If anyone has experienced a similar problem around my sort of age (16 - 24, I'm 18) please could I ask for some help or assistance?
For months (since February/March) I've finally gotten myself out of the house, absent myself from the screen, and attempt to get a lot of stuff done giving myself positive experiences and merit for myself (Gym 3 - 5 days a week has been my greatest). But I've started to realise a problem I've had for a long time right in front of myself, I have very few people I see outside of school (I go to an autistic specialist school) and have gone through most of my teen years without a peer group and now I don't feel as though I have ANYTHING to do at weekends or most days during my time off school/work, it's negatively impacted both my confidence in myself and my future and my constant sanity from day to day and week to week. Going out and doing things (or having enjoyment from them) requires interaction with peers or person(s) with similar interests and genuinely having mutually positive relations.
This wasn't so much an issue for me last year, partly I didn't feel so isolated because I had video games, Paint.net, Cartography, Art, and I still felt as though I would be able to reunite with distant friends who I still have contact with through Facebook, Instagram, Quora, Minds.com, etc. But each time I've tried to contact anyone and asked to meet up; I've either received no further response from "Yo, How ya doing, Hey, Hi, What's Up", been declined with "I'm Busy" "I can't do this weekend, sorry" "I've got no time or interest today maybe another time" or not been able to meet up when we'd planned month or two weeks ago. I was even meant to meet up with two people from school to go to Greenwich and Thorpe Park both had to be cancelled because they were busy or unable to meet up. The other problem is that I don't even feel I have family anymore, My Dad says he wants to help (and I trust and believe him, he's doing what he can since he's gone through similar phases to me) but doesn't often use his time to book or make arrangements to do things at weekends and has become increasingly lazy recently. Whereas My Mum has no genuine interest in sorting out my depression instead replying "You're entitled, you should be grateful of all the good things I give and do for you", "I'm depressed, we're depressed it's not all about you", "But you wouldn't be able to cope, or what if it doesn't work out". Yet for years she's been holding me back from non-autistic-specialist events, clubs, etc. and constantly treating me as though I'm a child or lower functioning autistic person "because I'm autistic" not even giving me a path for the same opportunities most people my age would likely have (again "because I'm autistic"). Like when she cancelled my NCS (once in a lifetime opportunity now gone) for similar reasons to the above.
Lastly, we lately traveled to Lucca (Tuscany, Italy) for a week (Jul 30th - August 6th) and although I enjoyed it, I felt really left out since Mum (I went with my Stepfather, Mother, Sister and Sister's friend) wanted to stay in The Villa (by the pool or in the kitchen or vinyard nearby) whilst I asked to go to see historic, cultural and natural landmarks as well as enjoy the local cities, towns, mountains, things to do, etc. Though we did go out a couple of times (mainly in the evenings to grab food out or take a quick view of our surroundings). I had two major arguments with Mum, one was when I felt she was treating me like a ten year old child in Pisa so I made myself appear big and aggressive to show her I was not one in response, and she accused me of being 'physically aggressive' when the only time I touched her was when I patted her shoulder twice in reassurance, we had to leave after 25 minutes. The other back at The Villa, when I tried to talk calmly with her about why I was feeling anxious and depressed she threwback "who are you to constantly blame me for everything bad in your life" and "be grateful, I give you (x), (x), (x), (x), (.....)" and "I've given you enough freedom so what do you possibly want more of?" so we argued instead, I was worried sick I'd made her or my stepfather uncomfortable to travel with me in the foreseeable future (though I will soon hopefully have my own job and will be able to book my own trips. What's the point or enjoyment involved in doing it completely solo? I really am grateful for all the good I've had, but all I would like is relations/friendships with leads to advance and create opportunities and things for myself to do and increase my pursuit of happiness .
Finding 1:1 friends is really difficult - it's a real needle in a haystack.
I can only suggest Meetup.com - it's where you join groups and just put yourself down for any meetups near you that sound interesting - like coffee mornings, lunches, pub evenings, bowling, meals out, visits to museums, cinema, craft meetups, book clubs etc. It's aimed at single people looking to get out & about.
It's very low stress and low commitment so there's no pressure. I've found all the ones I've gone to very welcoming - I even organise my own meetups now I've got the hang of it and they are very well attended - I must be doing something right.
I'm sorry to hear you're going through a tough time. If you like going to the gym, maybe you could try an exercise class? It might be a good opportunity to meet a few people while getting your exercise.
What are your other interests? There may be some clubs/societies you could join to meet like-minded people.
Thanks for the help, I’ve signed up just now and from what I’ve seen it looks organised and well prepared for people looking for needed social interaction. My only real concern is the age range of users (my ideal age range is 16-24, most appear to be >45) and having to give away my card details and pay £16 a month to organise a group (I tried doing this to arrange a Thorpe Park trip for this Summer). Hope it goes well.
As for other hobbies. I have Art, Cartography, Language Learning, Mathematics, Philosophy, Walking, Photography, Crime Books, Nature Trails, Observation, Cinema, Pool, etc.
I understand how you feel about not wanting to pester people - it's tough to know whether people are there to socialise or to focus on doing their own thing. Hopefully a class would help.
It sounds like you have lots of interests, so it might be worth joining a social group. There's one called Spice that organises all kinds of activities, including lessons (e.g. language/art lessons), meet-ups and days out. They do quite a few outdoor activities, including hikes, so you might find something that interests you. They have an under 40s section that might be best for meeting people your own age (I was a member for a while, but life got busy and I had to stop going). Everyone there is looking to make friends and the organisers are very good at making sure everyone's safe and enjoying themselves, so it might be worth a try
You don't create your own group yet - get the feel of it until you find friends or see a gap in the social scene near you. Don't be put off by old farts - they tend to be less judgemental and more rounded and more accepting if you have social difficulties.
Thorpe Park - If you're a student, pre-book your tickets and take your student card with you - it's only about £22.
If you receive PIP at the higher level, they give you a wristband that excuses you from the queues - if you go on a quiet day, that means they just put you straight on the rides - no queueing at all.
I usually can’t tell either, it’s why I haven’t bothered unless it’s an old mate. I think it’s also because I’ve felt very self-conscious as coming across as ‘odd’ ‘irritating’ or ‘weird’ in the past and I worry about my public image much more than I should.
I’ll certainly lookout for Spice and see what’s on offer, I very much appreciate your advice and I’m glad there’s people like yourself willing to give me a hand when I’m so desperate for one
Luckily I don’t need to prebook for Thorpe Park since we applied for annual Merlin Passes each year since 2014, and have a permission slip from a doctor to allow me to jump the queues aswell. It’s looking for someone (or two or three) to come with me, currently it doesn’t seem anyone is interested or available and I’m not particularly keen on having to ride with a member of staff.
My OH will try and make plans with his groups of friends and people often either cancel last minute or don't reply to the group message. If you have lots of friends it's easy to be dismissive if you're getting numerous offers. He keeps the door open and is accepting that sometimes these individuals will be interested and other times they won't. As an autistic individual, I will often need alone time to avoid serious MH issues, which is why I've cancelled social plans.
It sounds like your family have a lot of issues going on and are unable to support you effectively because of their own MH issues. I know how isolating and tough this can be. Unfortunately, I found I had to take responsibility and sort out all of my challenges on my own as my family were often unreliable/incapable.
How do you make friends? For example, I often see Meet Up recommended but this wouldn't work for me. All the friends I've had have been gained through consistent regular contact, such as sitting next to them at work or in a class. I've never made friends from the gym or by attending a class for a few hours a week. Do you currently work? If not, is this something you could explore?
I know it's so much easier said than done, but try not to worry too much about what people think of you. As long as you're a good person with good intentions (and it certainly sounds like you are), that's all that matters. If people don't accept you for who you are, that says a lot more about them than it does about you.
If you want to take a look at Spice's website, it's spiceuk.com
You're welcome. I hope you find something that helps you meet people. In the meantime, I've found people on this forum very supportive if you ever need to talk to people who understand.