Sunday, January 11, 2015

Molotov Med Cocktail -- 5 Years Clean Sobriety Special!


Well guys, it's been a while since I've posted, so for your viewing pleasure/entertainment, we have me in video form talking about my experiences with self-harm, suicide, the mental health system, and how I've been sober from self-harm and suicide for 5 YEARS this month!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Me, My Autism, and The Community

     Autism is a genetically inherited disability. It is extremely common for Autistic parents to have Autistic children. It is, in fact, more common for Autistics to give birth to Autistics than their non-Autistic counterparts—although admittedly it is not impossible for non-Autistics to have Autistic children. I am not a genetic scientist, admittedly, but I can tell you that as the Autistic daughter of an undiagnosed Autistic man (I know he’s Autistic because he is socially awkward, extremely obsessive and perfectionistic, struggles with time management, relies heavily on calendars and alarms in spite of being unemployed, struggles to not come across as angry when he isn’t, is extremely book smart yet forgets to eat or take his medicine, etc.) whose father is ALSO an undiagnosed Autistic (I know that he is Autistic because he’s a diehard atheist, has published a couple of lengthy books, has a PhD in marine biology, taught as a professor for years, can talk for hours on end about things that interest him… and he has some of the worst social skills I have ever seen. Ask my Dad why he will never eat pickled beets again. Or, just go to Molotov Med Cocktail’s Facebook page, and PM me asking about the story. I’ll be happy to tell you if you think you can stomach a gross story), I can say for certain that Autism runs in families.

     So, with that said, why are some Autistics suddenly pretending that Autism isn’t something you can inherit from your parents? Or better yet, why is it that when some “Autism” parents find out they are actually Autistic parents, other Autistic activists are quick to say “You are not Autistic.” There’s a saying in certain parts of the Autism community—“We are like your child.” And on some broader level, they are right. Both they and the children in question are Autistic. There is no denying that the Autistic activists in question share similar sensory sensitivities, social challenges, and accommodations required to get by in the world. But maybe we’re forgetting another solid piece of advice in the midst of all this—a saying just as true, which really applies to any disability—“If you’ve seen/met/heard of one person with Autism, you’ve seen/met/heard of one person with Autism.”

     One Autistic’s experiences will vary from another’s. A lot. And about the closest people we can get to being like them, are usually their parents, who might in fact be Autistic. But when certain Autistic activists start to argue with parents of Autistic kids (whether those parents are Autistic or not), words like “murder-apologist” and “ableists” get thrown at them. When those parents disclose their Autism, they are met with a mob of angry Autistics calling them liars.

    And let me be perfectly clear about this—that is fucking triggering for me.

     When my Tourette’s symptoms started at the ripe old age of 13, people asked me if I was “doing it for attention.” People talked about me behind my back, saying I was only pretending to have Tourette’s, or making my symptoms seem worse than they were. Not long after that started, I attempted suicide and began self-harming. Several timeswith what I hope is my last attempt and act of self-harm ever at the age of 18. In other words, I don’t take it lightly when mobs of people tell people who just figured out they are Autistic that they aren’t Autistic. That, in itself, is ableism, and it’s the kind that nearly pushed me over the edge.

     The icing on the cake, however, is why I think these Autistics are telling these parents they are murder-apologists/murders-in-the-making/not Autistics. I think it’s because the parents are making some really, really good points, that goes against all of their black and white thinking. They don’t want to be wrong. They don’t want to admit that a certain Autistic-run organization is just as guilty as Autism Speaks of focusing their funds on all of the wrong efforts. I don’t want to “fight Autism.” I also don’t want to fight Autism Speaks. That is just as useless to me and other Autistics as trying to cure us.

     What is useful is providing Autistic adults the funds to live on their own. What is useful is providing coping mechanisms for Autistics—and no, I do not mean any of that bullshit like forcing eye contact or sensory discomfort in the name of therapy—I mean stuff like “How do I manage to find the spoons to make food, clean my house, go to work, go to school, and every other survival skill I need to get by?” It’s helping Autistics start businesses if they want to. It’s not spending all of the donations you receive on tearing down another organization that you fundamentally disagree with.

     Please understand I don’t think all, or even most Autistic activists are doing this. It’s just that the ones who are doing it are the loudest. And that’s giving Autism a bad name. I don’t want Autism to be known as “that disease that makes you a complete asshole to people who are on your side.” I mean, of course, it shouldn’t be known as a disease at all, but that’s the kind of ignorance we have to look forward to if we don’t start trying to have rational conversations that aren’t just a name-calling shouting match.

     So if I haven’t alienated you, and assuming you have spoons, I hope you’ll be willing to try to carry on in the community as peacefully as you can. I hope you will disagree with others as respectfully as possible. I hope we can mend things between us. Because if not, we’re kinda fucked as Autistics, aren’t we?

Thursday, February 27, 2014


     People often talk about their own Autistic children, and how one of the key indicators of their Autism was an onset of regression around the age of two. That never happened for me in the classic sense—I learned to talk while I was young, and I kept my language abilities all throughout my years. There were meltdowns and shutdowns that have left me unable to find energy even for my own thoughts, let alone words, but I consider this different than being nonverbal. We hear all about Autistic toddlers who regress—but what we don’t hear about as often is the adults who do. That’s me right now. My life is a wreck.

     Let’s start with the basics. My hygiene is a major concern. I often don’t bath, and even less often do I brush my teeth. I know I need to do those things. I know that my health will deteriorate if I don’t. But I also know, as far as the tooth brushing thing goes, that my gag reflex gets triggered, and it causes me to have to stop brushing whenever I do. It’s painful. It’s tedious. And it raises my anxiety just to think about brushing them, even though I know my teeth need the extra care an attention. If I’m being honest, the bathing thing has more to do with forgetfulness. I forget how many days it’s been since I last did it. And the sad thing is, I actually enjoy baths. But it doesn't show in how I deal with them.

     Now, let’s get to the worst part… my apartment. The apartment I share with my husband. It’s a borderline hoarding situation—and while I have no sentimental attachments to most of the stuff in our apartment, that doesn't change the fact that a big part of this mess is mine. Dirty dishes left uncleaned, garbage thrown on the floor, dirty clothes covering the floor so that you can barely see it. There’s stuff that has needed sorting through since we moved in here back in July, things that need donating, selling, throwing away… but we have such a backlog of household chores that we have to get through in order to even begin getting this place to look like a home. Our apartment is tiny—we don’t really have room to live like this. But we do.

It all comes down to anxiety, and spoons. My anxiety is crippling. I can’t even begin to think about cleaning this place up without having a moment of panic. I can’t think about cleaning ME up without panicking. It’s that bad. I don’t know what to do, other than just do it—but doing it is the hardest part.

Thanks for reading. To end on a positive note—even in this period of regression, there has, and will, be growth for me. I will come out the other side of this a braver, stronger, more independent woman than I ever was before. I will overcome, and when I do, the world will be better for it. I have to remember that my worth isn't in my failures—it’s in my successes, however small and trivial they may seem to others.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

4 Years Clean


It’s January of 2014, and that technically means it isn’t Suicide Prevention Month. That’s in September, which also happens to be the month of my birthday and my anniversary. Truthfully, I’d usually much rather spend September celebrating my birth and the life I enjoy with my husband, than touch on that monster known as my past. However, January is much more appropriate for me. January doesn’t just mark a new year for me. It marks something so, so much more.

January 10th, 2010. I was stressed beyond my ability to cope. I was about to start my first semester of college in a week, and all I could think was how I wasn’t in the least bit prepared to handle it. It had been almost 2 years since my last suicide attempt. I didn’t care. I felt I was at the end of my rope. I felt I wouldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations. I felt like everything about me screamed failure. I felt like I didn’t deserve my boyfriend. I felt like I didn’t deserve anything—yes, even my right to live. I had given a speech years before, where I spoke about yet another one of my suicide attempts, (there were 4, total), and how I had so much to live for. In this dark moment, 4 years later, that didn’t even matter. What I heard coming out of my 14-year-old mouth was lip service, just words that sounded really deep coming from some kid with a history of self-harm. Words that said, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine” and hid the message underneath of “I don’t know if I’m going to want to live to see my 21st birthday.”

I didn’t want to live to find out what would happen when I finally let everyone down. I talked it over in my head a few more times, and finally made my choice. I walked back to my parents’ bathroom, grabbed a box of Benedryl, filled up a glass of water, and consumed the entire thing. I locked the door to my bedroom, and sent my boyfriend a text goodbye. I felt this was the best way to leave a suicide note, without anyone being able to stop me in time.

I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

You know, the mind has a way of forgetting extremely important details in moments of crisis. In this case, my forgetfulness saved my life. My boyfriend had my mom’s number. He was panicked. He did what any rational person in his shoes would have done, and called my mom. She wasn’t home, but answered the phone when she saw who was calling. He told her everything I had told him—that I had just consumed an entire box of Benedryl in a suicide attempt. My mom called my Dad, who was home with me, and as soon as he heard the news, he came banging on my door, and the gig was up. I was caught.

I was taken to the ER, and kept over night. I spent the entire evening explaining my very, very personal fuck up to complete and total strangers. I was stuck there, being forced to pretend that these people were asking these nosy questions out of any reason other than having it on file, to never be looked at, or seen by another person. They didn’t genuinely care about what happened. They were just doing their paid jobs as doctors, nurses, and technicians, which was to keep me from being dead.

I’m sure people would love to hear some touchy-feely story about how I did all of this, but came out the other side of this life event saying, “You know what? Life IS worth living.” No. You don’t get to tell my story. My story is way more complicated than some simple shift in paradigm. You want to know why I’ve been clean from self-harm for 4 years, come January 10th? It wasn’t out of hope of a better life. It was out of realizing I was fucked. I was stuck here. I was somehow invincible to dying, and every time I tried to die, there was always someone there to stop me. Pretty depressing, right? Well, not entirely. I actually like being alive now more than I have in a long, long time. But please, don’t piss on my foot and tell me it’s raining. Sobriety for me doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about hurting myself. It means that when I do, I ask myself a non-accusational, “why?” It means that I have those thoughts, and realize that I have 4 years under my belt—which would be time wasted if I tried my hand at self-harm again. It means knowing when I’ve reached my limit of what I can handle, and putting on my brave face as I try to take on America’s horrifically troubled mental health system from inside the walls of an inpatient unit.

There is nothing easy about my sobriety. There is nothing I can do in my darkest hours but volunteer to be a lab rat in the name of my own safety and sanity. And being sober means accepting that, owning it, and choosing not to die in spite of it.

If there is any one thing you should take away from this post, it’s this: if you are struggling with suicidal ideation, self-harm, or thoughts of self-harm, DO. NOT. DO IT. Not for the reasons your family and friends will give you—that they love you, that they’d be devastated if you died, that you just gotta try a little harder to be happy—all of that is just cliché, and probably not the words of wisdom you need in your moments of crisis. Here’s what I needed to hear: your suicide attempt may sound like a great idea to you right now. Your suicide attempt, should you go through with it, might even be successful.

Don’t assume it will be. Assume the worst. Assume you will wake up in a hospital bed, with a vague memory of the night before, and be surrounded by angry loved ones who want to know why you would do this to THEM. Yes. That’s how they see this. Not as your tragedy, but theirs. There is no shame like the shame you feel when people ask you why you tried to kill yourself. In their eyes, you just tried to kill someone they really care about. So expect anger. Expect rejection. Expect that you will have to spend at least 2 years trying to get people to trust you enough again to be alone with things that you could use to kill yourself with for 5 minutes, because every time I crossed the line into acting on those thoughts, that’s what fucking happened, one way or another.

Know that you aren’t alone. Know that you’re not wrong for being reluctant to seek intensive inpatient treatment for your problems, when your mental health system provides cookie cutter care for people of highly diverse backgrounds in crisis situations. Know that it’s an evil necessity sometimes to go to those places. Just make sure that when you do go, it’s on your terms. It’s better to be there voluntarily, allowing you to leave whenever you’re fed up with the BS/are properly medicated/no longer an immediate threat to yourself, than to be forced to stay until they’re satisfied with your progress, or your insurance runs out—whichever comes first.

Trust me. It’s worth it to hang in there just a while longer. You’re worth it, even if you don’t realize it. When you finally manage to come out the other side, you’ll be stronger and better than you could have ever imagined.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Moving Past Anger

     It’s October, meaning it’s time to be aware of SO MANY THINGS. Breast cancer, domestic violence, pregnancy loss and infant loss, LGBT history… and the list keeps going! But this month, there’s one issue that affects me personally, and that’s bullying. Yes, you hear about it all the time. Kids and adults alike can be victims, though kids are much more prone to it. I pretty much had a target painted on me with a sign that said, “This kid is vulnerable,” which left me somewhere at the bottom of the food chain in my grade level. Most of what I experienced was verbal or emotional bullying, but a few physical incidents do stand out in my mind.

     I’m in a place, half a decade later, where I want to say I’m over it. I want to say, “I’m done being angry, because it uses up too many of my resources.” I want to stop obsessing needlessly over how one of the kids who physically bullied me later went on to become salutatorian. How she won several awards for her journalism. How she climbed to the top of the social and academic ladder, and yet I was left with a crippling set of disabilities that made me drop out of school. There are moments where I think I’m already there. “I’m better than this,” I tell myself. But then my husband catches me in mid-speech, getting more and more flustered and emotional as I relive the story of my teen years. That happened yesterday, actually. I was defensive. I told him I was over it, when my words, and my tone of voice, clearly expressed that I was still just as much stuck in those events as I was when it finally dawned on me that I was a human being with at least some level of worth and dignity, and that I had been wronged.

     My self-esteem was so low as a teen that I felt I deserved every mean thing the kids did or said to me. It actually took me a couple of years to get angry. But when I did, I suddenly couldn’t talk about school without talking about all the anger it made me feel. My sense of justice feels violated just by the virtue of those kids going on and living fulfilling lives. I keep thinking to myself that the salutatorian of my class instead should have been expelled from the school when she threw rocks at me with a couple other kids (who also should have been expelled). That particular point came up in my conversation with my husband yesterday. He doesn’t think they should have been expelled. I got angry and defensive when he said that… even though some part of me knows that their expulsion wouldn’t have made my life any better, and it would have only made theirs worse. Though truthfully, there’s still that voice in my head that says, “The whole point of expelling them is to make their lives worse, just like they did to me!”

     But would expelling them have made my life better? I probably wouldn’t even notice the effect it would have on my life. If the salutatorian had been expelled, then I wouldn’t really know that there was some outcome where she could have been salutatorian. I probably would have still left the school, considering how bad my Tourette’s, Bipolar, and anxiety symptoms were. I’d still be as angry and unhappy with my school career as I am today. I owe it to myself, not to my bullies, to move past my anger. Because I’m fighting in this endless loop of frustration that starts with a discussion of school, or bullying, or whatever, and suddenly works its way into me crying and yelling at anyone who dares try to tell me that I might be a little too entrenched in what happened. I’m tired of being the victim—the vengeful victim. I’m tired of telling myself that my life would be better if I had ruined theirs, because it wouldn’t. The damage would still be there, and so would the guilt of ruining another person’s school career.

    But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have gotten angry in the first place. Because guess what—this is what humans do when they grieve the loss of something they had, or perceived they had. The 5 Stages of Grief—Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance—sometimes happen out of order, too. Sometimes you go through some of the stages, and regress back to previous stages. But you need to go through all the stages at least once, to get to the final stage. So don’t deny yourself the opportunity to go through them, just out of fear of being the angry, vengeful victim like me. No—you owe yourself those stages. You owe yourself your grief. You owe it to yourself so you can eventually get past it, and be at peace with your tragedy. Whatever your tragedy is—whether it’s bullying, chronic illness, losing someone you love, or something else altogether—you can get through it. You can be in denial. You can get angry. You can bargain. You can mourn. You can get defensive. But try to ask what your particular stage of grief is accomplishing for you. If you realize that you’re stuck in a stage of grief, ask yourself what positive things you can do to make the world better for you, and hopefully others. Maybe your experiences are just what another person needs to cope with their own grief. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sympathizing v.s. Excusing

Earlier this week, this happened. Yeah. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in a bit more, in case you haven’t already heard the story.

It’s terrible. Issy Stapleton is a 14-year-old Autistic girl, and her mother, Kelli Stapleton, is facing charges for trying to kill both Issy and herself with carbon-monoxide poisoning. I can’t say I knew Issy or her family personally, but I have friends on Facebook who did. I can say this—Issy did not deserve what happened. Kelli Stapleton’s job as her mother was at the very bare minimum to keep her daughter alive. Issy may have been aggressive, she may have been having those difficult to bear teenaged years, but there is never an excuse for murder, save in self-defense.

Now, have I made it clear that I deplore what Kelli Stapleton did? That I am grieving on behalf of an Autistic girl who has been permanently brain-damaged by an act of cruelty? Good. Because now I’m going to fuck with your expectations. I sympathize with Kelli Stapleton.

“But Mrs. Molotov, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t feel bad for the murderer while claming you’re mourning for the victimized 14-year-old.” I think Kelli Stapleton deserves to be fully punished by the law for what she did—attempted murder is attempted murder. There is no “unless you’re a(n)…”  No. Sorry Kelli, you fucked up, you have to live with what you did. I did too, once.

Here’s the thing. I have tried to take my own life 4 times. Actually, that’s not true. Those were the attempts that required hospitalization. And that won’t begin to cover the times I sat and thought about hurting myself, sometimes even going so far as to have a plan. I never tried to take anyone else down with me. But I can speak to that level of hopelessness. I may not agree with Kelli that what she was feeling hopeless about was worth feeling hopeless about at all, but that isn’t the point. The point is, something made her feel that low. She was sweeping a giant, shameful emotion under the rug, and didn’t feel she had anything that could make it go away. Where I get fuzzy is how this ends up hurting Issy.

Maybe she thought Issy was the problem. And she didn’t want to live with the shame of people knowing that. And I can’t agree with that mindset. But I can sympathize with a person’s pain while simultaneously not excusing their actions. That’s exactly what people did to me when I tried to kill myself. People wanted to help me. People were angry that I could do something so foolish and selfish. But they still loved me. They still reached out, and said, “I’m here for you,” without just saying, “Suicide is TOTALLY okay!”

No one (I hope) should say that it’s okay to excuse Kelli’s actions. Kelli made a giant-ass mistake, and you had better believe she’s going to be doing time for it. It’s just, maybe instead of spending our time yelling at each other over whether her actions were right, we should be focusing more on the mindset that she had leading up to the murder-suicide. If we can learn to recognize the signs in other families before they get to that point, maybe we can at the very least reassure that person that their feelings are valid, but the actions they’re considering are not.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Thinner Before People Started Accusing Their Disabled Children of Making Them Fat

In this post, I will be courteous enough to avoid dropping names. With that said, I am truly insulted by a thread I saw started in one of the Autism blogging groups I’m in. A woman was asking people if it would be considered “too vain and self-absorbed” if she wrote a post called “Thinner Before Autism.” Well, she got a LOT of feedback, and 100% of it was mother after mother chiming in to tell her that they knew EXACTLY what she meant. Well, here are my thoughts for you ladies.

Did your child’s Autism make you order pizza? Did Autism hold a gun to your head and say, “I will kill you if you don’t start eating pizza,” or did you decide that you felt shitty and just wanted some comfort food to make you feel better?

Did your child’s Autism make you buy donuts? Or were you rushed that morning (and every morning after) and decided, “Well, donuts taste good AND are a quick way to get food into my belly”?

Did your child’s Autism make you go to the grocery store and buy chocolate and Cheetos, to then go home and snack in private?

Did your child’s Autism make you order the large soda and fries, instead of just water and the main course?

Did your child’s Autism make you need to take meds that make you gain weight? Or did you have a condition that needed treatment, and there was a potential side-effect from the meds you were prescribed of weight gain?

Guess what guys, I’m Autistic. I’m also fat. I know what caused my weight gain, and what caused it was my own irresponsibility compiled with the meds I take. My Autism didn’t make me fat. And I’m 99% certain your child’s Autism didn’t make you fat. What I think is far more likely is you are making bad choices, or taking medication that have side-effects of weight gain.

I am truly angered that you would put that blame on your child and their disability. Would you like it if I said, “My neurotypical parents made me fat?” Wouldn’t you be outraged if someone blamed YOU for making THEM fat? Because one day, your child in all likelihood will grow up and discover the internet, and if I were you, the last thing I would want your kid to find when they go hunting around the web is you talking about how they made you fat, ugly, and miserable. They didn’t make you those things. You did that, all by yourself, one cookie at a time. But what they will come away thinking is that they are a burden to society, and that all they are good at is making people miserable and fat.

So to the mom considering making the blog post titled, “Thinner Before Autism,” try changing that title to “Thinner Before I Made Really Bad Decisions at McDonalds,” or whatever it was you got fat eating or doing. Your child has nothing to do with your waistline unless you are pregnant with them at this exact moment. Don't blame them for your mistakes.

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