All Too Familiar
I’m sat on the sofa, as usual. I’ve spent a lot of time on this sofa since November.
If you’re not usually round here – if you’ve found me because of #BADD, Bloggers Against Disablism Day – I ought to introduce myself. My name’s Kit, which is a pseudonym. I use a pseudonym for two main reasons. The first is because I’m part of the generation that first encountered computers in schools, and I had it successfully drummed into me that you shouldn’t use your real name on the internet, who knows who could find all sorts of things out about you. The second is so that my mum can’t search my name – it’s not unique, but pretty rare – and find I’ve not been entirely polite about her when I’m blogging. Well mum, today’s gonna be one of those days.
I now consider myself disabled. My mum would hate to know this. I am disabled, because my anxiety, depression, tourettes and autism combine to make life outside these four walls pretty difficult for me. Many autistic folks don’t consider their autism a disability, merely a human variation. I find it is a disability for me, as society isn’t set up for people who process like I do, and so I find dealing with society difficult. (The first two things I’d do to make the supermarket more autism-friendly is turn off all the music and make sure mobile phone signal reached all parts of the store. Oh, and I’d put a map by the entrance.)
So what’s my problem with my mum?
She dislikes the amount of time I spend on this sofa. Ever since she had explained to her the reasons why a child in her care had been diagnosed with autism, thus realising that she is also autistic, she’s had the attitude of “I can cope – why can’t you?” Well, we could point out my other problems, but that isn’t quite the point. We are two different people. Of course things manifest differently in different people! She sees herself as the standard I should be living up to, while I know full well that we have different skills to use, different coping mechanisms to implement.
I know it’s hard when you have to keep the household working while another person is curled up on the sofa, stimming. My relationship fell apart because we couldn’t look after each other – or, more accurately, I couldn’t bluff that I was calm while he was not – so I requested less and less time with him. Looking after someone who has no idea why they’re in distress is tough, because neither of you know what to do to stop it. Knowing this doesn’t bring back my thought processes. Knowing this doesn’t stop the world performing a DDOS on my senses. Knowing this doesn’t tell me that the world is safe.
The other problem with my mum is she assumes that every day can be a good day. She sees my admission to the mental health ward in October as the lowest point on a graph that has risen every day since then. That’s simply not true, and not just because I was actually worse over the summer, but had no-one to drag me to A&E. (The number of times I’ve gone there with suicidal intent and been sent away, I tried to stop her taking me because it would just be a waste of our time.)
I really want to shout at my mum that my mood ain’t monotonic, but she wouldn’t understand the mathematical term for the graph I described above. Some days, yes, I can go to the gym and cook dinner and go shopping and go to my ceramics class. Some days, I spend most of my time dozing on the sofa or playing puzzle pirates, anything to prevent me entering the kitchen (it contains knives). I shouldn’t have to apologise that I’ve had a hard day, that I’ve wanted to cut my toes off or been surrounded by noise. But an apology must be what is wanted if I’m being shouted at for spending all day on the sofa again.
My dad, on the other hand, is not as bad. He tried to distract me for a couple of minutes on Saturday, while my mum squeezed onto the sofa beside me and read her book. But he is currently building a hypothesis that is on shaky foundations that I would hope I was a good enough statistician to avoid. Whenever I have a bad day, he asks me what I have eaten. Usually, it’s not much. (Ever since I was supposed to use a kitchen at university that was in a permanent state of foulness, I’ve found it very difficult to identify when I’m hungry.) He takes that as evidence that me not eating much causes bad days, though if he sampled my good days, he’d find I’d eaten just as badly. (Actually, I do eat slightly worse, on average, on bad days – the category of bad days includes the days in which I’m too nauseous to eat, or too terrified to enter the kitchen. Taking this evidence, the causation runs the other way.) This leads to him blaming me for situations that were out of my control.
He said that if I couldn’t eat properly, they couldn’t look after me any more. They would have to send me back to the mental health ward. This scared me so much I threw up repeatedly. So much for the nutrition from that day…
I’m sorry I’ve just ranted about my parents at you. I think at this point I’m supposed to write a conclusion about how even those who insist they care can be disablist and painful, but I think you worked that out, and most of you knew anyway. If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading. Would you like a poem?