mind is if its owner remains stoic and mistrusts others. If you're like me, you wanted to keep your problems at school inside those brick walls and lockers instead of carrying them home. At a young age I realized it's a bad idea to bring my problems home with me, yet somehow I'm the one with a socialization problem.
Do these images resonate within you? If so, you might have a problem.
Throughout my life, I can't pinpoint when and why I specifically got down on myself at the first sign of a problem. All I know is I wondered if I'd ever be able to corral the intelligence others have complimented me on my entire life into something I found fulfilling. Despite this ability to make others believe in me growing up, I found myself often isolated and unchallenged in school. It didn't help me on placement tests, my chance to prove I belonged in advanced classes. I am not proud to own up to the many bad habits I formed under these circumstances when I was 13. I tried to act as stoic as I could. I did not want any attention whatsoever. Whoever said all publicity is good publicity never talked to an adolescent with a laundry list of problems. All I wanted was a little break to figure out what I was supposed to do because I was sticking out for the wrong reasons. Before I knew it, acting a little standoffish and ignoring others becomes “Oh that's just Simon being Simon.” At that age, everything that was cool was everything I wasn't. That means I have to fill my time attempting interesting and meaningful hobbies instead of chasing fads and labels. I got too caught up in others' expectations and didn't pay enough attention to myself and what meant the most to me. That last part is what I see when I see Asperger's personified.
I don't see a textbook definition. Instead I see individuals who want to know, try, and/or plan more than their bodies or minds can handle. Sometimes we produce genius-level output, other times we quickly stall out. Facing failure, especially as a kid, especially with others watching, can make anyone sad and distraught. Everyone will see it in the Asperger's child sooner rather than later. When you feel this way for an extended period, you will wonder how to pull out of this tailspin. That doesn't sound like Asperger's to me. There's nothing potentially stopping someone from experiencing depression and Asperger's. The first step to stopping this vicious cycle is acknowledging this basic fact.