What Matters to Us?

I cannot deny my education; I can’t hide the BA in Philosophy or the BS in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics that I have earned over my 9 semesters as an undergraduate in college. I can’t deny that I was a mere 3 credits from adding a minor in physics to that list were it not for the government telling me I had “too many” credits toward a degree and my grants would be cut. I also can’t deny that I spent two years in a graduate programme studying mathematics, even if I didn’t complete the requirements to obtain that Master’s degree before my financial assistance was, again, cut off. I did well in school, but that being said, school is the only life I’ve ever known.

I am essentially an educated but unemployable person, both on the autism spectrum and a member of the LGBTQ+ community living in the reddest of red states. Most regular retail or call centre jobs would, I know for a fact, drive me to a mental hospital if not a successful suicide attempt within 2-3 weeks – I know this because I have tried to work in those environments and something inside me knew that if I went back for one more day, I was just asking for my third admission, my fourth admission, to the mental hospital which is so broken in its system of operations that it thinks treating suicidal patients as prisoners and cutting them off from any support system or coping mechanism they have found in ordinary life is somehow going to help them. (I’m sorry, but denying me regular contact with my own mother was not helpful in dealing with my internal struggles.)

I have lived my entire life with the belief that I, as a person, am worthless. I still believe this, despite the progress I have made with weekly therapy appointments in acknowledging that my skills might be unique or valuable in their own right. I still maintain the fundamental belief that I, as a human being, am worthless. This is a fact that has been drilled into my skull from birth by both my parents and the society in which I was raised.

Yet, most people look at my CV and see academic success alone. The lack of reliable work history concerns potential employers but the presence of significant education is enough to convince socially funded programmes that I don’t need their assistance. Even if I have a disability, I’m not disabled enough. I don’t deserve healthcare benefits because, even though my income is less than $500/mo most of the year as I struggle to get on my feet as a freelancer with zero self confidence, I don’t qualify for healthcare assistance because I don’t have a child and the social security office probably won’t grant me disability benefits based on the argument that “I can work some, but my mental health would not allow me to function in a full time job with benefits.”

I just want to be able to afford regular check-ups with my primary care physician to keep my mental disorders in check and monitor treatment. I shouldn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for a 20 minute visit consisting of “Is your medication still working?” “Well, yeah pretty much,” “Okay, here’s a refill.”

I certainly shouldn’t be hit with over two thousand dollars worth of bills because I was forced into a mental institution against my will over a misunderstanding by ignorant cops who see old self-harm scars and decide that those are enough to warrant an involuntary mental health hold in which I end up handcuffed, treated as a prisoner thrown into an ER where I am denied my basic right to use a fucking toilet; even if I willingly surrender my right to pee in privacy, I can’t even leave the room with supervision to use the proper facilities. All of this because I have old scars on my legs which indicate a history of self-harming behaviour.

The very fact that I had success in university is a curse when it comes to finding employment that I am mentally capable of handling, and it is also a barrier preventing me from gaining access to healthcare that, from my understanding, was intended to help those (like myself) in a position of poverty that feels impossible to escape from.

Granted, this is addressed in the debate over health care to a very limited extent, or at least I have to believe that these issues are covered in the lofty ideas Democrats propose for reform – I haven’t heard anything specifically dealing with mental health and the marginalization of those of us who have a record of being diagnosed with any form of “crazy”. Be it trauma, depression, autism, schizophrenia, they don’t care. We’re all labelled as second-class the moment that someone from the system steps in to intervene and make everything exponentially worse by claiming to “help” us.

I want so, so badly to see someone in a position of relative power, someone who the people are listening to and who has even a modicum of influence over the issues that common Americans think about, speak out against this broken system and declare their support toward those of us who need legitimate help to tackle these battles – not prison sentences that the court arbitrarily decides they’re only going to foot half the bill for.

Maybe we’re a minority, maybe we’re not a group that’s going to show up to the polls en masse and make a substantial difference, but we are sentient human beings with legitimate thoughts and feelings, and we should not be treated like second class citizens or criminals simply because we have been labelled with some form of mental illness.

We still matter. We’re still here, and we are suffering, and we deserve every basic human right just as much as anyone else.

bloodstainedblankets

I went a good month (if not more; I don’t really count at this point) without this happening, but of course… everything was just so empty and absurd and useless that, once again, I took a blade to my skin.

img_0788One isolate slip-up hardly seems like a big deal in the face of everything else I’m trying to process; what freaked me out the most was that I cut just deep enough for the blood to trickle down and nearly create a stain on my brand new blanket (my Swedish flag blanket, which means a good deal to me as having a Swedish name is the only real connection I have to any sort of heritage that feels real to me.) Luckily, I was quick at covering the wound with gauze and rinsing out the blanket before the stains had a chance to set in, but maybe that’s not the most relevant part.

My therapist was sick and cancelled last week (ironically, it had to be the week that I had interesting news to share and legitimate questions I need help with, but we all have our own lives. It happens.)

The funny thing about therapy is that you don’t really feel like you’re doing much more than just having a pleasant chat during the sessions, but as soon as you miss one of them it becomes painfully clear just how important that weekly hour of honesty and relief is to your mental well-being…

Even when you sit in your room feeling dead inside and bitter at the world and completely irritated at the noise from everyone else living in the house nearly constantly, including directly after your appointment, it serves as some kind of evidence that, despite how hard it is to see, those hours spent with a good therapist really do make a difference. Maybe the progress isn’t as extreme or as fast as your family expects it to be, but ignoring that, at least you’ve got some hard evidence that therapy is helping in some way.

Jesse is avoiding Nate's calls He shows Paul the brochure.

Of course, when you’ve got over 20 years of trauma from an emotionally abusive father and an emotionally unavailable mother, it’s difficult to explain that therapy has helped me immensely because I’ve come to a better understanding of where my trauma came from and how deeply it’s affected me, despite the fact that I’m nowhere near ready to jump into society with a regular job and act like a healthy, functional human being…

Sure, we’ve all got problems, but we’re not all a flight risk the way I am.

I still live in a state of belief that everyone views me as a disappointment, an unreliable employee, a socially awkward flight risk…. And they’re not wrong, not really.

My personal milestone (up until 5 minutes ago) was as simple as not slicing my skin open with a razor blade. This, to me, is a significant improvement, but outside of my therapist, nobody else truly appreciates that. (To be far, I’ve learned to hide my cuts really fucking well; were it not for cops showing up at my door, everyone else in the house would be essentially oblivious to my habitual self-injury.)

Anyway, this progress goes largely unacknowledged, instead replaced by nagging questions about what I’ve been doing to advance to a place that’s about 5 levels beyond my current state of recovery…. Not that I can communicate how fucked up that is, of course.

I’m just an alcoholic that knows how to write words and care for a house full of cats; it’s going to take a lot more work to get farther than this… Just, ironically, the progress I’ve made which, to me, deserves some amount of applause, doesn’t exist to my family, as it’s really just progress that raised me up to what they thought my initial starting point was…

tumblr_m9p4k65hzK1rdnrb6o4_500

Minus the alcoholism, perhaps; I can guarantee I drink 5x more than any of them suspect. (Though I would be more than happy maintaining that illusion)

The last thing I want to do is come off as some angsty teenager with the whole “nobody understands me” cliche, but in this case it really does seem legitimate that my family is, to some degree, clueless.

For good reason, though. Mum would overreact, and Dad (who is currently blocked on everything with the hopes of cutting all contact) would accuse me of lying, being a failure, etc etc until the only thing I can think of is suicide…

Still Damaged

Lord Trauma still haunts my dreams; the ideas still embedded in my psyche.

I’ve cautiously applied for a few jobs mainly for the sake of appearing to be doing better than I am, though I’ve clicked the “submit” button with the expectation of rejection or failure from the start. It’s more about putting others’ mind at ease by being able to say “Look, I applied for something.” I know I won’t get it, though; I don’t even want most the jobs.

large (2)

It’s not just laziness, though; I wouldn’t even say it’s completely self-sabotage, because there’s something much more deeply entrenched in my subconscious mind that makes it impossible to even conceive of myself as being qualified or able to do these jobs.

Continue reading

Indulging the inner Narcissist

Grief. Pity. Regret. The people owning our lives don't deserve such sympathies…It hurts to come to the realisation that you have been completely misinterpreting an entire relationship as meaning something it doesn’t, and maybe a decent person would see this new significant other and, after the initial hurt and jealousy, think something more like “I just hope they’re happy,” but I’m really not that person.

No, I immediately felt that pain throbbing in my chest accompanied with a huge wave of self-criticism – how the fuck could I have been so stupid as to believe that I might possibly be good enough to capture their interest? Of course I’m not – I’m an ugly, worthless, psychotic alcoholic; a sad person, a poet, a lover of great art who lives on the edge of the Void and threatens to pull anyone who gets too close down into it.

Continue reading

Stained Glass Eyes

tumblr_n9opsl8LdN1qgg1x6o4_500Thoughts spiral around in a circle, never ending but repeating the same cycle over and over with no better insight to be had.

Self-awareness has been a gift in much of my healing process, but the inevitable is happening again where all I feel is completely, utterly lost. I can feel tears trying to well up in the back of my eyes, but they won’t manifest; a lifetime of forcing myself to hide emotions at all costs has very nearly robbed me of the ability to cry at all…

I just can’t get this out of my mind.

Continue reading

\\awake

Dear insomnia,

Please give it a rest already.

I can feel the physical effects of my sleeping pills and that alcohol I piled on top of them; so much so that I question my ability to walk without staggering, falling, and injuring myself…

My body knows without a doubt that it should be sedated enough to force sleep to come, but alas for some reason my brain feels the need to challenge this. Even as I’m physically on the verge of collapse, my mind refuses to go along with the obvious and necessary course of action here…

tumblr_nxlzl076YS1udbujjo2_540

There isn’t any good reason, though. Unfulfilled obsessions equate to stupid milestones in pointless games on my mobile phone that, supposedly, build up to pitifully small rewards that eventually can be redeemed for insignificant credits to PayPal or Amazon or what have you… And if my insomnia is keeping me up until 7 A.M. for the sake of a $5 Amazon gift card, then clearly there’s a much deeper problem here that I’ve yet to identify.

On the other hand, maybe I’ve missed the point. Dreams and reality bleed together so much that I couldn’t possibly separate the pieces enough to determine if this insomnia is fuelled by the fear of some nightmare, or alternatively some fantasy that ultimately leaves me with nothing but despair once I wake up and realise that such a life isn’t realistic for someone like me. (And no, that’s not some stupid angst-driven sentiment, it’s more akin to the fantasy of being neurotypical and functioning in society only to wake up and remember that I’m different. That, being a person on the spectrum with my past experience puts me at such a horrid disadvantage that the amount of work required to achieve that world I dreamt is overwhelming and, quite frankly, terrifying.)

dan-stevens-legion-gifMaybe it’s all of the above. I’m not in a position to say one way or the other, really.

Constantly questioning my perception and my sanity with regards to… basically everything that exists. I might have a decent handle on what I am, how I think, and the types of trauma that have obliterated almost all of the trust I should have in my own judgement, but how insightful is that, really, if I can’t even break it down enough to find a way to let myself just sleep already?

Child of a Narcissist

Constantly preoccupied with the idea that I won’t meet the standards of every person I meet; paranoid I’m not good enough to keep any of the relationships I’ve ever managed to form.

Growing up, I never knew acceptance; years later, I still can’t quite comprehend it properly. I had to earn my father’s approval or else face criticism, punishment, essentially being disowned. As a human being my worth was defined by my ability to live up to his standards of what his children ought to be.

Is it any wonder that I now feel the need to compulsively apologise for my own existence to anyone and everyone who I find myself growing deeply attached to?

e64520729a218c33db7f00ff61d57165But that, well, at least I’ve accepted that my father’s narcissism is the source of that damage; that, going back through all of the traumatic life experiences, the abusive relationships, the inability to believe that my existence, my life has any intrinsic value on its own, it all started with him. All the guilt I feel from receiving any kind of help, the constant emotional turmoil from simultaneously desperately needing constant approval from someone yet being completely incapable of believing them when they try to give it to me… It all started with my childhood, and it came back in full force and all but consumed me alive when circumstances put me in a position of living with him once again.

But from here, the real question is healing, and that’s not something I can write about until I’ve figured out how to reliably begin the process (and God only knows I’m still not quite there.)

Continue reading

“Write drunk, edit sober”

Hemingway, by all accounts I’ve stumbled on, never said such a thing.

But, if he did all of his writing sober, all I can say to it is that I’m envious of that talent, because God only knows I can’t tell you what true sobriety feels like and I’m not sure I’d even be writing at all if I did, because sobriety holds back my words with this force conditioned in my brain from birth by a sociopath father who wouldn’t stand for any form of self expression from his children. Especially me.

Me, sitting here, on the same bedroom floor where I lived as a high-schooler 10 years ago, because obviously college meant nothing in the greater scheme of things and everyone thinks just because I took the easy way out of life for two years getting paid to do graduate school in mathematics that ought to make me some kind of successful genius despite having never finished the actual Master’s degree and having cheated my way through half of it.

The failure who just can’t find it in them to cope with the vaguely remembered reality of chronic emotional abuse throughout childhood because by all external accounts, everything was normal and the only problems were mine and even those were hidden so much they never really existed at all. Sure, he hit me a few times, but he wasn’t a drunk who constantly beat the shit out of me or my mother or my younger brother; he wasn’t a victim of addiction or of hard circumstance, he was just an ice cold corpse whose only concern, only motivation was to appear well-adjusted and socially better off than the average person.

Deep down, I always knew it. Continue reading

Too much, yet not good enough.

Change takes time.

Healing takes time.

Merely understanding takes time.

Only, apparently, in my case they all have been taking too much.

The visible scars are self-inflicted, but those heal up in a matter of weeks.

It’s the invisible scars that are difficult to find,

which don’t heal so well when you leave them alone,

which aren’t so easily explained nor prevented.

beforeidisappear

The external damage is just a warning label for what’s under the surface.

Something that no label does justice to, because it’s more than “loneliness,” it’s more than “depression,” it’s more than just “abuse.”

There’s a brewing storm wreaking havoc on an already war-torn landscape, fueled by loss, by manipulation, self-sabotage, cloudy childhood memories, delusions of worthlessness, failure by the standards of others, by being trapped.

It isn’t supposed to make sense, it isn’t meant to be understood by anyone who isn’t trapped there. That isn’t the point.

I was unlucky enough to have an abusive father who, on the surface, appeared to be perfect. Because words were his weapons, not violence, not touch.

Disapproving, controlling, overly-critical, unfair, and unapologetic. I was never a human being, I was a status symbol, a thing to be bragged about, to be envied. Anything that didn’t further that agenda was to be hidden at all costs and ferociously denied. Problems weren’t fixed because they didn’t even exist.

But how do you re-write over 20 years of this reality in 2 months?

Untitled

Staring off into space trying to make sense of yourself;

Stumbling through this vicious cycle of abuse constantly afraid of becoming the very people who hurt you.

When I stand my ground and directly inform someone that the way they’re treating me makes me want to die, and in turn that upsets them and drives them into a bad headspace, does that turn me into the abuser?

I won’t apologize for being truthful, but…. I feel like that’s what I should do. Crawl back into my shell, apologize because I upset someone (because my own feelings aren’t that important…)

I can’t escape the biting feeling that it’s my fault… I did something wrong. Being depressed is doing something wrong and telling someone is doing something even worse, and now I’m being punished for it. Continue reading