TW: Suicide, autism, chronic illness.
Another year later, another year full of sunny-eyed optimism and dashed dreams. Receiving the 1.5 years of disability support was amazing, even though it took 4 years to process and my ability to work hasn’t really improved, I just got a couple super-flexible professional breaks—it was still enough to pay debts and get me on my feet, which felt great.
But the thing is…if you’re disabled in the United States, your foundations are on quick sand. When COVID hit, my publisher lost a major investor and my editor is no longer taking pitches, with the same thing is happening at other publications. I’ve been trying like hell to get on with someone else, but it’s a nightmare time to be a freelance writer; not that it’s ever a particularly solid job, one that’s very popular in those who either don’t depend on the money, or cash-poor folks who need the flexibility and specificity of the work due to disability or responsibility. And many of us in the latter, well, we’re kinda fucked right now.
I was approved for Unemployment Insurance, sending me a debit card close to three months ago. However, my rent is about to be three months late, because UI hasn’t paid up, not a fucking penny; and they simply aren’t taking calls. I have one day of medicine left and $4.44 in my bank account (an ironic but positive omen if you’re into numerology). I’m out of resources, out of ideas, and a physical and emotional mess.
Deja effing vu.
This situation was made catastrophic due to having extremely little emotional support to process a truly mindblowing recent diagnosis—turns out, I’m autistic. I spent a month doing self-diagnosis, taking tests (all of which said YES, duh), and reading all the studies and articles I could get my brain to digest. I finally decided to pay for a diagnosis when I got a highly-recommended telemedicine referral, and the professional assessments confirmed that I actually have Level 2 autism. It was weirdly comforting, making me feel like I’ve done pretty darn well for someone with my neurology. (The mental health professional agreed.)
For a while, I was elated. My brain makes sense! It even makes many of my edges make sense, and provides tools to help me manage these issues, some of them anyways. While there’s no trick (I’ve yet encountered) to make people think I’m less “off,” there’s many many tricks for energy management and avoiding horrible experiences like meltdowns and burnouts; which have been part of living for years now, and also came through in prior phases in my life.
But after coming out, I had the fun experience of learning that you can also go non-verbal as an autistic person. It’d threatened to happen before, though being in complete isolation it was hard to tell what was going on—I just felt like expressing myself was impossible, I’d go to press ‘send’ on communication, but then be crushed with a defeating energy and just close my computer and need to lie down, not really able to communicate for days, or even weeks.
This time though, after one shocking online experience and repeated personal emotional rejection, my actual voice went out; down to a raspy tone that felt like it was going in instead of out.
After a couple particularly upsetting denials of basic emotional support from “close” relationships after I came out; it felt like my brain was very literally exploding, white hot light filling my mind in jarring expulsions, and not for the first time this month. Then my body violently convulsed for a long time, it was terrifying.
I did get my voice back, but that was the beginning of a very severe mental break that lasted well over a week. The potential seizures (doc/neuro referral next Friday) continued sporadically, but happened in another long/violent fashion on someone’s doorstep—hitting my head on the concrete and passing out in the sun, burning half my ass.
That night, the police were called when I asked someone if I could use their restroom. After the cops’ questioning, they decided I “didn’t seem homeless” and so called the ambulance instead of taking me to jail. (This country, I swear…) After a very long night that included punching a medic in the dick after he kept unnecessarily touching my breasts; I left the hospital in search of my car, which had been impounded somewhere along the journey I really can’t remember much of. I got it, somehow, but now I owe my only local friend hundreds of dollars and I’m afraid she’ll never want to talk to me again; because I don’t know when I’ll be able to repay her, and history’s proved that’s just how it works.
But I’m an adult, I just need to “get my shit together,” right? I am not anyone else’s problem. I am “my own problem.”
The things is, I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t have anything left. Trying all the things I could try has literally driven me mad, twice. Society keeps insisting it has no place for me, and I’m out of ideas.
My mother, the woman whom gave me all my major personality traits, committed suicide 23 years ago this week. I used to feel upset at her for giving up, but after a decade of persistent ideation, all I have is complete empathy for her choice. I’ve tried everything. I’ve done everything I could. I’ve nearly cured an incurable disease, for fuck’s sake (fibromyalgia is all about the ECS); but it’s still not enough because I cannot “cure” my neurology, and the world I live in insists that it’s unacceptable.
My brain isn’t meant for my society. It’s been repeatedly proven that there is no place for me within it. There are very real reasons I struggle, and no one thinks they’re relevant; not even with a “doctor’s note,” and decades of research behind the diagnosis.
I love life. But how do you continue down a path that keeps throwing you off it? How?
9/26/20 – Rough month, but I’m still hanging in there. Baby steps.