Nobody Believes Me

Being heard is a fundamental aspect of keeping healthy. Mentally as well as physically.

Imagine, you had a gapping wound and the doctor said it’s only your perspective, everything is looking fine to us. How would we as a community react to that?

Yet, so many of autistics, women, people of colour, and God forbid you are all three like me, are left with the trauma and devastating consequences of not being believed.

Gaslighting of the privileged, be it gender, race, position, abled/ allist, has become so common that those with the best intent leave people like us feeling helpless. Why do we need to reassure our self that our perceptions aren’t flawed and they don’t need to revaluate theirs’?

I haven’t written on my blog for some time now and the reason is precisely this. The consequence of schools not taking me seriously about my autistic boys, or the police about the coercive control. And the damage caused by the trusted imam who, after one meeting and phone call with him, dismissed my 16 years of experience of his narcissism.

It doesn’t hurt me that bullies bully. That is a fact of life. What I cannot digest is the lack of care and seriously to their own responsibilities of those with position of power and influence.

For years I told the primary that oldest has additional needs, not being qualified or knowledge to ascertain what they actually were didn’t make a difference because when I did dive in found my own answers, I still didn’t get far for support. And now that history is repeating itself with the youngest at the same primary, I am left with renewed wound, but this time the trajectory already laid out in front.

This episode of Red Table Talk really surfaced a lot of experiences that have led to me always needing to evidence my statements. If you need to prove”, as Dr Raman states, for every little belief or thought, “then you have been gaslighted.”

And that explained my endless emails, documents and questions for reassurance that my perception isn’t flawed. Imagine that being your permanent state of mind. And still I AM NOT BELIEVED.

Many autistics have the need to know every detail, cross referenced multiple times and checked again, on subjects that matter to them. The possibility of rejection is devastating, more so for those like me and my teen who also have rejection sensitive dysphoria which makes us extremely susceptible to gaslighting and easy narcissist victims.

How do we move forward?

The pain of living the consequences of neglect of authorities will never be erased. The approach I have taken is to be well connected with people who do believe me to cater not just for need for constant reassurance, but also to build my army to support me in my battles. This is an unfortunate but vital aspect of social capital that disadvantaged people ironically lack.

I am not believed by authority when I need help, however, that will not dampen by determination. And for that I thank Allah for making me autistic. I am not alone.

My Faith Isn’t Weak

Too much uncertainty affects everyone.

I hear that. Especially in lockdown, everyone got a taste of being disabled. But not many actually acknowledged this.

Introverts and anxious folks know what I mean. These are just part and parcel for most autistics. Obviously I cannot comment on behalf of others, but from the people I have known and read from, I can firmly use Set Theory to describe as follows:

All autistics suffer anxiety but not all anxious people are autistic.

I don’t know why this is hard to understand.

I am writing right now as I sit on my bed feeling despair. A very important religious festival just came and went that did help ground me somewhat. A realisation came to me as I had a short burst of emotion.

My faith is not weak. My brain is just made differently.

Anxious and depressed Muslims are normally told that their mental health issues are caused by lack of firm belief in the plan of Allah. I have firm belief. For example, I know just as dawn happens every day, that if I give in charity, I will get more in return. I have never been disappointed so I use this as a strategy to invest when I know income is insecure. Works a treat. See? Belief in the ghaib, the Unseen.

So how come I have this anxiety? It’s not because I am not confident that a result will come. It’s because I don’t know what it will be, when I will get it, what it will look like. I can accept those outcomes when they come. Like, will I get work as a supply teacher? Will I get more terrorist type comments when I wear a face covering? Will I have SWAT images going on in my head if I wear a visor? Which school? How long? Fixed term? Finances? Business? Caring? Moving? Selling up? Separation agreement? Financial settlement? U’s diagnosis? DLA tribunal? Wee one’s SLT referral?

I don’t have new clothes for work. I have the same wardrobe with very few additions from the past few years. Will I go back with the same? But I hate shopping! Kids still haven’t been kitted out for school!

I will leave by sharing a piece of writing I spontaneously conjured up few weeks back on a mental health Zoom for autistic women :

With the wind blowing, even the mighty trees bow to their Creator. Who are we to stand rigid? In our superior intellect, we still shrivel with the smallest of change out with our control. The grace of nature in it’s ability to adapt and accept what’s not in our control, should humble our ego. How can we not take change in our stride? How does the world continue to revolve, when mine has been turned upside down?

Our Core Beliefs

Despite being in and out of counselling over the past 20 years, I don’t ever remember being asked what my core beliefs were. I find it difficult to look inward and pinpoint my feelings and causes of my thoughts and actions.

Everyone bangs on about self-care, which is a foreign concept to me. At least I thought it was. It turned out that going to CBT last year was the best self-care I could ever do.

Together, with the therapist, I managed to articulate three core beliefs that my world revolved around. They were:

  • I am not good enough
  • I don’t fit in
  • That’s unfair

Throughout that year, with the help of identifying these core beliefs, I worked on dismantling my negative self-perception and how to change these.

My Aha! moment was when I stumbled across a lady with Asperger’s, I couldn’t believe the connection I felt with someone I barely knew. Her experiences were mine! I made my way to stalk autistic Facebook pages more and more and suddenly I felt myself gravitating toward a community that wrote, thought, and experienced the world like me.

Suddenly one of my core beliefs disappeared. I belonged! I fit in! I joined the Scottish Women’s Autism Network, where for the first time when I read, I read things I could have written. Where being coloured or Muslim made zero difference and being a woman celebrated.

What I realised was that all my life when I felt or believed that I didn’t fit in, it was because I was looking in the wrong places. I was desperate for approval from people who couldn’t imagine what my world was like. Even the one who birthed me.