A fund-raising email from an autism charity told me today that autistic people are nine times more likely to commit suicide than non-autistic people, which is depressing, but I fear has the ring of truth. Elsewhere, a blog I follow tells me that only 16% of autistic people are in work (although I suspect there are more non-diagnosed autistic people who are in work and haven’t needed a diagnosis) and only 5% get married (it doesn’t say how many of those marriages work out). I’m not sure what happens if you take out the severe autism. Of course, secular Western society defines people by their career and Orthodox Jewish society largely defines them by their marriage and offspring, so it is easy to end up feeling like a failure – which I guess is where the suicide statistic comes in.

***

Shabbat (the Sabbath) felt like the first Shabbat of winter, cold and dark, and over early enough that it wasn’t worth eating dinner for seudah shlishit (the third Sabbath meal). I slept for something like thirteen or fourteen hours out of twenty-five, which was not good. I read two chapters of Iyov (Job) which was good, as Iyov is about the hardest book of Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) from a linguistic point of view, very, very difficult poetry with lots of obscure words (hard from a theological point of view too, of course, but that wasn’t my main point). Other than that not a lot happened.

I was vaguely anxious, or at least apprehensive about a lot of things: maybe Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) which starts tomorrow night and certainly the job interview on Wednesday and my fears about what will happen if I get the job which is at a Very Important Institution (can I work full-time? Will they let me work part-time? Can I cope with work at all? What will it be like working somewhere so important and prestigious, not to mention high security? What about commuting with COVID restrictions?).

I also worried about dating PIMOJ. At the moment I feel inhibited from telling her when I have a depressive day, because she’s so positive and I worry how she will react if I’m depressed. However, that leaves me feeling like a fake and worrying that we can’t build a relationship on honesty if I feel I have to hide how I feel for fear of rejection. I also wonder if she is too religious for me, which seems a weird thing to think, compared with my previous relationships. It doesn’t help that we’ve never met in person because of COVID and it isn’t certain when we will be able to do so. I feel that things might be better, or at least clearer, if we met in person, but at the moment we’re stuck with instant messenger and Skype calls. I do like her, though, even if I worry we’re not on the same wavelength.

16 thoughts on “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

    1. That’s OK. Although I don’t think I’ve said much more in past posts. I don’t really want to talk about it too much here, but I need to talk about it somewhere and therapy seems a long way off… Enjoy your class.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hmm. I want to tell you to email me, and you can always, but I haven’t read or responded to emails from people as I haven’t had headspace. This moment I do, but not sure how long it’ll last.
        Is there anyone else you can discuss it with? Or journal on a private blog post?
        Sending peace and sunshine

        Liked by 3 people

  1. I would say, although I understand the tendency completely, that you’re overthinking this and making yourself miserable in the process. See how the interview goes before worrying about how it will work if you get the job. Keep communicating with PIMOJ as long as things are going relatively well and unless there are red flags, try not to catastrophize. Most relationships start out with not 100% honesty on either side. My parents would tell you “don’t borrow trouble.” You’ve got a lot going on right now–one step at a time!

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  2. I love the book of Job. Especially the person of Elihu. He speaks of “God my Maker who gives us songs in the night.” Job 35:10 I figure if you can’t have daylight you might as well enjoy a song in the night. 😉 If you can avoid worrying about relationships and just enjoy them for what they currently are I think that’s a huge accomplishment. I would say you have the same value in God’s eyes whether you are married or single or have children or are childless. Of course my Mennonite community communicated the opposite. You are free to prove me wrong if you want, lol. I wouldn’t look to a person or change of circumstances for your value because then you actually aren’t seeing the other person but instead the boost in value they can apparently give you. Enjoy getting to know PIMOJ even if she doesn’t end up being The One. Transfer your attention from yourself to her. I have this feeling you would be a lot kinder to her then you are to yourself. Be yourself so she can actually get to know you – even your negative side. There is a time for everything. There is a time for love and a wise king by the name of Solomon said “don’t arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Don’t try to make it happen. Let it happen on its own. And if it doesn’t happen you’ve still gained a new friend. This is what I’m telling myself these days anyways :).

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  3. The statistics you read about suicide and autism are a little misleading.
    As you know, there is a wide spectrum starting from mild Asperger syndrome, all the way up to full-blown autism. I would suggest that the stats you refer to (marriage, job, suicide) do not apply to the majority of people on the spectrum. Certainly not to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Have you tried telling PIMOJ anything mildly negative to test the waters?

    Offhand, I can think of several married autistic bloggers. I wonder what the stats would be if the former Asperger’s group was split off from the rest of autism.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve told her a bit about the depression, but mainly put it in the past tense rather than as something ongoing. She was OK with that, but I worry what she would be like with current depression.

      That’s interesting about the former Asperger’s group, similar to what Sarnhyman was suggesting in an earlier comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Indeed those statistics are depressing. To prove the truth of your quote, here are some more I found which are slightly more hopeful and applying to the higher functioning end of the spectrum: https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/never-mind-statistics-adults-autism-may-happy/ Bear in mind, however, that the sample size is small (100 initially, reduced to 50) and upper age limit is 43. This is significant given the fact that people with AS tend to do everything later and this includes marriage ( I get this from Patricia Howlin’s excellent “Autism: preparing for adulthood”).

    And I wondered where your source got her figures. Tracked it down (I think) to a study — sample size 169 (which is small) and in which median age is 35.5 and 3/4 of sample “had cognitive abilities in the intellectually disabled range.” Can send you link if you’re interested.

    Also, do remember, a lot of autistic people don’t actually want to get married in the first place and these statistics may reflect this (i.e. what would really be interesting to know is what proportion of people with AS who want to get married and don’t).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are right about small sample sizes, and people who don’t want to marry; it is probably the case that these kinds of surveys pick up the more extreme cases and obviously miss the undiagnosed (and probably also women in many cases).

      Liked by 1 person

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