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’.
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.