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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Never Give Up

As I have mentioned, this month, 10 years ago, I was a racing instructor at a racing school. I know I've repeated this many times, but it's the core of who I was as I knew I was going to make it big in racing. The same time as that fell apart was a few weeks after I diagnosed and I felt as if all were lost.

The other part in the mix, and I've written about this many times, is the information I got when I looked on the Internet when I was diagnosed which was, "those with Asperger's will never have a job, will never have friends, and will never be happy." Obviously not the best of introductions, but between those two events I lost all my drive, fight, and a lot of my soul. I often wondered what the point was; why try if failure and misery is the only outcome?

It was odd yesterday as on the drive from St. Paul to Omaha we stopped and saw the movie Gravity in IMAX 3D (okay, I don't think I've ever stated anything about a movie, but if you can make it a point to see this movie in the cinema, and if you can in IMAX, and if you can in 3D) which a big theme of the movie is not giving up. I am fully against giving anything close to a spoiler, but there's one moment in the movie where all seems lost and it brought tears to my eyes; not the actual events on screen but my remembering where I was just a little under 10 years ago.

Imagine a world where the only thing thought of is, "each minute, hour, and day that is passed is simply counted. There is nothing more than this and will be nothing more than this." as that's where I was for 15 months. I don't really know how I came out the other side and I thank God every day that I discovered the medium to communicate my emotions through writing, but before that I didn't care about anything except the fact that hopelessness was a fact.

I've already reached over 2,000 people on my tour and one of the reasons why awareness around us on the autism spectrum is so vitally important is that through understanding a person may not be driven to that brink of darkness where hope is something that can't even be comprehended. During my 15 month pit of despair there was no such thing as hope, or understanding that things can (and do) get better. If you told me that things would get better I'd laugh at you. I told one counselor, "that's just cruel to say" because in my mind all was lost.

If you look up my book on Amazon the lead line that is used is, "All I want is someone to understand..." and that's all I wanted but initially I thought no one would be capable of such a thing. I mean, how could anyone understand what it is like to feel like I'm on a deserted island, cut off from all humanity, when I'm amongst others in a crowd? How could anyone understand what it is like to always think of the best thing to say five hours later? How could anyone understand what it is like to have a mind that is literal? How could anyone understand what it is like to miss social cue after social cue? These were the questions I asked, pondered, and dwelled upon. In my mind I was alone with this struggle and no one would ever be capable of understanding so I always came full circle and believed that hope was something that was as extinct as the dinosaurs.

Things are different now and I realize that hope, and the will to never give up, is critical. One thing my dad did, when I did give up, was he doubled his hope. I may never have acknowledged it, and I questioned the logic of it, but that helped a lot. It's easy for anyone to simply say, "never give up" but there will be times, I'm sure, when hope seems lost; when life seems like a game that's stacked against you and the odds are so greatly against you that the thought of even trying is a joke, but times change and those around us can have a major impact. We might not ever let you know the impact you had, but trust me when I say the support that those around us can give can prove to be the difference from a world that is dark, bleak, and the word hope has been stricken from the dictionary to a world where difference is understood; a world where hope and acceptance is and it is within this world, I hope, that more people than not live because I lived in the other world. I lived there for 15 months and no one should have to feel alone, defeated, and useless in this world.


  1. Usually we don't know the "right" way to handle a situation until we've been through it and seen the results of what we've done. As the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, simply meaning that it's easy to look back on our lives and see what we could have done better. But, that is why it's so important for you to be on this tour spreading the message of how YOU handled things and how others can choose to handle things themselves. And this applies as much to those without Asperger's or not on the Autism spectrum as those who are. In fact, I think what you're doing is probably going to make more of a difference in the non-Aspie world than within it. After reading months and months of your blogs it has become clear that most of your situations arise from how others react to you, rather than how you react to others. And I think that's a huge distinction because while you can inwardly try to change how you react, you have to explain to others how their reactions can affect someone with ASD. Sure, most people don't even give that a thought as they're going through life, but if you can make even a couple of people more aware then you've made a world of change. Hope to hear more about each one of your presentations as you're able to write about them.

  2. I can assure you that feelings of bleakness and despair are not the sole property of any one group of people. Anyone who feels the weight of the world on their shoulders typically feels that they are , and must, deal with it all by themselves. It doesn't matter how many people tell us things will get better, there's light at the end of the tunnel, when God closes a door he opens a window. As you said to one of your counselors, at the time those pithy statements seem on the verge of cruelty. But the fact that those around you did not give up when you already had speaks volumes about the love that they felt for you. Sometimes we have to just be there to catch you at the end, but let you stumble through the process by yourself. I can assure you that we here are all glad that you came through and became the person we all know and respect now.