Denial of my Autonomy – The Price of Masking

CW / TW // depression, anxiety, self-hate, suicide ideation, suicide attempt, angry ranting.

This song sums up how my life has been

Before my diagnosis this year at thirty-seven I was only ever somewhat authentic me at certain times – the rest of my life was lived entirely based on others expectations of me – I am not a perfectionist – I am a ‘judgementaphobe’. I didn’t learn helplessness – I was explicitly taught it.

I am processing a lifetime of trauma I just simply hid away – never allowing myself to acknowledge the pain I was in. I did that – I kept doing it… I made it 36 years before I nearly died – after a suicide attempt.

I spent six months in the critical mental health system after calling the police on myself multiple times as I was close to the brink. I was going through intense Autistic Burnout. I was stuck in an inescapable void – my mind was trapped in a pattern of self hatred, I thought I was a sociopath because I hurt people without knowing why. I had to force a diagnosis because “labels aren’t important” – but this label was, this label saved my life.

I have spent my life trying to be a good person. I have constant evidence that I am – I do things constantly that prove this – and yet I am oblivious to their existence in the second I make an honest mistake. I hurt someone I care about without knowing why and often they wouldn’t explain to me, and if they did, they wouldn’t accept my sincere apology.

People take on harm from general things I say in order to make their trauma match my statement – as though I am not allowed to be upset at the trauma things have caused me. I never mentioned them. They chose to take on that hurt. I know I can’t please everyone and this expectation is killing me because I still have it for myself – when they decide to make an argument I haven’t made and attack me for it – I go straight into OCD spirals that destroy me for the rest of the day.

I never specifically name people unless complimenting them as a general rule, unless they have not repent on their treatment of me. In which case – name them – holding esteemed people liable for the harm they cause is a civic duty – their reputation is a lie if it’s built on a foundation of sand and hate.

People always want to read malice in my actions. Everything I’ve ever done in my life has been trying not to harm people. That’s left me in bad relationships because I didn’t want to hurt people. I gave up everything of myself at times terrified to hurt other people because I’ve done it so often while learning to be the “perfect” person that others expected – an endless cycle of reinventing myself to try and get it right… to be ok for you…

My needs were not important. My views were discounted. My pain constant. My acceptance of it – never there. My morality weaponised against me. My sticking up for myself perceived as troubled behaviour. My self-advocacy constantly derided.

I wasn’t diagnosed. But I still got to experience Autistic life. My Autism didn’t appear during my diagnosis – it’s always been a part of me – it should have been a gift, a unique way of seeing the world, instead it was a curse – a blemish that marked me as an other.

I was put on a myriad of mental health medicines that are not recommended for Autistic people, and large scale investigations by the Cochrane reviews have found most mental health medications for most Autistic people completely unsuitable. I lost 10 years of my life suffering the varying effects of SSRI/SNRI medications where I was told to persist through the side effects to see the benefit – the benefit never came.

I’m a flawed person, like every other person I know in my life. I have had significant additional difficulty settings on existing. So many things in my life I attributed to personal failings – things like Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, ADHD and OCD. I was never as good as I knew I could be. I never knew why I was inconsistent – and the lack of knowledge of my difference caused me to internalise every failing.

I was hated for the person I was, so I tried to become someone else – I masked everything about me that I considered to be me – I tried never to sound smart, I tried never to speak out against stuff I knew was wrong, I had to pretend to people who I knew wished me harm that I respected them while they gaslight and abused me.

I didn’t listen. The person I wanted to be was always here – there was a voice in my head I didn’t listen to. I was brainwashed out of trusting myself. I hated me – actually hated me – I felt like any happiness I ever got was unearned.

Every time I achieved anything I would wait for the failure – the crushing point at which I know I am no longer good – to remind myself I am the burden people expect. The damaged person – the lost cause.

If only I had learned to listen to those who wished me no harm, those who believed in me, those who understood that no one truly understood me. The one person I had in my life that tried to teach me this lesson and showed consistent love – my Dad – has now returned to nature – I never got to thank him.

People my whole life have bullied, beaten, attempts have been made by people extremely close to me to kill me. People have sexually assaulted me, manipulated me, lied to me, got me to act against my own implicit morality, and made me believe that I am the burden that I was made to be – my family, my friends, my workmates, my teachers, my bosses, my partners…

People barely respected my boundaries or took me at my word – that’s not something I was allowed. I gave up my boundaries at a young age because that way people liked me. Better to lie about who I am and fit in than be alone – but the cost of lying about who I am was doing more harm than telling the truth – I never wanted to be a toxic human, but I was surrounded by them – they constantly convinced me that I had to be awful.

I get the lifelong scarring of my memory – it never forgets the things I’ve done wrong. I don’t want to either – it keeps me humble.

I wonder though – maybe I wouldn’t have anhedonia (inability to feel positive emotions), if I actually had been told that my way of expressing happiness had been allowed, not judged.

People in my life keep trying to cure me – I don’t need your solutions, I need your acceptance. I am ok with my challenges and I am working on them – I don’t need you to constantly remind me that you perceive me to be suffering far more than I am. The idea that my life is hard I can accept – the fact it seems to make other people upset is the part I can’t take.

I feel so enraged that this was my life. Thirty seven years of near constant wreckage across different domains at different times.

I want to remove this mask, to tear it from my body – to become the real me. It’s only an unattainable goal now – the real me is gone – congratulations society! – it won that battle. I lost my autonomy for long enough that I will never get to be who I was meant to be. I will always be lost in my consciousness – trying to make sure that I am accepted – for the me you want to see.

Don’t you ever speak about behaviour therapy in a positive light to me – behaviour therapy taught me I didn’t matter – and you’re perpetuating that abuse. It retraumatises me in ways you don’t understand – you will never know unless you’ve had this experience too.

Give Autistic people autonomy and the tools to communicate – trust them – love them – don’t build a cage around their mind and throw away the key to this prison.

It’s nearly always hell here – the best I can ever do for me is to try to make sure that this doesn’t happen to other people. It’s the only salvageable thing from this experience.

I’ll always be a tourist in my own life.

Published by roryreckons

I am an ADHD/Autism/OCD advocate and independent ADHD/Autism researcher. I am training in 2021 to become an ICF Accredited ADHD coach. I write mainly about ADHD/Autism/OCD/Mental health issues, but will also discuss morality, abolition, and current affairs occasionally.

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