Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why I'm Wearing Black

Corina Lynn Becker
nostereotypeshere.blogspot.com

April is an emotionally charged month for me, April 1st especially. Up to grade six, it was because I dreaded April Fool's Day, a day dedicated to pulling pranks I did not enjoy. However, in grade seven, I was given more reason to not like the day.

On his 77th birthday, my Grandpa had a massive stroke. The damage was severe enough that any operation would just leave him in a vegetative state. It was decided that Grandpa, a man dedicated to his work as a minister, would not be happy in such a state. So we just sat there for three days, waiting for him to die.

On April 1st, at 8:30 AM, Grandpa passed away.

It was the first time I experienced the loss of close relative. To me, it was losing a huge chunk of my foundational support. I had always assumed he would be there, and had based a lot of how I interpreted and defined reality on him. The result was devastating. I plunged head first into depression and Anxiety. Within a year, I started to contemplate suicide.

It was a dark time of my life, and I've spent many years fighting daily battles against despair and hysterical panic. In the beginning, my parents and friends had no idea what I was going through, and when my mental state became apparent, were not sure how to help. They didn't know I am autistic, and so didn't know how to support me in ways that would actually help.

However, through tireless effort, I have gotten this far. I am no longer tormented by constant depression and anxiety, and have learned how to deal with relapses, none of which are as bad as before. I'm certain that part of my progress has been my autism diagnosis, understanding how autism affects me, accepting the newly found parts of myself, and figuring out how to accommodate my limitations.

It has been a journey of self-discovery, and as I've come to be aware of parts of myself that I like and are valuable, the outbreaks of depression and anxiety bothers me less and less. I am not completely free of them, but like my grief, I can manage it -- especially with the support of my family, friends, and support workers.

So, for me April is month of reflection, of remembrance. It is a reminder of how deeply events can affect mental health, even for Autistic people. It is a reminder of how far I've come, what I've gotten through, and how I've become stronger. And it is a reminder of my loved ones and support network, with whom I am never alone.

And that is why I'm wearing black this month.