Some clarity: Autistic vs. Poor Me

It has been brought to my attention that some of my very wonderful readers are upset about a post I wrote last year about attention seeking/ victim-mentality, per: ‘Actually Autistic vs Poor-Me’.

abstract alphabet arrangement away

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now I want to clarify, straight up–

 

Why I wrote the post: It was personal…

I wrote that post because i was venting. This is my blog. I should be allowed to VENT!

 

See, a best friend of over ten years completely vanished on me after I brought it to her attention (like I believe a friend is supposed to) that her behaviour was really victimy, and not really pro-active in her experience.  See, this ex-friend is in a really unhealthy romantic relationship and was taking a really big step with that man AND on top of that now claims to be autistic.  Well, she might be autistic, but who knows?! She refuses to get a formal assessment!  My real gripe here is that since I first met her way back in 2005, she always seemed to complain about something.  She always had a neediness, and a reason to be angry at the world (even when nothing was inherently bad). Sure, sometimes her life wasn’t great, but hey, shit happens and we move on and grow.  She just recedes.  I find it so sad because she always did have a lot to be thankful for. yet instead of seeing the positives, and instead of embracing good things in her life, my ex-friend would ALWAYS turn it into a bad thing.  If life was positive, she’d find a negative.  If she got a wonderful new job, she’d turn it dark. It wasn’t just that; she had this sense of entitlement and need for ‘justice’ that started to become extremely attention-seeker-y — victim-mentality-ish.  So, when she was in the process of taking this big step with that guy and lamenting how her life was awful, I told her– I told her that she’s playing the victim (again) and if things suck, she has the power to make it right and change it, and STOP and not be with this guy, and not blame everything and autism.  But that made her recede more and vanish; something which really saddened me. I loved her.

Way back before all of this, when she came out with “I think I’m autistic”, I was wary, because it seemed like another reason for her to find fault in the world.  But I did not attack her or judge her… because I also got my informal diagnosis from my psych at that time. I had hoped she would find peace with the idea; for me learning I was perhaps autistic was a chance for hope. I decided (although I was unemployed at the time) to PAY for my own formal diagnosis, to make sure that I did indeed have autism (or not?).  She had a full-time job and refused to see a psych to get a formal assessment (why??).  Yet, while my experience journeying through my understanding of myself with autism transformed my life in such a positive way, her way through was to be negative.  For her, she seemed to treat autism as another  reason why she’s under attack; why her life is awful.

To her, autism seemed as if it could explain away her bad behaviour, and therefore she would continue to blame everything else instead of taking responsibility for things in her life that were not ideal. See, she did not seek therapy or formal assessment regarding her possible autism, yet  did feel it necessary to declare injustices in the workplace because of discrimination against her experience of “her autism”.  While that workplace had some shit aspects, it was not really the issue– the problem here is that: she thinks she has autism, will not get a formal assessment (even though she can afford it); thus is undiagnosed, and yet demands support for her illness AND gets upset when people do not recognize her illness.

Now, I KNOW workplaces care a hell of a lot about disability support and welfare — part of my current job is involved in this area and autism is a BIG thing here in Australia, with the private industry and govt.  But that support is only available to diagnosed workers.  And perhaps that’s short sighted, but at the same time, it makes sense.  People like to wrought systems and cheat systems.  Those who are actually autistic  should be the ones who receive the benefits instead of everyone else who *could be* faking it.  Yep, that means it you think you’re autistic and not yet diagnosed then you get no support at work…. It might be frustrating to be such a person, yet surely you can see the merit in keeping the formal support for those who are actually diagnosed, rather than universal allowances (i.e. what about general bad behaviour/ you could say “I think I’m autistic and that’s why I….”).

Getting back to my point — I know, you could probably say, “hey, Autumn, you’re not taking into account that maybe your ex-best friend was depressed” and yeh, I am, actually. She’s had depression/ PTSD for a long time, and I have been very encouraging and supportive for her to find help and therapy.  But really, if one of the key issues in a person’s life is that they KNOWINGLY stay in an unhealthy romantic relationship, then it’s kinda their fault.  It’s kinda up to them to change things.  And yeh, it sounds nasty of me, but I have been in shit abusive relationships in the past, and I learned that i needed to take responsibility for MY part in the relationships: I stayed when I knew it was wrong. It was my fault the bad stuff kept happening.  And then one day, I said, “NO MORE” and I left, and I have not been in an abusive relationship since…

Despite my ex-friend being a very intelligent woman, she continuously stays with her boyfriend and makes excuses for his abusive behaviour.  She does not leave.  She’s still with him now, and seems to “feed” off the negativity that this bad relationship brings her. It gives her a reason to get pity from others. I find it deeply saddening to watch her hate her dickhead boyfriend, but stay with him.  Instead of leaving, she posts Facebook messages saying that he treats her badly/ abuses her, and gets upset with anyone who would suggest that she leaves him. This is an almost 15 year abusive relationship that obviously is not changing; he is not changing, so just leave him! Why stay? It makes me want to scream – she is a beautiful person and her victim-mentality is making her stay in this bad relationship, and want continual attention… And that NEED she has for attention– that need and want…. it just oozes into her ideas of her being autistic too.

As I witnessed this behaviour in my ex-friend, I also saw it in others (particularly noticeable online).  There are many people who are needy attention seekers claiming to be autistic or depressed or anxious or “triggered”, when they’re actually not ill.  This victim-mentality is NOT healthy!!  If your life sucks, that’s most likely on you.  Make a change and take responsibility.  If you think you’re autistic and you want formal support, get a diagnosis; it’s so simple, it’s so easy. If you think your undiagnosed autism causes your life problems, get a diagnosis and seek therapy (it will help!).  Another easy thing to do! It seriously bugs me that some people feel a need to identify with a group so they can feed their attention-seeker behaviours.  It also bugs me that some people don’t want to get a diagnosis when they are convinced they have autism because of their fears.  I.e. They’ve built up this whole idea that they are autistic, told everyone they are autistic and now the formal assessment shows them “no you’re not autistic” — then what?! What I’m trying to say is, take responsibility for your shit.

Also, I need to impress upon you here a couple of things: 1) I’m human and I have opinions, okay? 2) My opinion about my best friend (ex-best friend) is totally valid.  She was a friend, NOT a therapy client or a group member or my work colleague, or my student or anything like that — she was my best friend. A relationship with a best friend is completely and wildly different from a person who you lead or mentor or work with.  In those other cases, your opinion is less important than when it comes to a deeply personal issue.  What’s personal? My best friend who I loved so dearly!  When my most treasured person in my world is hurting, I want them to find joy, even just a bit.  Yet, as a friend, I also have the role of Devil’s Advocate. Thus, I think it’s my responsibility to say “GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER”; I would want my friends to care enough about me to give me that kinda tough love if required… And this ex-friend has actually given me similar treatment in the past and helped me overcome my issues too.  As such, a reality-check is a blessed thing~!

Okay, so why write the post?  I was processing this hurt.  I loved my best friend and I know she is sad in her life.  I know she wants to get out and find calm… but she’s stuck in her victim space.  Since I’ve known her, she has not got her shit together. I had hoped my tough love would make her see that she deserves more.  And if she’s really deeply disturbed by a lack of workplace support for her autism, then she’d get a formal diagnosis! Then she could wave it at them and say “damn it, I deserve this”. I had hoped that reminding her that she is loveable and does not need this dickhead in her life, might shake her to listen and try leaving him.  I had hoped that she would not take this big step with him and get even more entrenched in that bad relationship. I had hoped that my offering of helping her financially and emotionally to create a change in her life would make think about it and try, and believe in me. I had hoped that being this real genuine friend and giving her that real REALITY talk would let her see that, yes, she IS attention-seeking and yes, she is stuck in victimhood right now…. and that she can have a more beautiful life.

She couldn’t see any of that. And she unfriended me, saying I don’t care about her. It breaks my heart that a friendship of so long could crumble by a reality-check given with love and deep kindness….

 

What I meant by actually autistic vs poor me:

  • It’s not that being undiagnosed makes you an attention seeker. Not at all!  

There’s nothing wrong with being undiagnosed.  However, if you are undiagnosed for a long long period of time and all the while going about declaring it to everyone, wishing to get all the formal support that us diagnosed individuals get, and taking deep offense when people don’t recognize your illness, then that is questionable. Certainly, there is a “grace period” of thinking you are autistic and figuring yourself out.  My therapist says that’s around 2 years… But after your time of thinking about it, and gathering a sense of belief that this is you, wouldn’t you want certainty?

 

  • It’s not that being stuck in a victim mentality is an invalid experience.

You only get into a victim-mentality because at one time you WERE at victim.  Whatever yuck happened to you was shit! It was bad, and being the victim at that time was not your fault… But time has passed and you are a strong, amazing individual in spite of your past victimization.  So, why keep the victim-mentality?  If you are grown up now and living your life, then why stay in that emotional space?  It doesn’t feed you.  I know, you’re still processing trauma, and maybe you’re still in therapy.  But hey, if you stay stuck in the victim-mentality, and know you’re there, that is a problem.

And, if you are in this space of “victimhood” long after the victimization has occured, you will be, whether you like it or not, playing out an attention-seeker type behaviour.  It is part and parcel of being stuck in victim-space.  See, when you were victimized, you could not get help.  You needed help, and no-one helped you.  That is why the victimization happened.  The trauma of victimization makes your brain regress to this space of desperately wanting help, seeking help, needing help…. and you don’t actually need that help now– because you needed it back then! Getting this quench of “help me”, “i need you”, “poor me needs help” won’t change the fact you were victimized.  It won’t heal that pain.  It just keeps making your trauma stronger and you weaker.

If you know you’re in victim-space, get out!  You will feel about so much better in your world, if you just try to step away from that attention-seeking behaviour.

Therapy helps, and so does a friend who is speaking the truth to you.

 

There’s nothing wrong with being undiagnosed or thinking you are autistic…. but be mindful of how you interact with the world at this time.

Are you wanting, and needing and yearning for help? Maybe get a diagnosis. Maybe talk to your therapist and ‘workshop’ your feelings.

Are you demanding that others notice you, or starting arguments with others because they did not recognize your “illness”? Again, taking to your therapist may help.  Equally, you may find if you get a diagnosis that your victim-mentality can be shrugged off… and that by understanding your childhood or victimization through the lens of “oh, I am autistic” will alleviate things for you.

 

I hope this clarifies things for you all.

Advertisements

Autistic doesn’t mean “good at math”

It is great to see all these autism employment and spectrum programs helping neurodiverse individuals get into work, but I have noticed a distinct LEAN towards information technology and engineering roles.  Yes, we are talented individuals. Yes, we want jobs. Though… Ummm, autistic doesn’t automatically mean ‘good at math’.

multicolored abacus photography

Photo by Skitterphoto

I think it’s important to remember that for every savant kid with autism, there are literally thousands and thousands of others with learning difficulties.  One such learning difficulty involves challenges understanding and “seeing” numbers.  This is “dyscalculia”.  It can best be described as the “maths version of dyslexia”; numbers get muddled up and doing mathematics is like trying to interpret an alien language.

For some autistics, math just isn’t an option.

So, what about getting an IT or engineering job? Can you do it with dyscalculia?  Well, I guess you can; it just depends on how bad your learning difficulty is and how much you want to work in the field (In fact, I know an autistic lady who has dyscalculia and now works for Google. At university, she spent significant time studying maths with professors, focusing her mind, to be able to succeed at this).  My point, however, is that for some autistics, math just isn’t an option.  For some, math is near impossible, because, I hear autistics say “my brain doesn’t work that way”.  These individuals have other talents.

 

So what’s up with all these IT jobs then, huh?

I think what the companies Apple, SAP, Microsoft, Google, HP, ANZ Bank, Westpac Bank and New Relic have in mind is that autism = detail-oriented methodical problem solving.  And in many ways, they are spot on.  Most autistics DO have these key traits, so it seems natural then that an autistic would be good at software testing (to find errors) or coding or cyber security roles.

Yet, it is also a bit shortsighted and a little on the “stereotyping” angle.  Not all autistics are good at mathematics or IT. I mean, just because a lot of African and African Americans are fast runners and brilliant basketball players, does not mean all of them are… or that all of them even want to be a sportsperson!  We need to remember that all people and thus all autistics come in different packages.  We all have different skills to offer.

 

What we need is…

I think it is great that we are seeing recruitment platforms for neurodiverse workers and also that there is interest in our talent and abilities.  Yet I’d love to see more job boards and programs that seek out other kinds of autistic skill levels…

What about the artists, writers, sculptors, musicians? What about the counsellors, teachers, coaches? What about the mechanics? What about the chess players? What about the financial market buffs? Or those who excel in old Latin, have a passion for papercraft, or hold immense knowledge of Tesla cars? I think a program that harnesses THESE talents might do better.

Imagine all the good autistics can do with all their amazing knowledge and talents put into action! WOW!

We need more universal recruitment platforms, and you know, I have created just that.  Mmm, over the past few months, at my work, we have been developing a job seeker platform for autistics and others with neurodiversity to find meaningful work.  I am so proud of this, and I know that me talkign about it here, on my blog might seem very marketing-esque of me, but I wanted to share something good.

If you’re neurodiverse, seeking employment, and want to showcase your skills, head on over to https://www.aspiesatwork.org/ and register.

I am so excited about the site. We are looking forward to getting everyone a chance to shine at work, and be seen TRULY and wholeheartedly as the amazing neurodivergent individuals they are! ❤

Actually Autistic vs Poor-Me

board game challenge chess chess pieces

Photo by Ylanite Koppens

There’s a hashtag going around on autism forums: #actuallyautistic.  It is trying to make it exceptionally clear that the authors of these posts are, well– actually autistic. Being actually autistic matters.  Our experiences of the world differ.

What is “actually autistic”?

Well, let’s start by making it clear what it is not:

  • Actually autistic is NOT a parent who has an autistic child
  • Actually autistic is NOT a supporter of autism
  • Actually autistic is NOT a person who thinks they are autistic
  • Actually autistic is NOT an introvert or shy person

Actually autistic = formally diagnosed with autism

 


EDIT FEB 2019: Also see my follow-up post, as I have got a shitload of trolling on this site since I wrote this blog… and so, if you’re all pissy with me because I decided
to write my own opinion in my own blog, maybe you can learn why I wrote this before you get all bitchy and judgy about me and then feel the need to vilify and attack.


 

“I think I might be autistic”

I understand that some of you may think you could be autistic.  Perhaps someone has suggested it to you, or you have read a bit about autism and have thought, ‘Oh my; that sounds like me!’

I also know there are many authentic might-be-autistics out there and you all are just figuring out your life, trying to see where you fit into the world, or perhaps you totally identify and feel your autistic traits to be true.  I get it.  I’m not shaking my fist at you! Go find your way; go seek out who you really are…

If you can, if you’re ready and you think might be autistic, then I urge you: just go get the diagnosis.  Yes, it is expensive, but then you SAVE up and get the diagnosis!  I saved for mine.  It cost over $1000 in total, to get my diagnosis and mini-report…. but I got the diagnosis. I wanted confirmation of my suspicions, and I wanted support (which you can only officially get with a diagnosis, by the way) as I was really struggling with make ends meet, find work, and figure things out.  Having a diagnosis means you can get a pension, and get help at work, school and in life. I did reflect on whether I could accept myself with a “disability’, and that stopped me getting my diagnosis formally issued for about a year. Perhaps I was in denial?  But I did get one, and for me, the diagnosis was a God-send. It helped me a lot.

So, if you think you might be on the spectrum, just take that leap and start the diagnosis process.  I think it’s worth it.

Plus, if you’re not diagnosed with autism, you will learn more about yourself and have access (now) to a psychologist who could help you further with your difficulties and symptoms.

 

“Poor Me, I have [condition]”

I do not have a problem with people who feel they might be autistic, but I do hold an issue with: *people who think might be autistic going around telling people they are autistic and then demanding reasonable adjustments for “their autism”.*

What’s ‘reasonable adjustments’?  I mean, in legal-speak: It’s the act of requiring a workplace to make accommodations for you based on your mental health issue or disability.  So, I’m not just talking about asking someone to speak quieter, or that you like to avoid crowds, or that you don’t want hugs. This is about a formal accommodation made directly and in an official capacity, related to your diagnosed condition.

I contrast “actually autistic” with “poor me” as this is a big problem in our community, as well as in the other mental health fields.  See, the ‘Poor Me’ status (also known as victim mentality) is superbly harmful to those of us actually diagnosed with a condition.  Whether you are actually autistic or actually bipolar, or actually depressed, you will know– when someone goes around claiming they are so hard done by for their numerous (non-diagnosed) problems, it just gets old.

If you share traits with a condition, it does not mean you have it—

If you like to keep to yourself, do repetitive moments and collect stamps, that does not make you autistic.  If you have anger, mood swings and go on wild shopping sprees, that does not make you bipolar. If you are picky and wash your hands a lot, that does not make you ”OCD. If you feel sad sometimes, that does not make you clinically depressed.

 

What is a ‘Poor Me’ person?

The Poor-Me is an attention-seeker first as foremost.  They lead conversations with their symptoms, and then expect others to swoop in and offer commiserations.  You may know someone like this…. Their lives are ‘so difficult’ on account of “their condition” and we are meant to say:  “Aww, Poor-You for that [condition]”.  They are the ones with every new fandangle disease and disorder, or emotional upheaval or issue… And it’s almost as if our pity matters more to them than anything else.  When we offer to help, our help is rejected, because to the Poor-Me, solving the problem would mean they have nothing to complain about!

See, a Poor-Me uses “their condition” as an insurmountable problem.  It is the focus of everything in their life, as if negativity revolves around them; their life is filled with constant badness and everyone just wants to hurt them. Why? Because of “their condition”. It is the core reason why they cannot do anything in life.  “Their condition” causes all the bad things….

Before you jump on me about being insensitive, I want to stress— I know, when you have been actually-victimized (like abused), you’ll stay in this dark place of negative loops a long while.  I also know if you are #actuallydepressed, a victim mentality just happens.  I get all of that.  But I am not saying that thinking everything sucks when you’re clinically depressed or reflecting on your childhood abuse  is the same as being a ‘Poor Me’.  Sure, sometimes (if you’re honest), you know you’re acting out…. but for the most part, being depressed makes you care so very little for anything and anyone, getting attention is the last thing on your mind!

The #actuallypoorme individuals, however are ALWAYS seeking attention for “their conditions” and more often than not, they do not even have a formal diagnosis!

 

“Can I be ‘Poor-Me’ and #actuallyautistic?”

This is sometimes a possibility, and I have found it tends to happen when individuals are just very recently diagnosed with autism.  I call this “diagnosis-shock”.  Even if you were expecting the diagnosis, it can still seem overwhelming to now get a piece of paper that essentially says: ‘yes, you have a disability’.

When you are first diagnosed, it can feel as if your whole world is caving in and you are unable to achieve anything!!! But *BREATHE* take a break, reflect on things a while…. Look, you made it this far– you are so very capable in life! Have faith in yourself. This is simply a moment of shock.  Yes, you are diagnosed with autism, but that does not mean you are an invalid.

I have found #actuallydiagnosed individuals who have moved out of those first few months of diagnosis-shock are extremely grounded individuals.  They move forward despite their diagnosis. They want to achieve things, start relationships, have jobs, make things work despite their condition.

I also know that many autistics have been victimized in the past and thus will often come across as needy and attention-seeking, and this, again, is something most of them choose to work on.

A ‘Poor-Me’ will not even try to move forward. A ‘Poor-Me’ will fight everything in their world, push away your help, refuse to look at themselves (per therapeutic change), and simply lament “their condition”– using it as a barrier to everything and anything.

The most sad thing about interacting with a ‘Poor-Me’ is that they would rather cut you out of their life than accept even a inkling of responsibility or notion that perhaps they are in victim-hood…

 

Live your TRUE SELF, not your victim self

It is a hard thing indeed, to ask an individual who has been truly and deeply victimized, to put aside that victim role and life their life as a real authentic self.  I highly recommend getting a good therapist to help you find your way into this proverbial light; out of the darkness… However, challenging, it is possible to do this– I mean, I did. I overcame such immense horrific dread, to see the light…

You are not ‘Poor Me’. You do not need others to stroke your ego, or commiserate your plight of “your condition”. You do not always need to be the downtrodden and sad. That is not YOU.  Yes, you have a diagnosis, but you can live well despite it. Yes, you may identify truly as autistic, but you’re not restricted because of this!

Accepting your condition takes time, but you are a determined individual.  The diagnosis, the ownership of who you are– is but one aspect of you. Society may like to define you as disabled, dysfunctional or not good enough…. but that’s only one way to look at it all.  See, this also highlights your difference, your uniqueness, and your beauty.

You have made it this far, and while you struggled, you kept pushing onward.  You learned interesting things about the world and things about yourself.  Not everything in the past was bad; there were good times too, there were positive lessons and experiences.  Even people who survived the concentration camps speak of moments of lightness and deep learning in that place of sick darkness.  Humans persevere; it is our brilliant shining quality… and you will shine on too!

Being #actuallyautistic or #actuallyschizophrenic or #actuallybipolar or whatever your diagnosis is — this is who you are.  It is your identity.  So make it yours!

 

*

Bless 🙂