A few days ago on Emma’s Hope Book Ariane wrote about the realization of how frustrating it must be to communicate something clearly by behaviour and have everyone not realize what it was you wanted.
I thought at the time that the grand frustration of an epic day like picture day for both Emma and her mother on realizing the people at school had not been able to work out what Emma was trying to indicate and had thought her family wouldn’t want a picture was so sadly perfect for every day life as autistic.
The last few years have been horrible on a scale so epic for me that even in a life where little goes right I have started to wonder. At multiple junctures when things could have perhaps made some progress towards decreased stress, some return to functioning levels I had once had one day catastrophically bad decisions were made by those with power over me.
In the post before what apparently was a worrisome silence to some of my followers (Sorry about that) I described the horror of having a medical issue I did know needed attending to but lacking the ability to do that myself.
People who live lives often dependent on how those who are supposed to help them won’t be surprised I don’t think that the first casualty of this was my case manager In a way that seems baffling despite in theory understanding my challenges she felt upset by the week that had proceeded her showing up to see if I was alive. That is having done all the communication I thought I needed with her and needing a period of total rest from even my digital life this combined by my, in theory, understandable inability to simply move into a mindset where she could take me immediately to a clinic when she came by made me impossible.
I understand I am difficult. That most of the things that make me so are quite well known as being part of autistic life doesn’t seem to make me easier. Why is hard for me to totally understand. I proposed immediately that instead she dispatch someone to accompany me the next day but I could almost see the stress storm rolling in.
So of course she quit. At the moment of me biggest need while she has been my case-manger it seemed like the logical thing to do. Protect herself from the horror of having to cope with me one minute longer.
Things had been going downhill for some time. Part of her panic I am sure on the issue of if I was alive or dead was that if I was in fact dead the issue of her failure to reengage with me in the community which if I had been dead would have come up as an issue for sure. I am sure that as an issue versus my actually being dead was a bigger stressor. No one seems to have much hope that I will live anyway.
However bad that was though I admit while this case manager had problems understanding me and while I stressed her out in ways that leave me feeling more guilty than betrayed by the timing of her exist because it is after all always the disabled person’s fault when people can’t understand them sigh…
It sped up my being pushed into the arms of a program that I had resisted for months. My reality is that despite having spent part of an overly long period of time in hospital qualifying for services specific to autism the people who deliver them will employ more resources showing I don’t than anyone can to say I do. If you need intensive services and have the notion they should be appropriate to your needs well that’s one you will have to give up or face the prospect of having your life stripped of all that gives it meaning because ethically a person with as horrible health and as horrible scores on measures of daily living competencies cannot live alone.
This knowledge hasn’t changed and I could apparently be ignored almost completely for months at a time but when things worsen ignore the knowledge they have that I should not be on my own becomes something they will solve either by putting me in a group home that always has vacancies as it is all females. Does it bother them at all that everyone else there is elderly and has been on such strong medication for a lifetime that their ability to do much at all is no longer there and that I have nothing but gender in common at all? I guess not.
So while agreeing with my doctor 100 percent that the only time forward progress had been made was when I had intensive daily support the people who would provide it worried me. People kept dismissing how much it worried me but it turns out I was not worried enough.
The program in question came into being to treat the intersection of mental health and criminal justice. In my area addictions are a mental health issue. One which for some people is about as untreatable as my depression. The mandate of the program had been broadened so they could become the dung heap of last resort without regard to the needs of the people places on it but the number of days you need to take up in other more expensive beds still seems to have made it hard for a law-abiding, non-addicted, autistic person with physical health in a state of collapse to ever qualify.
I am not minimizing in any way those who struggle with addictions to the point of being in a revolving door where whether it will open leaving them under a bush, or in one form of penal bed or the other is about the only random bit. None of them qualify for a shelter bed most of the time because of course if you have used substances very few will take you.
It’s a horrifying life in it’s own right and one where the system also fails. I still don’t think setting it up so they can fail me even worse from the get go with a program that all protocols come from a model of service delivery that doesn’t intersect with my reality at all is a solution.
I had been without a depression for a dozen years. I do not think of myself as depressive on the whole as when I get them they are inevitably for autistic reasons. I often think they are untreatable just because the continuous feedback loop of the stressful ways they go about it makes everything about how I function so much worse that I do indeed feel hopeless but who wouldn’t?
In the years since this started the capacities I have had have sunk and sunk which is predictable. A lifetime of viewing my speech as unreliable I could usually predict all the same when I would have issues. Enter the team I have had to dub the sucktastic support team.
The claim to make decisions in partnership with their clients. I do not know what that claim is based on because my case manager quickly claimed I was the one client they found this impossible with. I thought really. So often do team members excuse themselves because someone needs rounding up from under a bush for a probation appointment that I think it really cannot be the same guy. On a caseload of the chronically unhousable, some of whom if too long goes before the relative stability of one penal system or the other, will meet tragic and grisly ends. I don’t feel that I belong on the program with my house and address, and some work but to be the most difficult on it is certainly over-achievement in the field of being difficult even for me.
Because this team won’t plan and for most of their caseload cannot plan they have an astonishing capacity to render me speechless. While once the kind of triggering events that would leave me without the ability for some time were almost entirely, with a few exceptions, limited to medical types of situations now they happen so regularly.
The same failure to see my behaviour as communication occurs. The same inability to reconcile the capabilities I have with what they see and what people say I need. I cannot say they try hard based on available evidence.
All initial enthusiasm about me as at least a win in the housing column faded. All concessions about how they handle me which they agreed to they revoked. Most unforgivably for me the agreement that any reduction in service would only occur after consulting with me. 20 hours after that was said someone came by to tell me it had been reduced.
The spontaneous fury that rose in me scares me looking back. It happens. At the time I was attached to a medical vac. treating a complication. In the swift flying of my hands to my face that became separated from my leg but the person leaving this news was one of only two people on that team who even listen so after she was gone and I had collapsed in tears and sleep for days to come. Sleep to ensure more horrors did not happen in the hopelessness of this betrayal and knowing the spin that would go on my behaviour.
As one of the few who treat me as human at all in the way people treat humans I felt guilty it was her who had to view this but feeling guilty for something as uncontrollable as that is not useful or even fair to myself. A few weeks into this program my doctor expressed concern about how much I seemed to be blaming myself for things that are not controllable but while on one level I know it a dent has made with the consistent refrain of try harder. Do better. Be something other than who you are in other words.
For people who believe in functioning labels as static and meaning anything as they are used in autism I am too “high functioning” for the sort of epic meltdown that occurred. This is nonsense of course but that is is their view. A view which they will not check against any book or source from myself, or my doctor (both equally suspect as our versions of my reality are too similar) but they will cling to.
The chose early on to have in a two week period 13 different people see me. I found out at the meeting where I was told that the worst was over and that I would be consulted that this was based on a reality that isn’t mine. They felt without the need to check that in a crisis if a stranger had to attend to me it would be worse. In reality in the kind of crisis they would know about they tend to dispatch strangers anyway but as more of an imploder I would be so deep within myself who if they did send anyone. Was there would barely register. Still no need to ask me before embarking on something which no one left here thinking wasn’t harmful to me.
In the logic of service provision that them coming made me worse. That I spoke seldom and often backed right up as levels of stress increased and no support around the very key issues of eating and drinking happened this was not their failure. In my every day stress they did not reach what seems like the more logical conclusion to me that they should indeed space it out a bit. That they should support the basics of life which was a large part of why I needed intensive support.
Of course that would have meant thinking my behaviour or lack of it had meaning. I don’t really understand how people miss this. I was still in elementary school I am pretty sure behaviour as communication comes up and nearly everyone on this team has at least one degree and if not at least a certificate where this should come up.
Sometimes between my own experience and reading that of others I think newly minted “experts” have every useful thing fall straight out of their brains because how do they get from they are making me worse without wondering what role their own behaviour had in this all the way to seeing me less?
I still don’t know. They keep changing their minds about what drove that decision. At first they said I had so many medical appointments that it would make no real difference. They make my appointments though and having communicated multiple times I cannot take more than 3 in a week that too has been ignored of course.
Now they say I too often closed the door on staff and refused to cooperate so it was a waste. Of course they had made the first service reduction decision after a string where they seemed understanding of the horrible stress I was under and no one seemed to care if I responded or not and most fled without even trying to connect. Those who persisted a bit often found eventually I would respond but that would put them further behind of course so why try?
They had also made the second one all the way to three days all of which inevitably have appointments so no other aspect of my life is supported before any of the incidents they found recent problems. My failure to adjust to a sudden change of plan and being too polite to yell and scream I tried to say I was expecting you in half an hour and I cannot quickly get ready and then do groceries before physio.
I plan my day well in advance and faced with a sudden change how to even find my clothes in the time before physio was in doubt but shopping is stressful. Physio no picnic. Combined with a sudden change and it was not going to happen. Losing all words when my trying to explain was met with well they didn’t have time to do it any other way I shut the door and went and curled up on my bed both in fear and frustration. This was not a person I trusted to render events accurately even as they stood.
Twice in the past month I have been called to account for all the ways I suck as a client. They don’t call it that of course. The first time that autism was a bigger part of the diagnostic picture seemed to upset a person who last knew me 20 years ago when support in the community was no only real but it was possible to have more of it than you cold handle. Any downturn in my health then was handled by a swift return to a hospital setting so while the support team he worked on seldom saw me at my very worst my overall issues have not changed.
I would not have said the equally ridiculous that he too had changed in all those years. Yet it is a source of a conviction I could do better if I was more personally responsible. That I could only be this is we first get a long stable period, regain some skills that were based in another environment and don’t starve to death first seems sensible to me but not to them.
When I said on being summoned for a second time to a meeting that was about the managers responsibility to protect his teams from the horrors of dealing with me so if he could find a way to drop me he would. (Bad luck for him as of course many of their clients are difficult in ways the average member of society would refuse to deal with so there is no mechanism for it)
I had said if it was going to be a long list of my failure to be personally responsible for things I either never had been able to do or hadn’t been able to do in a long time I would go so there was an attempt to re-frame it as a business partnership.
I was a bad partner in my own health. Gee? Really? They quickly refused to communicate by email. When if ever I see my caemanager I don’t know. To this day she thinks a surprise you have an appointment today approach is okay but I am a bad partner. As he framed it as a business partnership I had to point out that those tend to be equal. We would have of course had all the various contractual obligations of both parties well hammered out ahead of and in contract form and when they failed to do so I would use the legal mechanism available to seek recompense from the courts.
However stressed I am don’t say something stupid and hope if I can speak I won’t be able to point out that as a quick change in how they wanted to frame the same grievances I won’t be able to swat that down. Of course this does me no favours as this seems “high-functioning”. I can kill his argument re-framing in under 2 minutes but be rendered speechless over and over by sudden changes or stupid decisions. I must be making up part of it.
That had come up. That I had to be acting to some degree because how else do I make sense? Gee I don’t know because there are lots of autistic people just like me and indeed one of the current improvements in the DSM is that notions of capacity versus demand are right in the definition. But yes it certainly makes more sense to think a person with skills so epic at pretending to be screwed up would do it to torture them rather than say go off an earn too much money by putting those skills to work in the entertainment industry.
I was also guilty of using the protections available to me as a client of a program where some actual abuses had occurred. This was causing a paperwork nightmare. So too was that the nurses who see me for wound care have felt they need to leave a long paper trail as they are not primarily responsible for supporting my eating or anything but that I was losing weight at an alarming and visible rate was something they felt they needed to act on and document that action as my discharge from their regular attention was looming.
In the past 6 years I have led countless volunteer teams in an unrelated industry entirely and being known for high standards I would have fired any one of my team members with even the smallest amount of responsibility for being unprofessional enough to whine to their subordinates or anyone else in a way this epic. Sadly I cannot fire this guy. The government pays him a ridiculous amount of money and he wants to spend some of his time blaming me for their failures to wrap their head around me? You bet I will take that up with people above him.
In the reductivist narrative of my life that would reduce the value of it because of what I cost society what about what it costs that nearly everyone who earns part of their income failing to support me appropriately is paid handsomely to do so? Shouldn’t their pay be based on meeting my needs at least to some degree? Shouldn’t as much time at least by spent meeting them as meeting about me and deciding what the catch phrase of the month is about how horrible I am?
When you are a child in the best case scenario you will have a parent who is apologetic at the failures of people to realize you have competencies and however you communicate your needs or fears it is communication.
As an adult there is no such protection. In the health system playing well with others is valued so they almost eerily form visions of me that the bulk of the team can recite word for word. The people who refuse to do so still indicate they need to be a part of the team because they are among the most disposable.
So I can’t speak out with the few who do listen because I don’t suck enough as a human to make their work harder which it is apparently if they speak against the group think about me.
When I was just entering adulthood I had notions of a life nothing like this. I would collect degree after degree and that I did not remember to eat it would not matter. Droves of students hoping to win favour with me would always be around to supply useful things like food and drink whether any of them set themselves apart from the herd or not enough for me to learn their names. I had seen this very thing with professors I knew did not bother with such trivialities as the names of those eager to be of use as one said to me he remembered me and went on to say although he is required to teach two courses and supervise multiple graduate students that was true of less than a handful of people. An echo of how lonely my father had warned me when I was still quite young life would be.
Of course life did not unfold according to a plan that would have seen me live in the seldom labeled as such but fairly sheltered environment of academia.
The sadness of the life not accomplished is a sadness but it is not frustrating in the way the failure for things to improve for autistic people is.
I have multiple physically degenerative issues and the prognosis on one of those seems to be in mid revision to even more grim. There is my autism. If I had never felt any grief or sadness or hopelessness maybe I would not somehow also be considered a mental health issue but as the service providers of easiest access they are hard to escape.
My entire life for months has been lived with the horrible knowledge if they do not improve or try in any way to meet the needs they indicated they understood I had I might die. In my most miserable moment I think the paperwork nightmare explaining how someone referred with that as one of the critical issues in need of intensive support dies on their watch is some sort of revenge but I would prefer to live.
During the meeting of the long list of ways I suck at being a good partner in my health I did eventually flee. Fight or flight kicks in. It’s something in itself worrying as a few times it has kicked in and where I might wind up was potentially not safe.
That day the final time I was ordered to sit down I didn’t. I know they can kill you with their words. The hopelessness of them never believing anything real about the real you while simultaneously refusing to consult my doctors notes on the matter is too much.
The inane complaint I am somehow not trying hard enough when the amount of effort it takes to be with them for a single minute or to have persisted through the worst 27 months of my life how do I respond?
If effort was the solution I would be so danged healthy I could work on my agenda for assuming control of the entire planet… As dictators go I would be awesome truly. When I was in politics while an awesome background person that I was unelectable was a given. Yet one never gives up ones hopes of power and how swiftly I would reverse all the expensive ways we fund abuse and ignorance would be a help.
One of the strange problems that goes with my autism is I can in fact communicate well and in a number of languages. Except when I can’t but somehow the times I cannot or even that a communication disorder is consider a key part of it means no one has to listen to me. Any issue with communication is always mine by definition. The well paid people who currently completely refuse to even try to communicate with me don’t have to. What would be the point? I am impossible.
If it were not that the people who do not find me impossible are all pretty similar as far as having the same values I live by I would start to wonder. The depressing thing is that being honest to the degree I expect and ethical is not the majority position for the people with power over me. Yelling at me to “Speak damn it” and then letting me out in traffic while crying so hard I nearly got mowed down is in group speak assertion not abuse.
That’s my reality. I don’t know for how much longer it will be because if I actually manage to fire this team my posterior will wind up in a place where I can not have the things that give meaning to my life. Equally unsuitable but somewhere along the line my value as a person around here sunk so low that things that matter a lot to me don’t matter at all to those who make decisions.
The difficult thing is they have not been able to strip me of my legal competence although two people have warned me that as soon as my current doctor is transitioned right out that will be quick to remedy and I know they are right. It can be half way removed by telephone and whatever they say about that not being enough that almost any doctor would simply sign off on it being fully removed without much worry about the ethics of it is certain.
I sometimes think beyond the fact I have yet to pull of a nice short blog the whole depressing reality of my life can’t be very appetizing for people.
That little alters in some fundamental ways from the tiny child I was once convinced it was my kindergarten teacher about to be in deep trouble for the scandalous way things were run in what didn’t seem very school like but which I was powerless to communicate and equally as powerless when locked in a battle of wills with a larger adult (unlike my parents she didn’t have the sense to know she should have surrendered as soon as she saw I could walk) . To now. In between there have been times where things proceed in ways that I would want but the underlying fundamental reality of how swift people make the wrong decisions and judge you in all sorts of ways hasn’t changed.
There is no point in screaming because while understandable that would violate the rules of the health authority. They could then totally deny you services until you were a corpse. Well granted I would have to scream specific things but it is a good thing that so seldom have I reached for profanity in my entire life that even now if I yell at all it is more on target of what is true at least until I flee.
I never try to judge life of any kind but the ongoing trauma of having mine judges and devalued combined with the knowledge that any time I fail to behave as expected that will be one more grievance in the long list against me makes me more than sad. I am not even sure I know a word to describe how I feel.
That the every day usually unnoticed by others because they take place away from eyes that might care frustrations of living this way are difficult. I cannot imagine being anything else of course and I do not think because people so horribly fail to meet my needs that that makes autism tragic as meeting them would be simple if a paradigm shift happened where however I was communicating I was valuable and when that communication was shutting a door or fleeing as fast as a person as physically challenged as I am at the moment it would still have to be taken as not me behaving badly but as communication about an intolerable situation. A failure to meet a need.
It’s never picture day when you are an adult but the mindset of those looking at your behaviour doesn’t seem to have changed.