Let me first say that, in no way, shape or form, am I saying a dark and twisted sense of humor is a bad thing. I think it’s fun! It really brightens my day in the most challenging of circumstances. And at times, it’s so exuberantly bleak, that people are alarmed. I have to tell them to calm down. I’m not REALLY planning to cut off my left pinkie finger to collect accidental dismemberment insurance, so I can pay my prescription drug bills for the next year. But the thought of doing so gives me a good laugh, and a big sigh of relief. The only problem is, after a year, I’ll need to cut off another finger (or maybe just part of one – I need to check my insurance coverage details), to pay for more meds. It never ends. I’ll need to budget my body parts carefully. And choose wisely, so I don’t accidentally cut off my ability to make a living. Voice dictation only goes so far, after all…
Okay, okay, calm down. Like I said, I’m not REALLY planning to cut off my left pinkie finger to collect accidental dismemberment insurance. I’m just thinking about all the different Plan B’s I might have handy. Or maybe that’s really Plan B, Plan C, Plan D — since you can’t have more than one Plan B. There’s only one “B” in the alphabet – just like there’s only one pinkie finger on each hand.
Anyway, I’ve noticed that when things are very tight with me, and I’m feeling boxed in — which is actually not infrequent — I turn to dark humor. I joke a lot about death… about finding either elaborate or exciting ways to finish out your last final days, so you go out with a fun “bang”… about horrible things happening.
It all sounds pretty dire to anyone who doesn’t share my same sense of humor, but to me, it’s just a reflection of my life as it is, as it’s been, as it’s always seemed. I’m stuck, trapped, stuck in a veritable hostage situation, playing along for the sake of not getting my ass metaphorically or literally whooped, trying to make the best of a genuinely problematic situation. Life can be sweet, I’ll grant you that. But for people like me, locked away in our camouflage cages, with precious little chance to venture out when other “neurotypical” people are around, it’s far less tasty and delicious than all those YouTube animal babies vids would have us believe.
I didn’t know I was on the spectrum until I was about, oh, 32 years, 8 months, and 6 days old. Give or take a week or so.
I’m now 51, so I’ve known I’m on the spectrum for, oh, about 18 years, 6 months, and 5 days. Roughly.
I tried to get diagnosed in 2008, but that went badly. And essentially, I’ve been muddling along this whole time. Knowing my own situation helped in certain key ways, like with job selection, friends selection, and structuring my life in ways that make sense for me. But that’s all been “autistic” — self-directed — modifications. Nobody else has really helped me out with it. And the people I hoped would/could help, simply refused.
Yeah, I’ve felt blocked in. For a long, long time. And a certain sense of desperation has followed me through the years. I’ve been subject to ongoing depressive states since I was little kid. Things are rarely all sparkly and shiny-clean for me. I’m not sure if they really are for anyone, but when people describe what depression looks and feels like, I’m like, “Isn’t that just how everyone is?” Because that’s very much like I’ve always been. It just doesn’t show. Because if you want to have a decent life and get along and not turn into the butt of others’ teasing and persecution, you go along. You cover up. You camouflage, mimic, and blend.
So, to all those psych folks who say women are so good at blending in and hiding our autism, so that’s why they missed us… they can kiss my autistic ass. Because I never did it for fun or out of “good taste”. I did it to keep from being violated. I didn’t do it, to advance myself. I did it to keep from being beaten, persecuted, preyed upon, and cast onto the rubbish heap of society. I didn’t sprinkle magic fairy dust around myself for the fun of it. I did it because I didn’t want to die. Because I’ve always been keenly aware that if I didn’t watch myself, if I didn’t manage myself, if I didn’t keep myself under wraps, some pretty sick and distressing things could (and possibly would) happen to me.
And that’s a hell of a reason to do anything.
But that’s the deal with me. It’s always been the deal with me.
When you’re contemplating your own erasure on a regular basis and treading water as fast as you can to get over every advancing wave in that roiling sea of sensations and surprises, death and pestilence and existential horror and all that ilk kind of become kind of funny in their own way. Like the Monty Python “Meaning of Life” movie, when the Grim Reaper comes to visit. That was my favorite scene. Because I could relate.
I’ll have to watch that again. I need a good laugh.
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