In part one, we looked at the role that Change Resistance plays in causing aspies to suddenly go "cold" in otherwise good relationships. This time, I want to look at self esteem and depression;
The aspie relationship with themselves is tedious at best. People with Asperger's commonly suffer from low self esteem. As discussed in earlier posts, this low self esteem often results from years of emotional turmoil resulting from their poor social skills.
Aspies are often their own worst enemy. They can over analyze situations and responses in an effort to capture lost nonverbal communication. This often causes them to invent problems and to imagine replies. Everything made up by aspies will tend to be tainted with their own self image.
This is one of reasons that people with Asperger's will sometimes decide that they are not good enough for their partner and that they must let them go. Sometimes, the aspie will develop a notion of chivalry or self-sacrifice and will feel like they need to push their partner away for their own good despite the fact that they personally don't wish to give up the relationship.
Sometimes the aspie feels that they do not deserve the good luck that the relationship is bringing them. Sometimes they feel as if they need to punish themselves.
Several times during the courtship of my (now) wife, I experienced this problem. I had a plan to go to university and I knew that I couldn't spare the time to be with her. I mistakenly assumed that she would not tolerate this separation and kept putting the brakes on our relationship without providing any explanations. Eventually, she did leave me and although I was extremely upset, I figured that I deserved it.
I guess that I was ready to accept that she would find someone else provided that they lived up to my (impossibly high) standards. Discovering that the new man was not treating her as well as I would have was enough to galvanize me into action and I won her back. Self esteem issues can sometimes be conquered simply by realising that you are just as capable as others.
Going hand in hand with the self esteem issues is depression. Most aspies seem to suffer from depression in one form or another. In fact often they suffer from almost bi-polar emotions, swinging from extreme happiness extreme depression with very little in between. If a new relationship is formed during a period of extreme happiness, the partner will often mistake the depression phase for waning interest.
Depression can also be self-destructive. The aspie may terminate their relationship as a way of punishing themselves or they may begin to self-harm in other ways. Sometimes, it's not the depression but the depression medication itself which is responsible for the strain on the relationship. Sometimes too, it's other medications as many drugs which treat psychological conditions which commonly occur alongside aspergers, have depression as a side-effect.
Fixing the Problems
There's not really a great deal that can be done by the partner in relationships which are affected by self esteem and depression issues. Self-esteem issues can only be resolved with long term therapy. It doesn't have to be with a professional, it can be done as part of the relationship provided that the other partner is patient and considerate enough to do the hard work.
Therapy may also work in cases of depression but sometimes the depression is integral to the aspie condition and no matter how often you ease the aspie through the depression phase and into a happier place, the depression will always return.
Sometimes it's better to simply accept rather than to try and change or to "fix" your aspie. Sometimes, it's the aspie who needs to learn to accept themselves.
Next time I'll look at people who just don't know what to do or how to behave in relationships.