On Highs and Lows

The counselor looked me in the eye with great understanding as she said that I would probably have ups and downs, like a rollercoaster, for the rest of my life. There would be times I would be depressed, and there were times I wouldn’t, but they’d alternate throughout my life.

This was 10 years ago now, and at the time I was both frustrated and resigned. Frustrated because all I wanted was to get off this blasted roller-coaster and be like everyone else; and resigned because part of me had always known that “being like everyone else” was not in the cards for me.

In retrospect, I can see that roller-coaster wasn’t the best metaphor. That counselor may not have been able to get me off the roller-coaster but she did increase my internal awareness at least ten-fold. After that summer of counseling, my life improved markedly. I found faith, developed leadership skills, and found my center.

As the counselor predicted, however, emotional highs and lows would continue to be a theme in my life. Prolonged periods of depression were commonplace, and some days were emotional whirlwinds. Learning a few years ago that I was on the autism spectrum and my journey since has helped explain that and given me greater tools in knowing how to navigate the ups and downs, the highs and lows.

I know, for instance, that as an autistic, my brain produces less dopamine and depletes dopamine faster. In day to day life, when I start ruminating, or feeling an increase in encroaching despair I now have a checklist to run through. Eating food and and drinking a beverage are often good first steps as I deregulate pretty quickly without them; exercise and fresh air are others that I try to work in regularly.

Seasons of lows are harder to address, and still something I struggle with. The more fitting metaphor now however, is an ocean storm. The roller-coaster meant I was always along for the ride whether I liked it or not, and there was nothing I could to to make the ride easier–I was going to have to scream the whole way. The ocean storm means that I’m still along for the ride whether I like it or not–but I can surf the crest and make the ride easier.

This pandemic has been a challenge–my emotional highs and lows are raging more than they have in a while, and part of me still wishes I could escape the storm or get off the roller-coaster. Yet the other part of me, the part that makes me far more determined and resilient than I’ve often been aware of, is the part that refuses to let go of hope. I’ve oft-wished that I wasn’t as adamantly hopeful as I am, for the reasons to let hope go are plentiful–but hope, the belief that things are not as they should be and that they CAN and, in time, WILL be changed, seems hardwired into me. And it is that hope that I can find my rootedness, and ride the crest of the wave, surfing through the storm.

Published by Devin Hogg

My name is Devin Hogg. I was born and raised in Carnarvon, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2009 for university and lived here ever since. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, going on long walks, swimming, and practicing Chen style Tai Chi. I love to write poetry and blog regularly about topics such as mental health, sci-fi/fantasy series, faith, sexuality, and politics.

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