Adolescence Is a Mental Illness
(Note: The following is the introduction to a book I’m writing about surviving high school with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a project I’ve been working on for the better part of a year and I have next to nothing done. I’m posting the introduction online so that it will be embarrassing to me if I don’t finish writing it.)
First of all, I’m really sorry you’re in high school. That’s a terrible place to be. The vast majority of people I know- and almost all of the autistic people I know- had an awful time in high school.
But there are ways to make the situation better. One thing that’s incredibly important to know is that teenagers are all out of their goddamn minds. I know that doesn’t seem helpful. Hear me out.
During adolescence, people’s brains are constantly being rewired and restructured. The very essence of who people are is under development, and changing all the time.
This results in some really scary shit, like mood swings, identity crises, fatigue, an inability to understand long-term consequences, low impulse control, and hypersexuality.
You might feel like you’re losing your mind, and that’s because you are. Your mind is being slowly, permanently replaced by a brand new one. You and every other teenager are basically mentally ill.
I know that might not sound reassuring, but here’s the good part: everything you’re experiencing is totally normal. You’re not broken. You’re not a freak. You’re not crazier than anyone else your age. You’re just going through some shit right now.
Here’s the bad part.
For some godforsaken reason, somebody decided it was a really good idea to cram hundreds of adolescents together in a confined space for several hours a day for several months of the year.
You know what they call a place where hundreds of mentally ill people are held against their will?
An insane asylum.
High school is pretty much a mental institution, and again, I’m really sorry to tell you this, but you’re stuck there and there’s nothing you can do about it.
So you might as well make the most of it.
When other students give you shit, just remember that they’re crazy and are suffering just as much as you are.
When teachers give you a hard time, remember that they have to deal with a bunch of crazy people almost every day for thirty years. Yeah, they signed up for it, but could anyone really sign up for something like that? They’re probably a little crazy, too.
And there are people in your high school- both students and teachers- whose madness is compatible with your own. If you find these people, they will make your life immeasurably better.
So hang in there. The fact that you decided to turn to a book to help solve your problems shows that you’re smart and have initiative. I know you can do this.