I don’t think I have any super dedicated followers of this blog (not a knock, I am comfortable with anonymity), but if you’ve followed me for a little bit you may have noticed that I have not been posting on any type of schedule for quite some time. I am in a depressive episode that I just cannot seem to lift myself out of.
Part of learning about and coming to fully accept my status as a neurodivergent person—an autistic one especially—is the realization that I have spent so much of my life denying my own humanity and I’ve lately been reflecting on what that has meant for me emotionally. In the last year of this pandemic-related isolation, I have become more comfortable unmasking around other people but without being able to stop fearing their judgment.
But I have needs that require support that I am unable to get. For autistic people with support needs perceived to be lower, there are almost no options. I hate “functioning” labels in autism because they’re based entirely in capitalism’s definitions of self-sufficiency. I can communicate verbally, behave “appropriately” in public, hold down a job, have lived on my own and paid rent for fourteen years, do my own shopping etc. and so I would not qualify for support with executive function and emotional regulation because I “don’t need it,” in the eyes of the institutions and [always neurotypical] peoplethat decide these things. I “don’t need” disability status to get health insurance because I can technically (though barely) afford health insurance at the market rate of $300 per month, even though I don’t know how to navigate the medical system or arrange appointments or advocate for myself at a doctor’s office. Even though I need surgery on my shoulder but will never be able to afford it. Even though my IBD becomes more severe by the month and I don’t have the mental tools to manage that even if I learn strategies from a doctor.
I “function” at the bare minimum level of acceptability for total independence and total ineligibility for support. It doesn’t matter to the powers that be that it sometimes takes me until 5 p.m. to eat for the first time in a day, or that I have to emotionally prepare myself for days to tidy up my car. It doesn’t matter that my apartment is a mess, since I am the only one who sees it. It doesn’t matter that I stim in my sleep sometimes because my anxiety and need for regulation is so high. It doesn’t matter that the smallest change in routine sends me into a tailspin. Since I’m so practiced at forcing down my needs at the expense of others, that is what I am expected to do for the rest of my life. I “must be used to it by now,” right?