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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 Asperger's/Autism Spectrum Disorder

“Aspie”

An explanation of the term, and why you need permission from the person to use it.

 

Hello, for those who don’t know me, I’m Alice Tortoise.

I’m Autistic.

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, but it’s actually on the Autism Spectrum now, and is what we call a “functioning” label.

Functioning labels are offensive to the majority of the Autism community, btw.

I don’t have Asperger’s, I’m Autistic. The difference is the mentality. Functioning labels created a sort of division in the Autism community, and in society itself. Sometimes people with the diagnosis of Asperger’s thought they were “better” than people diagnosed with regular Autism. They thought it was better to be able to pass as neurotypical. Because disabilities like Autism are stigmatized.

People think that Autistic people are

Stupid (which is a slur btw)

Violent

Rude

Spoiled

Immature

Dependent

Incapable of making their own decisions

 

But we aren’t. We aren’t any of those things. Some people’s symptoms can be extreme to the point where they are dependent on a caregiver, but that doesn’t make them any less people.

 

People with Autism are

Intelligent

Capable

Compassionate

Loving

 

The distinguishing between Asperger’s and Autism is pointless, and, well, ableist. It ignores that Autism is a spectrum, and that someone who would have been seen as “high functioning” won’t be because they are nonverbal, and things like that. Functioning labels are seen as very ableist. We do not exist to hide ourselves and pretend to be neurotypical.

Now, for the term “Aspie”. “Aspie” is a term used to identify people on the Autism spectrum, especially those who were diagnosed with Asperger’s. It is a community term, so it is not seen as ableist as “Asperger’s” (which would be a label put on them by a doctor who most likely is not on the spectrum). Some people self-identify as Aspie’s. The difference is that it is a self-given label, not a label from someone else. This is important to point out, because this also means that it is not okay to call someone that, even if you know they were diagnosed with Asperger’s, because it is a term for them to use. If someone self identifies as an “Aspie”, they still might not want others to call them that. It is a very personal term. And it is inappropriate to ask to call them that, just like it would be inappropriate to give someone a nickname that they didn’t like. You don’t pressure someone to let you call them that.

If the person gives you specific permission to call them an Aspie, that is when it is okay to call them that. But it is not used to talk about them, especially to strangers. It is not a substitute for their diagnosis, it is more like an adjective. So you wouldn’t post or say “my friend/sister/kid is an Aspie”. They aren’t an Aspie. They’re Autistic. It is more something you can use when talking to the person themself. For instance, if you two are talking, and your friend says “The color orange really hurts my eyes”, you could ask “Is that an Aspie thing?”. It is really only used with them, and not used to identify them to others.

It can be confusing, especially when you aren’t on the spectrum, but if there is a question about whether or not you can call someone an Aspie, the answer is probably no.

Anniversary Post

Today is the 1 year anniversary of my blog’s creation! In the past year, this blog has had:

1,815 views

1,332 visitors

25 posts (about one every two weeks statistically, but it was more like one every few days last summer and one every few weeks/months during the school year)

I’m gonna post a check in (hopefully today) where I’m gonna let you guys know where I’m at with mental stuff, as well as disclose some new information to you guys. I feel it’s only fair that I’m honest with you about my struggles. I don’t want people to come here and think that I’m one of those hyper-positive “think positive to cure your illness” bloggers. No. I have more energy when I’m doing better, and I’m more able to type out posts that make sense. That doesn’t mean I never have relapses or spirals. It doesn’t mean that is where my normal functioning is. I want to be open and vulnerable to you guys, be honest about my experiences so I don’t alienate people who need to hear them. I want to speak my story to you guys, my entire story, not just the parts I can put a positive spin on. Life is messy. Mental illness is exhausting, and it’s messy too. So I want to be honest. Totally honest. I want to help you guys answer the questions that run through your minds when you’re in that dark place, because they run through mine too.

I wanted to thank all of you guys, not only for putting up with my puns, but for coming to hear what I have to say, and even for sharing it with your friends.

I appreciate all of you!

– Alice Tortoise

Posted in Abuse, Mental Illness In General, Recovery

To Those Who Bullied Me Last Year

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Abuse, bullying, victim blaming, gaslighting, suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse

 

 

I stepped onto campus with a bigger smile in my heart than on my face.

I was free.

I grew up in an eternally abusive situation. It was all I had ever known.

I wanted to run away since I was six. I decided to stay, to wait it out, to do well in school and get into a good college. Once I escaped to college, I would never come back. I would be free. I would be able to make something of myself. I knew I was smart enough. But was I strong enough?

Staying in an abusive situation has nothing to do with strength. I had that wrong. I have my own preoccupation and disordered thinking about strength, but that’s for another post.

I grew up facing every kind of abuse that exists. Verbal. Emotional. Physical. Sexual. Economic.

I had no self esteem. I’d never been allowed to develop it.

One of my favorite days is the day that I received my acceptance letter to both my top colleges. I told myself I would soon be free. I had counted down the days since I was a kid, rough estimates of course, since at eight years old I couldn’t possibly know the move-in date.

I arrived to move-in with very little. But I felt like I had everything. I had my freedom. I had my room keys. I had my future. And I could leave my past behind, right?

Wrong.

18 years of constant abuse will have an effect on mental health. Most people experience the fight/flight response for a few seconds to a few hours. I was in it for eighteen years. This suppressed my symptoms for the most part.

Soon after arriving to college, I started to feel safe. I let my guard down, little by little. My symptoms began to show themselves. I have more mental illnesses than I do fingers. I started having panic attacks where I would hyperventilate until I passed out. I had nightmares every single night, waking from them constantly, waking at 2 am sweating and shaking until the panic attack overtook me enough that I passed out. I didn’t understand living in a dorm. I was raised in a house where toilet paper was rationed out, where doors could not be locked, where privacy did not exist. This misunderstanding of social norms and acceptable behavior cause a lot of issues with my hallmates.

It did not go well.

Doors began to be shut and locked when I walked down the hall. The bathroom would empty when I walked in. No one would talk to me. No one would even look at me. I didn’t understand why.

I had mentioned at the first hall meeting, on the first night, that I had Autism. I said that I didn’t understand social norms. That if I did something wrong or inappropriate, to tell me what I did, how it came across, and what to do next time. Yelling will trigger me, as will being mean about it. But people thought it was on purpose. People said later that they had tried to talk to me about it but that I would roll my eyes at them. I don’t remember any conversations like that, but if it was vague at all, I would not have realized what they meant anyway. I can’t control my facial expressions very well, and if I rolled my eyes, I didn’t even realize it.

Later people said it was because they didn’t want to have a conflict or confrontation. But what they did instead was bully me.

I’m still hearing things about it, over a year later. That so-and-so thought I looked like a cancer patient after I buzzed my hair. That someone else thought I was faking the panic attacks. That such-and-such thought I talked about the abuse too much. That I needed to get over myself.

These people don’t understand what they did to me. I moved out of the dorm because of how toxic the environment became. I moved out of the dorm to escape their glares and their silences and their locked doors. I moved out of the dorm because they made me want to die. And I did. I wanted to die.

I had two friends on that hall. My roommate, and a friend who is now a best friend, who still supports and helps me to this day. They kept me alive, and they didn’t even know. My roommate had no clue that it was that bad, that my main reason to stay was the fear of having her be the one to find me. I’ve been the one to find a friend before. I could never do that to her. She and my best friend gave me hope, supported me, let me talk out the abuse and unravel and made me feel safe.

The night I moved into my new dorm, they helped me. I was having a very bad panic attack, due to my nightlights not being bright enough, and the darkness triggering me. At one point, I was barely conscious, my former roommate was sitting on the bed with me holding me to her and stroking my hair. I couldn’t move or speak yet, they didn’t know I could hear them. But I heard them. She was saying that she was worried about me rooming by myself, that she didn’t know if I would be safe, that I might get worse.

I’ve never felt so loved.

I made a promise to a friend of mine a long time ago. I promised to her that I would never ever ever take my own life. I intend to keep that promise. And I reaffirmed that promise that night, as I half-sat and half-lay against my roommate’s torso, feeling her breathing and the vibration of her speaking, as my best friend ran to her room to get a nightlight for me to use until I could buy another. I could never take my life. I could never make these people grieve for me. I could never put them through what I’ve been through.

To the people on my hall last year, who bullied and outcast me to the point of me wanting to take my life, I forgive you. I get that we were all stressed out. I get that you didn’t understand that I didn’t understand. You weren’t trained to deal with someone like me. But you should make an effort to learn. You aren’t bad people, but what you did was wrong, and how you dealt with the conflict was very wrong. You hurt me. What you did was not okay. Please learn from it.

To my friends who continue to support me and love me, I love you guys. I love you guys so so much. You saved my life without even knowing it. You make me feel safe and supported and have helped me through so much. You help me get through the bad days and laugh with me on the good ones. You work constantly to be wary of my triggers, to better understand me, to make sure I am safe. You spent countless hours comforting me during panic attacks. You taught me how to trust. You showed me what love is. You protect me when I need it, and support me when I can fight the battle myself. I came with a lot of emotional baggage, and you’ve continued to help me unload it, to throw out what doesn’t serve me, to help me carry what I can’t process yet. I love you so so much.

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.