You are not alone

you are not aloneI’ve been debating with myself for some time whether or not I should write this. I’ll get to the reasons for that in a bit but first, for right now, I need to tell you this: you are not alone.

I am a 39 year old with Autism Spectrum Disorder (formerly Aspergers) and I have two children, one with autism and one without. I have a good job, I take a nice walk every day and I help a lot of people around the world but you know what? Sometimes I still feel completely worthless. Sometimes I still feel totally alone.

The truth is that we all feel this way sometimes. For those of us with autism or really, any other special needs, this feeling comes far more often. Sometimes we feel like this way more often than we feel good. I know I used to. I wasn’t always a grown up with a family and a job. I was a child with autism too and I felt so very alone then. I felt like I wasn’t nor would I ever be valuable to anyone. I felt like the world wouldn’t even notice if I was gone.

I still feel like that sometimes. I felt like that just the other day. As I sat there I thought… I’m just going to tell the world I’m done. I tried, I did my best but I failed. I gave it my best shot but I still feel worthless. And as I sat there, staring at my television that was off, I thought to myself, “I don’t even have anyone to talk to about this.”

Like every other day when that happens, I wanted to tell the world I was giving up. I was done. But like every other day, I thought to myself, no, I can’t do that. So I went to bed.

Here’s the thing, I have talked to hundreds, if not thousands of children with autism who have felt this exact same way. They’ve told me the exact same things. For the hours and hours I’d talk with each and every one of them, the most reassuring thing for each and every one of them, the one common denominator between them all… was me. I was the one that helped them to see that they weren’t alone. Perhaps I couldn’t convince them that they weren’t worthless, just as no one can convince me when I feel that way, but I could show them that they weren’t alone. All I had to do was be there.

Here I am, right now, to tell you that you are not alone. I started this big thing where I have this opportunity to help all these kids and the world praises me for it, often far too much. I’ve been in the news and on television and the radio and I am given this wonderful opportunity to help kids see that they’re not alone.

So why do I continue to have these days where I feel totally worthless?

Now I’m back to where I started, debating with myself over whether or not I should ever even write this, should I hit the publish button? Will I let down everyone that looks up to me? Will I disappoint all those kids who think that I’m some symbol of positivity for them? Will people look at me differently? Will people judge me as silly or foolish or even selfish for having done all this and still feeling so down?

But then I thought back to all those kids I’ve helped. They didn’t feel alone anymore because they came to me and we talked. But what about all those kids that don’t come to me? They’re still out there, feeling worthless and feeling alone. What if they’re sitting there, staring at their off television, feeling like there’s no one they can talk to? Debating on whether or not to tell the world “I’m done” just as I do on those days.

I’ve decided the message is more important than what anyone else might think. I’ve decided that… as much as this is about me, it’s not about me. I’ve decided that I have nothing to be ashamed of and I have nothing to hide. I should not be afraid to admit that it’s hard sometimes. Really really hard.

I can’t explain to anyone why I feel that way sometimes. I just do. I can’t answer people’s questions nor can I rationalize it when it happens. I feel stupid and guilty and selfish and worthless and alone all at the same time and it takes absolutely everything out of me when it happens.

I have autism, I have days where I feel worthless and alone and I am writing this to tell you that if you feel this way too, you are not alone. It doesn’t have to make sense. You don’t have to explain to anyone why you feel that way. No one should ever try to make you feel guilty for it.

I am a grown autistic man with wonderful kids, a good job and I can say, completely without ego or bravado, that I have changed the world for the better, at least for some people and still, to this day, I still sometimes feel completely worthless and alone.

You don’t owe anyone anything, not even an explanation for your feelings. It doesn’t have to make sense to them or even to you. You don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed about it.

Please believe me. You are not worthless and you are absolutely not alone. 

And if you don’t believe me now, come back and read this again tomorrow.

I’ll still be here.

We both will be.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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4 Responses to You are not alone

  1. Laura Block September 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this. I feel the same way, I’m 45, my son is 9, and we were both diagnosed with HFA/Asperger’s 2 and a half years ago. We are thankful that you created a space where my son can feel special and safe, and which gives me the warm-fuzzies. Thank you.

  2. John Haston February 26, 2016 at 4:41 am #

    Thanks for sharing this. Being someone who read a lot on Autism, I can understand the kind of feeling you are experiencing. I have heard the same from many and the only thing that I can say is, there is no one who is worthless and you don’t have to explain this to anyone. Be confident and happy.

  3. Cmosgood October 5, 2016 at 11:06 am #

    Thank you. I don’t have the words. The tears won’t stop. I read about the hackers telling 6 years to end their own lives. Thank you for the incredible courage and resilience you demonstrate. As a teacher I must complete hours of training on preventing youth suicide (the Jason Flatt act). The training is excellent but does not mention autism as a risk factor in the training Bullying & Suicide. As a psych nurse (my other job)?I was well aware that LGTB youth were one of the highest risk groups. Your article has given me courage. With your permission I wish to share the article and your information. Jason Flatt killed himself at 16. His father started the Jason Foundation to save lives. You are such a father. The training describes the most at risk children: insert here the traits, behaviors and characteristics that define autism. Yet autism isn’t mentioned. Perhaps they do not know. Without researching it I’m pretty sure there are far more children in terms of numbers affected by autism than LGTB issues. I was a strong and vocal advocate for LGTB youth not because they were LGTB, but because at the time they were 6 times more likely to try or complete suicide than their already high risk peers. Suicide is the 2nd or third leading cause of death death in teens. There are so many children diagnosed now with autism. The numbers are staggering. I would like to talk with you and the Jason Foundation about addressing this issue. Please don’t give in to temptation to say “I’m done”. You might save a life and it very well might be mine or my 8 year old grandson, I did not know about your site. We stopped playing Minecraft because of the horrible chat function that you can’t turn off and the toxic content it carries to little children playing a game.

  4. Oz October 6, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    I just found your website. I am really grateful for the article you wrote. I am very disturbed by it. Please don’t give up on the website blog, or the Minecraft server. I just finished hours of mandatory training for suicide prevention in schools. I am a psychiatric nurse and a teacher as well as the grandmother of an eight-year-old child with AS. I really needed your candid and honest message. Kids most at risk for suicide have a list of traits that reads like diagnostic criteria for AS. You may be doing more to save lives with your special safe Minecraft server then I have done all year as a registered nurse. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children in middle school and high school. You matter. What you do matters. Please don’t stop.

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