Please don’t expect (or tell) people who really NEED help to help themselves. It’s stupid.

This is just a brief post expressing a pet peeve of mine that applies (and has done so often and at length) to me personally.

I’ve encountered this issue anew, eliciting ever-increasing tension, stress, anger, irritation, despair, etc., in my research into Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Disorder, as people “on the spectrum” are quite often plagued by anxiety and depression, among other things, including frequent suicidal ideation…and of course, much well-intended advice is given (it being the worst and most prevalent of all vices).

The issue involves people* making suggestions such as, for instance, that those who are troubled by depression should exercise regularly, because regular exercise often seems to help depression**; or that they should talk to close friends or family members (a particular problem with “Aspies”, or so it seems to me, since communication difficulty, particularly of emotions and the like, is a major part of the condition); and that, if one is severely depressed and self-loathing and having suicidal thoughts (or intentions), one should seek help right away.

Or similar sentiments.

This all feels so condescending and simple-minded and contradictory.  It’s a bit like telling an actively drowning person that getting swimming lessons would be really good for helping them not drown, or that being helped by a friendly dolphin (or any kindly member of some other strong-swimming aquatic species unrelated to the drowner) would be quite beneficial for them, or that they should really come quickly to shore and grab a flotation device before they drown.

It’s missing the point(s) entirely.

If one could exercise regularly, one would already obviously not be THAT depressed.

If one could easily talk to people (especially if one is on “the spectrum”***) and had people to whom one felt one could talk in a relevant way about the relevant subject(s), then that would be an obvious thing, and probably already done.

And if one is feeling utter despair and profound, demonic self-loathing, then availing oneself of help of any kind–including life-saving help–seems not only impossible but frankly immoral.

You don’t do your best to give succor to or save the life of someone who is utterly reprehensible and an unadulterated malefactor who has no chance for reform or to be redeemed, right?  Would you save the likes of the next Hitler or Stalin or Charles Manson or Mark David Chapman?

If someone is lying on the ground having a heart attack or a stroke or has just been hit by a car, we don’t advise them to get up and get themselves to a hospital, do we?  It’s absurd.  It’s insulting.  It’s irritating and it’s idiotic, and it makes the world and the rest of humanity seem even less worth sticking around for****.

I wish people would stop it.  When someone really needs help, it’s means they can’t survive and/or thrive by their own actions.  Thus the metaphor “in over one’s head”.

I’ll close with an a related cartoon that captures more than one aspect of my (not quite domesticated) peeve (apologies, I do not know whom to credit for it):

drowning in depression


* Well-meaning, one must admit or at least assume.

**I have my own suspicions about the direction of causality here.

***Especially if alexithymia is one of their afflictions.  I myself score 157 out of 185 on the online test of this, such as it is.  I have a hard time even knowing what I’m feeling at any given moment, let alone communicating it clearly.

****It can even make it seem tolerable to end a sentence with a preposition, or to allow sentence fragments to stand alone on a line of type for dramatic effect.

3 thoughts on “Please don’t expect (or tell) people who really NEED help to help themselves. It’s stupid.

  1. We neurodivergents frighten the “normal” people. They don’t understand what we suffer and try to distance themselves from us by vacuous statements that must sound right to them and that can leave them feeling virtuous (and free of any further obligation to us).

  2. Pingback: To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the blog – Robert Elessar

  3. I recall attending maybe half of Grades 8 and 9, both of which I despised and just barely passed. I then left regular high school and completed my GED in a separate program. …

    I believe that not only should all school teachers have received autism spectrum disorder training, but that there should further be an inclusion in standard high school curriculum of a child development course which in part would also teach students about the often-debilitating condition. Among other aspects, it would explain how people with an autism spectrum disorder (including those with higher functioning autism) are often deemed willfully ‘difficult’ and/or socially incongruent, when in fact such behavior is really not a choice. And how ASD people typically feel compelled to “camouflage” (or “mask”), a term used to describe their attempts at appearing to naturally fit in when around their neurotypical peers, an effort known to cause their already high anxiety and depression levels to worsen. And how this exacerbation also applies to the disproportionately high rate of suicide among ASD people.

    As a non-diagnosed ‘neuro-divergent’ boy with autism spectrum disorder, ACEs and high sensitivity (thus not always easy to deal with), the first and most formidable authority-figure abuser with whom I was terrifyingly trapped was my Grade 2 teacher, Mrs. Carol, in the early 1970s. Although I can’t recall her abuse against me in its entirety, I’ll nevertheless always remember how she had the immoral audacity — and especially the unethical confidence in avoiding any professional repercussions — to blatantly readily aim and fire her knee towards my groin, as I was backed up against the school hall wall. Fortunately, though, she missed her mark, instead hitting the top of my left leg. Though there were other terrible teachers, for me she was uniquely traumatizing, especially when she wore her dark sunglasses when dealing with me.
    I didn’t tell anyone about my ordeal with her. Rather than consciously feel victimized, I felt some misplaced shame. And as each grade passed, I increasingly noticed how all recipients of corporeal handling/abuse in my school were boys; and I had reasoned thus normalized to myself that it was because men can take care of themselves and boys are basically little men. …

    Perhaps not surprising, I’d also like to see child-development science curriculum implemented for secondary high school students, which could also include neurodiversity, albeit not overly complicated. If nothing else, the curriculum would offer students an idea/clue as to whether they’re emotionally/mentally compatible with the immense responsibility and strains of parenthood. While some other school curriculum is controversial (e.g. SOGI, especially in rural residential settings), it nonetheless got/gets implemented. The same attitude and policy should be applied to teaching high school students about ASD, the developing mind and, especially, how to enable a child’s mind to develop properly. …

    It’s logical to me that if people have their ASD, ACEs, etcetera, diagnosed when very young, they should be better able to deal with their condition(s) through life. I have a condition I consider to be a perfect storm of ‘train wrecks’ — with which I greatly struggle(d) while unaware (until I was a half-century old) its component dysfunctions had official titles. I still cannot afford to have a formal diagnosis made on my condition, due to having to pay for a specialized shrink, in our (Canada’s) “universal” health-care system.

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