Jared s Story
“I was 4 years old. I had just heard the doctor give me a diagnosis of autism and none of my family or friends knew what it was. I was always lacking eye contact, shying away from friends, and even my speech was severely affected.
The first thing my parents did was get me into both sensory integration and occupational therapies. It honestly made my life 200% better than it was at the time. Finally, after years of therapy and social learning, I was on my way to becoming a successfully student back in grade school.
The only problem was that I started showing signs of major depression. It really started when I was in the 6th grade, but it got much worse when I was in high school. My sophomore year was the hardest transition because I went from regular level classes to College Preparatory level classes, or CP for short.
Everything felt hopeless, barren, desolate, and unimportant to me. I was scared. Too scared to understand what I was going through. I felt defeated because autism left me in a place where I didn’t think I was going to succeed and the depression made it worse. I often felt like I wasn’t as good as everyone else. I was tired, angry at myself, and most of all, feeling like I was unsuccessful.
I was truly terrified and I felt like an outcast. So I spent a total of two and a half years dealing with these feelings and ideations until I realized who I was and became the person I am today. But, up until that point, it took over my life.
After two and a half grueling years, I graduated and decided college was the best opportunity for me. For the first year, I went to a college called USCB, or University of South Carolina Beaufort. It was rather small, but after a month there, I discovered myself. During no other time in my life did I explore my inner peace like I did at the previous college. I felt happy and never went back into the depression again.
Living with autism is nothing but a journey to say the least. It has taken to hell and back with a smile on my face. During high school, there were times when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. There were times when I wanted to drop out of school and do nothing with my life.
I didn’t know if I was able to make friends or even get along with people. If I were to ask a random person on the street, ‘Do you think I have autism?’ he or she would kindly answer no, but I thought that it was affecting me greatly. My perception of the world was cynical and lacked clear thoughts.
But, if I could travel back in time and change one thing, it would be to go back to when I was in high school. Of course not for school, but for myself. I would look at myself and tell myself that I would be remarkably successful and tell myself ‘don’t quit’.
I would tell myself that whatever life throws at me, I can fire back ten times harder. The biggest lesson learned from having both autism and depression is, if you’re still fighting, you’re a winner all the time.
If there was something I learned from my experiences with my disorders, it is this: Life is something to be cherished, and no matter how deep one puts himself or herself in, there is always a kernel of hope that lies somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.
If you know someone who is currently or has been struggling with a disorder, tell them every day that they are a fighter. Because not only are people incredible, but they are truly winners.”