Possible Triggers: References to abuse, self-harm, suicidal ideation, lawyers.
“It’s not necessary to, say, explain how the clock works…”
I laughed. “Um, my autistic friends and I would disagree with that…” The lawyer chuckles along with and says he’s had Asperger clients before. (let’s all roll our eyes, synchronized!)
Less than ten minutes later, I asked him how long disability appeal rulings take, and he launched into some nonsense about how, if it’s the judge he thinks it is, it takes “longer” — without a baseline of what “not longer” is. Eventually, after I bit my tongue for two minutes because I wanted to tell him that he didn’t need to explain the workings of a clock for me, he gave me an answer that I interpreted as, “A few weeks to a couple months.” Sometimes you know what the ruling is going to be just from how the hearing goes, but the official ruling takes more time.
The whole meeting with him on Wednesday ran like that. It was one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had; he was completely unclear about what he was looking for in my answers. At one point he seems to be asking for quantifiable information, of which there is very little in a mental health/Asperger’s syndrome case, and other times he insisted he was looking for experiences. When I would try to explain my experiences, he felt that I wasn’t focused enough but couldn’t ask me more focused questions. He also kept more or less complaining about the fact that I wasn’t explaining how these issues affect my work performance. The truth of it is, my job performance was not particularly affected. I ruin everything else about my life first.
Finally, I looked at him and said, “I was ready to commit suicide when I left my last job.” Nothing.
Basically, I feel utterly fucked because I never let myself get fired or go into mental institutions (as an adult). There’s reasons why my behavior skews that way, but no! I needed to not address triggers!
I’m sorry, what? Mental illness and autism are often nothing BUT triggers. Abuse in childhood and the resulting extra stressors on mental health can help explain, to some degree, the irrational thinking that happens and causes the anxiety I’m supposed to quantify somehow (but you, lawyer, can’t give examples outside of, “if a man says he can’t lift much, he should be saying he can’t lift more than twenty-five pounds”).
When I tried to address the issue of irrational thinking, since ‘anxiety’ wasn’t specific enough, he kept asking me, “But, empirically, did those things ever come to pass?”
“…No. That is why it is irrational thinking.” This point was also a dead-end.
The most frustrating was when I was trying to explain the periodic depressive episodes that I had, and how much it affected my ability to do anything, from eat to sleep to putting clothes in a hamper. These points were also useless, I suppose, because my job performance was pretty much always 95+%. I would self-harm, scream obscenities at anyone I knew outside of work, regularly consider walking in front of a SEPTA train (the only barrier was that I hated the thought of traumatizing all those people), but these things aren’t important.
Except, he asked for my experience, didn’t he? When I couldn’t give him ‘quantifiable’? I’m talking plainly about scars on my arm and how they get there and what triggers them, I’m talking about suicide, I’m talking about driving every human being out of my life and my animal relationships get kind of iffy since I forget to feed them or change litter boxes. All this to keep my job performance up. Because to publicly fail is the worst thing that can ever happen to you. To be not-perfect is death. Irrational? Yes. Caused by all-or-nothing thinking and my upbringing, which are apparently not supposed to be brought up.
So, for the love of god, please tell me what it is I experience, and just what in the hell you think the strong points are in my case since I apparently can’t make a single one.
There were points where I was talking generally, then focusing here and there, just to see if I could figure out what it is he was looking for. He took this as being what I would give as testimony and had issues with most of it. He’s not rude, he’s actually very polite, but it was clear that it was impossible for me to address his needs as my lawyer.
Finally, I just told him to get information from Morgan. Just. Ask him. Apparently I’m not seeing myself the way I’m supposed to.
Something I wanted to ask, but didn’t because I just couldn’t talk anymore: “Would you explain how the fuck your clock works? Because clearly, it’s not the same as mine, and I can’t understand a damn thing you say.”
Sometimes, knowing the clock is knowing the language. I explain it so you can understand me. Rip out the Rosetta stone and I might as well speak in tongues.
Odds are, I’ll get so confused I just won’t talk at all.