22 May 2016

Everything is the same. Everything is different.

Dr. Stephen Shore once said “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

I've been thinking about this quote a lot lately. And it applies to so many different things. Buttons. Cats. People. Gender. Religion. Mental Health. But we as humans have this bad habit of trying to put everyone into groups and saying they'll all act the same, because they have some characteristic in common.

And on the surface it doesn't appear to be a problem right? I mean, hey if people are in a group they must share some things in common right? It's like buttons right? Buttons are all the same after all. They're used to keep things together. I mean, they all come in the same size, shape, color, and number of holes right? So they all function the same way. One button is just as good as another right? Same with people! You've interacted with someone with autism before so you know how they all function. And hey! You've had depression before, so you know how to help your friends with it!  
"I've met people with autism and you don't act like them.""I've had depression before, you just need to get more exercise""I've had depression before, why aren't you over yours yet?"

But...man. When you look at those sentences...don't they sound kinda mean? I mean sure, I'm taking them out of context of the larger conversation, but...they mean the same thing even in context don't they? The problem is the other person. They aren't listening to you. They aren't acting like you. They aren't being you. Not a problem with you at all. Nope, no siree bob. It's a problem with them. They need to be like you.

Oh? It's not? That's not what you meant when you said "I've had depression before, why are you over yours yet?" Well...what exactly did you mean?

I've had people before tell me all of the best ways to cure depression. Walks. More exercise. More sunshineeeee!!! Hang out with people more! Talk less. Eat better. On. And on. And on. Some meant well. Some didn't. I'm sure most of them thought they were trying to help on some level, but...man. Have you ever thought about what it really sounds like when you tell someone:
"I've had depression before, why aren't you over yours yet?"

I mean...have you?

I had someone in a position of power tell me this. Someone that I trusted and came to when I was diagnosed. Someone that shared things they did that worked for them. Some worked for me. Some didn't. After a while they became frustrated and told me "You should be better by now. Why aren't you better yet? I got over mine by this point." And man...that was devastating to hear. I did something wrong. I fucked up. I wasn't doing something right. They spent the remainder of that conversation telling me everything that was wrong with me. I lived in the same apartment. I dressed the same every day. Same haircut. Same, same, same.

It took a while for me to realize...I didn't do something wrong. This person? This person that I trusted. This person that was in a position of power...wasn't trying to help me. I don’t know what they were doing to be honest, but I call them a sociopath now.

I’m still undoing the damage they did on me.

I lost people along the way. Ones that I cared about and trusted. Ones that I think believed whatever this other person said. That the problem was me. And some of it was of course. But a lot of it? A lot of it started with that statement “Why aren’t you better yet?”

It’s affected a lot of things along the way. It led me to where I am now. And I know its led me to some of the problems that I’ve had in the last two years. I don’t trust a lot anymore. And I ask too many time if things are ok. I hold on too tight. I take fewer chances. And have my heart broken more. I see more of what I've lost than I've gained and man have I lost a lot. I’ve gained some too.

And I’m still finding my way back.

Everything is the same. Everything is different.

1 comment:

Colleen S. Harris-Keith said...

Thank you for posting this. We should all be mindful, and gentler with each other. In a similar vein, I had a person in power say to me, "It's been more than a year since your diagnosis, you should have figured out how to deal with this by now." I internalized that and felt like s failure, until I found a support group and did some research and discovered that it's perfectly normal for it to take years to figure out how to live with it, and years to grieve, and to negotiate adding 'disabled' to my identity. And it's selfish of anyone to think they csn just graft their exeroence to yours and find it a perfect fit. I'm sorry you had to deal with this. Sending you my love and hugs.