“Autistic Daughter; Anxious Mother”
I’ve struggled with family issues my whole life.
Since autism is genetic, it’s of course common for several family members to land on the autism spectrum. Yet mental health, developmental disorders—hell, even doctors—are (not were) (are) (yes, even in 2018) stigmatized in my family, so as far as anyone is concerned, I’m the only autistic person.
I also have depression, social anxiety, and phobia—which are often traceable through the genes, through the roots and such—or through the recursive childhood memories each generation tells the next not to tell.
Can’t you just write your feelings down in a diary, then smile and come to dinner?
Because mental illness is the hot potato no one wants to deal with, I’ve been left alone in my journey through autism and mental illness.
Let me know when you’re better. Looking forward to having the old Kourtnie back.
Because some memories aren’t meant to be shared, I’ve been gaslit (“You always have the strangest memory! This is how it happened…”);
I’ve been threatened (“If you tell, I won’t love you anymore”);
I’ve been left to saturate in name calling, guilt tripping, and shaming.
But isn’t everyone a little autistic?
If any of this strikes a chord in you, any of it at all,—
I do not want you to feel alone, as I did.
If you are the autistic daughter that’s up shit creek without a social-emotional paddle, this blog is especially for you. You are the autistic woman that received a diagnosis later in life; you’re the autistic young girl who’s diagnosis was shut in a closet; you are the person who’s told to get over it, shut up, buck up, and swallow the neurotypical pill.
Let me tell you a few stories.
And if you are the family member and/or friend of an autistic person; if you’re an autistic boy; if you’re someone studying psychology, trying to figure out what the autistic experience is like,…you’re all welcome to read my blog, too, of course;
But dear reader, if you are not the autistic daughter, please know you’re not the one I imagine as I write. You’ve been invited only as a guest. That’s the seat we set for you at the dinner table. It may feel awkward, if you’ve never sat there before; so don’t be afraid to ask questions in the comments. Otherwise, I won’t think about whether you’re confused.
I’m going to explore several facets of my life that you may have been told are hush-hush; take safety in my story, if you’re too afraid to tell yours. I just hope to make you feel less alone, until you’re ready. Let’s read up. Let’s understand. I’ve found, that’s the best way we learn to speak up.
You’re a woman. And an adult. You can’t be autistic.
I’ve no reason to tell my stories to you (or to anyone) except to show you, “You’re not the only one. So here’s what I think. Now what do you make of your life?”
I will try to omit details that don’t pertain to what you need to hear.
But I’m autistic, and I’m a rambly storyteller.
And sometimes I need ’em details.
So there’s that.
We’ll go through stories about:
- autism spectrum disorder;
- major depressive disorder;
- social anxiety;
- math phobia (working on it right now through Brilliant.org);
- panic attacks;
Lately, I’ve also been showing signs of agoraphobia, ex., hiding in my bedroom all day with the curtains drawn shut—feeling like I have to “pump up courage” just to go to the grocery store—and bribing myself to make the walk from the front door to the car.
So we’ll go through those stories, too.
Actually, we’ll start with what I’m going through right now.
Then we’ll work backward.
If that sounds all right to you?
Own your behavior, for once in your fucking life.
Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at Kourtnie.net or Wattpad.com/user/KourtnieNet.