Sadness and ableism

I don’t particularly want to go into extreme detail, but I’m sad today. Sad enough that even though I didn’t get to sleep until 2:30 A.M. I’m up again at 8.

I think I was born to teach, sometimes. So I’m taking my personal pain and using it as a teaching lesson about relationships. None of us are taught the skills necessary for forming, caring for, and communicating in relationships. I’ve had to learn it through therapy, because I definitely had nothing like a good role model to base anything on.

I strongly feel that Basic Communication 101 and Basic Relationship Navigation would be two very valuable additions to public school curriculums. How to not be a treacherous bull-pizzle would probably be cool, too.

Some people who called themselves my friends decided to start talking negatively behind my back.

Some folks don’t care about gossip. To me, it’s rank betrayal and pretty damned dishonorable. I don’t let many people get close to me because I’m so freaking head-shy about people doing this exact bullshit move.

If you’ve got a problem with someone, and you’re safe, obviously, you take the problem up with that person.

Running around flapping your pie hole, spreading bad information influenced heavily by personal bias is, to be frank, the act of a coward. Trying to break up friendships over your misunderstandings is a huge red-flag for a toxic, emotionally abusive person.

Some red flags to watch for in relationships.

When they set rules, often times after you “break” them.  If someone begins to set rules on where you can be, who you can hang out with, and how you’re supposed to act, changes the rules just for you, or treats you worse than everyone else, I suggest finding a way to safely escape because what they’re really doing is beginning to take away your free will.

Who you can hang out with: If someone is trying to strong arm you/your friends/anyone into not hanging with someone they feel is a friend, that’s an emotional abuse red flag. It’s shitty behavior too. No one has any right to try to dictate another person’s friendships. I can’t even begin to get into all the reasons this is toxic. Like, there’s whole dissertations written on the subject. It’s fine to express concern to a friend about someone else. It’s not okay to force the issue or bamboozle your friend because they like someone you don’t.

How you use social media: this one is tricky, it’s really freaking common for neurotypical and ablest people to insist neurodivergent and/or mentally ill people confine their speech, thoughts, reactions, selves… in a box that makes them (not the ND person) comfortable.

How you use social media: it can also manifest in a person insisting that others leave or join groups, delete things like facebook/insta/tiktok etc. Huge, huge red flags.

‍They try to isolate you from friends and family: Isolation is how an abuser thrives and they’re so subtle in how they begin to push you away from your loved ones.

  • If you ever get in an argument or fight with a friend or family member, an abuser will turn this into something bigger and try to convince you to remove that “toxic” person from your life
  • They’ll request you spend time with them rather than your other friends or family
  • Alienate you from coworkers by not allowing you to spend time outside of work with them

This is one of the scariest red flags of an abusive relationship because without your connections to the outside world, an abuser is free to treat you how they please because they’ve alienated you from everyone who could help.

Another thing abusers will do is blame you for their abusive behaviour, and tell you it was your fault.

Overly controlling behavior is a common red flag. People that try to control your movements, decisions, or beliefs are more concerned about what they want than what is best for you. 

Emotional, verbal, and mental abuse are often much harder to pick up on than physical, but all types cause trauma and can result in PTSD. No one has the right to use another as a scapegoat for their problems. Those should be dealt with constructively and fairly. Abuse is never an acceptable response to a problem.

An inability to resolve conflict: conflict-avoidant people often think they’re doing the right thing by avoiding conflict, but they aren’t. Without constructive conflict, no relationship can be healthy.

Gaslighting: this is when someone tries to convince you that your lived experience isn’t really what happened. That what they think is correct, and you’re just confused.

It’s an incredibly common abusive tactic. Victims of gaslighting often feel guilty, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s a clear red flag in any relationship. You can provide proof, reasons, explanations as to why they’re wrong to a gaslighter, but they’ll still insist they’re right.

Avoidance mixed with silence is a classic passive-aggressive form of relationship toxicity, one that often gets progressively worse over time.

So what do you do about it? What is healthy, anyway? A healthy relationship involves acknowledging your needs first, and having a self-care plan in place. More importantly, you engage in that self-care.

Communication is so important. It’s at the center of every healthy relationship. And just for the ones in the back of the class? Talking with people other than the one you have a problem with (and a mediator, if needed/wanted) isn’t healthy communication. People can have no clue you have a problem with them. If you don’t communicate, they can’t even decide whether they want or can change their behavior.

Emotional regulation: Communication doesn’t work well when your emotions are in the way. There’s nothing wrong with having and expressing feelings. Feelings are always valid. What one does with those feelings can be healthy or toxic, but the existence of the emotions isn’t a bad thing. It’s just wise, for effective communication and conflict resolution, to wait until you can successfully regulate your emotions before discussion. If you’re talking negatively about someone you know, it’s probably because you’re letting your emotions control you vs dealing with them in an effective and healthy way.

Setting/violation of boundaries: We all need boundaries to protect ourselves and keep our relationships as sustainable as possible. You should clearly state your needs, boundaries, and deal-breakers with a loved one. If you haven’t done that, you’re not communicating well.

Trust: there can be no health to a relationship without trust. Once trust has been violated, it often needs to be earnt back.

And no one owes you an acceptance of your apology. Nobody is required to give you a chance to explain why you broke their trust, or even allow you back into their life.

In the personal realm, I could’ve done better at communicating my boundaries and deal-breakers. Such as, if you talk shit behind my or anyone else’s back, you’re a dishonorable fuck-weasel and I want nothing to do with you.

You don’t need to take my word for it. All the signs of emotional abuse and toxicity in relationships were found on these sites.

Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/liking-the-child-you-love/202202/3-red-flags-relationship-turning-toxic

https://www.betterup.com/blog/red-flags-in-a-relationship

I’d never considered some of the people involved friends. I’d long since consigned them to ‘friendly acquaintance I don’t want to be closer to’. The word friend has special meaning to me and because of the amount of abuse I’ve lived through, you have to earn it.

But I didn’t expect them to act in such a dishonorable manner either.

I read psychology dissertations for fun, so it’s not hard to figure the soup and nuts of it. Person X has a personal beef with me stemmed in ableism. Person X decides that *I* am evil incarnate rather than accept they’ve got some pretty severe ableism issues and dealing with those. Person X has heavy, revolting levels of bias against neurodivergent and mentally ill people. So much so that they formed an echo chamber with another in a professional setting not at all appropriate to the conversation. Person X then shit-talks behind my back instead of constructively dealing with their dislike/bias. Person X then tries to convince my friends I’m awful and make them drop me. I didn’t even know they had a problem with me.

Despite their own neurodivergency, they’re still stuck in the part of their journey where they feel that if they just try hard enough, or amuse people enough, they’ll be accepted because their neurodivergency ‘isn’t that bad’. Neurodivergent people can be really ableist too.

Something I’m starting to suspect is that the more autistics and ADHDers mask, the more burn outs we’re likely to experience.

Every time I burn out, I come back less able to do things I could before. Masking is absolutely something I’m losing ability with.

It could also be a factor of age, exhaustion, lack of fvcks left. The point being that we don’t have a lot of research about the aging autistic/ADHDer because they’re always doing studies on how to get rid of us, vs studies that would actually help us.

My hypothesis that it gets harder to mask as we age and deal with the fall-out of being an autistic or ADHDer in this world may prove accurate for many of us. It’s definitely accurate for me.

But what does that mean? If I can’t mask as easily as I once did (for whatever reason) I’m going to slip into autistic speech patterns and excited emphatic language more often. I’m going to meltdown more in places I can’t control. None of that makes me an awful person. But it does make people insisting I control and hide my autistic/ADHD traits ableist.

I’ve rambled enough, so I’ll close with this; nobody is required to like someone else. Everyone has the right to leave an unfulfilling relationship. No one has the right to abuse you or your friends.

And using abusive tactics to justify your desire to leave a relationship is all kinds of messed up. So many people need so much therapy. 🥴

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Shootings and Mental Illness.

Content warning: May 2022 Texas School Shooting

I need to state something unequivocally. Mental illness does not cause mass shootings. Period. Paragraph. End of story.

To say anything else, to imply anything else, to draw any sort of connection between the two is ableist and massively harmful.

Mental Health is a constantly evolving, improving field. Like anything else, you can find things on the internet that will say it does cause them. I will direct you first to the date of the article. Anything pre-2018 will likely have a bad case of confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.

The Massacre at Columbine in 1999 was poorly reported and based on the panicked reports of children being attacked. It affected many people in North America. 

Unfortunately, that cemented some nasty (untrue) things in the public’s mind. Things like ‘outcasts get revenge’ and ‘bullied kids become mentally ill and snap’.

Neither is true. I’m not going to revisit the wheel, but likely, everything you ‘know’ about how mental illness is, of course, related to violence is at least in part, based on that attack. Here’s the debunk. https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/04/19/bullies-black-trench-coats-columbine-shootings-most-dangerous-myths/

Older articles from usually reliable sources will likely be severely flawed, at best. It’s easy to blame Mental Illness and to demonize mentally ill people, so that is what society has done. It’s what medicine has done. We aren’t that far, historically, from women being institutionalized for ‘hysteria’ after all.

Luckily, mental health care is improving, and bias is fading at a glacial rate. Newer studies have proven that the motivations for mass shootings do not have high correlation to most forms of what we term ‘mental illness.’

This article is 50 pages, on the surface, if you just skim it, it appears to support the idea that there’s a huge correlation between mental illness and violence. However, if you actually read it, you’ll find it’s saying the opposite. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318286/

“surprisingly little population-level evidence supports the notion that individuals diagnosed with mental illness are more likely than anyone else to commit gun crimes. According to Appelbaum,25 less than 3% to 5% of US crimes involve people with mental illness, and the percentages of crimes that involve guns are lower than the national average for persons not diagnosed with mental illness. Databases that track gun homicides, such as the National Center for Health Statistics, similarly show that fewer than 5% of the 120 000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.26

In short, people diagnosed with mental illness are much less likely than an average person to commit any sort of violence.

Perhaps some definitions are in order. When we say something as imprecise as ‘mental illness’ we’re basically tossing the entire junk drawer of human brain issues into a basket, jumbling it around, then blaming it for everything under the sun.

You can read further about the types of disorders and conditions that fall into that basket in layman’s terms here. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-types-illness#1

I’ll detail a few that are usually the ones people have in mind when they blame mentally ill people for (insert whatever someone wants to blame us with).

Psychotic disorders: Psychotic disorders involve distorted awareness and thinking. Two of the most common symptoms of psychotic disorders are hallucinations — the experience of images or sounds that are not real, such as hearing voices — and delusions, which are false fixed beliefs that the ill person accepts as true, despite evidence to the contrary. Schizophrenia is an example of a psychotic disorder.

Personality disorders: People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and/or cause problems in work, school, or social relationships. In addition, the person’s patterns of thinking and behavior significantly differ from the expectations of society and are so rigid that they interfere with the person’s normal functioning. Examples include antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder,and paranoid personality disorder.

The next part is hard for a lot of people. Unless you are a psychologically trained medical professional, you have no business, and no right to be armchair diagnosing anyone with a ‘mental illness’. Least of all a domestic terrorist. 

Why? Because you’re very likely to be wrong. And that increases negative bias. It hurts people. What most people believe and think about the vast amount of mental illness is wrong. It’s based on ‘facts’ like ‘what the press reported’ and ‘my crazy granny had that’ and ‘jimmy down the pub told me about’ and ‘I read/saw/heard it in fiction so, of course, it has to be true!’

Just stop. Please.

Misrepresentation of all forms of mental illness is rife, everywhere. What you believe and think about it is extremely likely to be massively, harmfully, flawed. And trust me, your beliefs, examined or unexamined, come through in so much of what you say and write.

I ramble. I know. Back to why I felt motivated to write this.

I was in a group chatting when the Texas shooting came up, and I was going to respond in group. I want to preface the rest with saying that I’m not angry or anything. I rarely actually get angry, it takes a lot.

I’m heartbroken.

Because I felt on the verge of meltdown, I decided to turn my thoughts into a blog post so it can be useful for others wishing to learn. And hopefully, no one will feel the need to either argue with me about my accurate information or accuse me of … whatever people who reject autistics from groups think we’re doing. (I don’t actually know what that is, if I did, I’d try to stop doing it.) 

In case you don’t know me, I’m Kai. I’m an autistic, ADHD, mentally ill, disabled creator and disability advocate. I’m also a damned good writer and a great editor. I’m a life partner, a parent, a loyal friend, a traumatized and healing person, an irreverent shit, and an over educated pain in the ass. My degrees are in research oriented fields. I know how to do proper research, and how to do it well.

I’m out about some of my mental illnesses. Some I’m not because I get enough harassment just being out about being queer, autistic/adhd, and mentally ill. I’m diagnosed with chronic severe depression, high anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, C-PTSD, and bats in the belfry.

I’ve spent most of my 45 years trying to, somehow, be less autistic, less ADHD. This is impossible because my brain wiring is so different from an allistics. All I’ve ever hoped for was acceptance. It’s a basic human need, social acceptance. To date, there are 3 people I’m not related to who know most of my messy self and still love me, regardless.

I mask instead, since I can’t change my wiring. (Masking, in this usage, means having a socially acceptable persona that we pretend to be to get along in life.) I started intentionally masking my autistic traits when I was 9. So I could have friends who didn’t decide to hate me because they don’t understand me. So I could just… exist.

Masking kills autistic people, did you know that? The average age an autistic person dies is 36 years of age.

The suicide watch for parents of autistic and ADHD kids starts at 9 years old.

What do I mean by that? Wise parents start watching their autistic and ADHD kids closely for severe mental illness and suicidal attempts at the age of 9. (Technically, 9 for boys & AMABS, 11 for girls & AFABS.)

Why do we have to do that? I’ll spare you the terrifying statistics on suicide in autistic, ADHD, mentally ill, and people with other forms of neurodivergence. Mostly because I don’t want to look at them again, myself. I have young kids. You’d better believe I watch them.

That’s the point of my work. That’s why, even when I don’t want to stir the shit or when I just don’t want to talk about it… I do anyway.

Bias against neurodivergent people kills us. Mental illness is a form of neurodivergence. Autism and ADHD are too. Bias claiming autistic or mentally ill people are violent is factually untrue and it is killing us.

36 years old. That’s when most of us die. I’m past my expiration date by 9 years and goddess… it feels it. Every day grinds me down further. And that’s why I do the advocacy work I do.

It’s far, far too late for me. The world has broken me into the tiny shards of a kintsugi project, and I don’t have gold to glue myself back together. But I have children. If my advocacy work can make the world see what it’s doing to people like me, if I can help people understand… maybe the world will be kinder to future generations of autistic, ADHD, mentally ill, and otherwise neurodivergent people. My kids included.

I’m still working on taking off the mask. I still mask far more than I intend to. And I still, always, get into trouble when I slip into autistic speech patterns.

Autistic folk often get… emphatic, I guess, when we talk about things that matter to us. People can feel overwhelmed when we get going either because we’re excited or we care about the topic. Because… well, it can be a lot, I guess. 

Most of us mask everywhere, which does end up killing us; as most forms of ableism tend to kill someone.

Since we mask, we only end up overwhelming people when we slip into what I call autistic mode. I caught myself before I managed to do it today in group.

I’m not always aware enough to catch myself before I slip. Especially, if I’m excited and enjoying a topic, and think people are also geeking out with me (instead of being overwhelmed). It’s really easy for my socially inept brain to not notice that people want me to shut up… on those occasions, I pay for it. (The fact I shouldn’t have to completely hide myself in order to have some semblance of a social life, because people don’t understand autism & adhd is a whole ‘nother blog post.)

I’m obviously not excited about the shooting in Texas, but the related topic I brought up is one that’s both intensely, personally painful and the focus of much of my advocacy work.

I was afraid that talking in group would result in another experience of ‘Kai slipped into autistic, had social doors slammed in xyr face, melted down, and had to leave the group.’

I’m rather tired of that happening, and I’m still deeply grieving the last group where a person or people made it obvious I wasn’t welcome because I can’t change that I’m autistic/ADHD.

When I’m upset, I can’t talk or respond to more than one person at once, if that. It’s a recipe for a meltdown. Hence, the manuscript/blog post.

I’m not looking for argument, debate, apologies or discussion. This isn’t an easy topic for me. I also wouldn’t be able to meet my gaze in the mirror if I didn’t say something. So.

I’ve been bullied and attacked and driven out of groups I really liked because people rarely stop to ask the intent behind an autistic’s words.

So… I just want to clarify; my only intent here is to educate. This is part of what I do in my advocacy work. It’s also incredibly painful for me, so as soon as I post this I’m getting off the net for a while. I don’t have the wherewithal to discuss this as if it’s not incredibly, personally painful, because it is.

The most recent shooting, today in Texas, is another horrific event and I’m beyond nauseated.

The very first thing many people do when another of these awful occurances happens is look around for a reason. It’s average human behavior. Because of decades of misrepresentation in media of mental illness and autism, (including by writers, which is why accuracy in any kind of representation is so important) the very first culprit people often think of is ‘it had to be someone mentally ill’ or ‘the shooter was obviously autistic or had autistic traits’.

This is almost universally untrue, because both populations are, by far, more likely to be the victim of violent crime than the perpetrator. There are plenty of studies out there about it. If you really want to read them.

Psychologically, it’s natural for humans to want there to be a reason. It’s even natural that we want the reason to be something that makes the perpetrator ‘not like me’. Few people want to believe themselves capable of buying a weapon, walking the halls of an elementary school, and then… I can’t even make myself type it. It’s so beyond horrifying.

That desire, that need, for us to believe we couldn’t do something like that, that ‘good people like me’ (tribalism) couldn’t do that… It makes mentally ill & autistic people easy targets. In the next few days, watch the news, you’ll likely see it.

The reason really does boil down to evil. The definition of evil is ‘profoundly immoral and wicked’.

There have been plenty of papers written on who a domestic terrorist is likely to be. (A cis white male without a history of mental illness or autistic traits between the ages of 16 to 30 is most likely. A cis white male without a history of mental illness or autistic traits between the ages of 45 and 60 is the second. Third is a cis male without a history of mental illness or autistic traits.) Yes, there are studies confirming this.

There are several things that play into this. Toxic masculinity is one. Radicalization is another. White nationalism, forced birthing, the list goes on and on. We want the answer and the culprit to be easy.

Unfortunately, it isn’t. That desire for an easy excuse harms people like me. It. Kills. Kids.

And it is not okay.

If anyone wants to read studies on this, the information is out there.

Mental illness has very little, if anything, to do with radicalization. To say it does is discrimination, and it’s ableist. There’s no proof. None. There’s a lot of information out there about how radicalization happens, too.

Calling for better mental health care when another terrorist shooter attacks may be well meant. We definitely need it, and I’m 100% for better mental health care everywhere. It would help so many people and massively improve society. I’ve always said everyone can use therapy.

And the connotations of shooter = we need better mental health care is painfully obvious.

Mentally ill people are not the ones doing this. While we absolutely need better mental health care, the people guilty of these atrocities aren’t the kinds who would use it.

Radicalized people often think they’re doing the right thing. Many of these acts have been racially motivated. And if the reasons are traced back, it often equals the ‘not enough white babies’ BS. Other motivations have been domestic violence and religious intolerance. None of these are mental illnesses.

It’s easy to say better mental health care would help. It would help a lot of things! Shooters would be in the vast minority. There’s plenty of studies that’ve been done on this topic, too.

The one thing I’d ask people to remember is this. Stop and think before you say anything.

Is your information on what you feel the fix is accurate? Is it fair? Does it unnecessarily demonize innocent people who don’t need more pain while they just try to survive? While we try to survive in a world that hates our very existence at worst, and barely tolerates it at best?

Every time another terrorist strikes. Every time. Someone trots out the ‘autistics did it’ or the ‘mentally ill people did it’ and that gets incredibly old, very painful, and exhausting faster than most average people can imagine.

It’s already a minefield, trying to just exist as either an autistic or mentally ill person in this world.

There isn’t a day that goes by that someone like me isn’t harmed by misperceptions or casual off-hand comments or someone harming us in another way.

Do you really need to add to it by either overtly or by connotation accusing autistic or mentally ill people of something so heinous it makes this mentally ill, autistic, ADHD person utterly nauseated? It will sicken most people like me. Autistics particularly usually have a hard wired need to help others.

So it’s particularly cruel to accuse an innocent population of people hard wired to help… with choosing to harm.

The solution to domestic terrorism isn’t in blaming it on people more likely to be the victim of violence than the perpetrator. Studies overwhelmingly support the statistics that autistic, ADHD, mentally ill, and other forms of neurodivergent people are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.

But that’s not what people believe. And it’s certainly not what they say. It will take a multi-faceted approach to solve the problem. Because the problem is so multi-faceted.

Step one has to be acknowledging where the problem actually is.

It’s not with people like me.

If you got this far, thanks for reading.

If you have the wherewithal, I’m a disabled creative and my family lives in extreme poverty. My work of words is my only income.

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Soft-blocking can be ableist, so what?

I get in so much trouble for this idea. I have people who unfollow me because they tell me I’m being harmful by pointing out that soft-blocking can be ableist.

I have people arguing with me because it’s ‘just what people do’ and no more harmful than ghosting someone in real life.

Spoiler, ghosting someone in real life (unless, obviously and I shouldn’t even have to say it they’re an ACTUAL danger to you) is ALSO HARMFUL, and hurtful too.

Soft blocking can be ableist. I feel it’s actually INHERENTLY ableist simply because it fits the definition of an action which not everyone is going to be *able* to understand.

If everyone isn’t *able* then the action that causes harm is inherently ableist.

It really, really is. Whether we like it or want to admit it or not. Whether it’s your favorite choice of ‘protecting yourself’ or not.

It’s harmful, it’s ableist.

Some definitions and terminologies. I’m writing about this phenomenon on Twitter, since that’s the place I’ve seen it most.

A follow, on Twitter is where you click ‘follow’ and you’re able to see that person’s tweets.

An unfollow means you click unfollow so you don’t have to look at the tweets anymore.

A ‘mutual’ is a mutual follower, someone who you follow and they follow you back.

A block is where you click ‘block’ and the person you have blocked can no longer see your tweets.

First… Soft blocking is the ACTION of hitting the block button on Twitter with a mutual or someone who has followed you because you don’t want them following you/seeing their tweets.

OR you want them to unfollow you without it being a stink about it. (I’ve been told it’s possible on other social media outlets like Tumblr, but I don’t use those so don’t know how it’s done there.)

There are as many reasons in the world to soft-block someone as there are people. SOME few people have reasons that deal with self-protection.

People should ALWAYS protect their mental, physical and emotional health. That is an absolute iron-clad rule. If y’all twist my words as meaning anything other than the ACTUAL words I’m putting on the page, that’s on you.

Oh, and that’s harmful.

Sometimes the methods you use to protect yourself harm others. There is really no way of getting around that. It is a fact when it comes to dealing with intersectionally marginalized people.

Second. I think I need to discuss what ableism is.

The simple definition is that it’s discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

It gets a lot fuzzier when you’re dealing with intersectionally marginalized people, including those of us who are disabled.

So many of us are disabled in one form or another. Many of us have PTSD from so many things. (I certainly do, I’m diagnosed with C-PTSD and it fucks my life up A LOT.)

The deeper definition of ableism is this, I’ve pasted the definition below.

Ableism is the discrimination or prejudice against people who have disabilities. Ableism can take the form of ideas and assumptions, stereotypes, attitudes and practices, physical barriers in the environment, or larger scale oppression. It is oftentimes unintentional and most people are completely unaware of the impact of their words or actions.

Shall we dive even deeper?

We could. We could add on the ideas of privilege to that. Who has more power? Then even deeper, who has more PERCEIVED power.

Have we gone down the rabbit hole yet?

Here. We’d better take some carrots for a snack.rabbit-2505034_1920

Let me state this unequivocally. Soft-block to your heart’s content. It’s your space, do whatever you want with it. You SHOULD curate your space as you want/need to.

We all should.

Which includes me. When someone I KNOW knows that I have a problem with soft-blocking, AND they do it any way I’m well within my rights to block and not do business with that person.

For me, that means I won’t read or review their books. I won’t buy them.

Now, the reason I HAVE to do that is self-care. If they KNOW I have a problem (because it harms me) with that action, then they do it anyway, I CANNOT trust them.

So I’m sure as hell not doing business with them.

I block and blacklist. People don’t like that, but guess what? It’s my space. I make the rules. If that gets me a rep of being a bitch? I can live with that.

I HAVE to live with that because I’m a very, very broken person with regards to mental health.

You don’t like my rules of treating people decently and trying your best not to harm others in your words and actions?

Of apologizing and owning your shit when you fuck up?

Of respecting boundaries?

I’m not someone you want to work with.

So. Soft-blocking is curating your space as you need to.

I’m not telling you not to do it.

I *am* saying it’s inherently ableist to do it, if you’re neurotypical or abled.

An argument could be made that it’s ableist of me to share how badly it fucks with my head.

To be soft-blocked, I mean.

The argument for *me* being ableist by sharing how badly it messes my head up is that guilt comes into play. By sharing how badly it upsets me, I could technically be putting pressure on people not to soft-block.

I really don’t care if you use a harmful tool to protect yourself. You do you. Your guilt is the price you have to pay for that. I guess that’s too honest for most people though.

*Your* guilt is not *my* problem. It’s not *on me* (the one being harmed) by your action to absolve you of your guilt.

Hence it’s a long stretch to call me sharing my feelings and educated opinion on the realities of soft-blocking and the damage it can and has done ableist.

But it *could* be. A skilled debater or manipulator can make someone absolutely certain the sky is green with purple polka-dots.

The only thing that makes it *not* ableist for me to do that is that it’s also a self-defense mechanism. It’s selfish, but it’s not ableist in that scenario.

Life is not, much as many people would love to think it is, a black and white construct of right vs wrong.

For *me* soft-blocking is wrong. It causes far more harm than it could *ever* ease.

For others, it’s a no big deal, it’s an ‘I just don’t want to confront this person enough to tell them I don’t want to follow them anymore.’

For others, soft-blocking is a self-protective mechanism IN ITSELF. They feel safer soft-blocking than they do just unfollowing.

(I don’t pretend to understand that, the safest way to not see people’s tweets and to signal you want nothing to do with them is to either unfollow or block them. Period.)

But I *am* autistic and I *do* favor bluntness over all your allistic mind games. Y’all can play those. I don’t and won’t.

Now. The reason I’m talking about soft-blocking and sharing my reactions is because *to me* (and probably people like me) it causes PTSD trigger episodes.

I’ve been gaslit so freaking much in my life that any little hint of anything that can make me doubt my memories, my experience, my thoughts… it’ll send me into a downward spiral where I’m left touching real-life objects to assure myself that they’re real. Holding my kids and doing all sorts of things slowly, just so that I can know it/they are real. That I’m actually in the space/time that I’m in.

THAT is what soft-blocking does to people like me. And the number of responses I get to this subject anytime I talk about it, saying something along the lines of ‘that happens to me too!’ mean I’m by far and away not the only one this practice is affecting badly.

Harmfully.

If someone is soft-blocking as an act of ‘fuck you for saying it’s ableist’ (I’ve had this happen a lot) it’s kinda obvious what the motivation is, you know?

It happens most from people who are on the younger side, FWIW. I guess I can’t hold it against them. Their brains aren’t done growing yet. (Seriously, medical fact, your brain isn’t mature as far as action/repercussions/risk assessment until you’re around 25, go ahead and look it up if you want. It’s why your car insurance is higher than mine.)

So what about what I said earlier? What about privilege? How does that play in?

I look white (I’m not, but I sure do look it) so I automatically have more privilege than anyone who is visibly not-white.

But when both people look white, that privilege is removed.

I’m unemployed, (I work for myself, and make very little money) so anyone who is employed or gets a regular disability payment is automatically more privileged than I am.

If you’re healthy, have a good income, if you own your home vs rent, there are SO many socioeconomic and anthropological factors that can go into your actual level of privilege that it pays, I think, to be cautious in how you act/react and what actions you use to protect yourself.

In the age of ‘me too’ and allegations of sexual assault being everywhere, soft-blocking is a viable self-protection tool for many. But like any tool, it can be misused and that particular tool has really sharp edges that can hurt both the wielder and the one it’s wielded against.

(I’m a sexual assault survivor, so I can almost see why it would work for people. I don’t quite, though.)

But the gaslighting I’ve been through has scarred me deeper than the sexual assault. I react and have stronger PTSD triggers to anything resembling gaslighting than I do to talk/reading about sexual assault.

This is not the case for everyone. If my words or actions have hurt anyone in those shoes, I do apologize. I’m trying to educate on the results of a harmful behavior that has and does cause damage to people. Including me.

I still don’t agree with people insisting that soft-blocking is harmless. Because it just isn’t.

An anecdote from my own life. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may recognize it.

Last October (I think?) I was repeatedly soft-blocked by someone I had more privilege than.

I did NOT understand I was being soft-blocked. I didn’t even know it was possible. I wasn’t able to understand why someone would do something that (seems silly to me) when blocking is much more effective.

Let me explain something, Twitter is a really weird place for me. It has followed people for me in the past, and unfollowed people who have sworn they didn’t soft-block me. I’ve had people tell me it’s blocked people for them, people they NEVER would have blocked.

It goes pear-shaped ALL THE TIME. So how is someone supposed to know if they are being soft-blocked?

The problem that happened occurred because this person DID NOT want me to follow them, but they didn’t block me. We had mutuals in common so I would often see their name and I really liked what they had to say. I admired their bravery.

In my naivety, I wanted (because I do have more followers) to boost their voice and opinion.

So I’d see a tweet that I liked a lot, I’d boost it, then realize that (I thought, because I didn’t at the time understand soft-blocking) my follow had dropped because of Twitter weirdness.

I clicked refollow at least three times before I dim-wittedly clued in (that whole, I was NOT able to tell I was being soft-blocked) that it was intentional.

I’ve owned up and apologized for my perceived mistakes there, and for my actual ones. But do you see that if that person had said to ANY of our mutuals to drop a word in my ear that “Hey, you’re making X uncomfy with the refollows” I would have stopped and NOT caused the problems it did? If they’d just blocked me, all the pain could’ve been avoided. Including my pain at not understanding what was happening, and my pain at having caused harm because I didn’t get it.

Instead, the person chose to use soft-blocking instead of communication or blocking.

How did that ACTUALLY help?

It didn’t. It harmed. It harmed me, and I inadvertently harmed THEM because I did NOT understand I was being soft-blocked. I was, at that point in time UNABLE to understand it. Making it an ableist act.

For what it’s worth, I *now* understand it when it happens. I absolutely do NOT like it because it messes with my perception of reality, but I DO understand what is probably happening.

How many people out there don’t though? Who are you hurting when you use this methodology? Is it worth it? (In some cases it absolutely will be, but you need to ask yourself that question.)

I’m not the only one this affects. There are so many people that don’t even know you CAN soft-block. Much less that people use it so flagrantly and without regard to the harm they are most definitely doing with it.

So what about power? Someone with more followers than me has more power. Someone with more money, a better job, better connections, they all have more power than me.

Someone who can work is also in a position of more power, or someone who gets a regular income in any form. They all have more power than me. So we need to be aware of our level of ACTUAL power as well when it comes to our actions.

But all of these things (and probably more that I can’t think of) play a part in the interconnected strands of how people interact with one another on Twitter and other social media outlets.

ALL of these things are things that make soft-blocking ableist if you have MORE power, and selfish, perhaps, if you have the same amount or less.

So what. So it’s selfish. Big whoop. There aren’t any Twitter police. Obviously, or we wouldn’t have any Nazis.

So you feel guilty about using a double-edged sword to protect yourself, one that can and does hurt people.

Big whoop. Again, your price to pay. If the cost is worth it to you, fine. Do it.

If it isn’t, then don’t, just unfollow instead.

If it’s ME you’re dealing with? I guarantee you that I will react better to a straight up unfollow or block than I will to you soft-blocking me and making me doubt the cohesion of my mind.

Because to me, and many people LIKE me. That’s exactly what that does.

It’s a minor form of gaslighting.

As I’ve said on Twitter in the past 24 hours or so, intent does not excuse the harm you cause.

It’s my intent to educate about the damage of soft-blocking. I’ve been told I’m hurting people by pointing this out.

I can’t pretend to really understand how it DOES. But I trust that people are telling me the truth that it hurts.

I’m sorry for that.

Truth often does hurt? It’s the precursor to growth and awareness.

Me pointing out that soft-blocking harms others is no different than whoever first noticed and pointed out that we needed ramps for disabled people to access public buildings.

I’ve been wondering the past day if those people, the ones who fought for that kind of accessiblity, have gotten as much flack and push back and accusations as I have about this issue.

Probably. But progress is never made by being silent.

I could go on with this and try to unpack how it’s less ableist for another disabled person to soft-block another disabled person, because if it’s done out of self-protection, at least there’s a justifiable reason for the harm they’re inflicting.

But again, intent and reasoning doesn’t change the harm they’ve done. Intent never excuses harm.

For any of my mutuals? Straight up unfollow me.

I unfollow for unfollow. You unfollow me, I unfollow you, always. Period. And that’s really the end of it.

I don’t follow many ‘real people’ on Twitter, at the time I’m writing this I have 515 accounts that I follow. More than half of those are images/news/weather etc accounts.

They aren’t people I talk to. I follow 4 people who don’t follow me back (they’re all authors, FWIW, some of my favorites.)

Everyone does Twitter in the way that best works for them.

If people don’t like the way *I* do things. They are well within their rights to not have anything to do with me.

Just like *I’m* well within my rights to do what *I* need to do to protect myself.

Which includes blocking people I’ve figured out have soft-blocked me.

Like it or not, the action harms me (and a lot of other people) by making us question our minds/memories/thoughts/etc.

That’s why it’s ableist and should be used with care, if at all.

Ingrained Elitism and Ableism in Publishing

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I’m pretty much beyond the point of no return with regards to publishing with a big 5, or even being represented by an agent, (lol, unless my very outspokenness nets me one or the other, and yes, I’ve seen that happen, recently) so I think it’s safe enough for me to speak out about what so many of us are thinking and feeling.

There is a fuck ton of elitism and ableism within the glorified walls of traditional publishing and larger small press.

I’m not going to call out any one person (though I do have a few saved tweet threads about it).

Usually, it’s editors or agents (though I’ve seen authors say it too) who say things like:

“Keep trunking novels.”

“Keep working.”

“Write the next thing.”

You get my drift, right? If you’ve been around the publishing industry on twitter for a second you’ll have seen the types of threads and comments I’m talking about.

Authors and writers will talk about it privately (which kinda says something all by itself), but most won’t say boo about the publishing industry in public for fear they’ll lose their shot at publication.

Happened just last night.

Firstly. I say publishing has a problem with elitism, and it so does. It comes from all levels too, it comes from big 5 pub, agents, editors and agented/published authors (not all, of course).

The idea that you can *ONLY* be an author if you’ve pubbed with a big 5, or if you have an agent or if you can bootstrap yourself to write another book while one is out on query or submission. It’s so freaking elitist that I can’t even wrap my head around it.

There’s a helluva lot of elitism going on.

Secondly: It’s ABLEIST to say keep working, keep trying, write the next thing to people, especially marginalized people, many of whom have Mental Illness/Psychiatric Disorder. MANY writers do, so that very concept really needs to die by fire.

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Not everyone is as open as I am about their mental illness… for stated reasons. They’re afraid they won’t get picked for publication/mentorship if it’s perceived that they can’t do the work due to mental illness. This fear is so common it’s mindboggling.

I did a thread about this last night, so I won’t repeat myself.

There have been panels and discussions at cons about why there is STILL so little diversity in fiction.

The answer has always been that the people who buy/produce/market books don’t resonate with diverse voices.

I hope to see change in the near future, so that new authors (or even, hell, salty old curmudgeonly authors like me) don’t have to fear not being picked because we speak out about problems we see or things we experience.

I won’t be holding my breath, though.

There’re are very valid reasons so many marginalized writers are self-pubbing or going with boutique presses.

It’s the only way we can get our stories out.

Another thread that may be of use to any of my marginalized readers.

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Disability

Narrated version here

I’ve been out about everything else, may as well be out about this.

I’m physically challenged, disabled, differently abled. Specifically, I have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and have since I turned 27 (a long time ago). I’d had the condition for close to 10 years before finally achieving a diagnosis in the time when we were told it was all in our heads.

Now, it’s getting more recognition, (thank all that is holy). Docs and scientists are doing more research on how to help us live better lives.

I read a thread on twitter today after yesterday’s disabled murders in Japan, and my gods. I literally gagged at the truth in it.

The writers experience of disability and ableist thoughts from others rang so true for me.

You see, I’ve been through the gamut of treatments and stop gaps and therapies. From heavy medication to exercise to eating regimes to new age therapies.

The people closest to me respect and love me, they see what I deal with and how I fight, every second of every day to have some semblance of a ‘normal’ life. (I’m not going there on how very ableist the phrase normal is, I know it, just pointing it out to those who may not. There is no normal, there really isn’t).

Yet… there is this pervasive concept EVERYWHERE, including from most of my extended family, that I don’t WANT to be healed, that I don’t take advantage of every option for ‘healing myself’. I’m supposed to do that you know? Heal myself?

Because… if I just put the right puzzle pieces into the right slots of my mind/body machine the fibromyalgia will magically disappear and I will finally ‘pull my own weight’. For anyone reading who doesn’t know, fibromyalgia is considered a life-long chronic pain condition. There is no cure, there is no magic wand and the only magic bullet that cures it has the number of the gauge on the case.

What is fibromyalgia? American College of Rheumatology    Wikipedia

The ableist privilege behind the kind of thought pattern that can believe I can heal myself, that I’m not trying or fighting… and worse if you actually SAY it to someone already suffering is phenomenal. Mind boggling.

I would never in a billion years choose to suffer this. I doubt I’d wish it on my worst enemy for more than a moment, and only then so they’d understand. If there were a magic pill or a therapy that would work or a drug that left my mind intact (some days, all I have left is my mind, I’m not willing to give that up) that would treat this, I’d do it.

I can’t begin to express how very horrible it makes me feel when I’m told (I’ve been told this so many times) that I’m not trying hard enough, that I need to bootstrap myself, I need to do x, y or z…

I’d love to have my life back. I sincerely would. I’d love to be the kind of mom and wife I used to be able to be. Drawing attention to what I can’t do with ableist thought processes vs actually helping, just don’t… please. If you don’t know how to help? Ask. Listen to the answer.

I’m a living, feeling, giving person. I am a gifted writer, I am creative and wonderful. I am not that behind my diagnosis, I am not that in spite of my diagnosis, I am a person. I should be treated as such, not as a burden. Not as a problem to be ‘fixed’.

I shouldn’t feel like I should die just to make other people’s lives easier. I shouldn’t feel like I’m not doing enough when I’m already fighting an exhausting gods damned battle every second of every day.

Enough ableist privilege. Please.

Hell… can we just get rid of all privilege while we’re at it and maybe try listening to one another? Of trying on sympathy and empathy instead of hatred and isolation of those who are ‘different’? I guarantee you, we’re all some variety of human. We’re all thinking, feeling, beautifully unique creatures who need community and acceptance.

Could we try that instead of wallowing in our privilege?