30th of October 2019
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
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.