Trauma processing journal, part 1: Seeing my autistic self

Content: This post includes my thoughts on my trauma.

 

I’m swaying back and forth, between clarity and chaos. I’m not numb anymore, but extremely overwhelmed.

Am I a human being? Or am I just a failed attempt?

Don’t come at me with your “person with autism”. I’m an autistic person. I need to take back what they took from me. I need to take back my sense of self. Did I ever have a sense of self? I don’t know what’s me, because every attempt at seeing me is like if somebody puts up a distorting filter over me. I get pieces but I don’t know what visions to trust.

When are people going to understand that you can be born autistic and get traumatized because of ableism? When are people going to stop claiming that autism in itself is a symptom of trauma? When are you going to care about how trauamtizing it is to be abandoned and punished for everything that is you?

I’m ashamed about everything that is me. I’m ashamed of that I got so terribly hurt by all the loud noises and too many people at school. I’m ashamed of all my meltdowns and shutdowns. I’m ashamed of the fact that I allowed my mom to have so little respect for my boundaries. I’m ashamed of the fact that I still have no words for what was traumatizing me. All I can say is that the world is a dangerous place to me.

I’m ashamed about letting partner and kid go alone to visit my dad and his wife. Ashamed because I was too ill to not get a proper birthday present for my dad, but just had a card. Ashamed about being a person that doesn’t attend things, ashamed about being ill. I’m ashamed about that my dad got my kid a birthday present that might have been expensive. I’m ashamed about everything that is me.

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Clearer

A few days ago, something horrible happened. I was (and still am) scared about it, because it means that a threat that before this incident was vague suddenly became much more obvious.

However, even though I’m even more scared in some ways, I’m also less terrified. I can see some of the reasons for my poor mental health much clearer and that actually brings me a sense of freedom. The incident made me reach a point where I finally dared to start dealing more with my C-PTSD and even though it’s horrible and I have a long journey a head of me, it’s a relief.

One of the things I’ve learned that last couple of days is that there is something called emotional flashbacks, and that’s exactly what I’m experiencing. Another thing that I’ve learned is that the difficulties of being close to other people, especially when I’m feeling bad and when I’m very scared, that’s also probably a part of my C-PTSD.

There is a real threat against my kid and me and my partner, so things are by no means fine or solved. But I am for the first time in a very long time thinking that emotional healing might be possible.

Emotionally Dying

TW: This post includes depression, trauma and internalized ableism

 

I’m dying emotionally. Maybe overly dramatic words but -no. Dying emotionally is exactly what I’m doing.

There’s very little of me left. It’s like I’m fading away, like I’m consumed or used up. I still have happy moments but they are so short and it doesn’t change the fact that there’s very little of me left. I’m the ugly, sticky bottle that you have left when you’ve had a soda. The bottle with the label almost gone because you kept poking and tearing it apart while you were drinking. The only thing left that reminds you of the soda you had is a vague smell and the lingering sensations on your tongue.

It’s not happening because of my disease (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). It’s happening because I’m denied humanity. Because I’m not getting any ADHD meds, because people refuse ackonwledging that a life can be like this and that people can be humans in the way I am. It’s happening because my childhood memories are catching up with me. Because I’m denied being my autistic self. My dyke self.

I’m consumed because I spent everything that was me on trying to be allistic, and to some extent straight. By trying to do that I lost something that I can never get back, or maybe never had. I’m probably used up because the constant fear got to me. It ate me.

I guess this is one of the reasons why I’m failing so miserably at being close to people (besides from my kid). There is nothing of me left to give. I almost feel like I don’t exist more than as a physical body. A useless physical body that can hardly get out of bed and can’t be pushed inte performing. This description isn’t great but it’s the closest thing I can come up with. I’m gone. There is nobody left.

There’s no need to worry. I’ve been depressed like this before and just as then, I’m fighting to stay alive. The difference this time is that the world around me seems to be thinking that there’s no meaning with me being alive if I can’t leave my bed and since I can’t have long, verbal conversations, I’m denied a lot of healthcare this time.

I need to stay alive for my kid. Not only physically alive, but emotionally too. I can’t be just a shell to my kid, so I’m trying to preserve the tiny pieces of me that still exists.

Protection

Content: trauma

 

Yesterday, when I was trying to fall asleep and usual felt haunted by memories I wrote this on Twitter:

When I see ppl opposing autistic kids’ rights to accessibility & support I wonder if they know what it’s like to be that disabled kid learning that you don’t deserve protection from harm.

Or what it’s like to be an autistic adult thnking that you have no value.

I think about this a lot. Partly because as a parent, one of my fears is that my kid is going to grow up and think about themselves th way I think about myself. Another reason for why I think about this is because a lot of people in the abled world really don’t seem to get how harmful the lack of accessibility and support is. It’s like they don’t believe that we are harmed.

As I’ve been writing about before, my mental health is bad. Emotionally, I’m falling apart. It’s been going on for years and it doesn’t seem like I’m able to stop it from happening. Watching my kid grow up means seeing how people are treating autistic kids and that’s too much of a reminder of what my childhood was like. The memories of the public meltdowns, the humiliation, the pain and confusion – everything that I had pushed far away and stopped thinking about is now very present and so often triggered when I step in and protect my kid. The epiphany that a lot of people who are trying to be supportive to my kid but are failing miserably because they don’t understand what it’s like being autistic is horrible.

People often have good intentions but it’s so much that they don’t understand and I’m at home, stuck in my bed and too ill to be the protector I want to be. I’m failing my kid because I’m failing to protect them and at the same time I have to live through the nightmares and flashbacks where I was so unprotected.

When I wrote the quoted tweet above, it came from the insight that I’m so scared for so many reasons but truly don’t think that I deserve to be protected from harm. I’m too ashamed of everything that is me and by now I’ve been spiraling down emotionally for enough time to have distanced myself from almost everybody.

At the moment, an organization that I once tried to trust is failing its members epically. They are right now withholding information that could prevent people form being harmed and I’m reacting strongly to it. I’m trying to make this organization understand what they are doing and make them start protecting people again, but once again I fail.

I need to protect and be protected but I’m failing miserably at both, and my life is a chaos of shame right now.

Eating disorders and me: the quest to take the edge off

Trigger warning: This post includes explicit descriptions of eating disorders

 

I’ve had eating disorders since I was a kid. They have changed a lot over the years and for a long time I thought I had left it behind me but it turned out I hadn’t. I deal with it better these days than I did for a long time but still, the other day the truth hit me so hard: It’s still there. I’ve been telling myself and other people that I used to have eating disorders but that I don’t have it anymore, but that’s not completely true.

My relationship to food is so weird that it’s too difficult to explain it here, but I tend to bounce between the urge to overeat or eat way too restricted. I resist these urges a lot, but I still have them. By now, with around 30 years of living with an eating disorder, I know a lot about how it works for me. No matter if my eating disorder is telling me to not eat at all/eat very restictedly or if it’s telling me to overeat, it’s acutally about the same thing: the reward that takes the edge off the constant overwhelming.

I’ve been in an ED treatment but it didn’t really help that much and I think the reason is that it never dealt with the fact that I’m autistic and it’s very connected. Because no matter what my ED has looked like, it has always had an element of trying to deal with being so overwhelmed all the time. There are just too much emotions, too much sensory input, too much hyperactivity, too many thoughts, too much pain and too much confusion and fatigue for me to deal with. My ED has been a way to prevent meltdowns or deal with them when thy have happened.

Because no matter if I starved, ate extremely pseudo-healthy (because it’s really not very health at all) or overate, binged, compensated (worked out very hard and long or threw up), it was all about trying to prevent being overwhelmed (some sort of starving) or deal with it when it had happened (overeating, binging, working out very hard, throwing up).

These urges have also always to some extent been about me feeling like I’m about to fall apart from the feelings I don’t understand, like the social confusion I’ve always experienced. The sense of reward that these behaviors have given me is something I rarely experience in other aspects of life, because even though I can get praise for things I do, I seem to fail so miserably at being a human. My way of being human is wrong, according to the world around me and unfortunately, I believe it.

This has obviously very much to do with me being autistic but it’s connected to something else as well, however, that’s too complicated to write about. I just tried but decided to not bring it up in this post because it’s too taxing and I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe in another post.