Broken is broken

Contains SPOILERS for the BBC show ‘Broken’

I’m going to cut all of this, because seriously, this show has so many triggers in like, four hours (so far), that like, it’s hit the red exit button for everyone I know. Everyone. And in my view, some of it was entirely unnecessary or unnecessarily explicit. But! So under the jump there will be the TW, because apparently some people got past the first five minutes without putting all the pieces together and I do know at least one person who hasn’t even watched those.

Continue reading Broken is broken

Why I’m Not Attending Easter Masses

TW: Catholicism, discrimination, judgemental people, sexual harassment

 

It’s probably going to surprise people to know I’m Catholic. I’ve done the mental gymnastics, and it’s a thing I’m happy to identify with and it’s important to me, so that’s it for that.

Part of this is that I do not go to Mass. Every time I pony up and pull myself together and go, I end up coming home exhausted, an emotional wreck. Physically, it’s exhausting; I don’t kneel, but I still have to get up and down and walk around enough that I end up lying on the floor, that dreaded band around my waist, and my knees protesting every time I try to stand and my ankles twice their natural circumference, nearly perfect in their swollen roundness.

I would happily cope with that if Mass was a safe space.

Continue reading Why I’m Not Attending Easter Masses

Emetic Early Warning System

TW: disordered eating, PTSD, conversion disorder, chronic pain, people being sucky, assault and implied assault/battery

 

I don’t know how to condense this into a content warning, so if I have missed anything I need to put in please let me know. I think this post is more me putting my thoughts in order and getting them out of my head so I can move on.

 

So last week I talked about how important routine is and why messing with it can be detrimental, and about subdrop, vaguely. The takeaway was that I was not in an emotional place to be making decisions.

 

So I ended up quitting therapy just after that, didn’t I? Continue reading Emetic Early Warning System

Externalisation

TW: discussion of externalisation therapy, discussion of and description of treatment of personal/sexual violence victims, rape and rape aftermath, references to paedophilia

 

I think someone was trying to be helpful when they said that all my entries are about how other people did things to me and I should accept responsibility for it instead.

Accepting responsibility for things is how I got here. Half the point of this is to recognise when things come from other people, and that I am not responsible for that. Sure, I notice more of the people who behave that way, but it’s not like I make them that way, right? I don’t, so I won’t take responsibility for it.

 

Like, say, the psychiatrist is completely off down a track which is not right for me, which comes right after he says “people with your condition instinctively know what they need” and then refuses to listen to what I want, because he has decided that this other thing being fixed will make everything else all go away. I have another appointment with him, because the power went out halfway through and it was faster to make a new one and get out than try to explain that he wasn’t hearing me (reading me? understanding?). That’s not my fault for not being able to make him understand – that’s his fault for not listening, for making up diagnoses and holding information back from me (like, you know, test results), for dismissing me when I tried to ask him for help.

 

Continue reading Externalisation

On the safe space debate

TW: triggers, safe space, ptsd, discussion of (discussion of) sexual offences

 

The other day, the safe space debate hit me. I tend to ignore things-on-the-internet, so for it to get to me usually means it’s a huge issue.

 

“I don’t believe in safe space, what do you think?”

 

Huh? This came from the person who saw me having an epic panic attack, complete with crying, panda eyes, and a  distinct lack of coordination, and let me sit in his room so I didn’t have to deal with people.

Continue reading On the safe space debate

Anatomy of a Trigger

TW: police and sexual assault, media coverage of sexual assault, aftermath of sexual assault… um, just rape in general. ptsd.

Firstly a quick follow up for Family: isn’t it about time?: I asked my mum what she would do if I couldn’t walk next week to go to her show, so she agreed to just get takeout all week. My dad refuses to eat out or have takeaway, because he’s got a thing about it, but Mum is going to yell at him (some more, because she yelled at him about the Skype thing) and we will have takeout. And so my meal plan looks like ‘Chips – takeaway, leftovers; Chinese, delivery; Pizza, delivery, make cake’. This is good, because I don’t have to cook on an induction hob which is just too high for me to reach comfortably, even on my usual tippytoes, because of the way my spine bends, and because takeaway comes in disposable containers so my parents may have all the meat they like and it won’t contaminate my dishes. I am still toying with the idea of having a separate set of plates and cutlery for them, but I’m still at the point where I refuse to set up my Cuisine Companion because I can’t afford to replace it if it gets contaminated. (I know bleach exists, but it doesn’t make me feel confident. Anyway.) That means I get to go to class, after all, and when I told my teacher, he said “I’m glad you’re coming to see me”. Which is it, really.

 

So I have to buy ice gel pads online, because the supermarket doesn’t stock them any more. Every month or so I order four boxes, and when I get low I order more. Beause Australia Post isn’t that great at the moment, sometimes I have a day where I don’t have them, and basically I have one on all the time when I am home, so it’s not a great day. They weren’t there yesterday, so I have to go out and get them at some point. But not today. Today I decided I wasn’t up to driving, or rather, the burning in my legs and the fact that I passed out on the floor in the middle of my knitting, waking up tangled in wool like the cat everyone jokes I am…

 

So after work (because even people who can’t do conventional paid work due to disability have obligations) I went to bed, slept a few hours, and dragged myself back to the computer.

 

First thing: my favourite player is retiring.

This is upsetting because I look forward to seeing him every week and so on and so on. It’s a change. It’s losing a connection with someone because he won’t be accessible to me any more. I cried. Crying makes my head hurt. When you follow someone so closely, week in and week out, privy to their medical information, you see them half naked in the locker room, you see them cry… they become like family. And then they’re not there.

 

Second thing: my club’s Facebook minion decided, out of the entire history of the club, to highlight a rape scandal to promote their new history book. So I’m on my Facebook, which I have assiduously crafted to be a safe space through proactive banning and selective friending, and there’s a big quote about how it wasn’t really rape because the victim’s memory was affected and she consented earlier in the night and they went and found all the things that she said that weren’t perfect and put it all in the book.

I had no idea about any of this. At the time it went down, we had one live televised match a year. I’m not local to my team, so I didn’t get the weekday coverage, or anything other than scores and for that I had to actively look.

Finding out about it on Facebook was a bit of a shock, even though it happened twelve years ago. Especially so casually, on the same day my player did a ten minute interview on how the club is the family club. Especially since all it said was ‘well we looked at it and it couldn’t have happened because the victim lied and that’s all in the book’.

 

It’s very uncomfortable for me. I was able to find contemporary articles and look at what actual information they had for the book, and basically it boils down to the following:

  • A woman reported being forced into a non-consensual act
  • The report was leaked to the media, causing the police investigation to be corrupted because of media pressure and unusually high visibility, leading to procedural errors
  • The evidence was undervalued, because there had been consensual acts prior to the non-consensual one
  • The victim’s story was not corroborated with witness statements, and changed over time, but there was corroborative physical evidence
  • The DPP did not have enough evidence to prosecute, so the police chose to stop investigating
  • The club was fined by the NRL, and they suffered other financial consequences at the hands of their sponsors
  • Players confessed, anonymously, to members of the media, that such acts were common

 

Somehow, what most people take from this is that the team were unfairly targeted because a woman lied.

Thing is, if someone tells the same story over and over and it doesn’t change, it’s generally viewed to be less reliable because that’s an indicator that it’s rehearsed. When you’re traumatised, maybe you can’t put things together, or you’ve blocked bits out, or things don’t make sense, because you’re still in survival mode, and your brain isn’t focusing on making memories more than making you safe. It’s only natural for a story to change over time in that case – perhaps you remember, because you wake up screaming after it happened again in a nightmare, that the clock said 12:41 and now you have a time when you didn’t before; perhaps you hear everyone else’s stories and add in things you didn’t know before that affect how things fit together in your head, like you thought that someone left early but they just went to the toilet and came back after you left, so you couldn’t have seen them in the parking lot because they hadn’t actually left. Dealing with trauma when you’re forced to remember, over and over, by police who do not understand, who don’t have the priority of solving the case but pleasing the media and making it stop so they can get back to normal? Is hard. One of the police officers released an essay about the investigation, detailing how they were forced to prioritise the case above all others and handle it much more quickly than they otherwise would. Information was leaked to the media, making it very easy for people to actively create conflicting statements, since they knew what the police had at any given time. Because there were consensual activities, the case turned on witnesses, and the DPP tends not to like those cases, because they’re hard. If the physical evidence can be dismissed by a public defender saying ‘that could have come from the consensual act’, it becomes about character, and who said what, and with the media influence, that evidence was corrupted. Even if they could get a jury of people who knew nothing about it, the evidence was corrupted. Prosecutors have good records because they have limited resources which are allocated to cases they can win.

 

Somewhere out there, at the same time I was going through the same thing with a different club, with a different set of people, there was a woman going through the same thing. I couldn’t find her name, for which I’m grateful, because that means (unlike me) she can create her own story and protect herself from the people who say she lied, or people who wouldn’t care that she didn’t. The case not going through a trial may have been the best thing for her – she was allowed to move on instead of constantly reliving and being examined and faulted for being traumatised.

 

But now I know why, when my mum was talking with a club official, and he asked her who my favourite player was, he then warned her off after she gave the only name she knew (one who did, subsequently, go on to be involved in certain other scandals, because some people don’t come back across the line and go on to be poster boys for the ‘you must report to protect others’ guilt-tripping that goes on for people who choose to prioritise their own health and safety over a police investigation). If I had known at the time, I would have had to sever ties with the club, for my own mental safety. Now, I’m just blank, and I don’t know what to do with all this. All the players involved were quietly moved on under the guise of salary cap issues and team balance, and the club now actively work with the White Ribbon people and managed to reinvent themselves as a family club.

Except, you know, they still have someone go on Facebook and valiantly argue that because there were no charges because the evidence wasn’t enough to warrant DPP resources and because they who aren’t actually trained at criminal investigation or dealing with trauma, it didn’t happen. After twelve years, they’re still trying to beat down this woman for trying to stand up for herself and then cutting her losses when it got to the point where fighting would have cost more than she had.

And this is a family club, actively compaigning against sexual violence? We just had an entire round dedicating to celebrate women?

 

I know some of what she went through, because I went through the same thing.

 

So in stepping on her by making that post, they were also stepping on me.

 

 

I ended up, in what was a colossally bad move, speaking up. “Why would you highlight this one thing, if the book is about the entire history of the club?”

Someone replied – male name, male image, so mostly likely to be, you know, male. He doesn’t like being called a rapist, and anyone who believes that this woman didn’t lie is, apparently, an “uninformed idiot”. I may have, um, lost it a bit in my reply. He might call me an “uninformed idiot”.

There’s an article on the website about the book, too. The article mentions stuff like, you know, premierships, moving back to the old home ground, charity work, and has half a sentence about “false accusations of rape”.

There is a world of difference between false accusations and allegations that don’t come neatly packaged with enough proof for the DPP to choose to prosecute.

Perpetuating that this was a false accusation undermines everything the club is trying to achieve on the ‘violence against women is bad’ campaign. Unproven allegation says the same thing without bringing that poor woman down again.

 

But you know, we have to make the men feel better, so.

 

Suddenly, I’m not so sure that I don’t know what to do with this information. I already choose, largely, not to engage with other people. Making that comment was an exception, and people liked it, so it’s not like I was the only one having a ‘wtf’ about it.

And if people want to say that it didn’t happen, well, they can follow the same search path I did and find the investigating officer giving an interview in which he said there was enough physical evidence, and he only chose to stop investigating after the DPP advised they wouldn’t prosecute. I don’t think that the ‘family club’ rebranding and the emphasis on anti-violence campaigns is a coincidence.

I don’t think it would have hurt me as much if it had been presented differently – ‘we made a book! here’s an interview with dude who writes all our books! he talks about this thing that happened and did his own investigation! he also talks about players! and the coaching drama! and there was a premiership and it was really exciting!’ instead of a random quote and then ‘buy the book at the game y’all!!’.

 

But I know this dude won’t get that. He thinks that an author who writes histories for NRL clubs for a living is unbiased, and this new investigation is going to make everything better, even though I’m fairly sure this author doesn’t have a criminal investigation, forensic, legal, or psychological background. He doesn’t like being called a rapist. I’m not sure if he won’t understand, or doesn’t have the capacity to understand, no matter what I say. Or anyone says, because I’ve said my piece and I’m done. But if the club has, and panders to, supporters like that? It cannot be a place I belong.

 

 

Since the post came up, I’ve been a mess. I tried music, but it started to hurt. I’ve been stimming most of the night. And rocking. The memories are flooding back; things I’d forgotten, things that weren’t important but make sense now with the things that happened since, things that I understand better now that I’m not sixteen/seventeen.

 

This is a problem for me, because all these things are bundling together in my head, in what my psychiatrist is calling a ‘compound trauma’. I was fine before, fine enough that something like this would have just knocked me, and I would have left the computer and had a day to myself and been fine, after. The way things are now I’m not capable of putting it in context or backing away, because all my defenses are down. I’m exhausted, busy, stressed, sore, upset. I don’t have the ability to take these thoughts and recognise them and deal with them, because my brain can’t function at that high a level while it’s funnelling everything in the wrong direction. So this thing that happened to me half a lifetime ago that I dealt with and moved past is now wrapped around the thing that happened to me three years ago, twisting up with my brain disorder and making it all bigger, harder, because my ability to responsibly deal with unexpected triggers is compromised. And that is what this is – nobody expects a sports club’s Facebook to randomly open up the “women cry wolf about rape for the attention” drama. If it was just in the video, I wouldn’t have seen it, because I don’t watch the videos unless my player is in them. If it was in an article, and responsibly written, it would have been ‘a thing that happened that I didn’t know about that now I do, huh’. Every club has a skeleton or two like that, because with the sheer number of men who go through them, there’s a statistical likelihood that there’s been an incident (and of course, I can’t find the link to the study where roughly 60% of male respondents stated they had raped someone once the word rape was removed from the survey, but if 90% of rapists are male, assuming non-binary people were forced to choose, if, say, the ABS stat that there are roughly 51,000 rapes a year in Australia, then, 46000 of those were perpetuated by men. Add in a hyper-masculine, performance-focused environment where women are historically excluded and objectified… you get the picture, right?

No, factor in that less than a third of those are reported to police, and the media reaction in this on, and that around 2% of those are actually determined to be false (that’s 2% of 30%, and that’s going on stats from 2006, according to Wikipedia, because my spoons are about done), and that 50k comes down to 300. Take into account that false accusations are (as is the case here) generally conflated with ‘unproven’ by people who think that a not guilty verdict = innocent, and can arise from misunderstandings of the law, (if rape is non-consensual penetration, reporting being pinned and asphyxiated as a rape, even if it was an unwanted sexual act, will be a false accusation of rape, because that’s what the police are looking for, rather than investigating a battery or assault), and that goes down again. Because of the stigma attached to people who experience rape, because the police are notoriously unsympathetic, because victims who speak out invariably get criticised instead of supported, if someone drops their case, that’s called false, too, even though it’s someone deciding to prioritise their mental health over the justice process and opening themselves up further as a target, that’s even lower again.

 

It’s blatantly irresponsible for the family club, tirelessly saying ‘say no to violence’, to go on and promote merchandise by rehashing a scandal, perpetuating the false accusation rigmarole by using that exact phrase when a quick search will show that the police had physical evidence and the DPP chose not to prosecute (i.e. not false, just not a strong enough case to justify resources, just unproven), and by highlighting that as the key point in eighty years of the club’s existence.

 

And, that hurts me. It hurts me because instead of that being behind me it’s now in my head, and no matter what I do now, even by journaling (this) and self caring (leaving the computer and going to knit and watch nice funny things on tv), and stepping away from this dispute because I couldn’t stay silent (disabling new comment notifications), it’s going to be wrapped up, and a harder thing to deal with. I already have trouble on Tuesdays, because I have to walk through the mall to get to speech therapy (vocal class, pay to spend time with only friend, whatever) and the amount of times I accidentally ran into the man who raped me in there, before he had to leave the State to get away from people who knew him by reputation rather than name, makes me hyperaware.

 

Now, because I spoke up because I identified with this woman, who’s being hurt again, even if she doesn’t know it, I have a target on me, too. But unlike her, my name is connected to my rape (that one, anyway; apparently people just can’t help themselves) and I don’t get to move on.

Especially not now that the things I used to use to cope don’t work anymore.

Especially not when testifying against him was used against me to say that my injuries weren’t work related, and I remember standing in the foyer, shaking the hand of the man who sat me in a dark interrogation room for two hours until I agreed not to continue the investigation otherwise I would fail out of class for non-attendance, as he handed me the subpoena in front of everyone. Especially not when I remember the men who groomed me for him online laughing at me because he told them that I dropped the charges because I made them up.

Especially not when I remember getting a ping late one night: ‘hey, um, you know how I didn’t believe you? I’m really sorry, can you talk to this other girl? He raped her, so I believe you now.’

Especially not when I remember writing a letter to my favourite player apologising for not saying hi to him at training because I was upset because my rapist was standing near me and for the rest of the year he put himself between me and him.

I don’t have it in me to stop those memories today. It’s too late to break that cycle; I can minimise it, but it won’t be the same minimum.

 

I won’t be buying the book, I think. I don’t want to read an old white man breaking down an anonymous woman’s words until they’re not her experience, only data, and data that is corrupted and meaningless in its little zeros and ones. I don’t want to reward him for taking her apart, disregarding how trauma affects the memory and talking about trauma only perpetuates it unless it’s done very carefully in a safe environment, which a police interrogation room, being constantly questioned and undermined and forced to remember exact details and told off for not being perfect, is not. I don’t want to read him say ‘it didn’t happen because her story wasn’t corroborated’ when PTSD can present by someone having the inability to accurately recall the past. If I can find these links on the first page of a search, well, so can anyone. Wikipedia also has it before you even need to scroll down – trauma affects how the brain functions, including memory.

Saying someone is lying about a trauma because of the effects of that trauma is a really, really bad thing to do. I’m disappointed that the club, being so, you know, enlightened, would do that to make money.

 

I got through it the first time through exposure therapy; I kept attending club events until the associated bullying and stigma outweighed my reason for going (i.e. the player who helped me left, and I chose to leave with him rather than stay in that environment, even though I know they made fun of me for it, because of the attitude that people who present female don’t know anything about sport and just follow the hot boys, for which they still refer to me as an example today, which is hilarious but also means anyone who looks up my name gets a lovely biased writeup about what everyone thought happened). I didn’t leave because of what happened. I left because the environment changed because of it – people still come up to me in the street and ask if it’s true that he raped me. It would be easy to leave here, too.

 

But then, I spoke up, I said it happened, and it was an issue that needed to be addressed, and eventually even the people who made it possible were listening. Now I can speak up again, using that experience to make a change here where it’s possible that people might be more receptive and the talk about being family-friendly and anti-violence and speak-up-be-supportive-and-donate may not be just talk. Maybe I won’t have to walk away.

Today, right now, I do. I still have to put myself first, but it may not be just looking after myself, it might be about what I can do. Even if nobody likes my comment, or the person I replied to doesn’t understand that not liking being called a rapist doesn’t mean he gets to trample on someone because the DPP chose to allocate resources to a more winnable case in the midst of intense media scrutiny, even knowing that the comments aren’t really very well monitored by the club given how they let people say things that boil down to “Mormons shouldn’t be allowed to play and should be shot, we don’t believe in sky fairies in Aussie, everyone who believes in God is stupid” without moderation (because if they moderated comments, letting one through would open them to a defamation suit – not moderation opens them up to discrimination, but discrimination is harder to make out and less rigid on penalties… and as far as I know, nobody’s actually bothered to file)… maybe someone will see it and be like ‘I feel better now’.

 

Never mind that at the moment I feel dissociated, that I can feel him touching me, and now I have the bonus of former boss’ voice telling me not to complain, whatever it takes, just get it over with.

Compound trauma.

Yeah.

We are people too.

TW: suicidal ideation, brain wonky things spoons low beware

I had a no people half day, yesterday. It didn’t help – apparently no people day means ‘everyone message at once’ and I’m very tempted to flat out block people who only contact me once every six months and apparently plan it at the exact time I do not want.

 

I basically put my foot down the other week with the psychiatrist. He wants to send me off to this doctor and that doctor and this specialist. He’d just come back from leave, and had no idea what I was actually up to or anything that happened, and didn’t read the notes I took in saying that. It was a waste of an appointment, essentially, because nothing got done. But I did manage to stop the incessant, endless appointments. Fighting the IUD left me with no energy, and I’m sick of not being treated like a person.

Also, it’s been obvious for a year now that I need to get into a pain clinic. He said, last September, that he would refer me off to one. The gynaecologist, after telling me that physio would fix my brain so I would magically love having IUD-induced anxiety, and telling the psychiatrist that the IUD would fix the ten weeks of bleeding that it was there to manage (even though until then I had not had any for five years and I was literally at the point where if it did not stop I would kill myself), told him she would refer me to, guess what, a pain clinic. But one that only deals with one kind of pain.

I do not trust anyone she sends me to. Until then, though, I was under the impression that I’d been referred off last year, and I was just, you know, on a waiting list. Apparently, I’m not. And the psychiatrist wants me to go to this other person because it’s faster – never mind that I can’t get there because there are no trains to that part of the city – than waiting two years on a waiting list I was meant to be on a year ago.

“But you trusted her to operate on you!” is his excuse for all this, never mind how that actually went down and how I tried to, you know, stop it.

 

Amid all of this we have the neurologist. The neurologist is responsible for getting me to the psychiatrist, but I only got that far because I was on a waiting list for him for five years, i.e. for an issue which predates this one. (Or not – I’ve had this since I was eight, at least; it’s just more obvious now. But I wasn’t referred for it, so.)

The neurologist, when I finally got to see him, very obviously shut off when it came up that I had work stress. His entire body changed. He won’t give me a copy of my MRI results, either, probably because I’ll be able to point to them and show that my brain has, indeed, changed since the last one, and have a weapon to fight with (I know this because I saw it over the psychiatrist’s shoulder, but without it on paper I can’t, you know, prove it). The only option he gave me was Botox, because nothing else is “real”. Apparently, the part where the right side of my body gets weak and clumsy after short intense pain on the side of my head is “stress”. He also won’t let me type to him, because it “makes him feel small”. I did try Botox, but it made my back pain significantly worse – I still can’t shower or lean on anything without feeling static electricity run up to the base of my neck. I was unable to vocalise at all for a month after, because my face wouldn’t move.

I was not one of the 50% of people who have no side effects.

In the appointment, he wouldn’t let me type to him, either. He had me sit, unsupported, on a bed, and he came up behind me and started poking me. I jumped, because, you know a man crept up behind me and was touching me and hadn’t let me know he was there. He had somehow managed to get back in the room and come up behind me without me seeing him.

“It’s not a needle! It’s just me,” he said. The damage was done, though.

 

He kept scheduling appointments for me to “follow up”. They were always at the same time as speech therapy. To move them, I had to go into the hospital with a note and be told I should just cancel speech therapy. That is the only time he sees current patients. One admin made an earlier time for me and he went off at her and cancelled it.

I tried to call them with the relay to change the new time, and had two days of the relay operators texting me to yell at me for not texting them back. Apparently, this was due to an outage, and they kept receiving my message “no thank you end the call” and opening a new call just to send me abusive text messages for not responding to provide a number and message and then not responding. I haven’t been able to use the relay since; I freeze up and start crying. I am crying now just typing about it.

I ended up lodging a complaint with the hospital, and sending a separate letter to the clinic admin to cancel the appointment, because I wasn’t able to get there. I got a letter back which said “YOU DID NOT ATTEND YOUR APPOINTMENT BECAUSE YOU DID NOT ATTEND YOU HAVE TO CALL US OR WE WILL TAKE YOU OFF OUR CLIENT LIST.”

 

My psychiatrist agreed with me, at the time, that I shouldn’t jeopardise speech therapy. (At the time, he had somehow formed the impression that I only had to deal with one person in my lessons, not in a school, and when he worked out that I had to deal with a receptionist and other students and other teachers, he put the idea of quitting in my head; as you know, this has caused a lot of heartache.) He had his receptionist call the neurologist’s receptionist – I was offered a new Botox appointment. Botox for migraines is meant to be every three months – at this point, it had been eight. Clearly, that didn’t make sense. The psychiatrist sent a letter instead, requesting a consultation, and asking that I be notified by letter. He included my address, which had just changed. (Did I tell y’all about that? Some lady started taking my mail at the post office and when I tried to stop her the post office staff took my mail away and said they wouldn’t give it to me unless they could call my parents. And let the other lady take more of my mail. While I was screaming and shaking my head and physically trying to stop her without touching her. My mum said it was my fault and that I was being stupid.)

 

I have not received a letter. Instead, I checked my phone before bed, because I suck at no people days, and I had a message. “YOU HAVE AN APPOINTMENT ON [DATE] SMS Y TO CONFIRM PLS ARRIVE 5 MINS EARLY”.

I cried myself to sleep, unable to breathe because I was so scared. And pissed, because I don’t know where I’m meant to go, I don’t have a letter to show to say I have an appointment and I can’t risk my phone being taken from me again.

In case I was being irrational, I found my mum on Skype and asked her what she thought. Instead of being, you know, thoughtful, she gave me the third degree. “Does it give a time?” “Do you know what the appointment is for?” “Have you been to him before?” “Do you know why you need to see him?” “You had a scan a while ago have you seen him since then?” “Can you remember why the psychiatrist wanted you to go back to him?”

I snapped at her. The content of my appointments is none of her business, really. She just wants to know, because I am not entitled to privacy, at all.

“The problem is that it is a week’s notice, I do not know where, and I am not being treated like a person.”

She just changed the subject. Thanks, Mum. No, really.

 

(My parents are part of the problem, not the solution. That is an issue for another time.)

 

Again, I don’t know what to do. I can just not go, not confirm, because they did not send me a letter, and on a week’s notice I can’t arrange anyone to come with me, not that I would ask my mum, who is the only person who could. In theory. I was open with the psychiatrist about needing a break. I can even pretend to not have received the message; just block everything for a while.  I can guess where it is from Google, maybe, but I would still have to, you know, miss speech therapy (and I would have to pay for missing speech therapy, and be harassed about it, and I would be upset, and cry a lot, and), and if I got it wrong I would be in trouble. If I don’t go, there’s a chance I will have to pay a cancellation fee, which I can’t afford; I don’t even know if there is a fee, which I can’t afford. After the Botox, which I was told was covered by Medicare, I received a bill, so it’s not like I can trust them if they do say it is Medicare.

 

The fact is, though, that the concept of having an appointment with him, where he has already shown disrespect for my time and ability by not sending me a letter with the place and fee and time with enough notice to arrange a support person, when he treated me so terribly before (you don’t creep up behind someone and laugh at them when they are startled). I can feel him touching me. I haven’t stopped crying since I woke up, and before I went to bed I was disjointed and unable to focus; I stumbled to my bed, tried to read because my eyes were too sore for anything else, and couldn’t understand what I was reading even more than normal (normally it’s hard, but I can flip back and forth and reread things a thousand times and make it work, and I don’t read dense worldbuildy things anymore).

 

Maybe I need to see him. Maybe I’m right, and the little voice in the back of my head pushing for me to fight hard enough to get MS ruled out is right, and when the psychiatrist (it took me twelve tries to make that look right) said “but you’ve been seen by a neurologist, if it was anything he would have seen it” he was just trying to be reassuring and loyal to someone he works with a lot.

But it’s not good for me to see him. Just a text message from his office, wherever it is, has made me cry for hours, which means I’m going to be throwing up later, that my head will hurt more, which is possible even though even ice isn’t working and my temperature is elevated. I am shaking and rocking, and all the good from turning off the computer and having a Twilight knit-in is gone. Arguably, I’m worse now than I was before, when I told myself I needed that. This isn’t a good thing.

 

My psychiatrist is big on the “you have to do things that make you feel uncomfortable because that’s how you get better and learn that they’re okay!”

I tried to explain to him that it’s the other way around – that I need to be able to take these feelings and understand that they are a warning sign that this is not good for me, and trust that, act on that, without being punished for it. The core reason I have this thing, that makes the other thing present in the way it is, is because I spent eighteen months being told that every time I complained that something wasn’t normal and it wasn’t something I could fix by myself, it was my fault, that I wasn’t good enough, that I was just making it up. Even when they realised how bad and dangerous things really were, it was my job to fix it, with no support, no backup. And then, they told me that while I still had to deal with all that, what I needed was to be around a man who’d spent all that time telling me I wasn’t doing my religion right and felt it was appropriate to call to me by whistling as one calls a dog. I had to apologise to everyone for having a panic attack because it was disruptive. I was told off for having a panic attack because it’s not a big deal. I was told I should let her touch me and tell me what to eat and follow me into the toilet because “it’s important I emailed you two seconds ago why haven’t you done it yet” I was throwing up because you ate a ham and cheese croissant in order to make yourself sick enough to get out of work, because I was told that I had to stay. Over and over.

But if I listen to my instincts here, the way my brain is choosing to tell me that this is not safe remember what he did to you, he doesn’t listen you can’t make him listen, you need to save your spoons, I get punished – I am denied medical treatment, I have to pay to be denied medical treatment, and I get yelled at by the psychiatrist even if he lets me explain. If I ignore my instincts, this gets worse. I get auditory flashbacks. I dissociate. I lose progress I’ve made on making a regular sleep schedule and eating and taking meds and being functional – things I can’t afford right now. If I continue to be punished for listening to my emotions and my instincts and my body, then they’re not going to see anything they call “progress”, because it’s perpetuating the cycle that brought me here. My instincts are saying that he is not the right neurologist for me. I have to respect that, because I’m the only one who can make informed decisions about my health care. But I will be punished for making that decision, and it will not be progress; it will reinforce the existing pattern, and I can’t just tell my brain that it’s different, because it’s not. It’s still other people telling me that my opinions and what I feel is best for me is not valid.

“That’s the trigger. That’s a bit awkward,” the psychiatrist said. That’s a bit useless, isn’t it?

 

Same with speech therapy. If I go, I get harassed. I don’t feel safe quitting, because there are consequences. If I go, there are consequences. I can’t make a decision on that because my instincts and feelings are being ignored, on both sides. Neither option is empowering. If I don’t go, though, it feels like my soul is being ripped out through my mouth, and so I have to make everything else easier, calmer, so I can get through attending and feeling objectified and threatened. I used to avoid going near there, because I used to have to go there a lot and there were very good odds of running into someone who was very bad for me in ways that I can’t describe in public. I have to deal with that every week now. I have to put up with people ignoring me and talking over my head, the same way they did at dance, because someone decided that not talking meant not being included. It’s not. They were talking about the differences in guitar strings, the other day. I have opinions, but when one of the people involved in the conversation was happy to chat with me on Facebook and then walked into the building, obviously ignoring me and abruptly ending the conversation, only to pick it up hours later, pretending it had never happened…

“He knows the situation; he’s just trying to be nice,” apparently. Nice is signing ‘hello’ back instead of greeting everyone but me. For a moment I doubted myself – it mustn’t have really been him, right? But it was.

I dissociate in order to attend. They think it’s progress. Instead I deliberately put myself back into survival mode – do whatever it takes to not be bad, so they don’t have to yell at me. They encourage it because it makes me better. I’ve been in that situation before; it doesn’t end well.

But if I don’t go, I have nothing of my own. I will have no friends. (I just blocked half my Facebook list because it’s not actually a coincidence that everyone messages me as soon as they change their status to ‘single’ and I cannot have another ‘I can’t have sex with you because you’re asexual and that feels like rape and I am not a rapist’ conversation). Not that they’re friends, but it’s a nice fiction. It feels worse not to go than to go.

 

That said, my parents are coming to visit, and I’m taking a week off. My parents will be angry and threaten to kick me out because I’m not meant to interrupt my life when they come to visit despite the fact that having them sleep in front of my television cuts me off from my coping mechanism, that I end up drained and exhausted and in pain from having to cook because otherwise my mum complains she never gets a break, that I end up losing dishes and sometimes entire appliances to cross-contamination and then I get yelled at because “what happened I don’t understaaaaaaaaaaaand” when I throw it out. Apparently, me not being able to talk makes it really hard for them and it’s my fault they can’t cope with their kid having a brain disorder. Or something. But I have that to deal with too.

 

So I cannot do this. I do not have enough spoons, I won’t be able to self care, and if I am anything less than perfect, because my parents refuse to learn any kind of sign because they’re too old to learn new things, I will be punished and criticised and told off, and I cannot, literally, cope with everything.

 

So, since the neurologist can’t do anything as simple as telling me where the appointment is, and I do not feel safe going to him, nor do I feel it’s the right match for me, I won’t go. I will not confirm the appointment. I do not wish to reschedule.

I will skip one week of speech therapy, tell my parents that if they don’t like it they can stay in a hotel like I asked them to and they refuse to do because it’s too hard/expensive/they won’t see me/whatever the hell their problem is, and if they kick me out then I’m homeless and disabled and eligible for emergency housing and if I don’t get it then I’ll just kill myself and save everyone the trouble of dealing with me. I will take in two weeks payment next week and make sure they can’t harass me for it. This means I get no time to myself while my parents are here, and that’s okay, because if they get too much, again, I’ll just kill myself and save them the trouble of dealing with me, which is not ideal but it’s better than having my dad go “what are they teaching you it has to be classical you can only train classical” and leaving them unattended to “help” by screwing up my kitchen with food that makes me sick. And they’re coming up for a show on Wednesday, and they refuse to go to night showings so it’s a matinee and if I go to class I can’t walk to go to the matinee, so they’re just going to have to suck it up, for once. If not, well.

 

I can still feel the IUD in me, making my brain feel things that aren’t me. A lot of this feels unnatural, like it’s outside me, but every time I say that I’m told I’m being stupid. Just like how it’s stupid that one side of my body doesn’t work when I get a specific kind of head pain. Apparently.

 

I seem to have lost the ability to put things in order.

 

The fact still is that there is only one person in the entire world who, although he gets a lot of things terribly wrong (“um, so your receptionist just came in here and threatened to take away my ability to consent so she could break a hard limit” =/= “oh, she’s just like that, don’t worry about it”!!!!), treats me like a person and not a science experiment or a doll. Obviously, I’m not referring to the neurologist.