Tag Archives: Letters

Dear Psychologist: Why I Believe I’m Autistic (And Why It Matters)

My psychologist wrote the referral letter for my second opinion last Wednesday. Because this second opinion thingy is now becoming real, I have been thinking of why I believe I’m autistic after all – and why it matters. I have tried to explain this quite a few times already, but nobody amongst my staff seems to understand. Because some of my readers just might actually get it, I’m writing it on my blog. I chose to write this in the form of an open letter to my psychologist, but I’m not sure I’ll ever consciously point it out to her.

Dear Psychologist,

You have been telling me ever since you became my responsible clinician in late 2014 that you don’t believe I’m autistic. You initially said brain injury explains my symptoms far better, but you seemed not to care. We needed to treat symptoms, not syndromes, you said. Yet last summer, you changed my diagnosis. And you changed it again. And again. You claim this was at my request. Fair enough, I told you I wasn’t happy with just a borderline personality disorder and adjustment disorder diagnosis and I wanted a second opinion. However, it was you who offered to change my diagnosis to brain injury-related personality change, apparently to avoid me getting a second opinion. I was stupid enough to go along. The further diagnostic changes were solely your responsibility.

Yes, I told you it doesn’t matter whether my diagnosis is borderline personality disorder and adjustment disorder or dependent personality disorder, BPD traits and depressive disorder NOS. To me, neither diagnosis explains why I’ve been having problems all my life. After all, personality disorders first become apparent in a person’s teens or early twenties, not when a person is a young child.

There were – or at least, there should’ve been – many signs of a developmental disability when I was young. Even things that my parents tout as signs of genius, should when combined with the signs that point to delay, signal a developmental disability. Like my ability to calendar calculate. Or my first word. It was “aircraft industry”, echoed from my grnadpa when I was ten-months-old (seven months corrected).

These are cute factoids about me. They don’t necessarily signal autism when taken alone. Then there are the signs that point to delay. I had motor skills delays, but these could be due to dyspraxia or mild cerebral palsy. My parents don’t know whether these were ever labeled as such. I was a toe-walker – still am when stressed. Though I walked on time (at fourteen-months-old), I didn’t sit or roll over without physcal therapy intervention.

My language development was quite advanced. I did reverse pronouns, but my parents say this happened only for a short while. I took many things literally growing up. I also had one word that I’d use obsessively and often out-of-context after another. The psychologist who diagnosed me with Asperger’s in late 2007 brushed this off because I couldn’t come up with examples right then. I can now, but I don’t have the energy to elaborate in English.

My social and emotional development was delayed from a young age on. Even though I didn’t have many meltdowns or temper tantrums until I was about six, I did have my problems. I couldn’t talk to children my age. I had trouble forming friendships. I was even more self-centered than any young child.

When I became aware of my differences, I started acting out. Educational psychologists blamed this on my difficulty adjusting to blindness. What if I’d become aware of my social difference then, too? Even though I didn’t start regularly having temper outbursts till I was about six, I remember head-banging and hand-biting from a younger age. I also had this crawling movement in bed that parents of other kids went to the doctor for when the children were toddlers. Well, let me tell you I did this till I was nineteen.

When I became a teen, I had many more difficulties. One could no longer blame my high IQ, because I was in a high-level high school were 30% of the students were intellectually gifted. Maybe then I did it all because I’m blind, even though no-one at the school for the blind had displayed these behaviors either. Or maybe I was precocious for developing a personality disorder. I guess your logic would go like this.

I could give you dozens more examples of why I believe I’m autistic. I have been thinking on these for the last few days. Many, however, are just too embarrassing to go on my blog.

My parents may not be involved with my care now, but you never asked them participate in a developmental interview. Not that I’d want you to do an autism assessment on me, after all the flawed arguments you’ve spun. You won’t believe that someone with hydrocephalus can be autistic, even though there’s plenty of literature showing that they can. You won’t believe that preemies are more likely to develop autism than children born full-term. I even didn’t bother correcting you when you wrote in my referral letter that I had had a stroke. News flash: an intraventricular hemorrhage, which is the most likely cause of my hydrocephalus but was never ascertained, is not a stroke. I don’t expect you, a psychologist, to know the difference, but then at least stop basing your diagnosis on it.

But you’ll say we should look at symptoms, not syndromes. You’ll say it doesn’t matter for my care whether I’m diagnosed with brain injury, even if it isn’t in my DSM-IV classification, autism or a personality disorder. To be honest, the main reason this whole diagnosis thing is important to me, isn’t care. It’s understanding. I need recognition of my struggles. I need to know I’m not the only one. As much as you hate this, I need something I can google and join support groups for. I’m tired of shooting in the darkness. Granted, care matters too. Personality disorder patients have far fewer self-care problems than autistics and warrant a totally different approach. I wouldn’t mind that approach if it turly worked for me, but it doesn’t. However, I don’t mind having a personality disorder diagnosis along with autism – I had one for nearly three years.

You won’t understand a thing about autistic culture. I won’t explain. I don’t have the spoons for that. (Google the spoon theory if you want to know what I mean, if you even care.) Suffice it to say that autism is not just a disorder – it’s an identity. It’s something, unlike brain injury, that is part of us before we’re old enough to realize it. It’s not a disease – it’s a part of who I am.

Hannah Spannah

A Thank You Letter to a Bus Driver

This is getting old, but I have been extremely uninspired lately. It’s like everytime I try to do blogging in Dutch again, I neglect this blog. It wasn’t even so much that I didn’t want to write, but I didn’t kow what to write about. A few days ago, however, I saw a blog post in which a person wrote a thank you letter to their genetic counselor. Other people were invited to write thank you letters to people you wouldn’t expect they’d be thankful for. This got me thinking. At first, I wanted to write a thank you letter to the psychiatrist who admitted me to hospital in 2007. While writing this letter, however, I thought of another person who was important to me that night: the bus driver who overheard me make a suicidal threat and called the police. I am writing a letter to him today.

Dear bus driver,

You may have forgotten about me. At least, I hope you have. Thhat’d mean you didn’t experience too much stress from what I did while on your bus. I haven’t forgotten about you. I don’t know your name, but I want to thank you anyway.

I was the person who threatened to kill herself while sitting on your bus on the evening of November 2, 2007. I told someone’s voicemail the details of my suicide plan. You overheard me, although a fellow passenger said you merely heard me cry. She probably just said that to quiet my mind. I heard you tell the police that you would be at the train station by 8:15 PM. By that, I judged I’d got onto the 8:01 bus at the bus stop near the training home I used to reside in. You dropped me off at the train station and the police took over and took me to the police station, where I was seen by the mental health crisis service.

I want you to know that I’m well now. I’m not fully recovered from my mental illness, but I’m a lot better than I was back then. I remembered you for years, which was causing me to find it hard to travel the bus in your city. I feared I’d run into you. Now, I know that you did your job and you did it well.

I could bore you with a long story of my mental illness and recovery, but that would probably stress you out. In case you’re wondering, however, I want you to be assured that I’m happy that I didn’t kill myself that evening. Now I know that, somewhere between the bus and where I wanted to kill myself, someone probably would’ve stepped in before I would actually be dead. However, you happened to be that person to step in. Thank you for that.

Astrid

Dear Transition

Like I said a few weeks ago, I bought the 22-day life transitions journaling workbook. I didn’t use it consistently, so I only finished the first day’s exercise and read the one for day two. It sounded particularly hard to me, but today, I’m trying to take up the challenge. The assignment is to write a letter to the transition in your life, in my case, the move out of the institution. You should be as honest as possible and can rant all you want. Then, let the transition respond. Here goes.

Dear transition,

Screw you, why do you have to happen? Why can’t things just stay the same. I know that’s not ideal, but that’s all I’ve known for the past 8 1/2 years. This institution life feels safe. Call me dependent all you want, I don’t care. I don’t know what happens when I leave the institutio. I fear I’ll fall flat on my face and not be able to cope.

Besides, I never planned on living independently again. I never learned to cope in a less restrictive environment, because that wasn’t the goal. Even since it’s been the goal that I live with my husband for the past 1 1/2 years, I still never learned to cope. I tried an afternoon at home here and there, but I still feel utterly overwhelmed when I’m at home for longer than a few days.

I don’t know what you expect of me anyway. My husband wants me to live with him, but I don’t even know wha the expects out of me. He probably expects me to take care of some housekeeping, which I haven’t done i years. Evernything else is uncertain too. I haven’t found day activities, haven’t been accepted by the mental health agency. I know you will happen – I will move in with my husband -, but I don’t even know when. So stop bothering me.

Astrid

Dear Astrid,

You sound angry at me. I’m sorry about that, because I never meant to piss you off. I am uncertain, I know, and I know that scares you. I know your control has been taken away by the psychologist, who decided seemingly arbitrarily that this is the point at which you need to stick to your decision. Then again, she’s right. You can’t waste your life away in the institution, and i know you don’t want to either. It may feel safe now, but safety isn’t all you need. You want to develop yourself, too.

Try to be confident that your treatment team will put a safety net in place should you not be able to cope. Try also to focus on the opportunities I will award you. I know you have so many dreams that you sometimes don’t even want to write about. I know that I won’t guarantee you that you’ll be able to make your dreams come true, but sitting on your butt in the institution certainly won’t make them come true. Try to stop dreaming and fearing and start living. Good luck.

Your transition

Fifty Years From Now

In the future… This is this week’s prompt from Finish the Sentence Friday. The future could be next week or next month or next year or fifty years from now. As I am currently in a bit of an anxious mood regarding my physical health, I am more than aware of my finite existence here on earth. This however also got me to buy a book, really to distract myself but it ties in nicely with the theme, about women who survived breast cancer twenty to fifty years past diagnosis. (No, I don’t think I have breast cancer.) Even though I am not the healthiest person in the world, it is very well possible that I’ll live for fifty more years. For this post, I am going to pretend I am 79 and look back at my life.

It is currently 2066. I am 79. I have lived a much longer life than as a twentysomething I expected to. There have been many times I thought I wouldn’t live for another year. Yet here I am in old age.

I look back on a happy marriage with my husband. We have been living in our home in the tiny village for fifty years. When the housing corporation wanted to get rid of it and my husband earned enough money, we bought the house. It now has a bathtub, which was pretty much the only thing I wanted to get added to its interior fifty years ago. Of course, now that I’m old and my mobility is failing, I can’t use it anymore.

I look back on a nice volunteering career for myself. In fact, I still volunteer. I am a language-learning buddy for an immigrant, just like my grandma was when she was my age. I haven’t earned any sort of royal recognition, but that could be because I changed volunterring careers so often I can’t say I’ve served a particular community for long enough. nO, that was a joke. If I live for another twenty years, five months and twelve days, I’ll meet the mayor because of my 100th birthday. I do plan to live that long now that I got this far, just like my grandma did, only without the cognitive decline please.

Speaking of fame though, I did get some international recognition by publishing my memoir. It wasn’t titled Some Former Preemies Will Go to University after all, because that title was ironic, referring to my lack of successful college studies. As it turned out, I did earn a college degree. It was in language and cultural studies at the university I tried studying linguistics at too. The same professor still taught the intro to linguistics class that I had completed half of just before I ended up in the psychiatric hospital in 2007. Since I didn’t go to graduate school, my sister is still the only one of our generation to have earned a Master’s degree. I don’t care about that graduate degree though, as I mostly studied for the fun of it and to prove myself that I could. After graduating, I now regularly attend sit-in classes in education, psychology and sociology. My heart’s still with the social sciences, but I still can’t do statistics.

I just mentioned the psychiatric hospital. It’s a place I’d rather not revisit. Its treatment methods have “advanced” to a level worse than they were 100 years ago. Instead of getting a sembleance of care, psychiatric patients are just drugged into submission. We have better psychiatric drugs now, at least by the sane population’s standards. There are more of them too and much more people taking them, whether they want it or not. Unfortunately, the neurodiversity and mad pride movements are dead now. The curebies got their way. I can’t say society is a better place for it.

Technolgy has evolved quite a bit in the last fifty years, obviously. I can now easily take pictures with a camera that gives me spoken directions. Oh, this probably doesn’t sound that advanced to my 29-year-old self, but it opened quite the world to me. There are great imaging tools that work with screen readers now. Still doesn’t sound advanced, but I lost pace with technology several decades ago. Even though I was pretty tech savvy as a teen, I was quite a bit behind fifty years ago already, let alone now. Thankfully, I did learn to use a smartphone or I would’ve lost track much sooner than I did. My husband still keeps pace with technology, of course. He’s 77 now and “drives” an autonomous car. He didn’t like it at first, but now that he’s getting old himself, he finds it quite relaxing.

As I look back to 2016, I’m glad I made the choices I made that year. It took more than just 2016 to get physically healthy, but I did set my first steps in the right direction. I also finally left the psychiatric institution. As I said, it isn’t a nice place now, so I’m so glad I left before it deteriorated. Besides, if I hadn’t, I might not have lived this life with my husband.

Letter to My Baby Self

A few weeks ago, I discovered the Tuesday at Ten linky. This is a weekly linky that starts on Tuesdays at 10:00 AM, but you can link up posts throughout the week. Unfortunately, I was just a bit too late for that week’s prompt and the one the week after didn’t appeal to me. This week’s prompt is “If I could write a letter to the past me”. Having written many letters to myself in the past or future, you’d think I didn’t feel inspired to write one again. You’re wrong. I love writing letters that reflect on my life experience and the wisdom I’ve gained from it.

The challenging bit is to myself at what age I’d like to write a letter. I wrote a letter to my twelve-year-old self already. I have written a poem for my baby self as well. Let me make a twist on these two previous posts and write a letter to my baby self. She wouldn’t be able to read it, but isn’t that the case with any letter that requires time travel to be delivered?

Dear baby self,

Sometimes, in my dreams or daydreams, I see you. You were just born, June 27, 1986. The name tag on your incubator side says “baby”, since Mom and Dad didn’t have the time to think of a name before Mom went into premature labor. That’s what they’ve told me.

Let me tell you who I am. I am you, but older. I am 29-years-old now. Isn’t that a big number? Ha!

As you lie there in the incubator, Tigger the stuffed tiger by your side, I want to remind you that you are cherished. I don’t have Tigger now – he is probably at Mom and Dad’s if he hasn’t long been thrown away -, but I do have two other stuffed animals. One is Wally, the whale I got when I got home from the neonatal unit. Wally will forever be a reminder that I survived neonatology. I am here to write to you, because YOU survived.

The other one is an unnamed stuffed cat. I got it at an age when I thought I was too old for stuffed animals. I was almost nineteen and graduated from high school. The cat will forever be a reminder that I am now an adult, old enough to make my own decisions, and I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations but my own. You will still have to fight for your life. You will feel later on that you had to fight for so much more than just life. Whether this feeling is justified, I do not know, but you, or rather I can let go of it now.

You are now a grown woman. I remember, at the time I graduated from high school and got the stuffed cat, that this idea scared me. I feared being grown-up meant needing to prove myself to my family without my family’s ongoing support. In truth, being grown-up means letting go of the idea of having to prove yourself to anyone but you. Also, it doesn’t mean you won’t be supported anymore. I now have my husband and still have my family at a distance, after all.

Above all, I want to remind you, as well as myself, that you and i are good enough. We’ve proven ourselves by surviving so far and making it to 29. I hope you realize that you are loved.

Astrid

#DearSoandSo: Psychological Evaluations

Dear evaluating psychologist,

You don’t know me yet. Soon, you’ll know me as the blind, autistic person who was born prematurely. Then, you’ll hopefully get to now me as Astrid. I was referred to you by the autism center’s consultation team for neuropsychological and intelligence testing.

You need to know that I am a survivor of psychological trauma. I won’t disclose any details, but it’s important that you know that psychological evaluations are a big trigger for me. They are very intimidating. As a result, I might dissociate and put on a mask, which might influence my performance.

I ddon’t know how exactly to prevent myself from dissociating or putting on a mask. I also don’t know for sure what you can do to help me. However, I would suggest you refrain from making assumptions about my performance prior to or during testing. I will try to remember that I’m still me with my abilities and difficulties, regardless of the outcome of testing. However, this is hard to remember.

I hope that the testing experience will be as stress-free as possibe. Thank you for any help you may be able to provide.

Kind regards,

Astrid

I went to the country’s top notch autism center, which happens to be in my town, yesterday. They thankfully believe I’m on the spectrum and don’t see a need to re-evaluate me. They however recommended intelligence and neuropsychologcal testing to find out why I function at a much lower level than my verbal ability would suggest.

They also recommended a sensory processing evaluation. I have suspected I have sensory processing issues for a long while, but now that I think on it, I may ask specifically about auditory processing. I used to be seen as an auditory learner (probably because my tactile skills were worse), but I still have a lot of difficulty understanding speech when there’s background noise. I also tend to process speech with some delay it seems. For example, I’ll say “What?” and then realize I did hear what was being said. Some people in the sensory processing disorder community said that auditory procesisng is different from sensory integration, so I’ll have to ask specifically about this.

Lastly, they recommended a support worker come to visit me at home and in the institution to establish my independence and support needs. Then, they could help me develop greater independence skills.

Dear So and So at Mummy from the Heart

What I’d Put in a Time Capsule #TuesdayTen

As Lisa of The Golden Spoons writes, in December of 2014, a time capsule was found in Boston, which dates back to 1795. I also heard that in 1938, people created a similar time capsule (I don’t know whether it’s been opened yet). In 1998, people all over the Netherlands wrote letters to the future, a selection of which was published in a book and the rest of which will be opened in 2098.

Lisa asks what we would put in a time capsule if we could create one. The big problem is that technolgy advances so fast that the technology of today will be useless by 2235. So I’d have to resort back to low-tech stuff because they probably wouldn’t be able to open the text file in which I write my post now. So here goes what I’d put in.


  1. A letter. I’d have to print it out because today’s Microsoft Office can’t even read documents from 1995, so I bet the technology of 2235 will have big problems with the old-fashioned typing I do, as I said. Like Lisa, I would write who I am and explain about the contents of the box.

  2. A copy of my blog. I don’t know whether I even want to include my old blog. You know, the one I always just refer to as “the old blog” and refuse to ever link to even though it’s still online. Maybe I would.

  3. My old diaries. I’m afraid they have been typed in that 1995 MS Word format that Word 2013 can’t read (they date back to 1999 but I was really old-fashioend in terms of technology), so a print copy would have to do then. It’s going to be a big time capsule. I won’t ever publish my diaries online (well, except for that one entry I published for a writing prompt a while back), but I don’t care what the people of 2235 think of me. My diaries are written in Dutch.

  4. Music. I only have a small selection of recent songs and they are not a representation of what’s hot today, but well.

  5. A picture of myself just so people know my face. Not that anyone on my blog knows except if they find me on social media, as I still haven’t gotten my husband to send me a recent pic of myself, but well.


  6. A Braille letter typed by hand. Knowledge of the Braille alphabet is declining among blind people with the advancement of text-to-speech technology, so who knows whether it still exists by 2235.

  7. A Braille display, for the same reason as above but it’s actually current technolgoy.

  8. My list of medications. I wouldn’t be able to include the medicine itself as it’d go off, but I’d love to educate the people of 2235 about what nut cases like me get prescribed today. I bet they’d laugh their butts off.

  9. My phone. Not that it’s particularly hot in 2015, as I have had a Samsung E1130 since probably 2011, but well.

  10. Money. I’d be curious to know whether the Euro still exists by 2235 – or even 2035, but I may find that one out as I will probably still be alive by then.

The Golden Spoons

A Letter to the Future

This week’s prompt from Mumturnedmom is “a letter”. I have written several posts that are letters or that are about writing letters on this blog so far. Rather than link up an old post, however, I’m going to take on a new challenge and write a letter… to the future. There is or at least used to be this site called FutureMe, where you could write a letter and have it E-mailed to yourself on a specific date in the future. Writing letters to the future is more challenging than writing letters to the past, which I already did on this blog. After all, I know what the past was like, and I don’t know what the future will be like. However, here’s my attempt at a letter to myself ten years from now.

Dear Astrid,

How are you? I am doing okay, but I hope you’re doing even better. Remember me? It’s your 28-year-old self. You know, the one with all the mental health struggles, residing in an institution. I hope you’re doing better in the mental health department than I am.

Where do you live now? Do you still live in the small town large institution? Or have you moved on towards living with your husband? I hope you’re still married to him and will be for many years to come.

Are Harry and Barry, our pet cats, as mischievous with you as they are with me now? I hope not. Actually, I hope that they’ve grown into the kind of quiet cat my parents own. Then again, chances are slim, as Morse was a lot quieter when he was a kitten than Harry and Barry ever were.

Do you, at age 38, still miss out on being a mother, perhaps even more than I do? Or do you feel at peace with childlessness now? Of course, since I don’t know, maybe you actually have a child! That would be quite interesting. Most likely, you’ve at least become an aunt.

Speaking of my sister, did she start in a Ph.D. program yet, perhaps even having earned her Ph.D. already? Does she have a nice historical archiving job? Is she married to her boyfriend yet?

I hope you too are more active than I am. Maybe you have a volunteer job. Have you started on that biography writing course I so want to start yet? Maybe you’ve finished writing your autobiography! If so, is it still titled Some Former Preemies Will Later Go to University?

Maybe you’ve found yourself on an entirely different path than I can imagine right now. With my hypochondriac tendencies, I still wonder whether you’re even alive. But if you are, I hope you’ll find this – supposing WordPress still exists -, and respond.

Yours,

Astrid

mumturnedmom

An Open Letter to My Teachers

Day six of the recovery challenge asks you to write a letter to someone who has harmed you or has made you feel bad. I could write a number of letters, but then again an equal number of people could write them to me. Besides, such letters are not always meant to be seen by the people they’re about, so the blog isn’t always the right place to post them. I will therefore not write a letter to one specific person, but to a group of people. Originally, I wanted to write a letter to my elementary and secondary school bullies. Then I realized that my bullies were kids just like me, and they didn’t know better. I therefore will address the letter to both the bullies and their enablers, mostly teachers. After all, bullying by kids who don’t know better is bad, but worse than that is the enabling of it by adults who should know better..

Dear bullies, dear teachers,

You, bullies, are too numerous to address individually. Most likely, none of you will ever even see this letter. It is an open letter, published on the Internet, not so much to shame you – which is why I won’t name you -, but to make you aware of the effects you had on me and to process these effects for myself.

Enabling teachers, you, too, are too numerous to address individually. Some of you will remember that I addressed you by name on an old version of an old blog. Rest assured, when I transferred the blog to a new site in 2007, I changed your names. I will not violate your privacy like this again. This letter is not intended to shame you personally, but again to make you aware of the effects of bullying and the inherent disability discrimination in your behaviors. If you ever teach a disabled student who is being bullied again, I hope you’ll remember my advice. Again, this is an open letter, so even if it doesn’t reach you, I hope it will reach teachers of disabled students anywhere.

Bullies, you, too, will most likely remember my name. For some of you, I was the only girl in your sixth grade class. For others, the odd, blind girl in your eighth grade grammar school class. I was the “bitch” to one of you, the “dwarf” to another.

In sixth grade, the only reason even the teachers could give for you bullying me, was that I was too smart. Yes, I was too smart, which is why YOU bullied me. Teachers, this is inverted reasoning. Bullies choose whoever they see as the easiest target. Making a buly victim a less easy target, may help that particular victim (although it is more likely to make them feel bad about themselves), but it will not end the bullying.

In eighth grade, your reasons were more valid, if reasons for bullying can ever be valid. Hint to the enabling teachers: NO THEY CAN’T. I didn’t take care of my personal hygiene. In your words, I stunk. I reacted with blunt comments when you wanted to help me and I didn’t want to be helped. The teachers favored me and some gave me higher grades than I deserved. I understand you had a hard time communicating these annoyances, but instead of going to my tutor, you chose to bully me until the tutor decided to go up to you. He organized a class for you in which you could spew your criticism of me. You eagerly did so, and I was told that if I just took care of my personal hygiene, stopped being blunt and stopped being favored by the teachers, the bullying would stop. It did, for a while.

A quick note on favoritism: giving a disabled student extra time on tests or an aide or whatever when their disability warrants it, is not favoring them. Giving a student a higher grade than they deserve, is. Make sure the school has documentation on the student’s needs: an IEP or 504 in the U.S., a statement of special educational needs in the UK, and I have no clue what it’s called in my own country because such thigns didn’t exist when I was in school; they hopefully do now. Such a document will detail the student’s accommodations and services. Non-disabled students should not be made aware of the peculiarities of the disabled student’s documentation; just say they have a statement/IEP/whatever and that it’s not the non-disabled students’ business to decide on the fairness of accommodations.

At this point I want to address the teachers again. Whenever I was troubled, as I was often throughout elementary and secondary school, you attempted to change me. Seven years into psychiatric treatment, I understand all about personal responsibility, and I understand that if I wanted to make friends, I had to be socially adept. I realize now that I didn’t have the social skills to be a good friend or even to avoid being an easy target for the bullies. That, still, doesn’t make me responsible for the bullying I endured.

You also need to know your limitations. You are not equipped to diagnose (or rule out) autism or to offer social skills training to an autistic student. You are not counselors, you are teachers. I understand you were the only ones to be reached when students saw me in despair, but please know your limits.

Now I want to talk about the effects bullying and its enabling had on me. Bullies, you made me feel like one piece of crap. Then again, enabling teachers, you made it worse by making me feel responsible. On said old blog, I wrote a post about a teacher who had kids vote an autistica student out of the classroom. I know you did your best to keep me in. I realize you, teachers, did what you thought was best given the tools and knowledge you had at the time. This is why I want to tell you to know your boundaries.‘I was undiagnosed with respect to autism at the time, but some of you knew I suspected it and actively worked to get this thought out of my head. This is beyond your professional responsibilities as a teacher.

I want to make it clear that all of you, my elementary and certainly secondary school teachers thought you were doing what was best for me. I know that the school system as it was in the 1990s and ealry 2000s wasn’t good for a multiply-disabled student. I can only hope it’s better now. I just want to say that with this letter, I’ve hopefully made you aware of some pitfalls of teaching a disabled student and how to avoid them.

Lastly, I want to thank my secondary school tutor (if you ever read this, you’ll know I mean you) in particular for making sure the principal didn’t single me out for a celebration of prestigious school achievement for being able to educate a blind student. Thanks for that.

Letter to My Eating Disorder

Tomorrow, I’m having a dietician’s appointment. I have probably gained a lot of weight and at the very least my eating habits have been crap. I am feeling that focusing on weight loss doesn’t always help me. I’m not even sure I’m motivated to lose weight, but I am definitely motivated to stop bingeing. Or am I? In order to motivate myself, or examine why I am or am not motivated for recovery, I looked up eating disorder recovery challenges. I’m not active on Tumblr, where most such challenges are hosted, but I thought I could do one on my blog.

For day one of this challenge, you are asked to write a letter to your addiction or disorder. Here goes.

Dear binge eating,

You have been with me since early adolescence or before. You crept into my life slowly. At age fourteen, I read an article in a teenage magazien about eating disorders, and, like so many teen girls, I was touched. I didn’t want an eating disorder, but I was struggling. I did want a way to express my struggle. Little did I know that you had already entered my life.

The article was mostly about anorexia. I admired these young women, in a way, because they had perseverance. In another way, I felt that if I had an eating disorder, maybe then people would see I struggled. I started counting calories and using a food diary, but I never stopped eating. In fact, I overate. You were already in my life. I didn’t realize you were an eating disorder just the same.

For a while in adolescence, and then again for a while in my mid-twenties, I had bulimic tendencies. These gave me a reason to believe I was really struggling. I took you seriously, but wasn’t really motivated to let go of you. I was at a healthy weight, but because I purged, I had an eating disorder. I joined Proud2Bme, a Dutch eating disorder recovery site. Not that I really wanted to recover. In fact, I at one poitn joined a pro-ana site. I was already ovrweight by this point.

I stopped purging in 2012, and from then on, I was “in recovery”. I didn’t like this point, because I was still struggling, and I still had a need to feel that my pain was real. I don’t mean this, for clarity’s sake, towards others. I hardly ever disclosed that I had purged when I still did. But to myself, purging had to be in my life to justify my pain.

Meanwhile, you took over more and more of my life. I didn’t realize you were a problem until I reached obesity. At that point, I realized you were in my life, and you were serious. This wasn’t till about half a year ago.

You are strong. I think of you on a daily basis. Sometimes, I cling to you, and sometimes, I curse at you. You have caused me to gain over 30 pounds since 2011. Yet you’ve been in my life much longer, I know. In middle and high school, I would buy a sausage roll and bag of candies every single day. I remember one day in seventh grade, buying five candy bars. My classmates told me I was being outrageous, but I ate them all anyway. I didn’t really know what was normal. Now I do.

I am not sure at this point I want to get rid of you. You fulfill my need to do something about my strong, unstable emotions. You fulfill a need for instant gratification that I’ve always had. Yet if I don’t get rid of you, this is making you worse, and making the need for instant gratification worse by reinforcing it. But if I do get rid of you, will the need go away, or will you just be replaced with some other addiction? I will have to find this out, but I do want to take on the challenge and try to get rid of you.

Sincerely,

Astrid