Letter about monsters

30th of October 2019

Hi A

So there was a thing i wanted to write about in mu last letter, but couldn’t. It’s very personal, very difficult, very emotional and requires a lot of explanation in case anyone who doesn’t know my history reads this. And since this is the internet I both want to make sure what I write makes sense, but I also feel strange sharing the best proof that I am crazy publicly like this. But when I suggested writing like this to you, I was very sure I wanted to write even all the painful stuff and I even if writing and posting this gives me a vulnerability hangover I think writing this is important. So I am going to try, knowing full well I might sound very crazy and since crazy is how this feels that might not be the worst thing, even if I like to keep up appearances that I am not this kind of crazy.

I have had problems since I was a kid. Autism will do that to you, especially when undiagnosed. And despite my mother’s attempts to get me help no one listened. Until I was about 8 or 9. That’s when the school suggested sending me to the school psychologist. And of course my parents agreed to this. But somewhere in all this all the grown-ups forgot to talk to me and explain what was happening. And that left me to try and figure it out from the bits and pieces of information that I could gather up on my own.
The school psychologist was the first to suggest autism. So she send me to the childrens psychiatric hospital in the next town. Here I was asked to talk to two psychologists. And I remember my mom having to take time off work to take me there. I had to leave school for some hours every other week. And I knew my mom needed to work so we could get money, because my dad was ill and couldn’t work. He had had an accident when I was 6 and even thought he had physically recovered he still suffered from with some memory problems and other things related to the brain damage and some mental problems. So mom taking off work was bad and expensive. And I knew it was because of me, but I didn’t understand why.
And over all the meetings with these strangers were very scary. No one explained the purpose or who they were or why this was happening. At least not in words I could understand.

I remember my parents talking. They were angry and afraid. These psychologists seemed dangerous. My parents told me it was because I wasn’t like the other children and that psychologists were people who had read a lot of books about who people were supposed to be and that they were unsatisfied with me being different. And they wanted to fix me and make me like the other children.
I remember feeling confused and scared. In recess I would look at all the other children and even though I didn’t dislike them or hate them or think there were something wrong with being like them, I just knew that being like that wasn’t for me. I wasn’t like them.
And I don’t know how I could be so arrogant, but I honestly believed that being different was a good thing. Not better or worse. Just different. I thought the world needed different things and if I was different it must be because the world needed the thing I could do and give that all the other children couldn’t. I also knew the other kids could do things I couldn’t. I believed I had value and that I had something amazing to give the world. I just wanted to be allowed to.
But here my parents were, telling me about psychologists. People who apparently didn’t believe in difference and who wanted to stomp it out. And I knew the school had asked me to talk to these people. So my teachers and the school must believe the same thing, right? And my parents were angry and scared and they went to meetings and they wrote letters and they shouted at other people. And it seemed like they were protecting me from the dangerous people who wanted to change me. And they would say nice things about being proud of me being myself and being different, only sometimes they would be mad at me for the exact same things. They told me I was being weird on purpose, that I had to stop. And I knew my parents were having a lot of worries, and mom took time off work and that cost money and all these things were somehow my fault, but I didn’t understand how or why or what I had done.

I honestly doesn’t remember much from this time. I remember the mood and atmosphere and a few small details. But overall the whole thing is a fog in my mind. Like I have repressed it all. But I have this one memory that have stuck with me. One evening in the middle off all this my mom comes to my room to say goodnight. And she hugs me close and says: “I won’t let them take you. I’m ready to take you and your brother and go. We’ll run away if we have to.”

And wow this is hard to write. I haven’t even begun to write about me being crazy yet.

Somehow my parents got all this stopped. No more psychologists and I tried to act as nice as I could and not cause troubles and not be difficult. I was still me, still weird, still not like the other children. And that was a choice I made. But I compensated for that choice with every fibre of my being. Today I know that a lot of what I learned was something a lot of autistic girls do. It’s call masking. And it’s very bad for your mental health.

But at least I got away from the scary psychologists. They didn’t get to change me and they didn’t take me away from my parents. They did a lot of harm to my family. The psychologists at the childrens psychiatric hospital didn’t think I had autism but accused my parents of not being good for me. My parents were left with the fear that they were bad parents, and that my problems were somehow their fault. They still have big emotional trauma from that time and we cannot talk about it at all. It hurts them too much. And that is one reason I cannot untangle all this mess that I mostly can’t remember and still do not understand. My mom says that the psychologists thought my dad was the main problem and wanted my mom to leave him. This started my dad on a long series of suicide attempts. And to this day I am furious at the system for failing my family. My dad had had an accident, my mom did everything to help him and me and take care of my little brother. I don’t need to wonder why things were difficult or why my parents had a hard time giving me the structure I needed. All of us were barely hanging on, and the systems that was supposed to help us hurt us instead.

I walked away from that experience convinced that psychologists were people whose job it was to change people. Whether people wanted to be changed or not. And I didn’t want to be changed. The idea of changing who I am felt evil. And the people who would want to do that to me seemed evil too. Like they were monsters coming to hurt me or maybe even take me from my parents. And back then my parents seemed like the good guys protecting me.

And that is the back story. Told as best I can with as much of an explanation as I can give.
Because a few years later my mental health acted up again. I needed help. And I was at a different school at this time and the school offered that I could talk to their psychologist. And I refused. Of cause. I didn’t want to put myself back in a room with a monster who wanted to hurt me. I thought my parents would agree, but to my surprise they didn’t. they wanted me to say yes. And after pressure from them I did. But I didn’t understand what talking to a psychologist was or what to do with it. So it feel meaningless and still like walking into a trap. And from then on I have had more psychologists than I can count. My parents have so many letters from them saying “we can’t help your daughter, we are getting nowhere”. And my parents we always the first to push me back into therapy.

I was 19 by the time I understood why none of the psychologists could help me. Something happened and my fear of them stopped being a small thing in the back of my head. The fear was back at full force and I suddenly remembered the way my parents used to talk about these people. won’t tell the story of what happened to bring that fear back to a conscious plane. Maybe some other time, but not today. But from then on I tried to bring up my fear of psychologists with the psychologists. But they never took me seriously.

And the more I dig, the more I try to cooperate and be open and accept help, the more I feel that fear. The more I cannot think of therapists as people who want to help me. They just seem like evil monsters. Every meeting with them feels like a trap or a war or an attack. And of cause I am not open and vulnerable when I feel under attack.
And it’s not just an attack. It’s an attack on the core of who I am. An attack on the most sacred, valuable, essential part of me. It is an attack that meant I could not defend myself at any level that wasn’t just the absolute core of me. My boundaries were left undefended, my body was abandoned, I didn’t have enough resourced to claim any of these things. All my resources have been spend protecting myself from being changed and turned into a “normal” person. If you had watched Doctor Who I would describe it by comparing it to the Cybermen. Maybe one day we’ll watch some episodes together so you’ll get that reference.

A part of me is logical and rational. A part of me thinks it’s crazy to think that psychologists and psychiatrists and anyone else working in this field is a dangerous monster who wants to hurt me. A part of me knows they are people who chose that job to help people. But inside I am still a child, afraid of the monsters coming to take me or break me. And when I imagine that child I am blown away by her bravery. But her belief in herself. Belief in me: In the value I have and my right to live and die as me. That child is so scared. I have never felt fear like that anywhere else. And I still managed to spend so many hours talking to so many psychologists. I am trying so hard to find a balance between needing help, or this kills me, and feverishly trying to defend myself against an enemy everyone tells me to treat like an ally. I am willing to die defending myself, I know I cannot lose this fight. And I think this might be the core of why I don’t feel safe. Because not only am I not safe in the world or in my body. I do not feel safe in my mind. I feel like my mind is under attack. Not from depression but from the very people I need to help me get better. And that is why medication isn’t an option. Not until I feel safe. Because right not people say medication and mean help, but I hear medication and think the ultimate weapon to destroy me. And I would rather die than lose the battle like that.

The key isn’t to force me to take medication. And trust cannot be forced. The key is to make peace. To help me understand that I am not under attack. I am not in danger. I am not at war. At least not with the people who can help. I have to find a way to stop seeing them as a threat. And until I find a way to do that I cannot be helped by psychologists or medication.

I don’t know if I am making sense. I feel like I might just make sense. But this whole thing is so difficult to articulate.

The thought I had a few days ago. The thought that sent me back to writing is one that has been on its way for a while.
You see for a few years now I have know that my parents isn’t the good guys. They might have great intentions. But often I cannot trust them. Often they are on their own side instead of my side. And that hurt a lot to realise. The loss of trust in them didn’t inspire trust in the therapists. It was just a loss of trust. And that was necessary but painful. And I feel even more unsafe and more alone than before. I don’t think of my parents as evil. But I understand that they have so many issues that they cannot do more than just take care of themselves. And I have to find ways to protect myself from them as well. And that is why I am working so hard on boundaries.

And so a few days ago, when I wrote the other letter, I finally had the thought. My parents told me the psychologists wanted to change me, to fix me, to make me normal. And then they kept sending me to psychologist after psychologist. I think they wanted me changed. And that thought just broke me. It’s not totally a new thought. But the way I phrased it in my head was new. I am afraid of the monsters. My parents told me the monsters would take me or hurt me or break me. And then they kept giving me to the monsters. Maybe they wanted to monsters to break me.

I have known for years now that thought my parents love their daughter. They do not love the person I am. They would not like me if I was not their child. They do not know me, they take no interest in who I am, they often express a wish for me to be different, and they dismiss any attempt I make to tell them about the things that are important to me. They love their child. But I am not sure they live me. I am loved by them only because of family ties, not because of who I am. And I truly believe they would be happier if I was different.

I don’t know if I sound as crazy I feared I would. I feel like I must be crazy because the fear is so real, the threat feels so real, I feel under attack, I feel like the therapists are monsters. I think I know that that isn’t real. But it feels real. And I cannot just convince myself that I am safe. The child in me is so scared and it’s my job to protect her and keep her safe. The adult me is too busy protecting and keeping safe to truly listen to anyone telling me that the threat is imagined. And the child is never invited to be part of the conversation.

I think that was all my writhing for now. I don’t know when I’ll write again. I hope I made sense. I hope I explained why I think these crazy things and that even if they are crazy they come from a real place. I hope my bravery and strength and willingness to fight for and believe in myself shine through this. I think I do want to live. But I will not hesitate to die for what is important to me. And I will fight. And I am always surprised to realise just how much I have been fighting for myself all this time, in ways I wasn’t aware of.

A, you are important to me too. And don’t ever doubt that I will use all this strength and stubbornness to fight for you too. I know you feel like you are out of fight and out of strength. But I am right here to lend you mine. I know you never had the feeling that you a valuable and amazing and worth fighting for. So I am right here to tell you that you are all those things. You are so valuable. So amazing. And you deserve so much better than what you have gotten so far. You deserve to be fought for. And I will tell you, when no one else fight for you, when everyone around you act like you are the problem, it’s okay to fight for yourself. It’s okay to be your own hero. It’s okay to fight back. Even against the people who want to help you. And I will do everything I can to remember that you need me to say this over and over and over. This isn’t something you can ask for. But it’s still something you need. And I am sorry for the days I forget that I need to say it. Please know that just because I get lost in my own head and forget to say it out loud it isn’t less true or any less how I feel. You deserve better. You deserve to be happy and have a good life. You deserve to be respected and feel safe. You are so worthy of all the good things this world has to offer. And if I can fight to help give you that I will. I know you never had the feeling it’s okay to fight. I sometimes feel like I am made of nothing but fight and stubbornness. I have enough to spare. And even in the middle of this depression, even when I feel like I am drowning, I think of you and am so ready to help you fight you fight. Take good care of yourself. Fight the fight by being kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can. And no one can ask more of you. No one. Not even you.

I hope to write again soon. And I hope that I will soon have enough energy to edit and read these letters through, but I don’t think anyone should count on that just yet.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Letter about Depression and Saying No to Medication

28th of October 2019

Hi A

I have wanted to write. But this time around depression hit me harder than ever before. For the first time I have experienced days of not being able to get out of bed. I haven’t been to work in weeks and I haven’t even been able to call in sick.

Things are bad here. And I know they are possibly even worse with you. And even though we often find comfort in not being alone, the fact that both of us are at an all time low at the same time, and that none of us have energy to reach out and really be there for each other makes me feel more alone and sad. I miss talking to you. And I wish I could do more to help you through right now. Please stay here with me A. Stay here with me, okay?

Right not I feels like my surroundings finally woke up and realised this is serious, that I am actually really ill and that I am not going to get better without outside help. My mom haven’t told me to just get together for several weeks. I’m impressed. But at the same time, I don’t trust it. How many times have I believed that the message finally got through, only to discover a few days or weeks later that no one thinks it’s serious.

Just last Christmas my mom told me I didn’t need help, I just needed to get a job. And it was so out of nowhere that I didn’t even know how to respond. We weren’t even having a conversation about that. And we had spend the last couple of month going to meetings and talking about my problems. And I thought she had understood my autism and depression diagnosis from the psychiatrist. But suddenly she didn’t.

And as I write this I am not for the first time struck by the thought that the way my parents react to things often becomes how I feel “everyone” reacts. Even it is just them. I am trying to reframe that in my head. But it’s not an easy task. I try to do this by reminding myself of all the amazing people who doesn’t react like this, and by actively asking myself to name someone else who shares their opinion. And then I try to rephrase what I just thought of as coming from everyone as a weird thing my parents’ do. But it’s a lot of work and it doesn’t always make me feel like it’s just them. But I do try to do it.

What is an everyone around me thing at the moment is the conversation about medication. And I hate that conversation. Because it’s not really a conversation. It’s other people “suggesting” it, me saying no and then the other people doing everything in their power to make it into a negotiation that they can win. And it’s not a negotiation. It’s a no. And I always walk away feeling terrible. I feel misunderstood, overwhelmed, disregarded and disrespected. How difficult is it to take no for an answer? Especially my mom have a hard time with this. Her an I have had this conversation for about 12 years now. And nothing about it changes.

It has been every doctor, and several psychiatrists and most of my friends and almost every person who I have talked to about my problems in the past 12 years has at some point wanted to have the medication conversation. But I can’t have that conversation. Because trauma. And trauma isn’t welcome in that conversation. And no matter how much trauma should be a valid argument it somehow just isn’t. And even if people seem open to listening to the trauma argument, I always end up discovering that they aren’t. It was a lie. It was a clever plot to give them reasons they can start to shoot at, so they can reason their way into changing my mind. And I walk away feeling disgusted, both at the tactic and that I feel for it again.

And I have more reasons to say no to medication. But at this point I am no longer willing to discuss a single one of them. Because it’s not me being listen to and understood. It’s me pouring out my pain and other people saying it’s not a valid reason and then stepping on my pain as if to see if it’s actually real.

I’m not sure I am making sense. I just have a lot of feelings about this. And that is part of why I needed to write today. And I already know I won’t be editing. I so feel like I should be doing better at this whole blogging thing.

But I had a plan for a few points I wanted to get to in this letter to you. And I am just going to try to get back to my points. Hopefully without breaking down crying. But then again… I believe the pain of writing is one of the most beautiful things and that I get in touch with parts of myself that way that I am unable to reach in any other way. And that might just be the closest to a definition of Here that I have in my current depression brain. It’s just that feeling that much seems a little inconvenient right now. Not that that has ever stopped me from writing and crying and feeling in the past.

So everyone wants me to say yes to medication. I don’t want to do that. In part because it feels like the opposite of what I need. Not that I am very sure I know what I need right now. But I want empathy, and kindness, I want care and understanding. I desperately need hope and help and a way forward. And that seems like a lot to ask from the world and people around me. I also happen to believe that they are necessities to survive and that no amount of medicating me will fix my depression and my hopelessness if I am not also provided with hope and help and care and understanding. I miss feeling connections to other people. I feel so disconnected. Especially from my family. And even though I have some great friends I don’t necessarily feel the deep connection that I need. I part because I am so depressed and in part because that is not how those friendships are (and that’s okay).

And instead of giving me hope and help, care and understanding I am met with medication. Take some pills and stop being depressed. And please please please stop being so stubborn. And I happen to believe my stubbornness is one of my greatest qualities and so far I see nothing wrong with how I use it. So why should I stop?

But more than anything I need to feel safe. And I don’t. I don’t feel safe. And that feeling permeates everything. Every moment, everywhere I am, even when I sleep. I don’tbfeel safe. And medication doesn’t feel like someone is offering me help. It feels like a violation, like violence. And I can’t do that to myself. I cannot say yes to taking a pill every day when I feel like taking that pill is committing an act of violence against myself. I cannot and I will not.
But maybe, someday, if I feel safe and have a very good doctor whom I trust, I will say yes to medication. But without that trust and feeling safe I cannot say yes to medication. No matter how many good arguments people throw in my face.

And that is the thing. I am desperately trying to keep myself safe. And alive. But mostly safe. And if I am safe, then I need help to realise that. If I am not safe then I need help to make myself more safe. Because I cannot take risk or change or do any of the amazing things that life has to offer, if I do not have a place of safety to start from and return to. I don’t believe in living my whole life inside my comfort zone. But living without a comfort zone makes it really hard to live at all. We all need a safe space in our lives. A safe physical space and a safe mental space. And I have neither. I have never had a safe space. The closest I got to feeling safe was being hugged by a man who raped and abused me. That felt safe compared to everything else in my life. And that is so messed up. I would like to get unmessed up. Or at least a little. I don’t expect or want my life to be too tidy, just more liveable. I want to have a safe space, in the world, in my body, in my mind. And that is not an unreasonable ask. And until I have that I am not letting any doctors treat me like a guinea pig, testing how I respond to medication till they find the right one.

I’ll fight my depression off. I’ll take whatever hard decisions I have to. I’ll die if I have to. Because this is the right decision for me. Taking medication isn’t. Not under these circumstances.

I am not depressed because my brain chemistry failed me. I am depressed because I have no hope and because I have been living in a constant state of overstimulation and stress for most of my life, because of undiagnosed autism and lack of resources and consideration. Those things cause a very natural reaction, and that reaction became a depression. And if we don’t fix those things fixingmy brain chemistry isn’t going to work. And when people tell me to take medication they are not willing to offer any other kind of help. They do not offer solutions, just chemicals. And honestly I am so afraid that even if I said yes and the medication worked it’s magic and everything turned out as best as we could hope for, the only result would be that everyone who pushed for the medication would go right back to ignoring my very real, very debilitating issues that won’t be fixed by giving me medication. And it feels like just a way to shut me up, more than it feels like away to actually help me with my actual problems. And depression might be destroying everything in my life right now, but even as it threatens to kill me, I don’t feel like it’s the most important problem. It’s just a symptom of the real problems. And if I am not given the tools and help to dig down an tear all the real problems out by the root, why even bother doing anything about the depression? I want real help. Real solutions. The kind that sticks. That kind that hurts and are hard won. Not quick fixes that makes everything look nice on the surface and makes me less of at problem for other people. Being a problem for other people is the only way to have my pain taken seriously. And I can’t live with this pain. So right not it needs to be visible, loud and take up space. Not because it helps me, but because hiding it and biting it in made me more ill. And gave everyone an excuse to not look at it and not help me. And I am done accepting that.

Which makes me sound like an awful person. But it’s that or die. The pain is killing me whether I am quiet or loud. People in my life tell me they want me to live. I choose to believe them. I can’t survive this on my own. So either I make sure my pain is seen or die. If I make it through I’ll have the rest of my life to make up for it and be a better person. Right now is all about survival.

I hope you fight too A. Fight for your life. Be everything you need to be. Loud and difficult and annoying. A, I need you here with me. Fighting the good fight. You are not alone. And neither am I. Even when we feel alone. I support you 1000% no matter what you choose. But I hope and hope and hope that you choose life. I believe in a future for us. Being friends. Remembering the hells we went through and maybe making the way out a little easier for someone else. Or maybe just being thankful we got out. I don’t know why, but writing to you always leaves me full of hope. Because I see your struggle. And as much as it hurts to know your pain, I know you can make it. And when I know you can make it I believe I can make it too. I hope someday you’ll write back. I want to write letters with you. Not just at you. And please don’t take this as anything other than I like you, and miss you and being your friend is so rewarding. Even when you are down and walking through you own hell next to mine. I hope you find your way to Here. I hope you find your way out of surviving and into living. And I hope to meet you there when you do.

A there was so much more I wanted to write. But some of it was to painful for today. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe it’ll be a while. I am not putting myself back on a writing schedule. I am just writing when I can and hopefully that is often. It might not be. This depression is making me very unreliable. That’s new and weird. But I am trying to not apologise for being me and instead just say here I am. And here is a surprise letter I didn’t think I would write. Isn’t that awesome? I feel so accomplished.
And now I need to get to bed and get some sleep.
I’ll try to write soon. Thinking of you A.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Apology for the lack of letters and a short break from writing

Hi A (and anyone else reading along)

So I missed two letters. The first I actually wrote. But it was very personal and about grief, home and the death of my grandparents. And I just couldn’t edit it. And I didn’t feel comfortable uploading that particular letter without editing it.

And the week after than depression struck again. It was never really gone. It never is. But it had taken a backseat for a while and suddenly it was just back, as powerful as ever. And even though I wanted to write about the depression, about people around me suggesting medication and how I feel about the conversations I had about that, I just couldn’t write anything. I couldn’t do anything for days (except cry). I even thought about going to the hospital to get admitted, but couldn’t find anyone who could go with me, and going on my own was too much.

Things are a bit calmer this week. But due to the severity of last week’s depressive episode I decided to take a few weeks off from writing letters to you. I’ll get back in two or three weeks. Not entirely sure yet. But I need to write and I need to be obligated to write. And that is what these letters are all about. In the mean time I’m going to spend some energy fighting to find some help to avoid getting this depressed again and a lot of energy taking care of myself. And as soon as those things leave me with energy to spare, I’ll prioritise writing these letters again.

I am thinking of you and hope that you are okay or at least as okay as you can be.

Looking forward to hearing from you