Healing From Trauma for the Sake of Others

Content/trigger warning: ableism (especially saneism and autmisia), abuse discussion, detailed description of DARVO, saneist slur (censored) used to make a point

So. Healing from trauma for the sake of others. I’m going to do something a little unusual for this entry: I’m going to start by talking about something that happened to me. It happened months ago and has been really weighing on my mind ever since. I have to get it off my chest.

I was on a Discord server for a music YouTuber for a long time. I was even a moderator. Until the day I was DARVO’d and bullied off of the server.It was mostly a good time there, but I noticed a lot of ableism. Autistic people were tolerated unless we were too socially awkward, in which case we were mocked in the mod chat (and I am pretty sure at least one of the other mods was also Autistic; just goes to show you how lateral autmisia sucks). Granted, some of the Autistic people who were eventually banned from the server did behave inappropriately, but the mods didn’t behave appropriately towards some of them either. Because autmisia.

I was a Good Autistic™, which enabled me to become a mod. I butted heads with the other mods frequently, especially one who I will call D and one who I will call U. U was frequently mean to people who behaved inappropriately on the server and sometimes to people who were just going about their business; U had experienced significant trauma and had cultivated a tough, badass attitude in order to cope. (I’m not speculating here; they basically said as much.) I frequently reported U to the server owner for their inappropriate behavior. U had no sense for healing for the sake of others either; once, they inboxed me to tell me to stop mentioning my trauma even though everything I said was spoliered and warned for appropriately. (But they could talk about their trauma all they wanted. Funny, that.)

I argued with D a lot, but the worst part/biggest red flag was when I got in a fight with him when he defended Awkwafina’s anti-Blackness and accused me of manipulative behavior when I argued with him.

So the day I got DARVO’d. What happened?Another server user (I will call her J) said something totally innocuous that was uncharitably interpreted by D and U. U bullied J off the server with D’s help. U’s bullying was extremely triggering for me to see because it reminded me of how my abuser used language (ostensibly asking a question, but actually making an accusation). I went into the mod chat against my better judgement–I was triggered and should have stepped away, but I wanted to do the right thing for J–and called out U (not D) for bullying. I said U’s behavior was triggering to me and that U had used language in a similar way to my abuser. However, I did specify that I didn’t think U meant it that way.

U and D went OFF. D said I was acting like his abuser and accused me of gaslighting and playing the victim. U trotted out their traumas–including shit that should have been trigger warned for but wasn’t–like that automatically made them right and me wrong. I kept trying to explain my perspective and U and D kept misinterpreting me and calling me abusive.

The term for when an abuser is called out and accuses the person calling them out of being the real abuser is DARVO, which stands for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. (Ironically, D also accused me of “calling [him] the real abuser” even though I said fuckall about his behavior; U had been way worse, so I only called them out.)

Another mod stepped in and accused me of making assumptions about U’s motivations even though, again, I had specifically said that I didn’t think U meant to bully J or trigger me. The dogpile was too much. I sent a note to the server owner and left the server permanently.

I later sent another note to the server owner explaining what had happened and detailing U’s and D’s abusive behavior toward me. (I didn’t use the words “abuse” or “DARVO,” but I did call it bullying.) I also apologized for the mess; it was partially my fault, as I should have gone directly to him, not the mod chat, since I knew U was an incorrigible bully, and I should have waited til I wasn’t triggered. I also admitted that I shouldn’t have said anything about how U had triggered me. I also said to the server owner that I hoped the whole thing hadn’t triggered his anxiety, which he had been open about. Instead of replying to me and telling me that D and U would be dealt with appropriately, the server owner ignored my message and blocked me on YouTube and Discord.

Why did this happen? Why was I treated this way by not only D and U, but the server owner?

My guess, for a while, was lateral saneism.

“But Amaranthe,” you might be saying, “your bullies had PTSD! The YouTuber had anxiety! How could they be saneist?”

Well, that’s why I said laterally saneist. Also, they had PTSD and anxiety; I was the only one who had CPTSD. I was the only one with alters. I was the only one with a personality disorder. And I was open about all of those things.

They were mentally ill; I was cr*zy.

See, as hard as I fought against ableism on that server, people who had been banned or people who (on or off the server) had exhibited abusive behavior were called saneist slurs and terms (especially ones targeting unreality and/or PDs) by…basically everyone but me in the mods only chat on a regular basis. There was an inextricable link between abusive behavior and severe mental illness in their minds. I’m pretty sure that that’s why I was the one who was ignored and blocked despite the fact that I was the one who was DARVO’d and bullied by the other mods.

Sucks.

But lateral saneism doesn’t explain everything, now, does it? Especially what U and D did. Why did U trot out their traumas like the fact that they were so traumatized was proof that they were right? Why did D accuse me of acting like his abuser?

They hadn’t healed sufficiently. Like I mentioned earlier, U had no sense of healing for the sake of others. They were still as raw as an open wound and had built their entire personality around protecting that wound. Part of that personality included lashing out at anyone who threatened their persona, or…well, even disagreed with them. Obviously not everyone who has unresolved trauma lashes out at people they perceive as threatening, but it can happen. I used to be like that too, until I started EMDR.

D, too, was quick to accuse me of acting like his abuser because he felt threatened that I called out his friend. I’m pretty sure that if he had confronted and processed his trauma, he wouldn’t have perceived me rightfully accusing his friend of bullying as threatening to him. When you’re highly traumatized, you’re very sensitive to threats, sometimes when they’re not there. (This is another thing I know from personal experience.)

And I’ve noticed that people with trauma who really need to heal for the sake of others are really…uh…well, I see this a lot online. It’s common to find Discord servers where you’re expected to spoiler and trigger warn for shit like the anime that someone’s toxic ex liked, and there are dozens of these obscure triggers that you’re expected to keep track of; that in and of itself can be an accessibility issue. I had to leave one server because literally any mention of mental illness had to be spoilered and warned for, which was de facto saneist. I mean, do these people who demand their obscure triggers be accommodated online go up to people in real life and say “Don’t use the words ‘at all’ at the end of a sentence, that’s triggering to me”? Probably not! I mean, the words “at all” at the end of a sentence used to be one of my actual fucking triggers until I worked through it in EMDR, and I didn’t ask people in real life or online to not do that, because that would have been fucking silly.

You can’t expect the entire world to conform to your trauma. The world isn’t responsible for that. Trigger warnings are critical, of course, and there may be shit that you may never get over, and it’s still a good idea to trigger warn for really common triggers like sexual abuse, murder, child abuse, etc. But if you have a shitload of obscure triggers like I did, you’re going to be fucking miserable and full of fear all your life if you don’t process your trauma in addition to imposing on people who aren’t responsible for the fact that the UK spelling of “behavior” is one of your triggers. (If you guessed that that also used to be one of my triggers, you’re right.)

So how do you heal for the sake of others (and yourself)?

EMDR was the ideal solution for me and I can’t recommend it enough. (I’m actually currently reprocessing the Discord DARVO with my therapist, funnily enough.) And if therapy isn’t accessible to you for whatever reason, learn meditation/deep breathing. Find coping mechanisms. Learn what self-care looks like for you. Take up a new hobby that doesn’t involve the Internet/media consumption so much, like cooking or knitting. Hell, Google “how to deal with PTSD triggers” and you might find some good information. (Note: there are “DIY EMDR” videos out there, and I don’t recommend those; EMDR needs to be handled by a trained professional.)

Just don’t fucking DARVO people because your own trauma makes it hard to handle being called out when you fucked up. Okay?

And with that…holy shit, this blog has been around for FIVE FUCKING YEARS. I can hardly believe it! Thank you so much to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

Favorite Quotes About Mental Illness

Content/trigger warning: mention of addiction, reclaimed slur, discussion of ableism, disordered eating

Hello, dear readers! Sorry there were no entries in November; I was NaNoing. But I am back with an entry on my top 10 favorite quotes about mental illness. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory, so I’m going to go ahead and start.

10) “Mental health is something that we all need to talk about, and we need to take the stigma away from it. So let’s raise the awareness. Let’s let everybody know it’s OK to have a mental illness and addiction problem.” –Demi Lovato

Quick note: if you haven’t listened to any of Demi’s songs post-eating disorder recovery, I recommend you do so (especially “Confident”). Few things will fuck up your voice like an ED (I would know). They sound so much better now. I’m glad they’re in recovery.

Anyway, yeah, Demi Lovato knows their shit. They are multiply neurodivergent, including being bipolar and in recovery for cocaine addiction. I like how open and honest Demi is about their struggles and the work they’re trying to do to destigmatize mental illness, including addiction, which too often is not seen as a mental health issue. However, this quote is only number 10 because “destigmatizing mental illness” isn’t the whole picture. Mentally ill people will always suffer from saneism in an ableist society. We have to dismantle the ableist society before “destigmatizing” can actually happen. Still, good for Demi. I’m glad they’re out there frankly discussing addiction and other mental illnesses.

9) “You have good days and bad days, and depression’s something that…is always with you.” –Winona Ryder

Ooof. Accurate, Winona. Depression can be completely dormant one day and completely fuck up your next day. You have good days and bad days, but no matter how many good days in a row you have, you still have depression. (Note: that’s why it’s important for people who take antidepressants to not go off the antidepressants if you feel better; if you feel better, that means you need to keep taking them.) There’s not a lot to this quote, but it’s still accurate as hell, so it got on the list.

8) “I found that with depression, one of the most important things you can realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it, you’re not gonna be the last to go through it.” –Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Good for Dwayne Johnson for speaking out about depression. Society needs to allow men to talk about their feelings more, seriously…especially when those feelings are about mental illness. And I relate to this quote because the worst times of my life (mental illness-wise, anyway) happened when I felt like I was the only person who was putting up with so much bullshit from my brain. When I was finally diagnosed with depression in college, one of the reasons just having a diagnosis helped was my understanding that many people suffer from depression; it wasn’t just me going through hell. I think the simple fact that I knew I wasn’t alone helped a lot. Thanks for the reminder, The Rock.

7) “Healing takes time, and asking for help is a courageous step.” –Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay is talented (and gorgeous), founded the Joyful Heart Foundation to help sexual assault survivors, and became a trained rape crisis counselor. If only her biggest role weren’t on a mainstay of copaganda. Sigh.

All that aside, this is a very true quote. Seeking any kind of constructive help with a mental illness is way harder than mentally healthy people can ever comprehend. You see, if you don’t ask for help, it’s easy to pretend nothing is wrong. In order to ask for help, you have to realize you need help, and that takes a lot of soul-searching and a lot of courage. Asking for help is also a damn near mandatory step in healing from trauma or making strides to improve from any mental illness, and Mariska is also right that healing takes time. I’ve been working on my mental illnesses since 2009 and I still have work to do.

6) “Just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they can’t be happy and in a relationship. It also doesn’t mean that person makes the relationship toxic.” –Pete Davidson

Full disclosure, I wish that the main real-life representation we got for borderline personality disorder weren’t…y’know, Pete fucking Davidson, but this is still a very important quote, especially for people with PDs. There is such a thing as being too mentally ill to have the wherewithal for a romantic, sexual, or queerplatonic relationship–trust me, I’ve been that mentally ill, and I have been in a relationship with someone who was that mentally ill–but it is also certainly true that a person having a mental illness does not necessarily preclude them from being in a romantic, sexual, or queerplatonic relationship.

Even more important than the idea that someone having a mental illness doesn’t mean they can’t be in a relationship, though, is the idea that mentally ill people are NOT necessarily toxic to romantic, sexual, or queerplatonic partners. “Being a toxic asshole to your partner” is not a symptom of any mental illness. It’s possible for a mentally ill people to be a toxic asshole, of course, but they’re not a toxic asshole because they’re mentally ill. (They might try to explain their toxic assholery away by saying they’re mentally ill, but that’s bullshit.)

5) “There’s something freeing about realizing you have a mental health issue. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me! There’s just something wrong with me!’” –Jordan Raskopolous

Jordan Raskopolous is hilarious, isn’t she? For those of you who don’t know (and who don’t read my Rock, Roll, ‘n’ Stim blog), Jordan Raskopolous is an Australian comedian who is also the lead singer for the comedy band Axis of Awesome. She’s both funny and musically talented. She also gave a great TED talk from whence came this quote. She has an anxiety disorder and describes herself as getting “not stage fright, but life fright” [sic]. (See, I told you she was hilarious.) And she absolutely nailed why getting a diagnosis of a mental illness can be a huge relief. It makes you feel like there’s nothing wrong with you even though something technically is, because there’s a name, explanation, and (hopefully) treatment plan for what you’re experiencing now. Most importantly, now you can understand what’s going on, whereas before you were probably like “THE FUCK IS HAPPENING IN MY BRAIN.” Thanks for being pithy, accurate, and funny, Jordan!

4) “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” –Fred Rogers

I feel like this quote may not be explicitly about mental illness, but it does apply to mental illness. There’s currently a huge taboo around discussing the bullshit our mentally ill brains pull. Of course, working on that taboo alone is a Band-Aid solution to systemic neurotypicalism, but that doesn’t change the fact that we all need to get more comfortable talking about mental illness symptoms. This is partly because Mr. Rogers is right; voicing your feelings about mental illness can make them seem less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. For instance, when I’m catastrophizing, I need to bounce what I’m thinking off of someone so they can tell me “Yeah, that’s out of proportion.” Also, if neurotypicals get more used to hearing about mental illness symptoms (especially ones experienced by people with ~scary mental illnesses, as I discussed here https://thisisforyoucarrie.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/scary-mental-illnesses/), maybe they’ll get some practice not being saneist cockwaffles. I know, unlikely, but a woman can dream.

3) “Using mental illness as a punchline reinforces the idea that it is okay to treat people with mental illnesses or any mental disability with mockery or pity, instead of as real people who deserve respect for self-determination and bodily autonomy.” –Lydia X. Z. Brown

Absolutely critical quote from the legendary Lydia X. Z. Brown (if you don’t follow their blog or their Twitter, go change that after you finish reading this entry) about how using mental illness as a punchline in comedy is saneist. I’ve written about this (here: https://thisisforyoucarrie.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/im-triggered/) and Lydia managed to say something more eloquent and more precise than that entire entry in one sitting. This is a big part of why Lydia is a huge inspiration to me. I also don’t feel like this quote requires any more explanation. It’s just a very accurate truth bomb about ableism in comedy. Don’t make mentally ill people the butt of your unfunny jokes.

2) “When you are insane, you are busy being insane–all the time.” –Sylvia Plath

Here we have Sylvia Plath landing at number 2 with a painfully accurate statement. Being mentally ill is a full-time job. You spend way too much time dealing with your brain’s shit, going to doctor’s appointments, dealing with your brain’s shit, fighting with insurance companies (if you’re USian), dealing with your brain’s shit, and dealing with the fallout of your brain being shitty. Being mentally ill can be so all-consuming that you don’t have the fuel/spoons/wherewithal to do anything else besides being mentally ill.

Hell, sometimes your brain is the one convincing you that you can’t do anything but stay in bed. Even if you outwardly appear to be a Functioning Member of Society™ like me, you may still have to deal with–to use an example that applies to me–constant intrusive thoughts and the sheer exhaustion of having to try to focus at work while dealing with constant intrusive thoughts. Is it any wonder I’m totally wiped when I get home? When you are insane, you are busy being insane–all the time.

1) “One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls…At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.” –Carrie Fisher

Could anyone besides Carrie land at number 1 on this list? I mean, this blog is called “This Is for You, Carrie.” Honestly, she has so many great quotes about mental illness that it was hard to pick just one. And yeah, this one is specifically about bipolar, but I feel like it can apply to pretty much any mental illness. If you’re mentally ill, you need stamina and courage, and you should be proud of yourself for living with that shit. Being mentally ill isn’t something to be ashamed of, so fuck the saneist stigma that says you should be ashamed.

Like I’ve said before, stigma is not its own discrete problem but a manifestation of systemic saneism, but Carrie is still right about stigma making no sense. Stigma makes no sense not only because mental illness does not make us immoral or wrong, but because you have to be a badass to put up with being mentally ill. They really should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication (if medication is right for you, of course).

And that’s the list! Thanks for reading! And thank you to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

Ableism in Horror

Content/trigger warning: discussion of ableism, injury mention 

When I was in graduate school, I visited my then-girlfriend, who had recently graduated from the college where we met, around Halloween. She and her friends were extremely into LARPing, to the degree that she prioritized LARPing over spending time with me (which is a big part of why the relationship ended). One of Then-Girlfriend’s housemates was running a Halloween one-shot LARP. It was set in the housemate’s old high school, which had–I swear this is actually true–been used as a psychiatric institution before it was a high school. I thought, “Okay, these are people I trust; they’ll probably make it scary due to the horrific human rights abuses that occurred there, not because mentally ill people are scary, right?”

Nope.

I was wrong.

So let’s talk about ableism in horror.

I don’t game much (except for the fact that I used to play DnD, I was a hardcore WoW player for a long time, and I’d be playing Guild Wars 2 if I could get it to install on my shitty Chromebook), but when I was doing research for this entry, I found an entire fuckening Wikipedia article on video games that are set in psychiatric institutions. I didn’t have time to research each one, but I would be willing to bet that all of them have some element of saneism in them.

I am more familiar with movies, though, so let’s talk about ableism in horror movies. I’ve mentioned that I used to be a huge Phantom of the Opera fan, right? (That may have been in my Rock, Roll, ‘n’ Stim blog, come to think of it.) Well, I used to be a TOWERING phan. And in one of the many cases of ableism overlapping with disfiguremisia, the Phantom is portrayed as becoming evil because he was the victim of violent ableism and disfiguremisia. Somewhat understandable, true, but the kidnapping and stalking? Not so much. Another classic, the Friday the 13th franchise, plays the “disabled villain” trope straight as well; Jason Voorhees is developmentally disabled and has hydrocephalus. Nightmare on Elm Street, overlapping with disfiguremisia again, also plays the “disabled villain” trope straight; Freddy Krueger has disfiguring burns all over his body.

A particularly strange (and, if you think about it, egregious) example of ableism–specifically saneism–in a horror franchise is the Halloween series. The villain, Michael Myers, is repeatedly institutionalized in a psychiatric facility despite never being given a psych diagnosis. His doctor instead chooses to describe him as “pure evil.” So the best place for someone who is “pure evil” to be is an institution for people with psychiatric disabilities?

Excuse me? 

What are you trying to say here, John Carpenter, that evil is a mental illness!? I know a lot of people think that!

Another example of ableism in horror is found in Jacob’s Ladder. While not a horror “classic” per se, it was popular enough to get a 2019 remake, and seems to be pretty accessible to non-horror fans. It was also directed by Adrian Lyne, who is a pretty big name; he also directed Fatal Attraction, Flashdance, and Indecent Proposal. Now, I haven’t seen all of Jacob’s Ladder, but I have seen the disgustingly ableist hospital scene. It’s a sequence that is meant to be terrifying that includes a person banging their head against a door, an amputee, and a person in a straight jacket. The disabled people in the scene are meant to scare the audience by being visibly disabled. Not cool, Adrian Lyne.

It’s not just classic horror films that pull this shit, either. As someone with OSDD-1, don’t get me the fuck started on Split, which came out in 2016. The dissociative community on Twitter was in an uproar when that shit came out. For those who aren’t familiar, Split is about a man with DID whose alters kidnap three young women. This is fucked up because people with alters aren’t your g-ddamn boogeyman of the week; alters are almost never violent, and certainly don’t go around kidnapping conventionally attractive teenage girls. Yeah, fine, my alter Em can be a passive-aggressive asshole and my alter Valkyrja is always ready to fight in the face of ableism, but in reality, Valkyrja has never so much as hit someone.

Jacob’s Ladder was brought to my attention by my amazing wife, who watches way more horror than I do (with the exception of me introducing her to Get Out). She also told me about May, a film about a shy veterinary assistant who becomes a serial killer, which I wanted to discuss because it involves unusually bad representation of children. In one scene, there is a doll behind a pane of glass, which breaks. There are blind children in the scene who, wanting to feel the doll behind the glass, start feeling around in the glass and end up getting cut. The scene is remarkable in that it’s quite inaccurate to how Blind children would actually act in such a situation; they continue touching the glass and worsening their injuries after initially getting cut. Did…did the director think that Blind people don’t know how to react to pain? Anyway, it was weird.

I think that’s all I have for now. Happy Halloween!

Many thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

Anti-Cluster B Saneism

Content/trigger warning: saneist slurs (censored), discussion of anti-cluster B saneism (as you might have guessed :P)

I’m browsing Facebook. I see a post in a group for writers who attended my alma mater; it’s a Medium piece that the writer is proud of. The Medium piece is about “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse syndrome.”

I’m on YouTube. I’m listening to a rock cover of a well-known pop song. The singer lambasts her ex for being “a g-ddamn s****path.”

I’m on songmeanings.net. I’m looking for the meaning of the lyrics of a punk song I like that sounds like it might be about a toxic relationship. One of the suggested meanings is that the singer suffered abuse at the hands of a borderline partner.

If you’re thinking I should just stay off the Internet, well, I probably do spend too much time watching cat rescue livestreams, but you’re missing the point. I’m talking about anti-cluster B saneism.

Cluster B personality disorders include borderline, histrionic, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders. (Note: I know more about BPD than the other 3 because I myself am borderline. Just to get my bias on the record.) All of these disorders are characterized by intense suffering, but most people–even some ND people–know them as ~scary mental illnesses that are untreatable, involve total lack of empathy, and cause people who have those illnesses to be abusers or worse.

So…whew. Lots to unpack here.

Let’s start with the “untreatable” myth. It’s true that medication is usually pretty ineffective at treating cluster B PDs (although borderlines like me often suffer from depression, and antidepressants can help with that). PDs are also lifelong illnesses because they’re ,well, personality disorders. However, there is a kind of therapy called DBT, or dialectical behavioral therapy, that can be effective at alleviating the suffering caused by cluster B PDs. If a cluster B person is prone to destructive behaviors due to their PD, DBT can also help with that. The core dialectic of DBT is “you are a person of great worth and you have to change.” (I once saw someone call this “victim-blaming.” I wonder what it’s like on their planet.) Some people with cluster B PDs do act in ways that should be changed due to their illness. DBT is effective at helping with those changes. (Note: I don’t believe for a damn second that PDs are the only illnesses that predispose people to behavior that needs changing. Just look at eating disorders, for example.)

Now on to the empathy…thing. I’ve talked about empathy here (https://thisisforyoucarrie.wordpress.com/2020/12/28/empathy/) and the lack of comprehension of what empathy actually is makes it hard to know what saneists actually mean when they say that people with cluster B disorders have no empathy. What it probably means to saneists is that people with cluster B disorders have no compassion or concept of human suffering. This is, of course, not what “empathy” even fucking means, but that’s not the key point here. The key point is that the idea that people with cluster B PDs have no compassion is totally false. Some cluster B people do have low or no empathy–and I do mean empathy, not compassion–and that’s okay. The ability to think or feel what somebody else is thinking or feeling is not required to be a moral person.

And now we get to my least favorite myth about people with cluster B disorders: that we’re all abusers or worse. Look, that’s just plain not true. As I’ve said before, no mental illness makes a person an abuser (although abusive people’s choice of shitty actions can be informed by a mental illness that they happen to have). So why are people with cluster B disorders considered automatically abusive? Sing along if you know the words: ABLEISM! 

Okay, specifically it’s saneism. But just look at the idea of “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse.” According to people who think that’s a thing, it consists of using language to manipulate, harm, and control people. This can take the form of gaslighting, lying, withholding, and/or emotional neglect. As you might have guessed, none of these actions are symptoms of NPD (or ASPD, which also gets blamed for “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse”). All of these things were also done to me by my abusive mother constantly, and she definitely does not have NPD or ASPD. I’ve talked more about how “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse” is not a thing here: https://thisisforyoucarrie.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/blaming-abuse-on-neurodivergence-and-why-not-to-do-that/, but in case you don’t feel like reading that whole thing and are thinking “Well, what do we call ‘n*rc*ss*st*c abuse,’ then?,” I suggest calling it “self-serving emotional abuse” or just “emotional abuse.” 

I also want to mention that it particularly pisses me off when other trauma survivors try to explain their abuse by claiming that their abuser had a cluster B PD, especially since cluster B PDs can be caused by–you guessed it–childhood trauma. Part of me gets it–you want to find an explanation for why you were treated like shit, especially any explanation besides “I deserved it”–but lateral ableism is never okay.

One more thing I wanted to mention briefly: anti-cluster B slurs. You’d honestly have to ask the NPD community when the use of “n*rc*ss*st*c” is considered a slur. I haven’t been able to find a consensus on when it is aside from when used in the phrase  “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse,” so I’m censoring it just to be safe. I also don’t know much about anti-HPD slurs (or HPD…I fail, sorry >.<), and there aren’t really any slurs specific to people with BPD, although the phrase “toxic borderline” can get fucked. What I do know is that “s****path” and “p****path” are both slurs used against people with ASPD, and they’re never appropriate to use. Okay, fine, some psych “experts” say that there’s a difference between one or both of those slurs and having ASPD. I don’t fucking care. They’re both slurs that imply that a mental illness makes a person a danger to society or others, and they’re never acceptable.

I think that’s all I have for now. I’m sorry I couldn’t say more about the PDs I don’t have, but I have to be really careful with what resources I can trust about cluster B PDs because of the hermeneutical injustice at play. If you’re interested in learning more about ASPD specifically, I can recommend the YouTuber Jessica Kent: https://www.youtube.com/c/JessicaKent  

Thank you to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

Disability Pride

Content/trigger warning: discussion of ableism, mention of eugenics, abuse discussion

Hello, dear readers!

So I pushed off the entry to cover #StopTheShock and am now writing about disability pride the month after Disability Pride Month. Oh well. Here we go anyway.

I was surprised to learn that some Disabled people don’t like Disability Pride Month because it was officially codified by former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who is not Disabled. I think this is silly, especially because Disability Pride Month was codified in honor of the 25th anniversary of the ADA. Still other Disabled people don’t like Disability Pride Month because they think it’s appropriative of queer Pride. As a queer Disabled person, this makes me roll my eyes so hard I’m afraid they’re going to get stuck looking at the back of my head. Look, in social justice movements, slogans often inspire other slogans. Did anyone scream “APPROPRIATION!!!1” at Frank Kameny when he was inspired by “Black Is Beautiful” to create “Gay is Good”? No. And if you don’t know who Frank Kameny is and aren’t familiar with “Gay Is Good,” you probably don’t know enough to be judging what is and isn’t appropriative of queer people.

With that out of the way, disability pride. A lot of abled people are shocked to their very cores at the idea that Disabled people might be–gasp!–PROUD of being Disabled. Well, in the words of Sigrid Ellis, “When you are accused of being a hated, vile thing, you can take two paths. You can deny being the thing and agree with your accuser that this thing is AWFUL. The WORST. Of course you are not that thing. Or. Or. You can INCREASE BEING THE MOTHERFUCKING THING.” That quote is actually about the word “queer,” but to me, it applies to being Disabled too. If you polled abled people, I bet the majority of them would say that they’d rather die than be Disabled. The anti-vax movement is predicated on the idea that it’s better to be dead than Autistic. Eugenic abortion of fetuses with trisomy 21 is common. So when abled people say they’d rather be dead than be like us…well, I obviously can’t speak for the entire Disabled community, but “INCREASE BEING THE MOTHERFUCKING THING” is awfully tempting, especially since the alternative is being horribly depressed. I’ve done a lot of being horribly depressed. -1000/10 do not recommend. (See: my blog entry on songs that saved my life.)

Some of you might be immensely puzzled by my comparison between queer pride and disability pride. You might be saying, “Queerness doesn’t cause suffering; queermisia does! But disability? That causes suffering! You just said that depression caused suffering for you!” Well, that’s a little reductive of you, but you’re right about the first part. And you have something of a point. Some disabilities do just suck. CPTSD, for instance. What didn’t kill me turned me into a clusterfuck of traumas in a trenchcoat. CPTSD can go fuck itself. You know how in X-Men 3 how Rogue wanted to be “cured” and Storm insisted that there was nothing wrong with mutants? If you want to see that as a metaphor for disabilities I have, Storm’s powers are Autisticness and Rogue’s powers are CPTSD. Still, I’m proud of surviving CPTSD (and my other mental illnesses that can get bent) and existing despite them. I’m also proud of putting up with ableism, despite the fact that nobody should fucking have to put up with ableism. What I’m trying to say here is that there are a lot of reasons a Disabled person might be proud of being Disabled, regardless of what kind of disabling condition they have.

Some Disabled people may have pride in the specific disabilities they have in addition to being proud of being Disabled in general. For instance, I’m very proud of being Autistic. In addition to the “INCREASE BEING THE MOTHERFUCKING THING” need to be proud of something that the vast majority of people see as a dreadful tragedy, I feel like there are some genuinely positive parts of my Autisticness. It gives me a strong sense of justice and makes me highly detail-oriented. I love my special interests and just how into them I can get, and how much joy they bring me. I love love LOVE stimming. Also, I’m proud of how I figured out I was Autistic despite my shitty abusive parents insisting throughout my entire childhood and teenagerhood that I was allistic while trying to abuse the Autisticness out of me.

Yeah, okay, this entry is a little focused on how I feel about disability pride. Well, that’s because I feel like disability pride can be very individual, and I don’t know if it’s possible for one Disabled person to cover all of the reasons Disabled people might be proud of being Disabled. This entry is also a little short. That’s because I’m in agonizing pain from cramps at the moment, and pain makes me bad at thinking (and writing). Sorry this entry is a little subpar, but I had to finish an entry this month and this is what I’m capable of right now.

Thank you to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

#StopTheShock

Content/trigger warning: torture, violent ableism

Electric shocks are dangerous. Even a child can tell you that. But when is a shock dangerous? Let’s talk about amperage for a moment. Milliamperes (mA) are a unit of measurement for electricity; mA refers to the amount of electrical current passing through an object. At 100 to 200 mA, shocks start becoming fatal; 2 seconds of 100 mA current can be deadly, even at low voltages (voltage being the pressure from an electrical circuit’s power source that pushes current through a conductor). Tasers and stun guns usually operate between 2 and 4 mA, and even cattle prods operate at less than 20 mA. So if there were an electrical device intended to shock humans at a maximum amperage of 90 mA, you’d think that would be illegal in the United States, right?

Right.

Unless you are Autistic or have a developmental or intellectual disability.

Yes, really.

The GED (graduated electronic decelerator) device was created by a despicable piece of shit named Matthew Israel in the early 90s to be used on his students at an institution called the Judge Rotenberg Center as part of the JRC’s “behavior modification program.” The Judge Rotenberg Center is a supposed school and residential treatment center in Canton, Massachusetts, and the students at the JRC are adults and children who are Autistic or have developmental or intellectual disabilities. Most of them are BIPOC.

Specifications on the GED device can be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/04/25/2016-09433/banned-devices-proposal-to-ban-electrical-stimulation-devices-used-to-treat-self-injurious-orThis device is not legal to use on a pet, livestock, an abled child, or an abled adult. But the students at the JRC are subjected to excruciating and dangerous skin shocks from the GED device because they are Disabled and have “behavioral problems.” This despite the fact that the United Nations has disavowed GED device use as torture. Here is an incomplete list of reasons why students at the JRC have been shocked:

  • Breaking a Styrofoam cup
  • Not taking their coat off
  • Wetting the bed
  • Moaning in pain due to a broken tooth
  • Standing up out of their chair
  • Stimming
  • Not working for a duration of 10 seconds

(Thanks to @AutSciPerson on Twitter for compiling that list.) So if the JRC has been using these devices since the early 90s, why am I talking about it now? Because in 2020, the tireless efforts of activists like Lydia X. Z. Brown (who also maintains a repository of information about the JRC, which can be found here: https://autistichoya.net/judge-rotenberg-center/), the FDA banned the use of GED devices as part of “behavior modification.” On July 7, 2021, that ban was overturned due to a lawsuit levied by the JRC. The lawsuit was supported by not just credentialed BCBAs who work at the JRC (but BCBAs would never condone torture of Disabled people, noooooo) and JRC higher-ups, but the parents of current students. The Disabled community is devastated, stunned, and horrified. ASAN released a statement about this legal decision: https://autisticadvocacy.org/2021/07/asan-denounces-court-ruling-on-electric-skin-shock/ (Note: ASAN has a history of not representing Autistic people with intellectual disabilities and/or Autistic BIPOC well, and recently they were accused of plagiarizing an Indigenous activist and responded with a bucketload of litigious racist bullshit. Please don’t give them money even if you use their resources. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a better easy-to-read breakdown of the legal issues at hand.)

You can learn more about this horrific ableist human rights abuse by following the #StopTheShock hashtag on Twitter and also by following Disabled people like @autistictic and @autisticats who have been spreading information about the JRC’s human rights abuses, especially Disabled BIPOC like @queerdeaf and @autistichoya.There is a change.org petition to #StopTheShock: https://www.change.org/p/fda-ban-torture-of-people-with-disabilities-and-stoptheshock/u/22696808

Action items for #StopTheShock can be found here (credit to @AutSciPerson again): https://docs.google.com/document/d/13wOLYBZq7iq13M_KTFqJEwSkvf7ccdjY1vvx0ei3lak/edit

I don’t have any other words for this. Even curse words fail me.

Please share this information and the action items. #StopTheShock #ShutDownTheJRC

Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney. It’s only $1 a month to see blog entries two days before everyone else and vote in polls to help me choose blog entry topics.

Alternatives to Ableist Language

Content/trigger warning: cursing, ableist terms (most of which are censored)

Hello, dear readers! Time for an entry I’m surprised my Patreon supporters didn’t select earlier: alternatives to ableist language.

Now, ableism is not a list of words, it’s a system of oppression that disenfranchises, harms, and even kills Disabled people. But eliminating ableist language from one’s vocabulary is a good first step someone can take as an ally or as a Disabled person trying to unlearn internalized or lateral ableism. So, here are some common ableist terms (this is going to be a long list, but not an exhaustive one) and what you can say instead. Yes, some of my suggestions include curse words. It’s me; what else did you expect?

Autistic Hoya also already did something very like this here (https://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html), and they’re better at writing than I am, so feel free to just check theirs out. Yes, I used Autistic Hoya’s post to write this entry and I credit them with not just the information in this blog entry but at least 30% of what I know about ableism.

  • Blind to/To turn a blind eye to: Ignorant of/To be willfully ignorant of
  • Confined to a wheelchair: Wheelchair user, uses a wheelchair, uses a wheelchair full-time (or some of the time, depending), requires a wheelchair
  • Cr*pple (referring to a person with a mobility disability): Person with a mobility disability, physically D/disabled
  • Cr*ppling (used metaphorically): Paralytic, debilitating, insurmountable
  • Cr*zy/Ins*ne^ (referring to a mentally ill person): Mentally ill, psychiatrically D/disabled
  • Cr*zy/Ins*ne^ (used to insult a person): Wild, impulsive, impetuous, feckless, reckless, unpredictable, out of control
  • Cr*zy/Ins*ne^ (referring to something else, like a party): Busy, ridiculous, wild, unbelievable, weird
  • Deaf ears/To fall on deaf ears: Unwilling ears/To [talk to] someone unwilling to listen
  • Derp/Herp-derp/Duh/Doy/Durr (mimicking sounds that ID/DD/LD people supposedly make): That was obvious/Of course/Oh right, I knew that
  • Deluded/Delusional (referring to a person experiencing an altered state such as paranoia or hearing voices): Having intrusive thoughts, experiencing paranoia, hearing voices, experiencing a psychotic break, etc. (as appropriate for the situation)
  • Deluded/Delusional (used to insult a person): Ignorant, out of touch, has unrealistic expectations, believes things that aren’t true
  • Diffabled/Differently abled (referring to D/disabled people): D/disabled
  • Double-blind clinical trial: Doubly anonymous clinical trial/Neither participants nor researchers knew [who was receiving the placebo and who was receiving the real treatment]
  • D*mb/St*p*d^^ (referring to an action): Poorly thought-out, ill-advised, a terrible idea
  • D*mb/St*p*d^^ (referring to an ID/DD/LD person): Person with an intellectual disability, developmentally D/disabled, learning D/disabled (as appropriate for the situation)
  • D*mb/St*p*d^^ (used to insult a person): Unwise, foolish, inept, incompetent, impulsive, ignorant, impetuous, doesn’t think before they act
  • H*nd*c*pped/H*nd*c*p*ble (referring to a D/disabled person, usually physically D/disabled): D/disabled, physically D/disabled (if applicable)
  • Id**t/M*r*n/Imb*c*le: Fool, goofus, incompetent dingbat, fuck-knuckle
  • L*me (referring to person with a mobility disability): Person with a mobility disability, physically D/disabled
  • L*me (used as an insult): Uncool, insipid, boring, un-fun, crappy, shitty
  • Loony bin/Madhouse (referring to an actual institution): Institution for people with mental and/or psychiatric disabilities
  • Loony bin/Madhouse (used metaphorically): Disorganized, wild, confusing, unpredictable
  • [Name of neurodivergent condition, e.g., “Psychotic,” “Bipolar,” “Autistic,” “OCD”] (used metaphorically): Wild, impulsive, impetuous, feckless, reckless, unpredictable, out of control
  • Narcissistic/Borderline (referring to people who are supposedly evil/abusive due to NPD or BPD; not ableist if being used as neutral descriptors for people who actually have those conditions): Selfish, self-centered, egotistical, toxic, manipulative, abusive, impulsive, out of control, evil, mean, asshole, dickhead, motherfucker
  • -phobic (e.g., homophobic, Islamophobic): Bigoted against [oppressed group], -misic, -antagonistic
  • Ps*ch*path/S*c**path (referring to people who are supposedly evil/abusive due to ASPD): Evil, abusive, callous, heartless, soulless, toxic, manipulative, selfish, mean, asshole, dickhead, motherfucker
  • R*t*rd/R*t*rded (referring to a person with an intellectual disability): Person with an intellectual disability, has an intellectual disability (I know, this is PFL, which I often rail against, but that’s what the community prefers)
  • R*t*rd/R*t*rded/-tard as suffix (used as an insult): Ding-dong, assclown, dicksoiree, fuckstick
  • Sp*z (referring to a person with a neurological disability): Neurologically D/disabled or name the specific disability (e.g., cerebral palsy, epilepsy, etc.)
  • Sp*z (used as an insult): Out of control, aimless, reckless, feckless, clumsy, forgetful, klutzy, flighty
  • Special needs/Has special needs: D/disabled/Is D/disabled
  • Wheelchair bound: Wheelchair user, uses a wheelchair, uses a wheelchair full-time (or some of the time, depending), requires a wheelchair

^Plus any number of saneist terms like deranged, cuckoo, nuts/nutso, daft, m*d, loony, lunatic, mental, maniac, ps*cho, wacko, unhinged

^^Yes, this is an ableist term. There are some Disabled people who aren’t ID/DD/LD who insist it isn’t, but how the fuck would they know, it doesn’t target them.

Another important thing to think about when eliminating ableist language from one’s vocabulary is to say what you mean. Is that person with a TBI st*p*d, or do they have memory difficulties? Is that abusive person a s*c**path, or are they cruel and uncaring? Is your schedule cr*zy, or is it busy as all fuck? It’s important to not associate disability with negative shit that actually doesn’t have anything to do with disability–for instance, armchair diagnosis of abusive people–and it’s also important to speak and think accurately and respectfully when you are talking about disability.

I think that’s all I have for now. Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! Reminder that it’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, see blog entries two days before everyone else, and vote in polls to help me choose blog entry topics!

Things You Didn’t Know Were Autmisic

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to my latest entry: things you didn’t know were autmisic, i.e., discriminatory towards Autistic people. Now, I’ve talked about many neurotypicalist things on this blog that are autmisic in addition to being neurotypicalist in general–labeling interests and behaviors as “cringe” comes to mind–so for this entry, I’m going to try to focus on things that are either primarily or only autmisic. Let’s dive in.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about autmisia is ABA. I’ve mentioned briefly why ABA is horrible before. In fact, what I said was “ABA, or applied behavior analysis, is an abusive practice in psychiatry that is a form of conversion therapy to force Autistic people to act allistic. ABA often uses aversives such as forcing Autistic children to taste Tabasco sauce, and the actual techniques for ABA were based on dog training. ABA misunderstands Autisticness; it is based on the idea that Autisticness is a behavioral disorder and not a neurotype. The inventor of ABA, Ivar Lovaas, has said ‘Autistic children are severely disturbed…You see, you start pretty much from scratch when you work with an autistic child. You have a person in the physical sense—they have hair, a nose and a mouth—but they are not people in the psychological sense. One way to look at the job of helping autistic kids is to see it as a matter of constructing a person. You have the raw materials, but l you (sic) have to build the person.’” I also referenced a paper (link here https://neurodiversityconnects.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/PTSD.ABA_.pdf) about how ABA causes PTSD.

But something I didn’t emphasize enough in my previous discussions of ABA is that no ABA is okay. Some ABA child-torturers providers insist that their ABA is play-based or reward-oriented. Use of aversives is more obviously evil than this, but even “play-based” or “reward-oriented” ABA is based on the flawed idea that Autisticness is a behavioral disorder and that as such you can make a person not Autistic by changing their behavior. This is like saying that colored contacts permanently change a person’s eye color. An Autistic child who has been conditioned by ABA to act allistic by forcing eye contact, not playing in ways that are rewarding for them, not stimming, etc. is still Autistic; they’re just also suffering because they are no longer able to express themselves. In conclusion, #ABAIsNeverOkay, and ABA is extremely autmisic.

Something you may not know was autmisic is expecting people to know right and left on a dime. Yes, really. Many Autistic people, myself included, struggle with right and left. So the next time you’re out for a run and want to pass someone walking, don’t say “on your right” or “on your left” and expect the person to move right away; if they’re Autistic, they’ll probably get confused and either not move or move the wrong way, and you’ll run into them.

Antivaxxers represent another thing that people do tend to know is autmisic but may not know how bad of a problem it still is. In the actual fucking year 2021 (or 5781 if you’re Jewish like me) and there are still people who think vaccines cause autism. I’ve heard horror stories from teachers and daycare providers who have gotten sick because their young students’/clients’ parents are antivaxxers. I don’t think I have to spell this out, but thinking that you’d rather have a child who is dead from the mumps or measles or pertussis than an Autistic child is autmisic as all fuck.

What else…grabbing, otherwise touching, or making loud noises to get a person’s attention is also autmisic. I recently went to see my PCP and someone standing behind me in line tried to get my attention by clapping her hands right by my fucking ear. I nearly had a goddamn meltdown right there in the hospital atrium. Autistic people can’t stand being startled, grabbed, and/or touched without consent, and doing any of those to us can result in distress, pain, or both.

This next one isn’t only autmisic, but it is primarily autmisic, so here we go: acting like you don’t have to listen to an Autistic person who self-advocates because they “don’t speak for people with severe autism” is some bullshit. First of all, functioning labels are also autmisic…hmm, should have mentioned that earlier…but anyway functioning labels are arbitrary, useless, and dehumanizing, and any Autistic self-advocate speaking out against autmisia is speaking for every Autistic person who deserves to be accommodated and respected (which is all of us). The “you don’t speak for people with severe autism/people with autism who are non-speaking/people with autism who can’t work/people who are like my father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate’s son with autism” line is just an excuse for allistic people to keep believing autmisic bullshit. Don’t fall for it.

You may notice that those bullshit lines about “you don’t speak for [x]” use person-first language. I’ve talked about why PFL is often ableist before, but I don’t think I have talked about why it is autmisic. Autisticness is a disability, sure, but it’s also an inherent part of how Autistic people experience the world. You can’t separate an Autistic person from their Autisticness the way you could from, say, a tuberculosis patient from the bacteria infecting them. “Person with autism” implies that the two can be separated when in reality, they can’t. There are people who identify as autigender, meaning their understanding of gender is so entwined with their Autisticness that the two can’t be separated; that’s how crucial Autisticness is to a person’s self. “Person with autism” implies a separation that, in reality, does not exist, so “Autistic” is the accurate and respectful term. Note: some Autistic people do, in fact, prefer “person with autism;” “Autistic” is overwhelmingly preferred by the Autistic community, but there are still people out there with enough internalized autmisia that they prefer “person with autism.” So default to “Autistic,” but if someone tells you that they prefer “person with autism” for themselves, respect that (until they figure out they’re wrong).

I think that’s all I have for now. Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, Max, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them; this gets you early viewing of my blog entries and participation in polls to help me decide which topics to write about next!

Being Disabled Is a Full-Time Job

Content/trigger warning: emetophobia, discussion of medical ableism and fatmisia, suicide, psych meds

Being Disabled means putting up with a truly unfathomable amount of bullshit, either from society, from your own bodymind, or both. (Note that I say “bodymind” because I have always thought separating the two was silly, and Disabled Twitter has provided me with a word that gets the connection between the two across.) Obviously the specific type of bullshit varies depending on a person’s disabilities, and I can’t speak for the entire Disabled community, but just for an example, I will go over a typical pre-pandemic day for me to demonstrate just how much work being Disabled is on a quotidian basis.

-I wake up. It takes me multiple alarms to get up because of my hypersomnia. I debate skipping work to sleep til 3 PM, but I’m too afraid of losing my job to do that, so I get up. I’m already exhausted.

-I take my antacid for my hiatal hernia-induced GERD and set an alarm for half an hour. I need coffee to function because of my hypersomnia, but if I drink it before the antacid has kicked in, I will be vomiting uncontrollably for hours. I make my coffee and put it in a travel mug for when the alarm goes off.

-I get dressed. I avoid looking at reflective surfaces because seeing my reflection when I’m particularly or fully undressed gives me horrible body dysmorphia. If my clothes are too tight, I also get body dysmorphia and have to change.

-I commute to work. My anxiety is so bad I can’t drive, so I don’t own a car; I take the El. I have to wear ear defenders or listen to music in order to deal with the noise from the other commuters. If I have to be squished in close with other commuters because the train is crowded, that puts me at risk of having a meltdown.

-I drink my coffee. Ahhhh. I use the coffee to wash down my psych meds.

-I arrive at work. The overly friendly security guard tries to make conversation. I try to reply with “small talk” even though it’s costing me dearly fuel-wise to try to figure out socially appropriate things to say.

-Morning meetings should help me plan my day, but I can’t focus during them. Sudden tasks come up without warning, putting me at risk of having a meltdown.

-I have so many meetings over the course of the day. I wish I could skip them to just do my actual fucking job, because I can’t focus during meetings anyway, but I can’t. Meetings also force me to engage in more small talk, which is exhausting and difficult.

-If I am having a bad brain day, especially if I forgot to take my meds, I have to talk myself out of leaving the office and walking into traffic. I first experienced suicidal ideation as a child, and my brain has spent so many years telling me that I want/deserve to die that I still experience those thoughts pretty regularly. I also have to talk myself into eating/convince myself that I deserve food, especially if I have had the misfortune of seeing my reflection that day.

-I also probably spend some of the day dissociated, and if I get startled or otherwise experience a trigger for one of my trauma-related disorders, I have to spend energy dealing with flashbacks or one of my protector alters trying to fuck shit up.

-I commute home. It’s pretty much the same as my commute to work, except I’m even more exhausted now and as such at higher risk of having a meltdown.

-I get home. I reheat some leftovers and maybe take a shower. Showering isn’t hard for me–I love showers–but I’m one of the few Disabled people I know who has an easy time with showering/bathing.

-I spend time with my wife and cat, then I fall asleep. I have to get at least 11-12 hours of sleep to be able to function the next day because my life is so exhausting.

See what I mean? That’s a lot of shit to deal with that wouldn’t even be on my radar if I were abled. Notice that I didn’t even include any chores like cooking, cleaning, or taking out the trash; that’s because I almost never have the fuel to do chores after such a long-ass day. This is why I’m always behind on chores.

And don’t get me started on all the shit I have to do in order to keep my health in its partially functional state. Actually, yes, get me started, because that’s what I’m writing about. I don’t have a PCP because I’m broke and scared of medical fatmisia and I don’t see enough specialists because I’m broke and can’t do phones…but if I were on top of my shit, I would be regularly seeing a PCP, a sleep specialist, and a GI specialist. As it is, I see a therapist and a psychiatrist, both of which require a ton of time, energy, and money. (Especially therapy; that shit is work, some of which needs to be done outside of my therapy sessions.) Staying on top of refilling my psych meds also takes time and money. If I did see all the specialists I should be seeing, I’d practically need a damn secretary to make all my appointments for me, if only because my Autisticness means I can rarely handle phone calls.

Also, when you’re Disabled, doctors often don’t know how to deal with you. A lot of Disabled people are fat and tend to get told “just lose weight” when we have health complaints. Not to mention if I did a Twitter poll of the chronically ill community asking if they had to explain their own illnesses to their doctors, I’d bet the poll would come back with an overabundance of “yes” answers, especially among people with “rare” (read: underdiagnosed) illnesses. When doctors don’t know our condition/s well, that means we have to do research. That’s a lot of time and energy spent on work that shouldn’t be our responsibility, but doctors rarely can admit when they don’t know things, and doing research is often key to Disabled patients’ being able to advocate for ourselves when our #DoctorsAreDickheads (thanks to Stevie Boebi for the hashtag).

There’s also the issue of medication. I’m lucky enough that I only take a few pills in the morning (and I also have an anxiety med to take as needed). Many Disabled people have delicate and complicated medication schedules that they have to keep track of. Sometimes this can involve going into a doctor’s office for a treatment; sometimes it involves having a pill reminder. Remembering to take medication and taking it can be a huge part of a Disabled person’s day.

I also want to emphasize that anyone who says “Well, just get on disability if being Disabled is a full-time job” is a towering pile of ableist shit-garbage at worst and ignorant at best. In many states, the percentage of people who apply for SSI or SSDI and get it is in the fucking twenties, and if you are approved, the process takes years and is extremely difficult, humiliating, and inaccessible.

I think that’s all I have for now. Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sara, and Sydney! To be as cool as them, it’s only $1 a month to see blog entries two days early and to vote in polls to help me choose what topics to blog about.

Autistic and Other ND Masking

Content/trigger warning: mention of murder by police, discussion of ableism

I’m so fucking tired.

I actually have an accomodation at work that allows me to turn my Zoom camera off whenever I want. This is because performing neuronormative facial expressions is fucking exhausting and I can’t do it for long. Performing neuronormative facial expressions is a part of what Autistic people call “masking,” which is a word for “pretending to be neurotypical.” Not all Autistic people are able to mask, and masking has recently become something of a hot topic on Autistic Twitter and TikTok. Despite being neck deep in the online Autistic community, I’m only just becoming familiar with masking and how I mask. I mean, during Zoom meetings, I still have to modulate my vocal cadences to sound neurotypical even with my camera off, and I only realized when writing this blog entry that that was a form of masking. Other forms of Autistic masking can include:

-Suppressing stimming
-Forcing eye contact
-Standing differently/mimicking neurotypical body language
-Learning and following social scripts, some or all of which may not align with actual views
-Using pre-prepared jokes or phrases
-Engaging in popular activities, especially social ones, that we don’t want to engage in
-Refraining from infodumping

Honestly, learning some of what constitutes masking made me a little bit surprised at how much I mask. And it makes me wonder if masking so much is why I’m so fucking exhausted all the fucking time. Because what happens when you force an Autistic person to mask?

Exhaustion.

Meltdowns.

Burnout.

Masking is hell. It’s draining. It’s concealing the essence of who you are. It’s like expecting a person to hack off parts of themselves in order to fit into a designated space. And yet it wasn’t even widely discussed enough for a lot of Autistic people (HI) to know what the fuck it was until recently. We destroy ourselves in the name of ablenormativity and I’d be willing to bet most psychologists wouldn’t know what I was talking about if I tried to talk with them about “Autistic masking.”

You might be thinking “it sounds like society forces Autistic people to mask.” If you’re not thinking that, you should be. Masking is a safety issue, especially if you’re also part of a different marginalized group that’s at higher risk of, say, having the police called on you (and then being subsequently murdered) for acting “strange.”

Also, while masking is primarily discussed in relation to Autistic people, we’re not the only neurodivergent people who mask. I would say that any neurodivergent person suppressing themselves in order to appear neurotypical is masking. For example, an ADHDer who was masking might:

-Suppress stims/fidgets
-Get good grades through good memory despite poor organizational and study skills
-Overcompensate/try harder at tasks and activities to make up for developmental difficulties
-Joke or kid about ADHD-related mistakes
-Pretend to be incompetent to avoid high expectations
-Conceal that they’re experiencing RSD

I could continue making lists for how different neurodivergencies are usually masked, but we’d be here all day.

There also are a lot of conversations around masking that I don’t want to get into. Or at least, there are two conversations around masking that I don’t want to get into. These two conversations are:

  1. Autistic women and girls mask more than Autistic men and boys because women and girls are expected to be more pacifying and unobtrusive
  2. Whether or not being able to mask is a privilege

The first conversation often erases non-binary people and involves second-wave bullshit about being ~*~socialized female~*~ and I, a cis binary woman, am not qualified to address that particular stripe of bullshit. As for the second conversation, having been in situations when I was able vs. unable to mask, it mystifies me that there’s even a debate here. Of course being able to mask is a privilege. The fact that masking sucks to the degree that it leads to mental health breakdowns doesn’t mean it’s not a privilege to be safer and treated better than Autistic people who can’t mask. (And no, able to mask vs. unable to mask isn’t in any way the new “high functioning vs. low functioning,” don’t @ me.) But that’s not what I want to focus on here; I’m trying to give more general information about masking, not drop hot takes.

So what do we do about masking? At some point during the arc of me keeping this blog (it’s been over FOUR YEARS!? WHAT!?), I would have said “Take the mask off! Be yourself! That’s the only way to normalize Autistic behavior!”

Yeah, past self? That’s not fucking safe. Dismantling ableism is the name of the game, of course, but ableism is a structural issue that is inextricable from other forms of oppression. Actually, I don’t think I’ve shared the updated definition of ableism with my readers! This is the latest definition of ableism, modified this year, from activist Talila “TL” Lewis:

“Ableism: A system that places value on people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normality, intelligence, excellence, desirability, and productivity. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in anti-Blackness, eugenics, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism.

“This form of systemic oppression leads to people and society determining who is valuable and worthy based on a person’s language, appearance, religion, and/or their ability to satisfactorily [re]produce, excel, and ‘behave.’”

So unmasking is not going to pull out the evil ableism tree at its roots; it might only pull off some of the leaves, or it might backfire spectacularly and put someone in danger. Do I want a society in which nobody has to mask? Absofuckinglutely. Do I think we should take off our masks whenever possible, because masking is so detrimental to health and well-being? Yes. Do I think that we should stay masked when it isn’t safe to unmask? Until the revolution, sadly, yes.

Hey, it’s complicated.

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