There is too much pressure these days to 'fix' any 'unhappiness or whatever it might be labelled as. It should be ok to react realistically to what's going on. Why pretend things are fine when they are not? 

Months of depression resulted after I experienced turbulent times within my career and family; and myself. My priorities are normally arranged in that order. Kidding, family are number one – but they want me to prioritise my career the most. Perhaps my last priority is looking after myself. It's only now, after enough drama for one lifetime, I have to look after myself. 

I'm unravelling. My emotions are like a ticking time bomb. Nobody knows when I will suddenly burst into tears. The most isolating moments are the most depressing. Sitting on the train in the middle of the day, eating dinner alone occasionally, figuring out how to use the light rail... The smallest things trigger tears to drip down my face. This is usually hidden by strategically placed Lennon shaped leopard print tinted sunglasses. But behind the hipster sunnies, there is a lost soul. How did I turn out this way? The best way to describe it is a series of unfortunate events. 

I lost a dream job. Apparently I just didn't fit someone's creative vision for this public gig. What is it, an Australian Idol audition? It felt ridiculous. This led to yet another emotionally insecure search for work to fill the day. I went through an entire grieving process over a job which made me happy. I identified with it. Maybe I put too much faith in it. I felt committed enough to this job until I lost the role. How could I commit to the next job, just to feel rejected again? My commercial commitment phobia means I now only want casual temp jobs or freelance gigs. Anything else would hold too much risk. 

My voluntary work accumulated, despite an unsustainably staggering commercial career. Everything feels important. Charity saves lives. Speaking changes lives. Attendance shows support for others’ causes. Writing gives crucial context for events. Graphics catch the eyes of the public. This all accumulates into an entire life in itself. I would never give up any of it. But there needs to also be room for commercial endeavours. 

I enrolled in a master’s degree, simply out of gratitude for the privilege of being offered this opportunity. I then proceeded to get behind in my studies, out of a mix of depression and career struggles. Many people get more done when they have less time. They use their time productively when it is scarce. I am one of those people. So I ironically took it all for granted at a time when the nation debates the question of who should pay for education. Yet I am definitely depressed, unable to concentrate on anything besides a cluttered jumble of thoughts. 

Careers aren't the only dilemma these days. My favourite person in the whole world is suffering with ill health. I have to find new friends to chat with, new places to hang out. I can no longer rely on the grandmother who needs to look after herself. We used to watch Kate Hudson movies and gossip about who's going out with who. But it's not that easy anymore. The last half a year involved a balance – be supportive for this person, but still live my own life.

I had to move out from my mother’s home and live alone. This is quite a double edged sword. The separation was heartbreaking, but independence is liberating. My apartment is where I am meant to be, closer to friends. But there is a lot of setting up – how many spatulas to get, which can opener actually works, how much fresh produce is needed for one person, how often to check the letterbox (who even uses letterboxes these days?) the list goes on… The little things accumulate into a whole new set of things to set up. I have lived with all sorts of loved ones, friends, and housemates. Perhaps I am too used to looking after other people, and am now learning to look after myself.

My diagnosis of Asperger’s raises endless questions, and shapes my reactions to life. Am I relating to people in the right way? Are my behaviours what I want, or what an Aspie is expected to do? Am I a self fulfilling prophesy of the stereotypical diagnosis? How much do I resemble Sheldon Cooper? Or did nobody even notice? The questions are endless. It’s an extra dialogue which should have its moment, and then have a rest. Instead, it is like a constant conscience at the back of my head. 

That’s a lot to deal with. And apparently that would be a lot for anyone to deal with. These are lots of public stories. I have been many things in the past while. The one thing I forbid myself from being is unhappy. Any reaction to these circumstances would admit they are reality. Reaction would mean admitting these situations bother me.

But grief is part of humanity. Gandhi didn’t feel happy when people where less than self sufficient. He would have felt miserable, and turned that misery into a constructive motto, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Jesus didn’t look at that cross and think, “That looks fun.” He didn’t come off from the nails and think, “Yay! Can I do that again?” Martin Luther King didn’t feel jolly fine about how people were being treated. The world’s great figures felt grief. It was from that empathy, that saddened understanding, that amazing things happened.  

Why, then, do I allow myself less emotion than the world’s role models? Why should I be ecstatically happy amongst heartbreak? That would be real irrationality. Depression is the logical reaction to crushing circumstances. Problems inspire solutions. If everything was fine, what would be our purpose in the world? How could we help, contribute, build? Great things can be created from misery. I believe I need to see the reality of loss, to understand what needs to be built up.


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