How did you figure out that this was a pattern, and what made you realize it?

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I suppose the question in this post is for anyone who’s faced discrimination for what sort of person they are, or watched others (such as their children or clients, given that I know a lot of parents and professionals read this blog) face discrimination for the same.

When did it hit you that this (an actual pattern of discrimination, etc.) is what it was? As in (any combination of the following, or anything that seems related that I’ve forgotten to add, and switch the questions around to be about another person if you’re not thinking of yourself here)…

…that it wasn’t a bunch of isolated incidents of injustice or unpleasantness?

…that it wasn’t your fault, or something to do with you alone?

…that there was actually a pattern to this?

…that it was actually real, and not imaginary or in your head?

And what thing(s) made you realize this? (Which could be sudden or gradual or combinations of both, or anything else.)

I’ll answer this as well:

For my part, it’s hard to say exactly what all the little pieces were that I started with. I knew certain things were wrong, or that they ought not to happen. And then I gradually got used to them happening, and happening to me, as something inevitable. But I’m very certain of the two things that made it stand out to me.

The first was that as I gained more precise communication, and was finally able to put huge amounts of my actual thoughts together into words on a regular basis, and really have that be a more or less stable ability, and also gained a lot more self-awareness, and a lot of other things… it still happened. People still treated me badly. I had decided at some point in the past that the only reason people treated me badly was either because I was having a hard time communicating (at best), or I was, in my efforts to figure out what exactly I ought to say, communicating things that were untrue (at worst). I thought that if I were able to say exactly what was truly inside my head, things would be better. And they weren’t. It had been something I experienced as a drastic change, but some other people didn’t, or didn’t see it as enough of a change, and some even (to my immense surprise and disturbedness) told me that they liked me better before. (As in, back when whether what I said bore any resemblance to my thoughts was random and barely if at all under my control. To hear that they liked me better like that was a massive shock.)

The second thing had to do with people I looked up to a good deal. At the time this realization was going on, the people that come to mind are Jim Sinclair, Cal Montgomery, and Laura Tisoncik. I had varying degrees of actual communication with them (and varying degrees of conflict, for that matter), but they were all people who impressed me with assorted combinations of integrity, clarity, honesty, and wisdom, and who had a lot of influence on my understanding of things like disability politics.

So here were these people I thought of as some combination (different for each) of strong, clear, wise, competent, of good character, and all these assorted positive things that I did not at the time believe possible for myself even though some of them kept telling me they were possible for anyone.

And then I saw them talk about getting all the same sort of discriminatory bullcrap that I got all the time. And I saw them talk about being treated as inferior, worthless, pointless, empty, stupid, dead, and whatever other ugly stereotypes can be conjured up.

And that’s what it finally took for me to put it together, that when I was treated that way, it wasn’t because of something I did wrong. That I’d be treated that way even if I wasn’t the colossal screwup I believed myself to be. (And that maybe, possibly, I wasn’t so much of that as I’d thought.) I somewhere along the line had internalized the view that all these things happened to me because I must be inferior, worthless, pointless, empty, stupid, and dead, not to mention a whole lot of other things.

So it was the combination of changing a great deal internally but still meeting with the same old crap all over again, and watching people I admired for all sorts of traits I didn’t think I had, getting treated the same way. And that’s what made me grasp that something was going on beyond just me being a failure and getting what I deserved. Like so many such realizations, in hindsight I had all the pieces of it, but I hadn’t put them together yet, or if I had they hadn’t come together in any permanent fashion. And those two things were what it took for me to finally get it.

By the way, Dave Hingsburger wrote a way more intense version of assorted political realizations around disability, called Mourning Has Broken. When you follow that link, be aware that there’s one word written as “chickens…” that makes no sense unless you know those dots are in there to blot out “chickenshit”, and the sentence makes absolutely no sense without knowing that. This was written when he was a non-disabled staff person. (He’s now a disabled staff person. And a prolific blogger, who blogs here.)

I think I first read that article in an issue of Mouth Magazine called Waking Up. And I guess “waking up” is exactly the sort of experience I’m asking about in this post, because I’m curious how, when, and whether it has happened for other people. (And it doesn’t have to be specifically about ableism, either, just anything similar. Nor does it have to be specifically about the exact questions I asked, just anything similar there too. I’m not at all able to cover all possible bases so please fill in the blanks — or not — as you see fit.)

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

19 responses »

  1. When I recently went to Disneyworld, I decided to use one of those electric vehicles. I had no idea up until then, how people really treated the disabled. They make them do pointless “jumping through hoops” behaviour, like trying to steer the car through the same line able bodied people use. I’ve been playing video games since I was 6, and despite having some mastery at eye-hand cordinnation could not do it. Let alone someone without such skills.

    I also had to wait for at least 10 minutes for an elevator. I remind you this is Disneyworld, you’d think they’d be able to afford working elevators.

    Now aside from people whining that it was wrong of me to use an electric vehicle, cause I’m not considered medically disabled. Clearly there is alot of huge discrimination, against people who don’t LOOK disabled, but yet are. Not being able to walk because you are fat, is also a disability, and fat is not a choice. Despite what scientists paid by diet companies say. I learned how difficult it was to be disabled that day.

    Most able bodied people think that people treat the handicapped with compassion. It’s the complete opposite. If it’s not being treated like a “thing” for someone’s amusement, such as being laughed at for not manuvering the car into one of the able-bodied people’s line. Being ignored when it’s explained, that what is being asked of them is a major inconvenience, and surely if 3 employees are standing around doing nothing, one of them can manage to drive the car themselves to the inside of the building.

    Being treated harshly if you do not conform to the stereotype of what one would consider as disabled. Most of the time this relates to invisble disabilities. Employees who for some reason feel they have a right to emotionally abuse someone who needs the use of a car, yet is also able to go on a thrill ride like Mission Space. No the human body isn’t like Legos, it isn’t simply a matter of category, people can be able in some areas and not others.

    In regards to my mini-rant about being fat using an electric vehicle. It is because when I complained about this issue at http://www.wdwmagic.com, I was told that fat and having Asperger’s Syndrome simply didn’t count as being disabled, and I was taking the electric car away from someone TRUELY disabled. They refused to stir from their position on this.

    It says on Disney’s website, if one cannot walk long distances they can use the electric cars to arrive at a ride, and then stand and wait in lines. Perhaps the people who wrote that have yet to leave the office and join the outside world. Perhaps they don’t realize the brutal discrimination that exsists towards people who do not fit in a box regarding what is ability and disablity. That only a idiot would suggest that someone manuver the cars through tight turns in a line for able bodied people, because they can’t handle simply teaching their employees how to take the car around to the other side of the building. Or making a system where one can park their car outside if they are able, aside from walking long distances. What I am saying is in all places, for Disneyworld to allow it’s employees to behave in such a discriminatory behaviour, to let them decide who they can treat as less than human, is beyond incompetance. I did send them an e-mail, and I hope they took action on this.

    That’s when I realized that not only are people still discriminating against disabled people, they are outright without shame. It’s like, sure they don’t use the c word (cr***le), but they will make you feel like one. Nobody stands up and says, “What kind of sick bastard would make fun of someone disabled!”, they just ignore it. Now perhaps it was cause I didn’t LOOK disabled I experienced this, but what I gathered is even if I did LOOK disabled my experience wouldn’t be much better anyways. I was really :'( about this, feeling as if that what little optimism I had about people was shattered. What kind of people go out of their way to abuse someone who’s already suffering, who’s already dealing with more s**t than they’d ever imagine having to deal with.

    That’s when I learned it was a pattern. Even worse, it wasn’t even a hidden one. It was like the type of horrible fabric pattern where it’s bright, and loud, and busy, perhaps with some neon colors thrown in for good measure. It’s virtually impossible to ignore, yet people ignore it anyways. Nobody wants to say, “That fabric looks God awful!” because that would insult the person who bought the fabric, but it’s still a horrible pattern. I mean by the person who bought the fabric, as being able-bodied people. The only ones saying it’s terrible as far as they’re concerned are non-able bodied people, and they figure they can dismiss that. Yet it’s obvious to anyone with a brain that they’re wearing something that looks terrible, and they should be ashamed.

    I was trying to make one of those analogies to another situation, and trying to throw some humour in. So I hope it doesn’t seem like I went completely off-track or something, heh. My point is that nothing will change until people realize that nobody is perfect. That the human body doesn’t come in a standard format. That one can be able and disabled at the same time. It’s alot to try and get people to understand.

    However, one thing I now understand is how it feels to be treated like I was subhuman. Which is something I will never forget. We talk about the past in which people were treated like property, or they were treated as some kind of toy for other people’s amusement. Nobody is willing to say, that behaviour still exsists. That we haven’t made much progress from the days when the best someone who was different due to disability or otherwise, was to make money in a freak show.

    It’s hard for me to understand the motivation behind the intentional harm of another human being. I understand it from a psychological textbook sort of view, but not in a personal way. I hope with the internet, and more people who have delt with discrimination being able to speak out, perhaps there will be more understanding. For now, I’m glad I’m no longer wearing that ugly pattern of ignorance that I once wore.

  2. Pingback: When it’s a Pattern « Off Our Pedestals

  3. Jackie: Another thing people’s reactions to you illustrate is the fact that so many people take an individual model of disability (one where disability is located entirely inside a person) for granted.

    Whereas, a lot of people have begun to see that it’s at least as much about the environment, if not more. It’s about what is accessible to you, and what barriers there are to accessibility, not about what specific medical category you fit into. Therefore if you can’t walk far you can’t walk far, doesn’t matter if it’s because you’re fat, pregnant, or have lupus, and the scooters are supposed to be there to make full participation possible for anyone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to, not to sit there and pick nits about what exact medicalized category you fall into.

    Unfortunately some people get drawn into a view where accessibility is a zero sum game rather than a right, and where they therefore think they have to sit around and complain that one person’s access takes away from another person’s. Which is a destructive viewpoint that pits disabled people against each other and tries to make us fight over who gets access instead of fighting for as universal access as possible.

    Which is when, despite thinking that, say, being autistic is a useful category in some situations… this is still when I start agreeing with Mouth Magazine on their page PABU [People All Buggered Up]… What kind of a diagnosis is that?. Their answer to that question:

    PABU… That’s a cute name. But seriously. Aren’t diagnostics important?

    Diagnostics are, if you ask disability rights activists, one of the roots of all evil. They separate us from one another, making everyone with any kind of a disability feel “special” in their isolation rather than bringing us together to fight what all of us have in common.

    And what’s that? It’s being labeled, exploited, incarcerated, insulted, ignored, and finally slapped off into perpetual poverty. But how could those terrible things happen when everyone knows how much care is lavished on the handicapped?

    Click here and we’ll show you.

    A link which leads to another brilliant article of theirs, with an ending very relevant to this post:

    What of the millions yet to become disabled? What of the millions yet to be born with disabilties, the millions more who are their families and friends? Can’t they be warned? Alas, most won’t spot the truth even as it singes their flesh. Safe to say: all will be deceived, getting wise the hard way — if they even get to wisdom. Many will lose their lives in the process.

    Most will blame themselves when real life falls short of the myth. Most will beg for cure rather than work for equality. All but a few will refuse to see what they have in common with any other human with any other disability.

    They will take their troubles personally, not politically.

    They will take their troubles to the experts and be thrown into the fire of betrayal.

    Which is, unforunately, what happens if we don’t, to use their analogy, wake up to what’s going on. And to extend their analogy, even if we do wake up, we can always go back to sleep again. It’s way too easy, seeing as the messages we get all around us tell us to do exactly what the article says: Take these things personally rather than politically, get hung up on diagnostics instead of things like justice and access, and turn against each other instead of working together.

  4. My 19yr old daughter is experiencing this ‘awakening’ now. She has spent the last 7 years diligently and vigilantly learning how to blend in. She now is considered ‘indistinguishable from her peers’.
    She can now talk and act like an non-autistic person when she has to.

    But the discrimination, the injustices, the miscommunications, the lack of understanding, the accusations, the ‘alice-in-wonderland’ experiences STILL continue.

    She now experiences anger and frustration more than inferiority and worthlessness etc. because she HAS done all that people expected of her…ie learned to be ‘normal’ (at a huge on-going cost)…but it has made no difference to her ability to receive basic respect and understanding and acceptance. Nor has it provided her an avenue to receive the help she needs. Her needs are often dismissed, judged, ignored. She gets accused of being manipulative, lazy, weak.

    She get angry now. Because she can see that the effort she puts into being ‘normal’ is not seen or appreciated…it is dismissed. Her exhaustion and pain have no real rewards. The effort far out ways the results.

    The golden ‘mask of normality’ so important to her…is like fool’s gold. Or worse – made of ashes.

  5. Not sure if this is quite the kind of thing you’re looking for, but since you seem to be casting your net deliberately wide I’ll throw this in anyway. (In semi-anonymous fashion because this story isn’t about me, so I feel a responsbility to be more careful about revealing the kind of detail that could point to them. I say semi-anonymously because Amanda still has access to my real email address, but I’m not pointing to my own web site, just a web site that I like, and am not using my own name)

    There is a certain teacher at a certain university who, I have heard, is in some ways a very good teacher in that students really do learn a lot from her classes, and she holds students up to very high standards. But some of what she does in class, at least to my mind, borders on emotional or verbal abuse. I’ve never taken classes from her, but I’ve known many people who have. One of them was my roommate for a while, so I heard a LOT of ranting about this teacher, literally about one hour of ranting for each hour she had to spend with this teacher. (And I’m using “literally” in the strict dictionary meaning of “literally.”)

    One former student says she thinks this teacher does at some level care about her students and pushes them so hard because she genuinely cares about their success. But apparently she can come across in an agressive, intimidating way that is very hard to describe, especially at some years’ remove from all the ranting I heard from multiple sources besides my former roommate. She will physically get in a student’s face when lecturing them about doing their homework; she will really berate and belittle students who she thinks aren’t living up to standards; and all kinds of stuff that can be very very intimidating, and almost scary for someone who just isn’t prepared for it. And, I gather she can be a perfectionist (I think including with herself) so “high” standards means VERY high.

    Over the years, I came to observe that students who go into this teacher’s classes unprepared for what they will encounter tend to end up blaming themselves and being really convinced that they must be really awful students and awful all-around people to “deserve” such extreme, blistering lectures from this teacher. Their self-esteem can end up taking a big hit. What seems to help is when they have the chance to “compare notes” with both other current students of this teacher and also other former students who have many years of experience with her (she teaches in a small department, so students who pursue that particular major have no choice but to take several classes under her). It seems to take a while to really get through to some students that, no, it’s NOT just them, this teacher verbally tears apart pretty much EVERYone in her classes. But once they do get it then they may still hate having to deal with her, but at least they seem able to cope better and don’t wilt up as much.

  6. Which is, unforunately, what happens if we don’t, to use their analogy, wake up to what’s going on. And to extend their analogy, even if we do wake up, we can always go back to sleep again. It’s way too easy, seeing as the messages we get all around us tell us to do exactly what the article says: Take these things personally rather than politically, get hung up on diagnostics instead of things like justice and access, and turn against each other instead of working together.

    Yeah. That. All of that.

    I think this is one of the things that’s making us so tired of plural-related activism. The fact that so many people don’t realize the political nature of it, and think it’s all strictly personal. For too many people, it all seems to begin and end with proving to the satisfaction of everyone around them, and only them, that they’re not possessed or crazy. Someone once (I can’t remember if it was you or one of us or someone else entirely) referred to the “all psychiatry is right except about us” attitude, and that’s… something we’re getting really sick of. Never that there might be something wrong with the system period, never that the way a lot of people go on about how “plurality and schizophrenia aren’t the same” isn’t actually neutrally establishing a difference, but attempting to elevate their own worth at the expense of a group of people with a label which makes them *already* one of the most feared, despised, hated and distrusted groups out there.

    We just want to throw in the towel on the whole thing on some days and, rather than trying to get people in their little insular safe situations to take a good look at the people being harmed and dying because of the system they think would be just fine if it would only accept them, just strike out on our own and do our own kind of activism. Even if it is “too radical” for people who are afraid to give up a marginal amount of safety (more marginal than they realize it is, in some cases) by throwing their lot in with “crazies.”

    Personally, for us, the being able to disconnect ourselves from “the people who are really crazy, you know, the ones who have delusions and stuff” is a privilege we don’t have, even if the parts of our life during which those descriptions could have fit us are over now. We know now those things are not true, even if certain beliefs seemed very real to us at the time when we were experiencing them, but we don’t like to have to pretend it never happened. (Also, from what we hear, now that the “DID diagnosis craze” is over, an increasing amount of psychiatrists think it’s a good idea to put perfectly communicative systems on neuroleptics to “get rid of their delusion that they are more than one person.”)

    So we just can’t get on the “movement” of a bunch of people who might have been perfectly willing to throw us to the dogs if they’d encountered us at another time in our life. That is, when they acknowledge there is something larger to it at all, rather than just engaging in endless navel-gazing, and if everything is all right for them, the world as it is is just fine. We’ve been accused of having a victim complex for pointing out abuses in psychiatry, or just outright mocked (“LOL, this person is going around telling everyone ‘the therapists are out to get you zomg!'”) Because, y’know, those “abuses” aren’t really abuse, they’re what Other Kinds Of People, ones who Aren’t Like Us, actually *need.* Even if they don’t know that they need them. (Although I doubt any of the people saying that would agree if someone else decided for them that they were one of the kinds of people who needed it.)

  7. Hi amanda,

    I hope you reply to this comment, although i know that you probably don’t have time to. i struggle with my identity and where I belong. I’m not NT. I think, act, and react very differently than most people. Most being the NT’s. I have CAPD (adutiory processing problems), spacial problems, and other different sensitory issues. But I’m very social, I have no problem making friends. So I’m not seen as autistic or even aspergers becuase of that. When I was very young because of how I was they tried to diagnose me but becuase I was so social they didn’t help me. (the fact that i could do alot of math in my head as a gradeschooler but couldn’t write it “didnt mean” anything).
    Added with the fact I look nearly 10 years younger than my actual age, people rarely take me seriously. If they do somehow trust I’m a capable person after I make a mistake in something thats difficult for me (reading a clock, counting money, or listening to them speak) they discredit me as lazy or stupid.

    So from someone who looks and acts like an NT but has a completely different mind then them…props to you.

    write back if you want, I’d love to hear any tips that you have.

  8. For some reason, I can’t really think of a good answer to your question for me. I’ll try to explain some of the problems I have answering that.
    Firstly, on some level I always knew I was being discriminated against, mainly because my parents instinctively treated me right and tried (unsuccessfully) to force the world to do so as well. Not that they never were discriminatory against me, but the contrast between them and most people is quite obvious.
    Another thing is that I tend not to think about myself in comparison with anything else unless I make a special effort to do so. It takes effort to actually compare myself with any kind of model from outside, including the type that my mind interprets your question as. And back when I was less aware of discrimination, I didn’t tend to overtly compare myself with others in the sense needed to develop any theory about why I was treated the way I was. All I knew was that it wasn’t fair, but I didn’t think of it in terms of ‘only I have to deal with this’, ‘discrimination’ ‘isolated events’ or any of those. (Note: I’m getting frustrated, because this description doesn’t exactly fit me either, but I can’t describe it better.)
    My best answer is that I thought of all sorts of bad things happening to me as ‘unfair’ and ‘unpleasant’ but didn’t elaborate further until I was exposed to stuff about discrimination against neurological minorities. In general, the usual pattern when I read something that pertains to my own experience is to read it as just a piece of information having nothing to do with me, and after awhile run into a real-life situation or happen to think of myself in a certain way that triggers that information as an association, then consciously compare myself to that theory or description or whatever.

  9. My awakening has been long and gradual, and even now I think I have not completely woken up to notice the real pattern of discrimination against me as a self-diagnosed aspie. But it has come from reading the words of autistic self-advocates like yourself as well as other people writing about topics dealing with the rights of certain groups (autistic rights, women’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, etc.). What made me realize it? The fact that the needs of someone I was not were being met, and that people expected me to be thankful for conditions I wouldn’t really be able to use properly. Also reading about police states around the world shows how deep discrimination can go, and how people can be convinced that discrimination is okay, as long as it comes under a different name.

  10. Generally, it was very clear to me from childhood on, but especially through middle and high schools that the treatment that others gave me wasn’t *because* of me. This recognition one situation at a time finally led me to understand what was really causing people’s acts of hatred, impatience, intolerance, and seperation. It was clear to me that I didn’t mean offense and hadn’t harmed anyone. Their behaviors came back to their own emotional imbalances, fears, and insecurities.

    Specifically, I’ve witnessed assumptions people make about obviously(to me) intelligent (even “genius”) and gentle people I know. Attitudes and words that show their beliefs that those people were somehow “retarded” or unlikeable. Whether another person is disliked is up to each person to decide when they measure them up – not an inherent trait they possess – “unlikeable.”

    I’ve also heard my mother(a chemistry major) over the years tell me ways that people treated her without respect, assumed she was mentally slow because of the way she struggled for words at times, and was even treated outside the bounds of bank policy (demanding extra things of her) because of the way they perceived her. For years, I considered that she might be being overly-sensitive, or that it was “in her head.” But now, I’ve had enough life experience to see that isn’t the case.

    As you said about seeing negative judgements passed about people you could see wonderful things about, all of my life I’ve had “autie-dar” like “gaydar,” but didn’t know it. I saw people who to me were present, or mentally-focussed, creative, interesting, and idealistic, and the perceptions of others towards them were dismissive or that they couldn’t figure them out.

    I think that’s alot of why people dismiss others or allow themselves to be annoyed when they encounter people they don’t understand. That’s why understanding types of disability fosters real compassion.

  11. This is a reply to Desiree.

    The AS assessment criteria was based on a MALE CHILD PHENOTYPE.

    You need to find someone who is experienced in diagnosing ADULT FEMALES.

    Tony Attwood is a published psychologist who has written about the differences betweed females and males. One of the differences is the fact that some females can be more social.

  12. The pattern. I don’t know if I’m digressing here, but the thing is, I have had friends. And they have been my friends, and they cared very much about me. But then they understood the power diffential we had, and they capitalized on that, and they hurt me- and when I complained, they didn’t know what I was talking about. This was the kind of insult/mockery/abuse stuff they did with each other, but with me, I never had the power to do it back- and because they didn’t perceive that, they didn’t realize they were doing it. So when I complained, they just denied it existed- which led me to beat myself up for being weak or not getting it. Which then puzzled them to see me, whom they ostensibly loved, beating myself up so much. I don’t think this is denial, I think it’s the sad truth- people quite honestly love people they abuse, and don’t know they’re abusing, and then opt out of answering for the abuse because social convention is given them an alibi and a free ride. My Asperger’s diagnosis has given me insight into how this works, and how even if people genuinely love me they can’t be allowed to do that and must be kicked to the curb if they refuse to get it.

  13. I never caught a pattern really. Mainly because I really never saw myself being discriminated against. That largely in part because I am not the kind of people that likes to stir up conflict and I sorta ignore discrimination when it does happen

    fail on my part really

  14. I’ve been thinking about this question (that of when I noticed that I was experiencing a pattern of discrimination) for a few days now, and I have to say that it’s somewhat difficult to say. I guess I sort of noticed different things at different ages, however, the full pattern really didn’t become apparent to me until about two years ago. That was when a psychiatrist I’d been seeing for a while suddenly started trying to push extra medication on me, telling me I felt the opposite of how I actually did, and just generally responding to me as if she thought I was “in danger” (of “regression” or “stagnation”, I guess).

    My initial reaction to that was, “Gah, what if she’s right?”, but after looking more carefully at my life vs. her perception of my life, I realized that there was no doubt that she was wrong. And I also realized that the reason I was able to question her appraisal of me in the first place was because I recognized what was going on from reading others’ experiences (including, and perhaps especially, yours).

    Prior to that experience, I’d had several similar ones:

    – with my sixth-grade teacher (who repeatedly told me that I was rude and obviously “thought [I] was better than everyone else”, and that my strong interests were a sign that I was “too lazy to learn about anything else”),

    – with a chemistry teacher in college (who decided that if I got up to use the restroom that meant I was “cheating”, and determined that he needed to pull his chair right up next to my desk and stare at my papers while I was taking a test),

    – with a co-worker at one of my first jobs (who picked me out of the entire staff as needing his “mentoring”, and who once trapped me in a room claiming that he needed to “get rid of my defense mechanisms” (which he admitted might “feel like torture”) otherwise I’d be doomed to “not meeting my potential”.).

    There were others that fit the pattern (as well as plenty of general bullying, and that thing where I often got yelled at out car windows for merely walking down the street), but those ones stand out because they involve my being singled out and treated as if I needed Special Emergency Intervention in order to keep me from going down the path to ruin. And it took me until just over a year ago to figure out that this wasn’t really about me being as messed up as people thought I was, but that there was something else going on, and that it probably was related to discrimination. And not discrimination based on any particular “label” I had, but based on things about my demeanor, etc., that I didn’t even realize for years.

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