After Diagnosis: Dropping a Mask or Seeking Excuses?

I didn’t end up writing anything for the second and third prompt in the 10-day writing challenge. I also skipped the Insecure Writer’s Support Group day yesterday. It wasn’t really that I felt unmotivated or uninspired, but I was busy doing other things.

For example, I read a post on Facebook by a Mom of a neurodivergent child asking the autistic community whether it was possible that the child could be faking autism. That had me thinking. The short answer is that it’s highly unlikely. It is much more likely that, upon learning you are or may be autistic, you drop the mask.

I was self-identified as autistic for some years before I was formally diagnosed. However, my parents and high school tutor shamed me out of seeking an official diagnosis, claiming I was a hypochondriac for believing I’m autistic. Never mind that hypochondriasis is as much a mental condition as is autism.

At the time of my official diagnosis, I was resisting it a bit. I was in college with a psychology major and I didn’t want a diagnosis to stand in the way of my completing the program. Never mind that I was already failing and a diagnosis in fact helped me get some accommodations.

Then after I was diagnosed with autism, I started dropping the mask. Some people, including my parents and staff at the time, thought I was using my diagnosis as an excuse. Well, I wasn’t. I was experiencing what eventually turned out to be extreme burnout.

To get back to the topic of “faking” autism, I won’t deny that a small percentage of people may want to fake a disability to get services or financial help they don’t need. Others might be encouraged by family or friends to “just” go on disability. At least, I know some people who say they experience this. However, with how strict the social security and care systems are here, it is highly unlikely that someone would be granted benefits or care based on just a diagnosis. After all, a diagnosis is just a label.

Besides, said child had already been diagnosed with a neurodivergent condition. More labels doesn’t necessarily mean more care. It can mean more self-knowledge. It did in my case at least.

For example, I’ve over the years been given at least ten different diagnoses. Some may be correct while others most likely aren’t. Exploring these conditions did give me more understanding of myself. Especially with autism, there is a very positive community surrounding it. That definitely helps me finally find my tribe.

Today’s prompt in the 10-day writing challenge was “After”. The idea of the challenge is to write for five minutes. This post took me much longer, but that’s okay too.

Guilt Won’t Help Suicidal People

Yesterday Ashley shared a piece about a blogger friend of hers who had died by suicide and the guilt trips she received on Twitter. The person had scheduled her post for after the fact, so she most likely didn’t see the guilt-tripping. However, this got both Ashley and me thinking about guilt tripping not being a suicide prvention strategy.

This person had written that her intent was to be hit by a train. This led people to blame her for traumatizing the train driver. While it is true that train drivers are often traumatized by people running in front of their trains, it is equally true that guilt won’t help suicidal people.

I was in a suicidal crisis in 2007. I also intended to be hit by a train. I disclosed this to my support worker in a voicemail message, which people overheard, as I was on a bus. They called the police, who called someone called a community physician. This doctor was supposed to liaise with the mental health crisis service. For some stupid reason, the police in that city can’t directly call the crisis service. Anyway, this doctor told me I was making people feel responsible for me.

Well, let me tell you, in a depressive state or any state that can lead to suicidality – mine was diagnosed as adjustment disorder -, this won’t help. This will, if anything, just tell the sufferer that their suffering isn’t as important as someone else’s suffering. It will also most likely reinforce the prevalent idea among depressed people that they aren’t worth much, which may further reinforce their suicidal ideation.

I also want to say there is no way of dying by suicide that won’t affect others. Then again, there is no way of dying that won’t affect those lefte behind.

Some people think that running in front of a train is extra selfish. Well, once I was in the hospital, I spoke to my mother. She told me that I was selfish, because if I died by suicide, my parents would have to pay for my funeral. Let me tell you, this only made my depressive mood worse.

Sometimes, it can help suicidal people if you gently ask who they will leave behind, so that they might realize they still have loved ones. It didn’t help me. I didn’t have friends at the time and my family were, like I said, very unsupportive. In any case, don’t appeal to someone’s sense of responsibility or selflessness. That’s only going to make them feel worse and it won’t actually help those who would be affected by someone’s suicide. People who are suicidal benefit from support, not judgment or guilt tripping.