Having a mental illness such as Bipolar and PTSD (I have both, with Aspergers/Autism on top of them as many of my regular readers know already) can make our reactions to certain things in the present actually be what’s mentally a reaction to things in the past. It’s a life-long struggle that many of us with this inner battle are well aware of.
One thing I have recently discovered in therapy though is that it can go another way too. And that’s the anticipation of moments that could be on a large scale (such as a familiar event, movie, celebration, birthday etc.) or a very small and more common scale (worrying about what someone is going to say in response to something you just said). To put it simpler and easier to understand, let’s say a traumatic thing in your life such as the death of a loved one, something directly happening to you, the list is endless. And something you identify with that traumatic moment based on an anniversary or revisiting a place in the present, can make you believe you’re still there in that moment or you’re worried something like that will happen again. That’s a common scenario many people who advocate for mental health discuss openly. But another thing I personally have to deal with as well, and I’m sure nearly everyone in this position does too, that isn’t discussed as much to my knowledge, is worrying about opening up to people you know you can trust because they earned your trust. But even if they did, it’s still not good enough…yet. This can come from people who have been invalidated their whole lives, even from people who say they mean well and don’t intend any harm. Regardless, certain words and phrases can be triggering if someone said something that put you in a very vulnerable position and you carry the burden of a very simple phrase for years to come. It isn’t “being too sensitive” and it is DEFINITELY not that when you can’t control how you feel. Often with me, people have invalidated my earlier life experiences and accused me of blaming everyone else but myself for my own problems. Of course this is 100 percent false and is false for anyone who experienced trauma who is NOT intentionally using it as a means to get what they want (there are people who do try that, but I would assume it’s most likely because a lot of their story is made up from the start). When somebody accuses me of doing these things, it can feel like a sharp jab to the gut that takes forever to heal, in addition to the other times people accused me of this. But it’s even harder to move on from it if you are on the autistic spectrum. Many people on my part of the spectrum have what’s often called a photographic memory. This trait is actually played around as a joke with the character of Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory (written as an obvious stereotypical autistic but writers refuse to admit it to avoid controversy) who can even remember specific dates, times, and where people were sitting and specific words that were used at the supposed important time he’s referencing. For me, that also holds a negative burden. Because if something in the past sticks with me, I cannot just let it go, even overtime. It could last for decades before I “move on”. And yes, call it sheltered, over-sensitive or what have you, but the actual reality is words directed at you can be a life-long scar.
So that’s what brings me down to my initial point. Someone like me with these mental health issues and a learning disability is on guard almost all day, everyday. Just waiting for something negative to happen. Thinking positively is something I can’t do at the drop of a hat. It’s not that I refuse to. I simply can’t. Not as a means of defeat, but individually that is the case with me. That’s how I’m wired. That’s my past and how it amped up my wiring. And it can take years and decades to ALMOST wire it back to how things started as a young child, though that is not guaranteed. So if I am in a conversation with someone who could be someone as close as a family member and I start talking to them about the same things I talk about in here and on twitter, and even if they are NOW being validating over-time, I am still going to be anticipating a negative reaction from these people. This happened in my head with my therapist last week and I was worried she was gonna say the same things that people with a form of authority told me many times in the past. She of course did not do that. Quite the opposite. But after she did, I had to verbally take a sigh of relief and tell her I often, no matter who I’m talking to, am expecting the worst out of something before it happens depending on what it’s about. It’s a shield. And it’s gotten me through many a tough time.
PS. When I was just about to add a good header photo for this post, I found a link on Google Images to a PTSD related article implying that PTSD today is mostly a trend, myth and only exists because it has a name now so people can self diagnose, “play the victim”, and have someone else to blame for their shortcomings making them “off the hook”. She then tries to throw in other reasons why PTSD is 9 times out of 10 fake with recent generations due to more people being on anti-depressants and people being more sensitive because we’re “more isolated” because of technology. Since those last two are actually true, therefore her argument is correct, right? WRONG. And opinion based or not, it is stigma with a capital S. And these are the same kinds of people that I had to deal with and be forced to genuinely believe they were right and I was wrong for years. Not gonna put the link in my blog but I will at least say this article is part of a series called “The Crappy Childhood Fairy” (I can already sense the invalidation in that title alone). Now the following sentence IS an opinion from me but I strongly believe it, and if you don’t, so be it as it’s not adding stigma or impactful ignorance. Basically, she also said she can’t picture people’s lives being worse today than previous generations. Given this is only a two year old article, I feel like I’m not out of line in assuming she if not voted for him than she at least supports Donald Trump.
That is all.