Advocacy: Lets Help Amanda Baggs

Long ago when I first started this blog I received comments from several people. It startled me. THe idea people would read this blog. Then I had to put it away and found out people didn’t quit following. So with that in mind I am writing the first advocacy post in two years. A great deal of what I learned about advocacy I learned from Amanda Baggs. She was kind enough to email with me for a short period when I had just survived my exhusband and I found comfort in her words. I was able to keep going because I did not feel alone. I didn’t feel trapped by all the things in my mind or the way I see and think anymore. Amanda is one of the most powerful advocates I have met, not in the sense others see power but in her effect that I can see.

These links are PTSD trigger alerts. Simply put, Amanda has been tortured by the hospital that should have helped her and is being bullied into a dangerous and potentially deadly situation. Here are the links and they do include how you can help. Sharing this post or these links will also help.

http://paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/no-anesthesia-for-disabled-woman.html

http://webmuskie.tumblr.com/ This tumblr has an entire series of documentation posts about the event. This is the first hand source of the info.

Please do what you can to help Amanda get her needs met and not be punished for the malpractice of her medical team. I am going to go curse into a corner and figure out how to make the calls around my brain tomorrow.

Update: I redid the links to the blogs, they should both be working now. I am not sure why they weren’t since the links are the exact same. If issues persist please let me know.

 

Pumpkin Pie (Trigger Warning)

a cat with silver fur, black stripes, has wide eyes and is being fed a bite of pumpkin pie

Not how thanksgiving looks inside my head

Pumpkin pie, soft, creamy, and since mine is crustless just a wad of soothing and cold chewiness. The scent trickles into my mouth to tease at me, and is the only Thanksgiving day food I can eat without becoming ill. Mashed potatoes are also fine but must be different than the recipes from my family dinners. No gravy, cheese, and almost always something in the food. Turkey, I can barely type the word. I can barely say the word. I will not eat it. I have been forced to by people using that vulnerability against me and I react to it with a mental allergic response. It is not somatic but the PTSD triggers hard and fast.

This is what I expect of Thanksgiving.

Yesterday I remembered something that has given me a sense of relief. Today as I continue to process the revelations I am left staring down the barrel of gender identity issues. I have had gender identity challenges my entire life. They base in my being autistic and as many other autistic women face challenges of being accused of decidedly unfeminine behavior so have I. There is a root with in the numerous and enduring sexual abuse that has dominated my life and was the end all be all of my childhood. From being prostituted to ministers and the supposed holiest people I know at the age of three and raped by my father to the rape at gun point by a high school boy who didn’t seem to understand this was why I stabbed him with a fork at school when he put his hand on my shoulder. I once tried to cut off my breasts to become a boy, and I have never really appreciated my femininity.I am aware there is more to this, including the fact that I am intersexed physically. I have testicles AND ovaries. Maybe if my mother had eaten, I would have been a male child. Maybe not. I do not consider myself to be of one gender in a sense but I am either feeling male or female.

I have spent years keeping this a secret, and in public I might still. Yet I am thinking this doesn’t matter. My carer knows. My best friend knows. My sister of choice knows. I know. To me this is who matters. I dress according to the way I feel, and even my male side is prone to wearing dark red lipstick. It feels sexy. I have fought and clawed my way through life trying to exist, and I have been told repeatedly that girls just don’t fight back. It is a fiction in a bad life time movie that women can ever do damage, we are eternal victims.

It wasn’t JUST the media that sent me this message. Nor was it subtle. It is my nature to fight back when I am in danger. I have very good survival skills. I am fully capable of killing you if you try to kill me. I won’t murder you but I won’t let you murder me. This has been unequivocally a part of who I am and I have wondered if when I was raped for the entirety of Thanksgiving weekend, so Wednesday night on through a Sunday night, when I was beaten and when the fragmented memories didn’t match the normal abuse patterns… did I even try to fight back?

Therapists told me no. If I had tried to fight back then he would have killed me. Except he thought he did and I have very real memories of meeting Osiris the god of the dead in Egyptian Mythology and having him put me back in my body and ordering me to live. I have marks on my chest that match where his hands were. My father wanted me to be dead, and did not try CPR. He thought I was dead. I don’t know about pulse checking and I am very aware that this could be a response to the very serious trauma to my brain from being bludgeoned with a gun, but I was left for dead.

My mother, who a child loves and believes on pretty much anything until Mother proves to be a person. No matter the health of relationship good or bad, Mothers do happen to be humans and thus the teenager occurs. Yes, my mother spent my entire life telling me that we don’t fight back in my family. The men are the abusers and the women in my family are there to be hit. She has said less of this to my baby sister but the message still is there. Women don’t fight back.

I have had mental hospital doctors torture me over my fighting back, I fought them and yet I was not allowed to have fought back against my father when I was alone. My agency was denied as children don’t fight back unless they are penis bearers. My father made it clear that if we fought back we would die but there are other memories of me fighting back. My siblings sometimes declared their hatred of me because my morals got us into a world of literal hurt. Then again they also wanted me to lie and I am still very bad at that.

When I was somewhere between 11-13 and was raped by someone else and I did fight back the police told me they wouldn’t let the boy press charges. I took a bit of rebar to his head, his father’s car, his house and let his dog go (never came back). I was willing to kill him for what he did to me and yet again, the police told me that women just aren’t allowed.

The media does this too. In movies it is extremely rare for a woman to fight back unless she was already a victim with years of self defense, hiding in terror and her abuser finds her and then she either kills him, takes him back and tricks him, or is rescued by the new romance in her life. Not just life time folks but block buster films. It is never with in the intial attack that a woman fights back. In horror movies, the attacks come in waves and it is finally after a breaking point, or the loss of all of the human shields that the female fights back and often still dies. Running away is good, as happens in horror movies with the cliched fall so the bad man can still get you. This is an acceptable reaction and is something I approve of, just don’t trip.

It is the female who is unfeminine in movies that is the villain. Either a caricature of a woman with sexual appetites such as Famke Jansen’s role in a James Bond movie or a woman who is something ugly, othered or is somehow defective. These are our female villains. Any villainous who is beautiful tends to not be acting under her own charms or supposedly it is more scary for a waifish beauty to be bad. Again, by being beautiful she is supposed to subvert the norms of who is acceptable with in a violent situation.

Women become their traumas. This is the other message I have struggled with my entire life. I was reduced not to a bad childhood but this single moment in a trauma filled life. None of my traumas are my identity even if they chipped some of the facets of my personality or left scars on me that changed the outcome of my personal growth to this point. The good moments in my life had just as much impact and I am the result of everything I have thought, read, heard, and learned. Every person I met, every person I did not meet. Every bit of media I have heard. It is not my trauma that makes me who I am. The Brave One, the entire premise of the film, which I linked above for my example, is that the woman is just her trauma.

This is a perception that removes the humanity from She Who Fights Back. You are no longer human but you are Rape. You are not actually a Woman, therefore it’s okay once more for you to be violent. There must be something wrong with you if you are a woman who fights back, this is the pervasive message I have been living with. There have been years I nearly killed myself over the simple fact that I did not fight back. I could not live with the idea that I did not, even as a small child, try to get away.

I remember when I first began to wonder why I didn’t fight back, it was after I was told by a therapist I would be lying if I claimed I had. I sat there quietly for the rest of our session, I was in a mental hospital at the time. The first time. I watched her face and I wondered if she had ever been hurt too, and if she had fought back. She had long plastic nails that she was tapping on her clipboard. I felt like she was angry at me, and my more experienced interpretation of her expression still reads anger. She went from someone I could talk with to a cold wall of rage when I asked about trying to get away or maybe hitting him back. This was just a few months after and I still had pain in my shoulders that radiated from the underside of the joint, and my hands were still swollen. In fact my hands have never fully recovered from the kick of the gun and my shoulder dislocations started then. We had fired guns before as a family, that wasn’t my first time but I never liked it because of the pain and the loudness.

Even as I am writing this I am playing in my mind the moment I picked up the gun. There was no hesitation. Something again that movies show. Women always hesitate with weapons. Men sometimes do, but they have the option of not. I pointed it at him. I remember his face. His eyes betrayed his shock, surprise, and then anger. I pulled the trigger. He didn’t get to mock me first, he didn’t get any lines out like the cliche, “You won’t do it.” He had lunged for me and I fired the gun until the bullets ran out. I have another new fragment but it is like a single frame of video. I see him in it with a police officer, but everything is hazy, I am just aware he is convincing them that nothing is wrong. This is new too, but I had never expected if the police came that they would rescue me. I learned that well before 1992. I just realized it couldn’t be 93, because my brother wasn’t born until AFTER this incident, I was off by a year.

So I have been fighting this for longer than I thought. I have found the most painful idea in my life was that I would just let him hurt me. This is of course not what happened, and no victim EVER lets their abuser hurt them. Even if you cannot or do not fight back, you did not give him permission. My personal battle was learning this. Fighting back is pivotal in my mind as something important. Even if you don’t win, you must try.

I know as an adult fighting back entails more than shooting or stabbing someone. It can be the moment you open the door and smell someone’s pumpkin pie and think “I am free”. Even if that is not true that little moment can give you a hint of the truth for years. The shifted association of foods during Thanksgiving from being all disgusting and triggering based on being raped, force-fed and torn apart with food as the supposed reason I deserved to be raped and beaten even pumpkin pie has confused me. Why was that pie safe? I still can’t eat my mother’s version of mashed potatoes. My father didn’t like green beans so those were safe until the allergies happened but the pie has been as much of a mystery to me as my wondering who I used to be.

I was not reborn in that moment after all, the idea was just a way of coping with the blatant lies I was told about who I was allowed to be. It is amazing to me how many people, in the name of supposed survival, reject the idea that women can be strong at all ages. This has effected my writing, my game play and what I could do. This is not trivial in any way shape or form. The core of who I was did not break, and that is important. My spirit never broke, and who I am is essentially the same on the base level as who I was before. This means perhaps I did not really lose my innocence but instead it was hidden away, so I could survive.

I do not cry much but I am crying now. How can I not cry for I know there are other little girls, women, people in between the male and female who wonder if they fought back. Who are told every day that this is an impossibility. Children do not have the knowledge yet to think critically about if people are lying, this is a skill we learn as we grow. A facet of being nuerodiverse in this world, and everyone fits in there somewhere, is that people learn these skills at different rates. The ability to critically assess a situation or the media is something that must be taught or it must be learned. Not everyone is capable of this and children have to learn from somewhere.

I am left questioning the validity of mental health for women, children, and anyone with chronic pain or PTSD. How can so many therapists male and female believe that women just don’t think of fighting back? Making self defense a taboo or something that is only allowed after a violation is incredibly dangerous. This is a part of the forbidden dialogue of rape itself. We are warned to not talk about rape as survivors. Victims may be unable to do so and a part of this is, even at the age of eight it was hinted that I deserved to be raped. Was eight year old me just so sexy she deserved it? That’s what I have been told. I also came forward with in the statute of limitations and because my father raped me I was told that my case just wasn’t worth the District Attourney’s time. They beleived me. They just didn’t care because I was a little girl. I have never forgotten being told I am not enough of a person, that wasn’t the first time but that was the moment I lost faith in the world itself and knew I stand alone.

Except I do not stand alone. Of all the lies that came out of this worst trauma it was the lie that I was somehow the worst female in the world, worst at femininity, worst at self defense, worst at being loved and that I was alone and no one else would know what it was to want to die, to suffer, or to fear. I was defective. I do not want to kill myself today, and this is the first thanksgiving in a very long time.

I am afraid for the children of this world. The messages that are being taught, the things that even adult women fetishize such as Twilight with its codependant pedophilic necrophiliac abusive manipulative beastiality domestic violence women stay in the kitchen marry for sex and all the other crap that Twilight is REALLY about underneath the sparkling vampires… these messages are the normal for our children not the exception.

The Cliche of Anger

I am tired, in massive pain, and yet I still am riding on the waves of fulfillment. I worked an entire week straight. I am taking a few more days to get back to my standard however, and reminded myself why I do not work in a traditional manner. I would have been fired today for being unable to wear standard clothing for one, and my attitude for another. Every action I take, every interaction I am bogged down by references to the past, lessons, and reminders. I hear my mother’s voice most clearly, and that is not something I welcome. I want to be an individual not the product of my family.

I wasn’t going to post until tomorrow but I was reading a few pages over at Womanist Musings. The proprietor of Womanist Musings has recently outed herself as being amid the disabled. She is beginning to run into the challenges of being suddenly unwelcome, invisible, and at times hated for merely existing. Today one of the commenters told her that she should start a civil rights movement, ignoring the fact that the disabled community has been pulling for equal rights for as long as other civil rights movements have been in effect. Before we go on, I want to remind you my dear reader that every single civil rights movement hasn’t ended, and that the fight for equality is on going no matter what your ism is. This reader seemed to think that a few protests fix everything.

This ignores the protests in New York, the individuals who do sacrifice their energy and at times sanity to try and force businesses to comply with the laws, and it ignores the fact that there are those who came before you and I. This is an erasure of our history. I responded with snideness and sarcasm, ignoring for the few moments it took to suggest a hacksaw so she could remove her legs as “easily” as I can get off of my scooter, the voice of my mother. “All disabled people are angry, they think they have rights.” I am aware that it is the events of today that shape the memories that seem to nitpick at us. Before I was disabled my sexuality was most often the harbinger of a Mommy Memory. “Bisexuals are selfish, they just want to have sex with as many people as possible.” Every time I went to flirt with a woman or a man, I heard something like that.

The myth of anger is just that, a myth. It erases the happy moments with friends and family, it erases the moments where competent and open minded people realize that everyone has rights. The myth of anger is often used to subjugate. Stop being angry, so that I can continue to oppress you. That is what I hear. The expectation that an entire group of people must never feel one emotion is ridiculous yet this is foisted on women of color, the disabled, homosexuals, and countless other oppressed groups, all to control us. Anger is forbidden.

Many times when I am smiling, I am told, “This inaccessible area will be fixed soon, we swear!” The tone is always frantic, that hint of “Oh god she will be mad that we haven’t done this yet.” It doesn’t matter that I am smiling and just nod and say, “Great, thanks for letting me know.” The fear of my anger, which is some how more toxic than their anger or fear is there. I still don’t understand it, but, I see this often. The times when I am angry, I am also not heard. It’s enough for me to want to go back to trying to be Super Cripple, but, I won’t do that.

My anger is valid. Your anger is valid. Anger is not a reason to oppress, discriminate, or subjugate. Anger is not an excuse to not build the ramp in an accessible manner, and anger is not an excuse to try to “just get rid of” someone. I am tired today, and I am trying to seem reasonable. My mind is far from reasonable. I am in truth alone, and am having a small tantrum every time I need to get up to move. My fiance forgot to feed the cats, which merited an hour of sitting there whining about how I wasn’t sure if I could do it, I can’t bend, and their bowls are on the floor.

It wasn’t anger that had me make a really big mess trying to feed them either. That was love. They were hungry so I fed them, without bending. (Sorry honey, but the kitties have to eat too!) It won’t be anger that I let him know he forgot either, but amusement. Every emotion that I have is not anger. The lessons that our parents teach us, may shape what we see but it is the choice that I made in my first experience with disability as an adult that showed me otherwise. I chose to not see anger.

It’s really that simple. Demeaning an entire group of people does cause anger. If you fear our anger so much, stop discriminating. If you come near me right this second and discriminate I will show you anger, but I won’t run you down with my scooter. That’d hurt me too, and you just aren’t worth my time or pain.

To my friends, allies, and fellow disabled persons, don’t forget that every moment that we are alive is the revolution for our people. Every time we are seen out of our homes, with our assistance equipment, service animals, and even having issues, this is our revolution. VIVA LA REVOLUCION! Free my people!

She Wore a White Beret

Sprite adores the French Language. I think it is beautiful but my service cat understands French. I am not sure where she picked this up, but the first two years of her life are just hers and hers alone. Today, at Walmart, we met the most fascinating woman.

When I am old enough to be Elderly I want to be just like her. She has eight cats, speaks five languages, and respected the etiquette of Service Animal interactions, at least until Sprite forced her to pet her via a well placed headbutt. She still asked permission.

Being exhausted, a bit mentally foggy and heading into Walmart usually leads to calamity. Last time I felt this bad and did my shopping I was nearly assaulted for existing, because I get more bull headed in this mode. I am less forgiving, because it takes time to forgive, to ignore the slights, and to not let myself punch annoying people. I still manage, but I am ten times less likely to be patient and calmly explain why they cannot pet my cat, why they cannot touch me, and the fact that I am an intelligent human being.

A cart with a single bag of cat food blocked my path, and I said, “Excuse me.” She turned around, and I saw that this woman had the sweetest face. Her eyes were bright, gleaming with intelligence and years of experience, she held her back straight and smiled. Her smile grew as she saw Sprite. Moving her cart she commented to me, “What a lovely cat.”

I managed as always to not mumble, “I know. She lives with me.” Instead I smiled and said, “Thank you.” Then went to grab a few cans of cat food. She continued, “Is she a service animal?” I paused and said, “Yes.” She turned to another stranger and said, “See, you did hear a cat and i was right.” I felt a bit of guilt then, for I had been less welcoming, though I was trying to just do my shopping and go home. The man huffed, “Cats ain’t ever gonna be service animals.” His jarringly bad grammar made me wince and I said, “According to the law, any animal that can be trained and is not a threat to public safety, while meeting other specific requirements can be a service animal.”

He stalked away, a third stranger laughing, “Wow, Where can I read more.” My frustration was gone. I was shocked, first by the fact that this woman had stopped a stranger from complaining, stating the truth that my animal was likely a service cat, and that they should just leave well enough alone. Then by a request for information. I shared the sheet I have with me at all times explaining the law, and he wrote down a few of the website addresses I have in the first post, about how to Self Advocate.

I had already dealt with a manager who was also accepting of her. Entering the store, I had run into not one but two employees who chose to discriminate. Despite my state of mind and limited ability, everything was going well because I was being treated like a person.

We began to converse then, this beautiful woman and I. She said something I did not understand and Sprite perked, “Oh, forgive me I forgot to speak English.” I apologized for not knowing French, and she laughed. “That is a first. I am used to Americans, especially women, insisting I speak their language. I hear so often how horrible the French are, how we are rude, for expecting people in France to speak French.” I replied, “Well, we expect people to speak English here, and many discriminate on language alone in this country.” She chuckled again, her laugh is so smooth that it was like wrapping my ears in silk. “Very true. You are very open minded, you must not have gone to College.”

This confused me a moment and I blurted out, “Well, I dropped out when I broke my back.” She clucked her tongue, “You should make a better story out of that, you went adventuring and merely have gone to the college of Life.” We traded stories, then, she asked me how I trained my cat. I told her the truth, the same way I used to train my dogs. I rewarded her for good behavior, I punished her for the bad by not petting her and saying no. “She is very rare, her eyes are showing more intelligence than I have ever seen in such a small creature.” She paused then asked, “Do you have provisions for her, should you die?”

Refreshing, to be asked that. Most people run away from the conversation of death. As I wrote about before, I am supposedly going to die before September. I refuse of course, but Death is always looming over me, shadowing me on. “Yes, I have a series of plans, all numbered and written out incase one should fail.” She was relieved, her expressive body revealing that. “Good, so few think beyond their lives. You are rare too.” I shook my head, “No, I merely have lived.” I gave her my phone number, after we discussed a myriad of other things. I wanted to stay in that moment forever, but an alarm went off and I had to go. We will stay in contact.

She was so striking, not out of a physical beauty alone but also because of her genuine and open nature. She showed me an aspect of life I desire, and although my brain is still clouded over and my body demands rest it stood out, sparkling before me. She wore a white beret, a cream sweater, and tan pants. She glowed like a snowflake. Her blue eyes were a bit cloudy with age, but her mind was so sharp and she was open to sharing so much. I suddenly want to go to France.

She also took the time to converse with Sprite, treating her as an equal, and feeling joy as Sprite obviously understood her. They chattered at one another, and Sprite leaned up just before we left placing a kiss on her lips. After we parted ways Sprite made sure I did not feel neglected, though I felt the same warmth and love she seemed to. She rubbed all over me, purring and delighting in our shopping trip.

I even let myself have a treat, I bought a butterfly hair clip. No more lamenting my choice of a hair brush or nothing, I am going to have some panache, and a dose of style when I give my speech tomorrow.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Advocacy (Trigger Warning)

In conversation with one of my young friends I had a revelation. This was about thirty seconds ago. Sometimes advocating triggers flashbacks while I am trying to function. My mind lept then to other people who have to self advocate through PTSD symptoms. It isn’t always a flash back. If you do not have PTSD it might be harder for you to understand being jerked around by past trauma. Therefore I am going to explain, and this is why there is a trigger warning on this post. Sometimes reading about PTSD or other issue related things can trigger people.

This is not from the DSM (Diagnostic Manual thingy) but is from my experience. I may leave things out that apply to you or tell you things that don’t. The problem with labels is they are often not enough to truly explain what something means. Lets say someone shoots a gun. My first impulse is to be very still, not breathing, and praying that my father won’t make the shot. Even typing that sentence my head went into the land of fuzz and my chest is tight. I am taking slow breaths to focus and clear my mind. The trigger is not always a gun but just a loud pop. My brain is stuck on certain points of the abuse I suffered, it has a programmed loop that it likes to play. I have warning symptoms for my flashbacks now, and can often circumvent them.

My reality is in jeopardy from these loops. the weakest symptom is a tingle, intense fear, sometimes I start randomly bleeding. Why do I bleed? One theory a psychologist offered is somatic symptomalogy. Basically my body remembers, and it reacts so strongly to what my brain signals, that it thinks it is injured. This adds to the pain I feel. The pain from invisible injuries is far from phantom. I feel it. The next step after that is the sensation that I am floating, I disassociate and can see the entire world, but I am not connected to it. Usually I then go back in time. I see and feel at the same time, from multiple vantage points my father with his brand new gun, me and my siblings on the couch. I feel the cold metal of the gun pressing against my forehead. My nose stings with the tears I cannot shed.

The loud bang comes, I feel the heat of the bullet, my skin is burned by muzzle flash and I feel a horrible pain as the bullet grazes my temple. I don’t move. I don’t scream. I just stare up into that black hole, smoke pouring out of it and avoid looking into my father’s eyes, knowing he is going to be angry that he missed. I hear every word he screams again, how worthless I am, how I should be dead and must have moved. My sister starts to scream, my brother too but I can’t move. I look into his eyes and I see the blackness.

I still do not remember what happens next, though I have been told he decided to shoot at my sister, but I pushed her aside. I just know he tried to shoot his children, sitting on a couch that smelled like pee, and nearly killed his neighbor because the bullet went off. The cops were called but I took the blame. I said I was playing with his gun when it went off. I lied, to survive.

When I come back to myself I always want to vomit. Instead I focus on breathing. If the nausea is really bad I will take some Rolaids. Sometimes now, after years of effort, I let myself cry. Usually I manage a tear but my brain has yet to grasp the concept of tears. If I am not at home, it is worse to recover. At home I control my environment, I have a bed to curl up in, two soft fluffy cats, and my Person can go elsewhere more easily giving me the time I need to recover.

When I am advocating and flash back, I never know what to do. I try different things, and usually they work but the vulnerability can be debilitating. I flashed back my first time having to seriously advocate to that scene. That is why I chose to relate it to try and explain what PTSD is like. I wish I had simpler words but none can encapsulate just how much there is to it. Sometimes the flashes are different, sometimes I am still an adult but I am trapped, it is worse in some ways because I still feel the pain but I am completely aware that my world has vanished. I am never certain if I am going to hurt someone. I have before, but it has been a long time.

That first taste of advocacy was so bitter. The cops came, and one fondled his gun and my brain shut down. I was afraid, in pain and exhausted. I was being yelled at and deprived of my prescription because I needed my service animal. The cops even saw Sprite follow her training. When I flash she has three tasks, beyond her instinct to comfort me. First, she signals to my Person for help. Sometimes a conversation can end it. So she chirruped at the person of the day, and I had to form the words, “I need you to deal with them for me. I can’t.” Then, she helps me to sit. I had to wait fifteen minutes for a chair, I wanted to scream at them but I tried to stay calm. I was hyperventilating, they took this as my being dramatic. Then, she moves to my shoulder. Her instinct is to sit on my chest, but she might get flung there, I do not handle pressure on my chest well even when not panicking or flashing. Her instincts tell her to purr, to rub with just her face against mine. This grounds me.

The police threatened to arrest me if I did not leave the facility. I knew enough to know they couldn’t but they refused to acknowledge that I had rights. I couldn’t fight, but I had to. I chose then to repeat the law over and over. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t see their real faces for half the time. All I saw was my father and his eyes that reflected no light.

What can you do if you have PTSD and are an advocate? Here is the how to portion.

Step 1. Before you get to the point of advocating, have a support structure. This is a difficult process, because not every person can truly understand what it is to lose your reality. You need to have someone you trust availible, at least to call.

Step 2. If you have medications used to treat the symptoms of your PTSD in an emergency make sure to carry them with you, to keep a back up dose with your support person, and to keep your doctors number handy.

Step 3. Create a kit of items that help forestall your flashbacks. Nothing works for me beyond my cat. I can give her the signal she is trained for when i feel the warnings coming and ground. This is all I have right now, beyond my Person. No meds, just those two.

Step 4. Remember to breathe. Sometimes if you focus on just breathing you can help yourself.

Step 5. If you flash back during advocacy, try and focus on the responses that do not match the memory. This has worked for others, pulling them out.

Step 6. Advocate anyway. I did get the illegal policy over turned at the Pharmacy where I was threatened with arrest. I had to fight for a long time to do it, but, they relented. It is worth it even though it you might feel endangered or might BE endangered by your flashbacks.

Step 7. If you have to, stop. This opposes Step 6. Not every incident can be worked through. You might need to call your therapist, you might need to let your support person advocate for you. This is not a failing, this is merely the team network that advocacy should be.

I am glad to write this how to. I never considered how important it could be, but, in my mind my broken back, my asthma, and my failing eyes are not my most dangerous disability. The worst disability I have is PTSD. At times during flashbacks I have hurt myself, my friends, and reliving the painful memories can also cost me emotional, physical, or mental progress.

Keep in mind the time you are most fragile is just after a flash back. Some people can be triggered more easily, often it is easier to react in rage. Do not minimize your pain either. It is okay to cry, scream, and sometimes to just walk away.

I have done all of the above. Not every incident with advocating will cause a flashback either. Most of my time advocating I am left with memories of victory. My first taste of advocacy is as sweet as it is bitter, because I still succeeded, despite my unabiding terror of these men. My greatest cause was also revealed to me. I am actively fighting to get the local police trained in how to deal with enforcing the ADA. I want my rights protected, I do not want to fear being put in jail, dumped out of my wheelchair and my service animal being put into Animal Control’s care.

That was the threat, and so often is. My heart goes out to any other advocates who suffer from PTSD. I know each person’s PTSD is varied, some may not flash back, some might just panic. Others might not be able to stop their flashes. You can still advocate. Just prepare yourself as best you can.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Trigger Warning)

Bette Davis, Joan Crawford…A movie about the horrors disabled people can face with an abuser.

This is one of the most wonderful but horrific films I have ever seen. Joan Crawford plays an actress with a jealous sister who not only tried to kill her but is now her only caregiver. Bette Davis plays all of my worst fears brought to life. She forces Joan to either starve or eat rats, her pet bird, or possibly poisoned food. Their maid, a beautiful African American woman, is the hero in this. It is she who sees the potential for something wrong and refuses to leave the day she is fired, instead insisting on seeing Joan’s character. It is she who saves her from embezzlement, being isolated, beaten, and left to die a slow and horrible death. She was cut off too, no telephone, stuck upstairs, the bell for help taken away. It is horrible to watch.Bette’s performance is that of pure evil, in the loveliest of forms.  The genius of this film is that they use clips of the actresses when they were younger. They build the story up and you feel the pain involved with Joan’s treatment.

This film also highlights the incompetence of others, enabling the abuse. The teller who illegally (possibly not at the time of the film being made) gives cash when a deposit is required. The neighbors who ignore the weak cries for help, though they may not hear. The doctors who ignore the patient’s panicked cry when she could under duress be recanting. I will not spoil the climax of the film, but needless to say, this one touched a nerve. There is murder in this story, no one wins. Hope is torn from the viewer and Joan’s character.

Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman is another film that taps on true life abuses. The abused housewife is not beaten, but is instead told over and over until she believes it that she is insane. His greed is what drives his crimes, polygamy, identity theft, and murder among them. He uses the technology of the day to prove to her she is insane. He too plays on my worst fears. He proves to me that men are evil, a blanket statement that feels utterly true while I watch this movie. It isn’t, but it feels that way. He abuses his wife, publicly and privately humiliating her, forcing her into things that were against her nature.This film was so effective it gave it’s name to an entire term in psychology. Gaslighting is the proper term for causing someone to think they are insane. There is more to this of course, but this is the best I can do to explain right now.

Why am I posting about two films made before my birth? They touched me. They burned my heart up and left me shuddering with memories. They triggered responses in me that were deeper than perhaps intended. I felt the trappedness from my previous experience. I felt the worthlessness of knowing I am wrong at all times, and that my only value to others was at their own pleasure, my own wants and needs coming last. I felt the fists of my father in me again. I felt the harsh words of burden.

I am not a burden, I am not insane, and I am free. I had to chant this at times, the wheelchair a prison during the entire time. I could see even one stair trapping me. I can only remember too well  how few people actually listened when I cried out for help. The cold stabbing feeling of being told my case was not compelling enough to prosecute, that no one wanted to protect a child from  her rapist father.

Caregiver abuse is one of the worst crimes I have ever heard of. Some call it elder abuse, but, elderly folk aren’t the only ones trapped by their bodies. Many are vital and amazingly resiliant. I am posting about these films so that you can perhaps try to feel the things I felt, in lesser measure. These films raise awareness of the plights of the hidden victims in this world. Perhaps even someone you know is enduring secret abuse. You might not be able to save them, but raising awareness even by one, can help them save themselves.

Whatever happened to Baby Jane? Be glad you are not so evil, and if you are, may you see your reflection and set your victim free.

Thank You is Sometimes All You Can Say.

This feels strange, to write. I am going to go for a crown. It took me a very long time to become aware of my own value, and through the Ms Wheelchair USA program, I can not only show my own skills and confidence but I get to hopefully inspire other women and men to be confidence. I have conversations daily with my friends, sometimes strangers, and every so often in the mirror with myself when my pain has me grasping for strength I am sure I will not find about confidence and value.

I minister aid to those in need. Today I recieved two gifts. One, is the first donation for my campaign towards the Crown, and the other was a bottle of holywater. I will not discuss my religion here, as I do not think that has bearing on who I am or what I am capable of doing, but I see this as a beautiful thing.

The woman who sent me the holy water is one of my strangers. It was just before Christmas and I went with a friend to the bookstore. Meandering we agreed to meet at the coffee shop and I went rolling through the shop. She looked happy, except her eyes. I remember how utterly void of joy they were, and she couldn’t seem to stop staring, so, I struck up a conversation with her about the books on the table. She didn’t take long to open up to me. I remember my utter shock at her telling me she was going to commit suicide. I responded before I thought with, “Why would you want to do a thing like that?” After an h our of conversation we hugged. I rarely hug people because it pains me, but, she needed a hug more than anything else. She told me she wanted to send me a package and after meeting me she couldn’t kill  herself. Our conversation touched on the spiritual, but mostly her need to be someone. She had forgotten herself for years to be a mother to a disabled child, and now her own grand child was disabled and she couldn’t fathom happiness for anyone. Today I recieved a thank you card, and the bottle from a local blessed spring. It reminded me of my power to inspire people. I did not need a reminder to know I am good, but, the reminder that I can touch people by being who I am was a surprise.

I then talked with a male friend of mine who often forgets to love himself. For years he has battled this and tonight I shared with him how I learned to love myself. I started telling myself three times a day in the mirror I love you. That was all I saw myself, when washing my hands. Then, I wrote on my stomach, legs and anywhere that was invisible to others, I love me. I love me. Over and over. It took a long time, then I started to believe it. Mike and I met over something daring, I did something that I might be ashamed of now, online as many others do. The evidence is thankfully washed away by server errors and time. I had made myself do something out of character, to see what would happen. I never went back in my shell. I instead became a real girl. No more hiding, no more sorrow. Shortly after this I broke my back, and had to resume chanting how much I love me. I still do some days, to help myself along when the pain burns me through and I forget that I am more than a disabled chick who can barely walk. When homeless Mike fed me, he even helped pay for Sprite the Service Cat’s vet bills. He is amazing, and, I hope that he remembers that. He reminds me of who I used to be, and even admits when he is wrong. A very rare individual whom I appreciate. He is who I turn to when even my well worn tactics fail, he can always make me smile and is the Brother of My Soul. He is greatness himself, and proved to me, before any other male could, that not all men are evil. Without him, I would still be fighting daily to not feel afraid in this world. Instead I feel love and warmth even in my darkest hours.

Then, I went into my favorite IRC, dedicated to graphic programers who make animal skins for IMVU, a 3D Instant messenger and started talking with a brilliant young woman. Her name, posted with Permission, is Weesha. We talk often, though the last few months before I started this blog that contact was rare due to no internet connection. I told her of my discovery, just before the deadline and without enough time, this year, to dedicate to my new goal of Ms Wheelchair USA. We brainstormed for ways that she can help me to spread the word about MWUSA, to reach my goal, and so that people can learn about my Platform. I haven’t finished fine tuning the platform yet, but tonight she spread the word far enough that the first donation was made by Jen, a person of similar interests, taste, and a person who deserves a very special thank you. My wonderful day started off in tears and has blossomed into a garden of delights.

I just want to say thank you, these people are beyond special. May any who read these words have as dear friends and family as I have. They feed my soul, they nourish my dreams, and wish for the dreams of all to come true. They deserve as much as they give. Each one has their hopes and dreams and this, dear readers, is my hope for them.

For Information on Ms Wheelchair USA please visit their website. There you can learn about the current Crown holder Beryl Holzbach.  I saw some of her youtube videos today and was brought to tears, mourning what is, and hoping that her advocacy brings great strides to the medical field.

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