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Two years ago, at the age of 26, after years of floundering in the depths of a debilitating depression and trapped in an endless cycle of isolation, envy, and desire, I decided to seek inner freedom and happiness by treading the Buddhist path.

I have Asperger syndrome—a developmental disorder at the mild end of the autism spectrum. I certainly have a personality that many would consider unique, yet Buddhism provides even me with a path and gives me the courage to lead a compassionate life.

My Asperger’s has long been something I consider to be both a blessing and a curse. I was gifted in languages and humanities at school, but would obsess over my assignments and spend far too long on one paper to the detriment of another. Fixation and the lack of moderation became problems that would blight many aspects of my life. When I somehow made it to college, I remained very much a loner. I yearned for friendships but felt unable to initiate any. Social events caused me great anxiety and threatened to expose my awkward disposition, tendency to be didactic, lack of concentration during moments of idle chatter, and inability to cope with the sensory overload brought on by a room full of people. Usual social venues like pubs and bars terrified me: the thumping bass and blaring synths of the background music, the clinking beer bottles, the beads of sweat on people’s foreheads. Overstimulation was sure to tip me over the edge and induce panic attacks. It was all too much.

After several unbelievably tough years of receiving psychiatric help, I eventually became disillusioned with Western methods. Drugs such as Citalopram did little for me other than to take the edge off, while cognitive behavioral therapy proved about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. At my lowest ebb, I looked to the East for a solution to my suffering and found Buddhism. Indeed, it allowed me to apply my obsessive-compulsive disorder and autistic traits to concentration and the cultivation of positive mind-states instead of the negative ones that were threatening to destroy me...

An Unconventional Path to Enlightenment | Tricycle

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