JEVS Independence Network-Collingswood & JEVS Philadelphia Independence Network
PIN Points Newsletter
Ten years ago, I faced one of the darkest moments of my life. It was 2008, and I had just entered college. I had hoped it would be better than the awfulness that was high school and middle school. Everyone said college would be different, would be better. It wasn’t. It was the same. Everything that went wrong in sixth grade went wrong with “thirteenth” grade, and I still didn’t know why. I had to drop class after class before dropping out completely before Thanksgiving that first (and only) semester.
More and more, I had to face the insistent possibility that I was never going to know why my life was so hard, and that it was never going to be good again. I wanted to be strong, to persevere and make it through the darkness, but no one can do that forever. Everyone breaks. I found myself in that mental place where people go to die. How much longer could I last? A month? A little more than that? There had to be a way out, something I hadn’t tried, hadn’t thought of. It was then that I set a goal. Survive for
ten more years. If, after ten long years, things still hadn’t gotten better, and I still couldn’t find any way out, I would kill myself, content in the knowledge I had done my best.
Time passed. In early 2009, I was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Starting in 2010, I volunteered at a nursing home for two years. In 2012, I joined JEVS Philadelphia Independence Network and moved out of my parents’ house. In 2015, I gave a talk at the LaSalle University Autism conference. In October 2018, I got my first job. Then November came and went. Ten years had passed.
Now, the wounds of middle school, high school and college are still with me. I’m still scared almost all the time. It’s like I’m still trying to catch up to everyone else. Shouldn’t I be able to live on my own without my parent’s help? Shouldn’t I have a girlfriend by now? Shouldn’t I have learned to drive? Shouldn’t I have accomplished more by now? But I’m alive. I survived. And I have so many of the hard won answers I was looking for. And my first job. And friends. And an apartment. And a way forward. Things are still improving. The cloud has passed. After fighting so hard and lasting so long, I’ve conquered the mountain. Now it’s time for the hills.