[12:07, 30/08/2021] Rory Duffy: If anyone is up for a bit of “gay sax” tonight 🏳️🌈🎷😜 to round off their bank holiday weekend, I will be blowing over some gay anthems in (big) ku ground floor tonight from 9pm onwards
LGBTQI Autism Group
Autistic people may be prone to dwell on negative emotions. One study found autistic adults react faster to photos of sad faces, and depressed autistic people look at angry and sad faces more the non-autistic depressed people. The directionality of this correlation is not clear. (Gotham, 2019).
With depression, rigid thinking is a common trait. The brain clicks into a rigid mode. If autistic as well, and the brain is formed to slot into hyper focus and fix on things in a specific way, the combination is makes it trickier to break out of depression. There is an increased difficulty in getting out of those patterns. People say “snap out of it”. They make it sound easy. But it is not. They make it sound like, by not "snapping out of it, we are doing something wrong, or not trying hard enough. There is a lack of awareness. Our experience might be even more pronounced than someone experiencing depression who is Neurotypical.
Why higher prevalence? Autistic people might have hyper focus on more negative aspects. The life experience of autistic people (historic prevalence of being exposed to bullying, abuse etc.), makes it more likely for autistic people to hyper focus on the negative. Especially if there is childhood trauma. Due to the enhanced social and communication difficulties, there is a higher emphasis on focusing on more negative aspects. Invariably, this is a survival strategy. To "fix" it and keep ourselves safe. Given the experience of being bullied / different / not being understood, it is not surprising that autistic people might be hyper vigilant to this sort of stuff.
Personally, I have built up layers. Due to these layers, I prevent myself from having life experiences. Automatically, I write it off in my mind to prevent disappointment. Sometimes, this is a subconscious process and I do not even realise.
Existential philosophy deals with the unknown and unpredictability of life. Both group facilitators believe and talk about these ideas. Being autistic can mean that there is a profound awareness of how unpredictable life can be. Especially when we are hyper-sensitive to and more inclined to fall into fixed patterns and routines. Within Neurotypical environments, there is a social bubble and blaze attitude of "everything will be fine". This links into the idea of Toxic Positivity. For Neurodiverse people, it can feel difficult to do anything different or break out of our habitual cycles of thinking. It is hard to escape that rigidity because structure and predictability is precisely what helps us to feel safe in a turbulent world.
There is a difficulty with manifestation, where fears become a self fulfilling prophecy. There is a tendency to feel adamant that something is not going to work out, believing it and making it happen. The fear that it is not going to go well. It is hard to step out of that. There is a danger of making the thing that you feared happen. It is hard to work through those issues. It becomes even more difficult if you have had experiences in the past that have not gone well. Convictions become cemented to the extent that it becomes almost impossible to believe in an alternative outcome.
Uncertainty. When in depressed state of mind, nothing else apart from the certainty of death can act as a potential escape. Escaping into a fantasy can help when low (e.g., fantasising about suicide). It gives us something to do and focus our minds on when we are in that desolate place. I am not sure if it is helpful. It is getting our minds into topics that are not good and not going to make things better. Suicidal Ideation.
Autistic vs non autistic stress Levels. This is not a scientific graph. It is merely a visual representation created by the group facilitator. It is not based on statistics. It is a graph autistic autistic versus non-autistic stress levels. The lower axis has a green line that oscillates between 3 and 5 in terms of stress level. The blue line jumps up between 6-10.
The reasons for the heightened stress:
I relate to all 3 of those reasons. It is important to engage and talk about those reasons. People do not realise or they are not aware of how much these reasons impact us. We are at a disadvantage in terms of our hindered ability to display that in a verbal way. People might not know what might be happening deep down inside. Autistic people and introverts have difficulties in expressing our deep down emotions.
Example of a difficult conversation that I was having with Ade last Friday. It did not help that the conversation was taking place verbally in a noisy pub outside the bounds of a formalised meeting with an agenda. Ade wanted to talk about it the following week. I felt like I had a lot to prove so I kept going back to it. I found it difficult to not express how anxious the situation was making me feel without antagonising the other person. So, I have tried to move the conversation onto email or WhatsApp so I can express myself better (= in writing).
I have had a couple of experiences where I lost the ability to physically speak.
2 gig examples:
A good technique of helping someone to communicate in a state of heightened anxiety is to ask them closed circuit questions (requiring yes or no answers). There can be a struggle with someone not being able to talk or articulate themselves when under considerable psychological / emotional pressure. There can be negative feedback and a lack of awareness / understanding. In turn, this can lead to people panicking or experiencing a panic attack over the mere prospect of this happening (= loss of control over thoughts and emotions). What we need to be able to do is rest, recuperate, process and do all of that stuff with enough support, space and time. The technique of getting someone to nod and shake their head to indicate "yes" or "no" is a good "paramedic" style way of helping the patient to communicate. If you have a health passport, you can be qualified to help people in those situations. If I am really struggling, I can answer yes or no questions by nodding and shaking my head. I can also write the problem and / or even draw it on a piece of paper. There is no reason why family, friends and colleagues / co-workers cannot accommodate that. It is not too much to ask. It is helpful in lots of situations. Especially with autistic people. It is a sensible and logical strategy. It is not too difficult for people to take on board.
It took me several days to get out of this. This happened on Tuesday night. On Friday night, Rob noticed that I was triggered in the way in which I was talking to him. I brought up this example because of the paralysis / petrification experience described above. Feeling anxious to the extent that it becomes impossible to speak for fear of words being used as ammunition / a weapon against me. Damned if you do. Damned if you do not. And having allegations made about me deliberately "ghosting". A form of manipulation in which other people fabricate false beliefs and untruths about motives based on outward behaviour (in my case, silence). I have never ever experienced anything quite like this in my life.
Welcome! This is a group for queer and questioning people in London that would like to meet-up or make friends in a safe space.
[21:08, 03/08/2021] CR: He does not seem the malicious or sinister type. I'm sure he has an explanation. Having said that a logo is first world problems
[21:10, 03/08/2021] CW: @Rory Duffy is a nice guy. He doesn't always respond quickly because he likes to take time to respond to messages correctly. He probably isn't ignoring you
Am I still associated with this group?
Originally, I was an admin. During the course of the evening, I was removed as an admin.
[21:55, 03/08/2021] Yasmin: Awh ok, yeahh I understand. It is strange that there hasn't been any communication about the logo/imagery/brand situation. I can see in this WhatsApp group that @Rory Duffy is an admin. So I take it there's not been any communication from him with the other admins in this group x
Subsequently, I posted one message. I was removed from the group completely.
[00:58, 04/08/2021] Rory Duffy: Hi everyone!
This made it into a perfect, ironic unfolding of circumstances. The understanding that people were now talking about me on a WhatsApp group chat of over 200 people. And the exclusion from that group chat removing my visibility about what was being said. What made it even more divisive was that there were several members on that group who knew me. Although many stood up for me and advocated my character / actions as non-malicious, they were fed beliefs from admins who made swift judgements about my intentions based on my outward behaviours. I was able to obtain glimpses / snapshots of what was being said about me. But only because I asked a couple of people to send screen shots.
Subsequently, the admin who removed me from the WhatsApp group chat (Lily) offered me to re-join the WhatsApp group chat. I turned down the offer.
What is Depression?
“Major depression” five or more of these symptoms on most days for 2 weeks or longer. At least one of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities.
Some other symptoms you might have are:
Dysthymia. An extended period of depression characterised by periods of severe depression / low mood and periods of psychological stability. It is possible that I had Dysthymia in 2019. Between April and December. I had various diagnoses. The NHS are not efficient at showing diagnoses to the patients. But I understand that I was diagnosed with "severe depression".
Common types of depressive disorders. Seasonal affective disorders.
It can be the other way around, exactly the same but not what is expected.
Depression / Anxiety. Often overlap. Most of the time, they are a combination.
During Dysthymia, I gave my manager scores out of 10 to track and monitor my depression and anxiety. I had a scale and a score for each. Initially, I was sending these numbers to my manager in a daily email every morning. Later, I found it less intrusive to put these in a FileMaker database app that was hosted on our server. And write a script to generate an automatic email (sent my a robot) to my manager. This worked well until my manager noted that there was pseudo-medical data existing on our IT system that anyone in the office could potentially access. And there was a GDPR issue. Personally, I did not mind who saw my daily depression and anxiety scores. I know that I have no qualms about airing my dirty linen in public. Eventually, I withdrew this data from my manager completely. I sensed that he was ill equipped to deal with my depression and anxiety. And that it was too much to burden the company with my medical condition.
Even though people talk about mental health, there is still a stigma. People shy away from and feel uncomfortable about disclosing / discussing it. There is a difference between the social narrative and the reality of what happens.
Example of Nike (sports brand). They gave their staff 1 week of mental health wellbeing where they were given a week of paid leave. On the surface, it seems lovely (like the coffee mornings in my current job). But imagine the experience of the autistic staff member who is not used to unsolicited time off work and might feel overwhelmed by the disruption in their work routine. It seems like a "one size fits all" approach. Although an idea is carried out with the best intentions, it can have the opposite effect and have a hindrance on mental health.
[17:15, 08/07/2021] Claire [audio]: So, I think Yasmin needs to be curtailed a bit, if I'm honest. Some of the shit that she comes out with is a little bit over the top and definitely triggering to some individuals. In the past, I received quite a lot of messages from her, and then I shut it down really rapidly, and again she started messaging me the other day, like... And, I've pretty much made it clear that I don't want to talk to her... So I think it's a sort of pattern of behaviour from her... You know, and threatening to commit suicide because someone's hanging out with someone else is, you know, is actually just horrendously coercive, controlling behaviour... I think, I think Yasmin really has some issues going on right now and clearly needs a lot of professional help and obviously we need to be sympathetic towards her but we can't also let her damage any other members of the group or upset other people, basically. And I know she causes a lot of drama, so... My opinion is maybe a temporary ban. Or, you know, offline chat with an admin or something, but, you know, that is my two cents.
Example of Claire on the LGBT 20s and 30s Organisers WhatsApp group chat. There was an issue about Yasmin making suicidal statements on the main chat. The word "triggering" was being bounded around and used in a non-clinical context. Claire recounted that she "shut down" Yasmin's attempts to reach her and even suggested a temporary ban. While what people say might seem welcoming (in the interests of creating a "safe space"), the opposite can be true. What Yasmin essentially did was raise a cry for help. Several times, I have ended up in A&E, precisely for not having done so (raise a cry for help). If someone feels low to the extent that they are effectively walking out of their life, enforcing a temporary ban on a community / support network that can help them connect with others and express themselves can make a person feel even more alienated / isolated from society (notwithstanding from themselves). Making them all the more likely to go through with it. Or at least make attempts on their life. Personally, I found it maddeningly ironic, hypocritical and paradoxical that Claire was enforcing a Toxic Positivity in her recommendation of enforcing a temporary ban. Both Claire and Sam L insisted that what Yasmin was saying was "triggering". What I found triggering was Claire's hostile and non-compassionate / non-empathetic response to Yasmin's predicament. I found Claire's reception triggering! Social narrative is potentially difficult. Assumptions are made. Narratives can be "fluffy", overly-social and "bullshit". Trying to actually argue a way through that is particularly difficult if something is expressed with good intent (e.g., under the false guise of a "safe space"). By saying that one did not mean this / that. It is elusive. And it has the opposite effect both for the victim and for those who wish to reach out and help. It enforces a breakdown of communication and engagement. Confronting something like that shocked me into not feeling confident or able to articulate my lack of belief in the sheer irony / hypocrisy / paradox of what Claire was advocating.
What is depression?
Autistic people may also experience:
Emotional recognition & regulation.
There is a cultural / social expectation to maintain a "stiff upper lip". By implication, this can even mean not to have emotion.
Example of Megan. She has been forced onto medication. She believes that she is a burden to others because without medication, she would cry. There are unspoken rules that we are not supposed to be sad. Or that we are supposed to be sad but only to a certain amount. We can be slightly upset. We cannot be angry. We can say that we are a bit down. We cannot be unbelievably depressed. There are still these societally imposed rules about not expressing emotion.
Especially with the male gender (as a social construct). There is a traditional narrative about males being "strong" and not expressing emotion. There is a gender divide. On the flip side, there is frequently a false assumption made about female emotions and their attribution to either PMS (pre-menstrual stress) or menopause. Quick biology lesson: this is one or the other. PMS is linked to having a period. If women do not have a period anymore, it is linked more to the menopause. Why do people make these generalisations? People are often misgendered. This creates another layer of misunderstanding and confusion. Whatever your gender, there is a negating of emotional experience that can be biased according to your gender. Which is sad.
Managing Depression (2nd part of presentation).
Brainstorm - ways of overcoming depression.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have his reward.
332 Brixton Road
Samaritans, 24 hours, on 116123 or email:
I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.