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Introducing “Alice Tortoise”

My name is Alice, and this is my blog, “Alice in Blunderland”. I will be posting about a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to mental illness, fandoms, recipes, puns, life skills, funny stories, recovery, and my journey on this crazy adventure of life.

Why “Alice Tortoise”?

While tortoises are fantastic and adorable, it is not through an affinity for the creatures that I chose my name. It is actually a mix between of a pun and a play-on-words. In the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the Mock Turtle is telling Alice a story:

‘Once,’ said the Mock Turtle at last, with a deep sigh, ‘I was a real Turtle.’

These words were followed by a very long silence, broken only by an occasional exclamation of ‘Hjckrrh!’ from the Gryphon, and the constant heavy sobbing of the Mock Turtle. Alice was very nearly getting up and saying, ‘Thank you, sir, for your interesting story,’ but she could not help thinking there must be more to come, so she sat still and said nothing.

‘When we were little,’ the Mock Turtle went on at last, more calmly, though still sobbing a little now and then, ‘we went to school in the sea. The master was an old Turtle — we used to call him Tortoise — ‘

‘Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn’t one?’ Alice asked.

‘We called him Tortoise because he taught us,’ said the Mock Turtle angrily: ‘really you are very dull!’

(In Lewis Carroll’s dialect, “Tortoise” and “taught us” are pronounced the same)

I thought it fitting, as my posts should always teach you something new, change your point of view, or inspire you!

I am a pansexual punderful pundit, a friendly fandom fanatic, and an Aspie with an affinity for alliteration.

I am Alice Tortoise, and welcome to my blog!

Posted in Mental Illness In General, Recovery

Worthless: A Slam Poem

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Abuse, Transphobia, Racism, Anxiety, Depression, Self-hate

 

Worthless

 

When did you decide you were worthless?
You used to be young, and full of hope.
No matter the landscape of your childhood, you hoped.
Poor kids hoped for a day where they didn’t struggle with poverty.
Trans kids hoped for a day where their body would reflect who they really were.
Kids of color hoped for a day when they would be treated equally, when the color of their skin wouldn’t ever matter, wouldn’t put them at higher risk.
Kids in abusive homes hoped for a day when they would be rescued, when the pain would stop and they would be showed love and mercy.
Kids struggling with mental illness or physical illness hoped for their symptoms to become more manageable.
Who washed away all that hope?
Was it one single incident?
Or was it many, many incidents, building on you like chains, choking the breath out of your lungs and your throat like a poison, ripping the hope out of you bit by bit until you were afraid to hope, afraid to dream, afraid that the darkness would seek it out too and that you would be left with nothing?
Now, we are scared to hope.
We are scared to dream.
We burrow our secret hopes and dreams, we shove them into the old dusty cabinets of our minds and pray that the dust settles before the darkness comes back and finds the hiding place
We glance at the cabinet from time to time, we know what is in there, but we dare not to betray our own secrets
When the darkness goes away for a while, we sometimes work up the courage to open the cabinets and gaze upon the hopes and the dreams, only to shut them away again.
Unrealistic
Unrealistic
Unrealistic
we say to ourselves
We dare not to hope and without hope our dreams seem like kingdoms in the sky, magical, mythical, and out of our reach.
When you enter recovery for any kind of disorder or trauma, you start to realize things, and remember things.
You remember the words that attached the chain, link by link.
You remember the bullies
You remember small things that made big differences
Small things can make big differences
Small things can change anything, everything, with the right timing
Those things your brain says to you, those hurtful, terrible, awful things,
They aren’t true.
We live in the world of technology, hurtful things can be said to us through text, in a post, in a chatroom
There is not always a voice with the message
So when you read the message
the voice is your own
My sister sent me hate mail.
In one of the letters she said “your friends aren’t even your friends, they just pretend to be your friends because they pity you”
It wasn’t true
But I read it, she didn’t say it, so to my brain, I was saying:
“Your friends aren’t even your friends, they just pretend to be your friends because they pity you”
So now my brain tells me that, day in, day out, when my symptoms flare up, when I have a dispute with my friends, always
It doesn’t make it true. But I still believe it sometimes, when I’m hurt and vulnerable
So many little things, even just a single word, can add links to the chain, make you hate yourself
Look at each of your chains. Try to understand their origins, see if you can decipher what they say.
Would you say it to your younger self?
Would you say it to yourself if you were speaking to the version of you at three, four, five years old?
You have to know that those chains do not define you.
They are not who you are.
Maybe it was one person who shackled you with them.
Maybe it was many.
Maybe it was a book, or a movie, or a magazine, that made you think you were worth less than you are and worthless as a person.
They were wrong.
When did you decide they were right?
I swear that they were not right.
You are worth recovery. You are worth love. You are worth respect.
You are worth it.
Let yourself hope. Let yourself dream. And let yourself love your self.

Update.

Hello all,

It’s been several months since my last post. Things have been hectic and troubling, and I haven’t had time to sit down and write, and when I have, I became too paranoid of my writing. What if it isn’t good? What if I ramble? Who really cares about this stuff?

My anxiety has been much worse recently, to the point where I am considering medication. I haven’t been completing all of my assignments, I am being triggered pretty constantly in two of my classes. My mental health and physical health have been declining, slowly but surely. I got a job for over the summer, and I’ll be staying on campus, so I don’t have to worry about finding housing or anything like that.

Even on my own blog I feel censored. I have to be careful about what I say, who I name. I have to remain anonymous, to protect myself and my safety. When you write about abuse, it can be risky, especially when you are telling your own story. I have to worry about repercussions from my writing. I have to make sure it is clear enough to not be misconstrued or mislead my readers. I make sure to label every possible trigger I can think of for each of my posts – as someone else who needs trigger warnings to keep my mental and physical health in check, I would feel so terrible for causing that kind of effect on another. Sidenote – if something in my post is problematic, triggering, factually incorrect, etc., please please please let me know in the comments, or message me (I think you can do that on here? Idk.) I want to use my experiences to help and educate others, but I also need others to help me learn, too.

I have a couple of posts written up, and I will try to post them as well as new posts, and do so more frequently than I have been posting recently. I promise I’m still here for you guys. I am not leaving. I will not be silenced. Be it by someone else or by my own doing.

Love and light,

Alice Tortoise.

Posted in Abuse

Abuse and Anger

TRIGGER WARNING: Abuse

 

There’s an effect survivors don’t talk about as much as we really should. When you have been abused, you have a lot taken from you. Self-esteem, health, safety, happiness, etc. And anger.

Doesn’t that sound like it should be a good thing? Imagine never getting angry again. Someone spills coffee on your computer and you just forgive them. You don’t get angry at them, you aren’t upset. Sounds good, right?

It’s really not.

See, when we are abused, we are not allowed to have our own agenda. We are not allowed to have negative emotions or reactions to the abuse. If you cry, you’re weak or asking for attention. If you are upset, you are unreasonable and the abuser. If you ask for help, you’re trying to frame them and get them in trouble, and trying to get pity.

This doesn’t just go away when the abuse does.

And for us who were abused throughout our childhood, we grew up in fear of anger, of disappointment, of our own emotions. The anger expressed to us was through abuse, and if we got angry we got punished. We never really experienced anger in a non-abusive way.

When we get out of the abusive situation, the effects still haunt us. We are scared to show emotions. We feel weak when we do. We punish ourselves for crying, especially in front of others. It must mean that we are attention-seeking, we reason to ourselves. That’s what we’ve been taught. And we’ve been taught that anger is always abusive.

I’m terrified to be angry at my friends. They are amazing people and they do their best, but sometimes they mess up. Sometimes they mess up badly. And I’m furious about it sometimes. I’m so angry at them about it, yet, I’m not angry at them. I’m angry at myself. I’m pissed that I had a reaction. I’m upset that I would do something to my friends as abusive as getting angry at them. I’m terrified that they will give up on me, or stop talking to me, or stop helping me, for getting angry at them. Often when I’m angry at them, I still need help when they get there. If I’m angry at them, why would they want to help me? Why would they help me back to my room if I’m refusing to speak to them? Why would they hold my hand during a panic attack if I lecture them for taking so long to get there? Why would they want to help me cope with a nightmare if I sent angry texts at them the night before when they weren’t able to come over or help?

In my mind, it’s completely okay and reasonable for others to be angry. It’s a natural human emotion. It’s a normal reaction. It’s permissible. But me, I’m different. If I’m angry I’m trying to hurt my friends, I’m being abusive, I have nothing to be upset about, I expect too much, I stress them out already. In my mind, I’m not supposed to have needs, or emotions. I’m not supposed to react. I’m not supposed to be sick. I’m supposed to be okay, to be there for everyone else, to be a pleasant, happy, calm shell of a human being.

I’m not supposed to get angry.

Survivors are told a lot that we need to forgive our abusers. That we will never heal through our anger. That we need to forgive them to find salvation for ourselves.

That is total bullshit.

Our anger is healing. Our anger is a direct contradiction of the behaviors we were taught by the abuser. Once you get out of the situation, the abusive voice can linger on. Even when the abuser isn’t criticizing you or yelling at you, your brain has internalized it to the point that your own brain will say abusive things to you. So when your brain is screaming at you for showing emotion, and you allow yourself anger? That is healing. That is fighting for recovery. That is strong.

It takes a lot for us to allow ourselves to be angry at our abusers. We were taught we deserved it. We had our self-confidence stripped away, our ability to love ourselves pounded to the ground. To love ourselves is a rebellion. To love ourselves enough to be angry at the abuse that we suffered is a rebellion. It is healing.  It is strength.

It is still so hard for me to let myself be angry at those I care about. But now I am able to be angry at those who hurt me. And that, in itself, is a step towards recovery.

It is okay to be angry.

It is okay to feel.

It is okay to be.

Posted in Mental Illness In General, Recovery

100% Honest Letter to Myself

TRIGGER WARNING: Self harm, abuse, suicide, body image issues

 

A while ago, I was tagged in a post. It said to write a “100% honest letter” to yourself in the comments. I think it was one of those “write this in 4 words” kind of posts, but it’s been awhile, I don’t remember. I thought it was an interesting idea though. I decided to give it a try. I’m feeling more body positive today, I wore a crop top and a skirt outfit (the skirt had pockets!!!) and I felt super cute all day and got lots of compliments on it. After about an hour of being in public, I stopped trying to suck in my stomach all the time, stopped trying to stretch my back and ribs in an attempt to flatten my abdomen. That was a serious breakthrough for me. I’ve always been so self-conscious about the way my stomach is shaped, the way my body looks. The idea that I needed a flat stomach was reinforced by “family” constantly throughout my childhood. So it was a huge deal for me today to not only go out in a crop top, but to be comfortable slouching, letting my stomach relax, not trying to find the most aesthetically pleasing sitting position for me to stay in. Since I’m in a pretty okay place today, I decided that this was something I could do today. Here goes my letter.

 

Alice.

I know this is coming to you late. Nineteen years late, in fact. You shouldn’t be first learning to appreciate and love yourself as an adult. I’m sorry that your “family” was so toxic, I’m sorry that you were so oppressed and hurt for so long. I know you blame yourself. You knew it was bad since you were little, right? You should have spoken up, right? But you did. You tried your best. The fact is, they can lie more convincingly than you can tell the truth. A lot of people would rather believe that a small child is exaggerating, than believe that the adults sitting across the desk from them are monsters. You spoke up but you slipped through the cracks. And that isn’t your fault. None of it is.

I know you’ve hurt yourself since you were six. I know how hard you worked to hide it. I know you still do it sometimes. I promise that you don’t deserve it. You don’t need to punish yourself. You aren’t bad. You haven’t done anything wrong. They told you that it was all your fault because it kept you from rebelling. They wanted to normalize the abuse. You don’t need to hurt yourself, you don’t deserve punishment, you don’t deserve pain or suffering. They lied.

I know you tried your best to hide your mental illnesses throughout your childhood. I know how hard it was. You did a good job, but now you have to unlearn all of that. Here, it is safe to not be okay, it is okay to be vulnerable and open, you can let your guard down. It’s okay that you’re not okay. Hiding it back then was a protection measure. Hiding it now will only hurt you. You are doing so good though.

You are doing so good, telling your friends when something is wrong, when the anxiety is too bad to leave the room, when your depression hits and you can barely make yourself drink water, much less eat or sleep. You try to tell them when you feel a relapse coming on, so they can help you prevent it, or just be there for you in case you can’t prevent that one. You tell them when your thoughts are getting twisted, and tell them the thoughts. It helps, I promise it does. They don’t think you are a freak or crazy or needy or weak or pathetic. They want to help you. You just need to be honest with them.

You aren’t weak. You have to remember that. The abuse you endured is literally a type of psychological warfare that special forces have to be trained to withstand. It is literally torture. You didn’t receive any training. You were raised in hell, you withstood eighteen years of it. And you made it out. There are gonna be some lasting effects from that. But you are getting better, even when you think you’re not. You were not broken. You were hurt several times, you were shoved to the ground, held down even, but you were not broken. You made it out. So many don’t. You are so strong. You are so fucking strong.

“To be strong is to understand weakness. To be weak is to have fears. To have fears is to have something precious to you. To have something precious to you is to be strong.” – Tablo

You wanted to give up so many more times than you ever let on. I’m so glad that you didn’t. So are your friends. They love you and they are glad that you stayed. You’ve helped them, even if not in the ways that they’ve helped you. I’m so glad that you are learning to let people in, to let people help you. That’s so important. A support system is so important.

You are so brave. You took a swimming class even with a water phobia. You are taking singing lessons when you hate your voice. You brave so many situations, and keep coming back ready for more. Just because you haven’t fought off a lion with your bare hands doesn’t mean you aren’t brave. Brave is telling your friends that you feel like you might relapse. Brave is having nightmares all night, every night, but still going to bed at night. Brave is trying day after day to love yourself. Brave is putting on your crop top or your shorts, even if you are too afraid to leave the room in them. Brave is finally being able to leave the room in them. Brave is continuing your life when you didn’t want to. Brave is eating when your depression takes away your appetite for weeks at a time. Brave is facing the anxiety attacks head on. Brave is continuing to exist. You are so brave.

You are a warrior. You have survived so much. But there is still a battle raging on, even though the war has been won. You are so brave for continuing to get up and fight this battle every day. You are so strong for facing your fears on a daily basis. You are amazing and beautiful and worthy. You are enough. You deserve happiness.  Maybe you have to fake it for a while until you make it. But you are making progress. You are getting better. You are a kickass warrior and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Tomorrow you will get up, put on your warpaint, and head out into the world to fight another day, to live another day, to laugh until you cry and snicker over memes at lunch with your friends and run through the puddles and feel the serenity of the trees and watch the stream and maybe you won’t be as positive as you were today but thats alright recovery isn’t linear. But you will recover. You are tossed by the waves, but you do not sink.

 

Posted in Adulting, Mental Illness In General, Recovery

Alice Is Back – Kind of

Hey guys,

It’s been a month since I last posted.

Here is a kinda update thing on what’s been going on. Sorry it kinda rambles. My mind is a tornado right now.

I’m back at college, and things have been hectic. Figuring out where my classes are, starting my new job, panic attacks – oh my god so many panic attacks. I painted my nails – twice. Horribly the first time, a lot better the second (I am currently rocking the night sky on my fingertips). I had a sleepover with two of my friends, and two of us teamed up and ambushed the other with a pillow fight. There were so many logistics in that, we had a code word for when we were ready to attack. We had to make sure to get all the bigger pillows and we teamed up against her because she is so much stronger than us and could definitely take us out with the pillows. I got my first mermaid tail, and I am going to be doing a photo shoot with some friends in it, and I’m super excited. I’ve been working on my costume for a college tradition that is coming up, and me and several friends will be doing a group cosplay for it. It’s top secret right now though. I printed out a bunch of quotes that inspire and validate me, and taped them all over my mirror and my walls. My dorm doesn’t have AC so I’ve been dying of heat all month, but I have a small fan that I can point at my face when I’m sleeping so it’s kinda okay??

I went shopping with one of my friends last night to get some mac n cheese (I ran out) and to get laundry detergent and nightlights. I’ve been triggering a lot more recently because my nightlights aren’t bright enough, and darkness is super triggering to me. In class on Tuesday the lights were turned off without warning. Twice. I spent the next three days in a dissociative regressed state as the six year old version of me. That was interesting, to say the least. Earlier this month I was regressed from the same type of trigger and my friend left me alone for five minutes FIVE MINUTES to make me some microwave mac and cheese. She came back and I had covered my hands and my legs with Terra Cotta Acrylic Paint.

One of my friends is applying to move into my dorm and become my roommate, and I’m super pumped for that. She is my duet partner, we go on laundry runs together and sing disney songs and tracks from musicals together. She helped me shave my head today. My hair was getting way too long and was driving me up the wall. When my hair gets too long it starts randomly brushing against my ears and messes with my sensory issues a lot. It feels like ants are crawling in my ears.

I’m struggling with trying to be a rational adult right now. This week I was in a pretty messed up headspace, and last week I was in a terrible one. Last week was the five year anniversary of one of my close friends committing suicide. I still kinda blame myself for it and it messes me up every year. I had to leave in the first five minutes of my first class because I was about to burst into tears, and I still have trouble crying in front of others so that didn’t help. This week I’ve been six years old for about half of it, and triggered a lot for the rest of it. Today I was pretty okay, but all of these adult things I need to do require making phone calls. And none of the places I have to call are open on weekends. I went shopping last night, as I said, but I’ve spent every moment since then trying to justify buying myself food. Part of the abuse was always letting me know how much money I cost, how expensive I was, how much it cost to be feeding me all the time. At my college I have a meal plan so it is a bit harder to justify buying myself food, even though I know I needed to do so. Sometimes I don’t like the school food, and this way I will still have things that I can eat. Eating is important. It’s kinda sad when I consider it, I bought my friend a shower cap last night but I haven’t second guessed that at all, just the food that I bought myself. I’ve been trying to quell the constant interrogation in my brain by telling myself I only spent about ten dollars on food. Ten dollars. That still seems like so much to me. I’ve spent a lot of today trying to push away the urge to dig out the receipt and add up the totals, just to make sure. I know that would be unhealthy to do. I know that it won’t make me feel better.

I always go out with someone when I leave campus. Campus is my safe place, my home. Leaving it makes me anxious. Factor in my social anxiety, crippling panic attacks, and intense anxiety over spending any money on myself, I absolutely need to have my support system with me. I’m terrified of what is going to happen when we all graduate, when we don’t see each other at least once a day. I’m anxious about not having my best friends sleeping a few hundred yards from where I am in my own bed. I’m worried of how I will handle being alone. I was never taught how to take care of myself, only how to hurt myself. It’s pretty hard for me to let go of all of that. A lot of things are subconscious or unconscious. I realized that it wasn’t normal to punch yourself in the stomach any time it made any noise. Or to have to ask for toilet paper, as it was rationed out like food in a starving village. It’s okay to have snacks. It’s okay to drink water before bed. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to say that you aren’t okay.

I’ve started trying to do more to take care of myself and my body. Small steps, like putting on lotion after showering, are huge to me. My brain is full of questions and invalidations – Do I really need lotion? My skin should be tough enough to not need any of this. What if it’s bad for you? What if someone is allergic to it? What if it makes me feel greasy?

I’ve taken to pretending that the face lotion is war paint. I am a sixteenth Norwegian, and it is the only part of my heritage I’ve ever felt connected to. I have no hair to pull into the beautiful hairstyles and braids, but I try to affirm to myself every day that I am a badass warrior. I’m fighting a battle against my brain and my past every single day. The lotion aka “war paint” is my symbol of unrest, of rebellion, a sign that I am fighting every morning, day, and night. It is my defiance, my revolt against my own self hatred. Sometimes I question the need to put it on that morning, and when my brain says that it is no longer necessary, I know it will be even more necessary that day. The brain has a way of trying to trick you, when its poisonous thoughts don’t work, it tries sugar instead, pretending you are better and no longer in need of the help you so desperately need. Some days the brain will tell you its okay to skip your meds, to step on the scale, to go to that place, just one more time. But it isn’t just one more time. Your brain will keep saying that over and over again until you’re trapped in its dangerous game. Think of it as a Trojan horse. You can refuse to let that horse in. Sometimes it might be too hard. That’s okay. But always fight it. Always fight. I was afraid at first of defying my brain. It would say to push people away, hide my struggle, I wasn’t sick enough or I was too sick and would scare people off. It was so hard to start pushing back against that. Little rebellions at first. I wore a crop top publicly for the first time last year. It took me ten different tries on ten different days to make it out the door in it. And even then, the first time I made it out in it, my brain was yelling at me, stirring up anxiety about my appearance. I changed out of it after an hour. But I kept pushing after that. I haven’t worn it in a while, I’m gonna make that a to-do for this week. Pushing back against your thoughts is fucking hard. It’s so fucking hard. And it can take more than one try, hell, it can take more than a hundred tries. But keep trying, you’ll make it, I believe in you. Put on your war paint, and carpe the fucking diem.

Posted in Abuse, Mental Illness In General, Uncategorized

Flashbacks and Memories

This post is pretty personal. And it may get off topic or lose its structure, as it is very in the moment, and as I’ve barely slept in three days. Right now I am about to head back to school. I’ve been keeping my location secret from all but my closest friends and family, because of how scared I am that my abusers will show up. Even so, I have still been terrified that they might. Today I am headed to a different house, and from there I will return to school. I have been packing, all of yesterday and so far all of today. It’s almost five in the morning and I haven’t slept yet. Yesterday I got about four hours of sleep. The day before I got three. My emotions have been haywire, my anxiety intensified, my PTSD has been screaming at me for hours. I’ve been having a flashback for about eight hours now.

I probably should have expected it. My issues are worse when I haven’t gotten much sleep, and it is coming up on the one year anniversary of escaping from my abusers. I still haven’t figured out what to label the event as. Technically I chose to leave, but technically I was kicked out. I posted on facebook about “Ways To Lose My Trust” after finding that one of the abusers had been going through my trash for things to take to bingo. Again. I was used to them going through my trash. But what bothered me was that I had thrown away makeup that I had used while sick a few weeks earlier. And when I confronted them about taking it out of my trash, they insisted that as soon as I put it in the trash it was fair game for anyone. The post didn’t mention any names, and it was things that had been done by several of my abusers, few were specific to any of them. In the comments, a friend asked if it was directed at him. It wasn’t, he hadn’t done any of the things. I told him who the post was about (my abusers. I didn’t specify who had done what or how much). I don’t know if it was the next day or a couple days later, but one of them came into my room in a rage, screaming at me that I had to “fix it”or be out by noon the next day. “Fix it” was the only instruction I was given. Fix it? Fix what? I got yelled at for everything I did so I wasn’t sure what I had done to set this off. My guess was the post, and I deleted it. He came back a few hours later, saying that because I had deleted the post, it proved that I had been playing dumb earlier when I didn’t know what he was talking about. He also said that he had screenshot it and could sue me for it. He told me, again, to “fix it”. I had no clue what he wanted me to do, so I just stayed up packing all night. Early in the morning, he finally told me what he wanted me to do to “fix it”. Publicly post on facebook recanting what I had said. Say that I had lied. Tell everyone what great people they are, and how I attack them on social media and in personal conversations to get attention. Message every single person on my friends list telling them that the post had been a lie (basically message everyone the same thing I was supposed to post, in case they didn’t see it). And handwritten apology letters to two of the abusers.

No.

For the first time in my life I told them no. I have morals, and they have tried to push every boundary I’ve set, force me to break my moral code and then berate me about having done so. Forcing me to break promises, make me appear as a liar and attention seeker to my friends, gaslighting me until I blamed myself for everything. This was too far though. My friends are and always have been the most important thing to me, and I wasn’t going to lie to all of them. I wasn’t going to keep covering up for my abusers. I was going to college in five days. I would be free in five days. I wasn’t going to put up with this anymore. It was time to call their bluff.

I’m still not sure if it was a bluff or not. As I was going around the house trying to gather my things, they kept making me stop so they could yell at me, question me, guilt me. After all they had done, I was going to do this? How could I do this to them? What had they done to deserve this? With the last question I just laughed. “Why are you laughing? See, you can’t come up with a reason” they said. The thing was, my entire childhood, my entire life, my mental health, they were the reasons. What did they do to deserve what? Me standing up for myself was apparently a personal attack.

Abusers hate losing control of their victims more than anything else in this world.

They kept trying to tell me no one was coming. For hours I listened to them telling me over and over. They thought they had weakened my friendships, that no one would believe me. They thought they had successfully shut me up and that this had been the first fluke. They thought wrong. As they stood there for the hundredth time, telling me “No one is going to come get you. No one else cares about you or loves you like we do. You’re getting close to burning this bridge. No one is coming.”, the cavalry pulled in. Two of my friends came to pick me up along with my stuff. My abusers were shocked, to say the least. I knew that they would probably accuse my friends of trespassing if they came in the yard or house to help me with my things, so I passed boxes out the window to one of my friends. One of the abusers went outside to talk to them, and the other milled in and out, telling me that I should go out there and hear what my friends are saying about me, they don’t believe me, I need to go defend myself to them. I laughed at her. I trust my friends. I do not trust my abusers. Later I found out that he had been outside telling my friends how I have Autism, I’m never gonna make it in college, I need to stay here, I lied, I’m overreacting, etc. (Hours before he had been telling me that I don’t have Autism, that it’s all in my head, that I need to get my head checked.) My friends already knew me, already knew about the Autism, already knew about the abuse. The abuser kept trying to ask them what all I had told him. It kills them when they realize they’re losing, that their mask has dropped. That they are facing two adults who not only know what they are, but are taking away the only person they can still control. That they lost the war, while they thought that they were winning every battle.

You would think this would be a happy memory. I was finally free! But since then my mind has been plagued with mental illness. When you’re stuck in fight/flight mode for eighteen years, your brain will put trauma on a shelf to deal with later. As soon as I was finally safe, I started having symptoms of the mental illnesses. I had only gotten minimal symptoms before I left, and I was terrified. It felt like I had left my physical prison to become trapped in my own mental prison. I questioned whether I should have left. I was having nightmares every single night, waking up over 20 times a night from them (the highest number I hit was 43 times in one night). My PTSD was now full blown. If I forgot to plug in the nightlight, and the lights were turned off, I would collapse on the floor unconscious. My panic attacks were intensified by two hundred percent. I would have full blown depressive episodes where I would bury my head in blankets and pillows so my roommate wouldn’t hear me sobbing. I was realizing quickly just how fucked up my living situation was. I won’t ever forget the look on my friends face when I visited and I asked her for toilet paper before I used the bathroom. You mean normal families don’t ration it out? I realized that no one would burst in on me in the shower if I was in there for more than five minutes. That I could drink milk at every meal if I wanted. I sat in the bathroom and cried at breakfast one morning, because I was allowed to have biscuits and sausage gravy. It was a favorite of mine, but I’d only had it maybe three times in the past. I wasn’t allowed biscuits and gravy. I cried out of happiness and out of fear. I lived in constant fear of my abusers showing up on campus. They tried to three times. I had told security about them on the first day after panicking in front of my RA about the possibility of them showing up. Security posted someone at the entrance to watch for their car. I don’t even know the license plate, they were just watching for those state plates, and knew the names of my abusers.

Every time I have broken past rules, it terrifies me, but also empowers me. I wear shorts now. I don’t shave if I don’t want to. I can wear crop tops and skinny jeans and leggings. I can cut my hair short, or buzz it if I want. I can have biscuits and gravy. If I want ice cream with breakfast, I can have it. I’ve made a point of breaking a rule every single day (not hard to do, since I’ve buzzed all my hair off).

I’m still currently in the flashback. I have different kinds of flashbacks. This one isn’t visual, but emotional. I feel the emotions that I felt last year as I was being kicked out. I feel anxious, I’m terrified that any moment they will burst in the door to yell at me. I’ve been crying on and off for hours. I think it’s due to a number of things: the anniversary is in three days, I haven’t slept well, I’m once again staying up all night to pack. I have to try to go back in this next week to get some of my stuff that they are withholding from me. I’m terrified to have to see them face to face. I’m terrified that they still control me with my belongings and that I might have to file a police report about them. They texted me this past spring saying that my cat had passed away. I don’t know if it was the truth, or an attempt to make me reply to them. So I’m terrified that I will get there and my cat will really be dead. But I’m also terrified that he will be alive, and I will have to leave him again. I wouldn’t put it past them to hurt my cat to get at me. Abusers can become violent at any second. I’m in a support group for survivors. We’ve lost a few people who were hunted down or gaslighted into returning to their abusers. People who had only yelled in the past would escalate to physical violence or even murder, either as punishment or as an attempt to regain control. I’m afraid that they will hurt me or worse, even though I will be going with my friend and a police officer. I’m afraid that they will put on their mask and pretend to be innocent, ignorant, again. They did that last time. This time I have proof that they have my things, from their own text messages to me.I hope I won’t have to use it.

Posted in Asperger's/Autism Spectrum Disorder, Mental Illness In General

Don’t Hide Your Kid’s Autism Diagnosis From Them

Ever since I was little I felt like I was different. I couldn’t make friends, the other kids thought I talked funny, I was the weird kid. I started to internalize a lot of these things. I was told that I talked too much or I would talk about the same thing for too long. I was dubbed the “annoying” one, and this was impressed into me until I would literally introduce myself as being an annoying person. I would tell people that if I started to get annoying they should just tell me to shut up. Imagine being a little kid, trying to make friends on the playground, and during your introduction instead of following your name with your favorite colors, activities, or toys, you would say “I have a tendency to be really annoying, so if I start talking too much or getting on your nerves, just tell me to shut up.”. Because I literally did, I would say that every time I met someone, especially if they were my age.

The bullying only got worse, as well as the abuse that was happening at home. I didn’t tell anyone about it because I didn’t understand. I was told I deserved it, and that it was okay because it was being done to me. I believed it wholeheartedly.

By the time I entered middle school, I had no self confidence. I absolutely hated myself. I literally couldn’t find one thing I liked about myself, aside from my eyes. I had always loved my eyes. I had hit puberty and started to have medical issues and that definitely didn’t help my body image.

Instead of being obsessed with Justin Bieber, I was the sixth grader who wanted to die.

One day it all became too much. My packed lunch had been in my backpack, and the can of root beer my mother had packed me had exploded. I had a total mental breakdown in the middle of the cafeteria. The students and teachers didn’t understand. It was just a can of root beer, after all. But I knew I would suffer for having ruined all of my papers and books. I had asked for the root beer, I should have known better. Eventually I was taken to counseling after I had been crying for over an hour in the lunchroom.

As I sat down at the counselor’s desk, she looked at my tear-stained face and told me that she didn’t care about my problems. That it was just teenage drama. That she had to hear it day in and day out, and that my problems were stupid and didn’t matter.This was the counselor that I greeted every morning in the lobby, said hello to daily in the hallways during the class changes.

I didn’t tell her about the abuse, about the bullying. How could I? I deserved it, and she thought so too.

I eventually stuttered out that I had considered suicide. I quickly told her that I wasn’t going to do it or anything, I knew it wasn’t a solution, but that I had thought about it. Her face suddenly changed, she sat up in her seat and her eyebrows drew together. She started rapid-firing questions at me, over and over. Did I have a plan? No. What was my plan? I didn’t have one. She never asked WHY I wanted to die. She never thought to ask me why I felt the way I did. She just saw another teenager who had used a word that she was required to report. After maybe 20 minutes of this (but it felt like hours) she walked me across the hall to the nurses office. I had to sit there on the cot for the rest of the day. The door was open and my classmates could see me, sitting on the side of a cot alone, crying, with a little puddle around my backpack as the paper towels inside hadn’t been able to soak up all of the soda. My mom had custody of me that week, and she worked as a bus driver. She couldn’t pick me up during the day.

Her boss’s husband came to pick me up and bring me to the lot. He was a police officer. I had to ride in the back of his police car the entire half hour ride to the lot. My mom picked me up from there and took me to the hospital. I remember saying over and over that it was a mistake, I didn’t need to be there, it was a misunderstanding. When I get anxious I get very repetitive. That’s probably what pointed the doctors to Autism.

I don’t remember much after that, except that there were lots of tests, lots of doctors. I was having the same thing happening due to the medical issues so I didn’t really distinguish the visits from each other. Eventually the examinations and tests and questions stopped, and my family acted normal again.

I didn’t feel any better. I just knew better than to talk about it now.

Come junior year of high school, I overheard my grandparents in the living room at night. They were talking about me. Saying that I would never get into college, my grades were slipping, that no one would want to accept a kid with Autism.

Autism?

I started poking around and asking questions until finally the counselor I had been seeing (the court ordered that I have to see a counselor. We went through several. I only ever liked one but she didn’t take my insurance. I didn’t like this one.) finally told me the truth. That I had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome years and years ago. They hadn’t told me because then I would “go around telling everyone, use it as an excuse, be excluded, be put in special education classes, start showing more symptoms”.

Instead of being able to access help and therapy, and understand why I was different, I spent years thinking I was stupid. That I was worthless. I didn’t understand why my senses were more sensitive. I knew that I could see farther and better than others, but that I also had to wear sunglasses a lot because it was too bright. I was punished for stimming. I was punished for showing any symptoms. If I didn’t understand something, it was my fault. If I didn’t pick up on something, I was ignorant. I didn’t understand the negative intentions of the people around me and let too many people hurt me.

I was at a family party once and a boy said he wanted to be friends, he thought it would be grand to pretend we were dating. He walked around with his arm around my shoulders, and I didn’t know I had the right to tell him to stop. He led me away from the party and off toward the barn. I didn’t understand and just went with him. We were almost there when some adults from the party noticed and the men, who had been chugging beers all night, came and yelled at the boy, threatened him. I was asked why I didn’t punch him or get help. I didn’t know I needed to. I didn’t understand.

Not only does hiding your child’s Autism diagnosis hurt them, but it hurts you too. Would my mother have been so worried about my stimming if she had known that I wanted to die? Would it matter so much that I tapped my fingers or bounced my leg or smoothed the hairs on my arm, if it would mean that she wouldn’t have to see those same fingers laying limp by my side as I was buried six feet deep? Would she be so scared of telling me the truth if she had known the havoc that the lies were wreaking on my brain? Did she know the cost of hiding the diagnosis?

Hiding your kid’s diagnosis from them seriously damages their mental and emotional health. It prevents them from accessing therapy, getting the help they need. It enforces the stigma around mental illness and disorders. Your child is learning that it is something to be ashamed of. That they are something to be ashamed of.

Think of it like this: Your child is in a woodworking class with other kids, and at the beginning of a class there is a test to see what their skills are like. Each kid takes the test alone. Your child is given a bunch of pieces of wood to make a birdhouse. He/she is given all the wood, nails, etc. that they need. But no instructions or indication of what the model is supposed to be. Your child doesn’t know it is supposed to be a birdhouse. No tools. No hammer, no screwdriver, nothing. Your child tries their best to shove the nails into the wood, but is not very successful, and the birdhouse doesn’t really resemble one. When the child has exhausted all of their effort, they pick up their little wooden structure and bring it back into the classroom to give to the teacher. Standing in the line, your child sees that all of the other kids have perfectly assembled birdhouses. The nails are all in well, the wood is fitted properly, the birdhouses look perfect. The only reasoning your child can summon up is that he/she must just be stupid, or bad at woodworking. That they shouldn’t have even tried, I mean, all the other kids did it so well. So it must be his/her fault.

The thing is, what the child doesn’t know is that all the other kids had tools and instructions.

That is what it is like. Our brain doesn’t process things the same way as the brain of someone who isn’t on the spectrum. Without that knowledge, we don’t have the tools to be able to even the playing field. We think we were given the same opportunity and that we are just bad at things, we are just stupid or slow.

If the child had known that all the other kids had been given tools and instruction sheets, he/she wouldn’t have had those thoughts. Your child wouldn’t have blamed themselves, they would have understood that there were pieces of the puzzle missing. They would have been able to bring it to the teacher’s attention so that they could get the extra tools and instructions that they needed. Their birdhouse could have been just as perfect as the other children’s birdhouses.

Even if you don’t think your child’s Autism is all that bad, or that they don’t need therapy for it, or think that they will outgrow it (they won’t), or that they will just learn to cope with it, please please get them diagnosed. Tell them. Don’t keep it a secret from your child. My case is not extreme. There are a lot of invisible effects that Autism has on your child, lots of things you may not realize that are related. Your child may be hurting and not tell you. Why would they? They are ashamed of it.They want to be a perfect child for you. They love you that much. They hurt themselves because they love you.

Please love them back. Please don’t hide their diagnosis. It will make a world of difference to them.

It can be the difference between life and death.

Please tell your child the truth.

Please.