Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mental Health, Abuse, Surviving

The last few months of my mental health journey haven't been the greatest. I started feeling worse and worse, to the point that I decided not to refill my medications once they had run out a few weeks ago. I was fine at first, but it wasn't long before things became more and more difficult to do. Then, one night, my mood dramatically shifted in the negative direction, and I just crashed. I essentially didn't move from bed for 10 days. I've been back on my medicine for about 4 days now, and I'm only just beginning to feel like myself again. With major events coming up in just a few weeks, this has been one of the primary drivers of my anxiety/depression. I'm beginning to feel like I'm in control again, and I just hope I haven't lost too much time.

I don't feel at liberty to discuss the details of recent events. All I can say is that a long-term abusive situation almost ended in murder. Watching history repeat itself has been so difficult, especially when you've been made out to be the villain. But watching their strength in claiming the label of survivor, in moving forward and beyond the pain and years of manipulation, is inspiring. Rediscovering yourself is not always easy, nor is it painless. Abusers know how to control your emotions. They study your responses over time and learn how to get what they need from everyone involved. They will try to claim victimhood, to escape responsibility and consequences in an effort to get back to how things used to be--to their version of "normal". It takes strength beyond measure to disengage from a toxic, even dangerous relationship. You (plural) have that strength, and you have a family to support you.

As before, I will always stand by those who have survived, those who have escaped. I will always tell the truth for those whose voices have grown too tired, especially when others aim to silence you. Not only will you continue to survive, you will thrive as you rediscover your true self and the love with which you are surrounded. And we will do whatever it takes to help you when you need it most, when you feel like doubting yourself and your decisions. You are my friend(s). You are family. We will never abandon you.

I have more experience than I care to discuss right now. Even now, I wait for a day I feel will never come. When she finally has had enough. I wish I could say more, but it's been made clear that it's not my story to tell. I have to fight back tears when I think of what could have been for one of the most important people in my life.

I guess the point is that I haven't just seen or heard.

I know.

I may have what some people consider extreme reactions to anger. I just want to point out that I'm on high alert for a reason. It is by this point a built-in response mechanism, and I have little control over how terrified I appear. Interestingly enough, when someone directs that anger toward someone I love, my response is markedly different. I like to think that explains what kind of person I am without having to do it in so many more words.

I posted this here for a few reasons. Trigger warnings aren't my thing, but I can draft a title that gives people the option to avoid the subject, even temporarily. I needed to do this for myself as much as I did the people I love. I have a lot of my own deeply buried issues to deal with, and I'm sure I'll need to revisit this in the future. But, right now, it's not about me. It's about everyone who has ever lived through abuse, about those who have escaped and those still trying to find the courage to. I refuse to contribute to silence surrounding domestic violence. I refuse to let the abusers win. That's something we can't do alone, and I've seen such a tremendous outpouring of support in the last few days. It makes me feel confident that this ending marks a new beginning. That we will see that light shine again. However, there is still someone out there who needs that same support from the community. Friends, please don't hesitate to reach out to them as well.

My brain is doing that thing where it's going to circle back around. So, I will leave with this:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46446/still-i-rise

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bipolar.

I'm in a weird space right now. Earlier today, I came to the realization that maybe my getting better was really just a hypomanic episode, since I've been on a bit of a downward spiral for the last couple weeks. Others tell me that this depressive episode is the anomaly, likely because they're trying to make me feel better. Unfortunately, most people with my type of bipolar disorder are depressed more often than not, with episodes of hypomania at varying frequencies. There is no getting better here. There is only managing, and I've never quite been able to do that for very long. I'm worried that I'm starting to repeat the cycle, and I don't know what to do to keep things from getting worse.

I fear that I will never function well enough again to do the things I want to do with my life.

That fear itself is paralyzing. Why try if I will never be a functional member of society? If I will never be able to go to grad school, have a family, etc.?

I fear that the only response here is to increase my dose of lithium, which may be the cause of my months-long gastrointestinal issues after all.

I know things are getting bad because I notice myself taking longer to get myself ready to do anything. I feel disconnected and demotivated most of the time. The flashes of motivation sometimes last only seconds, and this tug-of-war is exhausting. I'm not making phone calls. I'm not talking to anyone or making plans. I know what's happening and feel powerless to stop it.

I don't want this to be my life. To be my forever.

Help.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Limitless

I was going to wait on this until I had heard back from Jason, but here is the piece I submitted to FTM Magazine's online publication. We were asked to describe what masculinity means to us:

"It’s three in the morning, and I just got back from the gym. Like so many men my age, I couldn’t help but snap a few selfies in the sauna after a particularly intense and productive workout. I’d been sick for two weeks prior to this evening, so I didn’t expect to feel so proud of those pictures. But then I saw them, and I became enveloped in emotions I had almost forgotten I could experience. Those pictures took me back to the day I got my first binder, when I stood looking in the mirror with tears in my eyes, as it all came together in my head: “This is how it’s supposed to be.” I saw my chest in a new light. I had finally come to see the physical progress to which I am so often blind—a phenomenon I’m told is experienced by numerous trans men. Is this what masculinity feels like? Yes…and no.

I feel lucky to live in an age where the queer community has come to embrace the notion that gender—and, by extension, masculinity—is limitless. Most of us, however, grew up with a different definition of masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity, which refers to the social construct that seeks to maintain men’s dominant position by reinforcing the idea that women and “non-masculine” men are inferior, has shaped our perceptions of manhood since our first breaths. As a young child, I rejected femininity wholeheartedly, seeking to distance myself from women and girls as much as possible. I prided myself on my traditionally masculine attributes: my strength, my appearance, my manner of speech, and my distaste for pink, among others. Transition was my gateway to freedom of gender expression. Although I did spend some of my early days in transition trying to prove my masculinity, the simple switch of pronouns was enough of a spark to allow me to embrace some of my more feminine attributes. Even before starting testosterone, I suddenly found myself attracted to the color pink, and it finally felt okay to express myself in “non-masculine” ways and media.

Today, I define my masculinity as limitless. I am masculine. Therefore, anything that comes from me is by extension masculine, whether I am flexing shirtless in the gym or dancing in a corset and four-inch heels. I’m constantly re-evaluating my gender in the context of the world around me, and I’ve even come to question this definition, which essentially states that gender labels are arbitrary and meaningless. If we lived in a social vacuum, perhaps that would be sufficient. However, some parts of me feel that this argument still seeks to reject the feminine pieces of my soul. Learning to be okay with being labeled feminine has been a huge step forward for me. It is an aspect of the gender revolution that should be the key focus of men who wish to support the movement: You cannot fight for true equality if you continue to distance yourself from women and the feminine based on arbitrary standards. Perhaps then “limitless” for me means that I am masculine, I am feminine, I am all that lies between and outside of these terms, and I am so much more than any descriptor of my gender can ever convey.

I see so many young trans men fighting for their place in this world, pursuing the ideals of hegemonic masculinity in order to prove their manhood. I want you to know that gender is not a mathematical concept whereby increases in your femininity detract from your masculinity. Femininity is not the opposite of masculinity. When I think of terms typically
associated with masculinity such as strength, courage, and confidence, I cannot envision a feminine person alive today—particularly when thinking of trans women—who do not possess these attributes in one way or another. The same is true when I think of traditionally feminine attributes or descriptors (e.g., soft, vulnerable, emotional). These parts exist in every masculine individual, and a healthy outlook on life involves acknowledging and channeling these aspects, and using them to improve upon yourself.

At some point during transition, you realize that regardless of how much work it may have taken, your true identity is the one that feels effortless—the one that prompts the least internal resistance and frees you from those feelings of fear and inadequacy. As the high of beginning your transition wears off, you will settle into yourself and realize that your identity may have evolved since the beginning. Once I transitioned, I felt less and less compelled to adhere to the standards of hegemonic masculinity. I no longer felt like I had to play catch-up by overcompensating for my femininity. My masculinity is now inseparable from my femininity, which I have embraced wholeheartedly. It is a lightness unlike any other to know that your soul is no longer divided."

Friday, January 26, 2018

Random Musings on Gender

I wanted to write, and to write something meaningful. But that’s just not happening today. The burst of creativity I felt while reading the final book by Oliver Sacks—who helped fashion me into the type of neuroscientist I am today, with my penchant for provocative language, for writing scientific material with as much flair as any novelist—suddenly seemed to vanish as soon as I placed my fingers on the keys. It’s getting more and more difficult to write by hand, as the thoughts seem to flow through my mind ever more quickly, and I am limited by the confines of the human motor system. So, let’s try this.

I’ve recently seen so many posts from trans men undergoing phalloplasty, prompting me to examine my own feelings regarding my genitals, which many people would regard as the basis of my transness. Indeed, that’s all so many people seem to focus upon. While I’m not necessarily thrilled about my overall anatomy, my genitals have always kind of been irrelevant to me. What I have works, and it’s never been particularly important for me to even have the appearance of a penis, except maybe while performing traditional masculinity on stage. I tried packing a few times early during transition, and I could never get comfortable doing so.

To me, the essence of transness is the understanding of your social otherness, which isn’t necessarily rooted in anatomy. As a child, I gravitated towards not just the masculine, but to other boys. I longed to be with those like me, even though I had a keen understanding of my difference from an early age. This gravitation had nothing to do with genitals, secondary sex characteristics, or the desire to change my body. This was a young boy simply trying to be a young boy in a world desperate to manipulate him into becoming a girl. The fragility of hegemonic masculinity may explain so much of the fear surrounding transness. When your entire identity is based around having a penis, encountering a physically and emotionally strong man with a vagina means having to confront the notion that your entire understanding of gender—and of yourself—may be flawed. Rather than facing this reality, most cisgender men never fully examine that fundamental question: What is manhood without your “manhood”?

As I’ve mentioned previously, my masculinity is something I define as limitless. My gender as limitless, encompassing both the masculine and feminine. Even in accepting the feminine components of my gender identity, I see these as irrelevant to my anatomy, firstly because it does not make sense to me to categorize parts of my body using gender terms. That is, having a vagina does not make me any more or less feminine (or masculine) than any other person. It’s simply a part of my body, like an ear or a toe. While I view my chest in the same way, I can never fully feel like it belongs to me. This part of me DOES feel foreign and grotesque most times, and there is not much I can do to change that. No amount of desensitization training will ever make these two lumps of fat feel like they are a part of me. Again, this has nothing to do with masculinity for me. I don’t feel like less of a man because they are there, unless you count feeling irritated that only trans men who have had top surgery seem to be considered valid, even within our own community. I just don’t want them there, although they have no bearing on my identity at this stage. Perhaps this is because it has been almost 9 years since I first came out as trans. My perception has shifted over nearly a decade of living as a trans man who has never been able to afford a name change, let alone surgery. The severity of my dysphoria has largely dissipated, as I have become so much more comfortable with myself, as I have reached the stage where I can simply focus on living my life. On being, rather than on transitioning. 

Make no mistake, I believe that transition never truly ends. I am constantly re-examining my gender in the context of the world around me, and for this I am grateful. Perhaps that is what has allowed me to evolve to this point of separation between body and identity. Yet there is somewhat of an internal conflict here, as my body is by extension masculine, since I am masculine. The choice of words seems arbitrary these days. I could just as easily say that I am feminine. I could look exactly as I do, behave exactly as I always have, and just as easily say that I prefer feminine pronouns. The point here is to use what feels right. It’s such a simple concept, yet we complicate it by trying to tell ourselves that our anatomy defines our gender, or the ways in which we can even express or embody transness. Once you separate identity from anatomy and biological determinism, things suddenly get less complicated.

“What if I wanted to identify as...?”

Barring any ludicrous options designed to pick a fight, the answer is always the same. Don’t make it any more difficult than it has to be. You are allowed to exist. Always.



Sunday, January 21, 2018

Clarity


I'm the kind of person who gets terrified when I receive private messages because it's really difficult for me to figure out how to respond, especially if they include compliments. I agonize over it for days or weeks before I respond sometimes, no matter the content of the message. As I try to figure out how to do that social thing, my anxiety continues to increase as more time passes between the initial message and my response. It's kept me awake at times. Well, this sort of thing in addition to every other thing that induces extreme anxiety.

Anyway, I just responded to like ten messages today, and you honestly don't know how proud I feel. It may seem like nothing, but being social is not something that comes easy to me. It's not that I don't want to or don't enjoy it, but the energy cost is high, and it takes almost all of my spoons to maintain my composure/overall impression in a social setting. I'm constantly analyzing the interaction, choosing the most appropriate response based on my analysis and my understanding of the other parties in the situation. It's a process that requires an intense amount of effort, particularly with new people or when there is small talk involved. One of the things I loved about the drag scene is that I could make friends so easily just by talking about a shared special interest, rather than nonsense.

I've learned that alcohol helps in these situations because it reduces my anxiety, as well as the stimulation I receive from the environment (lights, sounds, smells), freeing up some of my reserves.

There are some people in my life where none of this seems to apply. People with whom effort isn't required. People who know that I may say the wrong thing or nothing at all. People who don't just tolerate my weirdness and over-analytical nature, but who actually love me for it and want to be around me and my weirdness. I'm so grateful for these people.

The past week, even though I've been sick as all hell for several, has been so different for me. It was just one medication change. One that I was afraid to even take due to the potential side effects. It's been a little over a week, and I haven't felt this kind of motivation or clarity in probably four or five years. I've broken down crying at how much time I wasted not being able to function, not being in control at all.

I'm doing things that I love again, some of them for the first time in years. I'm making actual plans. I'm getting up in the morning. I'm talking to more people. I'm feeling connected again. And it's not killing me. I feel energized rather than depleted. And it's all coming down to one thing: With the help of a fantastic medical team (Johns Hopkins and EastRidge Health Services) working together, I am absolutely and finally ready to live again.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been there for me in one way or another these past few years, even though I've been distant. I want you to know that it wasn't by choice. That I miss you. You probably don't realize how much I do miss you and care about you. I think about so many of you as I try to fall asleep at night. I just hope it's not too late to be part of your lives again. I love you.

And, I can finally say without guilt or shame, I love myself. Thank you all again, and I'll see you soon.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Three-page Letter to Doctors (a.k.a., I Have Had It, Officially)

I am writing because I have some concerns regarding my treatment, and—as an autistic person—I feel most comfortable expressing myself in writing. As such, I may not have provided the most appropriate descriptions of my current situation at past appointments. Following the rhizotomy, I experienced severe pain at the site for approximately 3 weeks. Since that time, I have had no pain in that area whatsoever until 2-3 days ago, though it is intermittent and slightly different, which leads me to believe it may be associated with aggravation of problems in other areas. As I mentioned previously, the most severe pain occurs directly to the left and right of the vertebrae in my lower back, as well as right over the spine in the same area. This deep pain is accompanied by muscular pain most of the time, which ranges from tightness to a feeling of cramping. I also experience pain very far to the right and left (more intense towards the right), at or above the crest of my hip. This pain also causes the muscles in the area and in my side to spasm. Over the past year, the pain has seemed to worsen in these places, such that any bending, twisting, or sitting (or staying in any position for too long) causes dramatic spikes in pain. However, I am in pain all the time. The pain seems to be accompanied by a feeling of pressure. I feel physically weighed down in this region, and I feel like I cannot stretch to full extension. Chiropractic adjustments seem to help tremendously with relieving that feeling and the pain that radiates to the outer regions of my lower back. These also help with the pain around the center, though the effects do not last long at all (8-36 hours), and attempting to bend, twist, or move too drastically (which isn’t very much these days), will cause the symptoms to return.

At my first appointment with Dr. Gerszten, I was told that the rhizotomy would be the first in a series of steps aimed at identifying the source of the pain, in the event that the treatment did not result in complete resolution of symptoms. When I was told that I was again being referring to another facility, this came as a shock. I’m unsure of what this means. Will this treatment occur in conjunction with these other steps, or am I being passed along again? I do not mean to sound harsh in this case, but it’s a very frustrating experience. I don’t think I have been able to express just how, but please allow me to try.

The only things that have been able to improve my level of functioning in life—alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, overstimulation/sensory overload, intrusive thoughts, and many others—have involved physical activity. Previously, I was preparing to compete at the national level in bodybuilding. I have won several competitions based on my ability to dance. I have played sports for my entire life and built a career as a fitness professional while striving to achieve my long-term career goals. Over the last 2.5 years, I have watched my entire life fall apart. I spend most of my time lying in bed, unable to deal with the thoughts or find any way to stop them. (Medication is not an option. I have tried roughly 2 dozen in my life, almost all of which have resulted in severe side effects. The others blunted my ability to feel and caused depersonalization to varying degrees.) I cannot complete even the simplest task due to a severe regression of executive functioning skills, which is why I have spent hours every day since the phone call regarding the next step trying to write this message. Every task, even getting up to go to the bathroom, has become this arduous. I cannot do very many things myself. Until several months ago, I was able to go to the gym, albeit doing very basic workouts in comparison and requiring assistance to be able to move throughout the facility and lift things to the appropriate position. However, the pain in the central region of my spine has worsened such that this is barely possible, though I continue to try to do as much as I can, within reason. In addition to greatly improving my mental health, these activities have given purpose to my life. I have had none of that over the past 2 years. My entire life has been consumed with pain, just making it through the day. (I’ve also attempted various forms of therapy with no success, and I’m very familiar with the psychological aspects of pain.) Even at my best over these past 2 years, this level of functioning has been unacceptable because I am still incredibly trapped and dependent on others. I want to begin living my life again, and I’m worried about this next option.
I do not want to attempt conservative treatment—lie in bed for 90% of the day—until others decide that I am old enough for surgery. Do the years until then not matter? Or the years I have spent barely leaving my house, losing my home several times, losing contact with friends because I physically cannot do anything with them, losing opportunities to advance my career or return to school? Even at its best, again, it has been unbearable. But I’m not the type of person to show pain on my face. I blame that on how I was raised and a general insensitivity to pain until it becomes life-threatening. (Example: I broke my hand in several places in 5th grade, but I kept skiing for three more hours before I told my teacher.) But I cannot handle living like this, mentally or physically. Even now, I don’t feel like I have adequately expressed the level of distress this causes.

Some options aimed at identifying the source have been presented to me in the past: facet joint injections or rhizotomy (bilateral), another spinal injection, discogram, etc. I’m absolutely willing to undergo all of these, but I need to know the plan, its likelihood of success based on published evidence and clinical experience, and what happens in the event that the plan fails. I’ve also considered asking about Celebrex, as I know that the risk of stomach issues like I had experienced with other NSAIDs is lower. I have had several injections, undergone physical therapy three times, tried multiple NSAIDs, tried two anticonvulsants that both resulted in a reaction referred to as DRESS syndrome, have been through psychological counseling/treatment in various forms, and I just don’t know what else to try at this point. What else could give me my life back. And that is important to me: MY life. And that’s not a life of sitting around, watching movies, and the like.

I do have some additional information about symptoms that might be interesting. When I have been able to make it to the gym, I squat using a weight belt, which I began doing 6 months ago. After squatting while wearing the belt, I’ve experienced a complete reduction in pain upon taking it off, which lasts 20-40 minutes. I do feel some level of pain if I attempt to move suddenly during these times, but I found this to be quite curious. The problem I have is that, even in pain, I can still do a 2-minute plank (down from 4 min since injury), and my abdominal muscles always outlast my back. I have attempted to do back exercises to strengthen these muscles as well, but the issue is not about form or weight. If not in pain, I feel confident that I could do everything I could before. However, I have been experiencing another symptom that I did not believe was related. I’ve been having pain in my very low abdominal area that extends to the groin on the right side, which seems to worsen with strenuous activity or sitting completely upright. This has been going on for 8 months, though I originally assumed it was related to the general abdominal swelling/discomfort I have had for about the same amount of time. I have been unable to make my appointments for an ultrasound, so I still do not know about this. It’s been difficult to leave the house, though I intend to reschedule soon.
I apologize for the length of this message, but I do not feel that I have adequately explained how desperate I am, how incapacitating this is, and how much work it takes (physically and mentally) just to make it into these appointments or leave my house in general. Again, this is not acceptable to me, and I can’t continue living this way. If the best conservative treatment can offer me is being able to shower and walk down the street—and not allow me to do things I love—then this is not okay with me. I’d really like to discuss an actual strategy. Thank you for your time, and I hope we can talk soon.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Inherently Autistic Ranting (This should be the title of this blog.)

Every time I try to write about my experience as an autistic person, I fail miserably. I get overwhelmed by the very thought of organizing all of that information into something palatable and succinct enough for neurotypical people to remain engaged. Do I begin with my childhood, during which my queerness and neurodivergence were all too evident to everyone but me? During which I remained blissfully unaware that others did not experience the world as I did, until—little-by-little—I learned the hard way that my way is not the only way, that I am not always right, and that no one really wants to hear me talk about Ghostbusters for three hours? Or do I start with telling you about my here and now, about how the last several years have taken me to the darkest corners of autistic experience—where most would have me stay—and brought me back to one of the most fundamental lessons of my millennial childhood? “You are awesome, and fuck the part of the world that dares to tell you anything different.”

I still don’t know where to begin, which I suppose is in itself a very autistic thing. I remain stuck on the same idea, going over the same list of pros and cons in my head ad infinitum. Unless you give me a place to start. Tell me what you want me to write about, specifically, and I’ll have a hard time stopping. Even to sleep.

Let’s just pick something and say fuck it.

Delayed understanding of friendship? Incredible memory? Obsessive? Executive dysfunction? Speed reading? Visual thinking? Experiences of abuse? Being erased? Feeling broken or inhuman? Intense creativity? Comorbid mental health disorders? Well, fuck, here we go again.

I’m sure you’ve noticed a pattern here. Most of the items on the list are inherently negative. Many of them conjure images in my head that almost instantaneously lead to flashbacks of traumatic experiences—flashbacks from which I can rarely escape, with or without help. Therein lies the problem. Almost no one believes that there is anything positive about being autistic, unless you count those who fetishize certain “extraordinary abilities”. I’m a disorder. A disease. A sub-human creature who lacks the understanding necessary to be treated on par with my neurotypical peers with regard to human relationships, employment, education, and healthcare. I’ve been the subject of abusive situations more times than I can count, often believing that I deserved it because it wouldn’t happen if I weren’t like this, if I understood the lessons they keep trying to teach me, or just because people like me need to be treated that way in order to function in this world.

Even in trying to discuss my positive experiences as an autistic person, my mind is invaded with intrusive thoughts about how absurdly non-positive most such experiences have been. [Experiences removed for the internet because I'm not ready for that.] I try to remember, experience, and feel happy things. Positive things. Even okay things. But they are immediately tainted by these memories. I don’t even have to try. They’re always there. I mean, I still feel horrendously guilty about shit I did 20-25 years ago. My emotions are almost always all-or-nothing responses.

I keep getting drawn back into endless conversations about how I just don’t see things clearly, I’m misunderstanding something, or about how it’s not worth it to try to talk to me “when I’m like this”. (You mean always, then. Just because I can hide it doesn’t mean it’s not there.)

My mind doesn’t let go. It can’t. I’m trying my best to be proud of who I am. What I can do. But these things are inevitably overshadowed by past, present, future, and imagined negative experiences.
It’s hard not to feel broken this way.

I want to be in a place where I can write a narrative that isn’t going to evoke feelings of pity or make people really glad they aren’t me. Each time I think that I’m ready, I’m not. But maybe I can try.

I am an autistic person. I see the world in ways you couldn’t fucking imagine, from the intensity of colors and sounds to the images and thoughts that move too fast for words to the being logical to a  fault. My experience in this world is not one of deficiency. I am not lacking something essential that neurotypical people possess, for if I were to define any of those qualities as essential to my being a complete person or even a person in general, I would inevitably be denying my humanity and that of others like me. I would be justifying the abuse and manipulation of autistic people. The myriad research papers that describe me as a burden to my family, “caregivers”, and society in general. I am a scientist considered by science to be incapable of acceptable existence, whose self-awareness is regarded as pathological in someone like me but as an example of “practicing mindfulness” in others. My experiences and words cannot be trusted. I cannot be trusted. I am invalid. I am inhuman.

Take your blue ribbons and shove them up your ass.

I don’t need your fucking ribbon. I don’t need your awareness. Like, you can be aware that you’re hungry, but unless you do something about it, you’re still going to be hungry. 

I need you to listen when I tell you that, no matter how many times I force myself to go out when I’m on the edge of a meltdown—whether I successfully avoid one or not—it’s never going to get easier. I can break your fucking leg a dozen times, and it’s not going to get any easier to walk on a broken leg. In fact, the more I do that to you, the more problems I’m going to cause, and they’ll likely last quite a long time. I need you to just accept that I have to do things my way sometimes or they’ll never get done in any reasonable amount of time. I need you to stop asking me the same questions or wanting to explain the same reasons for things over and over again, like you’ve never heard me mention them before. I need employers to understand that you should judge people based on their qualifications for the job, rather than based on how much fun you have talking to them during the interview. I need society to stop equating the worth of a human being to their productivity or palatability. “You can’t make money for us, so you deserve to die.” “Your life isn’t worth living if you can’t amount to anything.” I need people to stop thinking that asking kids with disabilities to the prom out of pity when you have no interest in pursuing a relationship with them is manipulative, self-serving, and cruel. I need doctors to stop screaming at me. Or talking about me like I’m not even in the room. Or ignoring my concerns. I need people to start caring about autistic people once they aren’t cute little kids anymore.

I need people to stop thinking that my right to exist comfortably and be a part of this world is my fucking problem. That I have to earn my right to be treated well. To not be subjected to pain, isolation, etc.

No, I don’t need people to understand that “we’re all the same”. I need people to understand that we’re all fucking different and that this is actually okay. I don’t need to have my unique experiences erased or glossed over to be considered human. I need people to stop being shitty assholes that think that the world shouldn’t be welcoming to as many people as possible. I need people to stop believing that, if only I weren’t autistic, I could have all these things that other people have. To stop believing that being in a relationship with me is a favor. A gift. A miracle. That loving me is a sacrifice. That I’m lucky no matter who dates me because I’m lucky to have anyone at all.

Fuck you.

This could go on for quite some time. I meant it to be a bit more organized. Intellectual. I meant to use more clever phrasing and take my time.


Instead, I needed to be angry and let you know that I don’t need you to decide whether my anger is justified. That you don’t get to decide that, and I wouldn’t care either way.