What gaslighting does

My social insurance agency is trying to find a way to not pay me anymore. Yesterday when I ended the phone call that informed me about this, I started crying. I felt like my thoughts and feelings were being thrown around inside me, impossible to grasp. Within five minutes, I had relived a lot of the fear and shame that I’ve experienced during the last six years. I guess this is what post-traumatic stress does, it sends me back to a number of very frightening  situations without any notice.

Besides from worry about my financial situation, there is an equally horrible thing about this. I have to face all the times when doctors, physiotherapist, nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists made my symptoms worse with their assessments and treatments. Permanently worse. I have to face all those times when they were telling me that I interpreted myself and the world wrong. When they told me that what I was experiencing didn’t really happen. I have to face the fact that all that iatrogenic harm that I’m now living with the consequences of – it didn’t happen according to the people who should bear responsibility for it.

When I had calmed down a bit, I thought about this post about gaslighting. Because I think that one of the reasons for why being ill and disabled and going through a number of assessments and treatments has hurt me so much, is that I’ve been gaslighted all my life. As an undiagnosed autistic, people have constantly been telling me that I’m not experienceing what I’m experiencing. A quote from the post phrases this very eloquently:

Being an undiagnosed autistic can feel like the whole world is gaslighting you. From being told not to be silly, the lights aren’t hurting you, to being shouted at to pull yourself together, when you’re slipping into meltdown, you’re being told every day that your lived experience isn’t real.

This feels very important to understand in order to cope with what’s happening. It is very hard for me to deal with this kind of scrutiny that the insurance agency will put me under, because it makes old wounds start bleeding again. I still don’t know how I will get through this, but I know that reading about other autistic people’s experiences of gaslighting is helping me.

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