To my childhood psychiatrist:

[I still have not sent this. Oddly, writing it was enough. Plus, I really don’t give a shit what this bitch has to say to me. She’s useless.]

When I was nineteen or twenty – well before hitting my first road blocks with college – I had a high GPA and was doing well. I went home for a weekend. I was in the kitchen with mom, who decided that she didn’t want to make dinner plans with her friend that weekend. She was going to call and let them know she was busy.

I wasn’t paying too much attention, until I heard her say this:

“Oh, Ren is having a real meltdown, I have to go to Philadelphia this weekend.”
My mother fabricated a meltdown to get out of dinner. She couldn’t have said she had other plans, or that she wasn’t feeling well – she had to martyr herself. Over one dinner. While I was sitting in her kitchen in NJ.

When I got upset, mom first acted as though it was funny, then started with the “mea culpas” and only resorted to saying “I’m sorry” after I wouldn’t let it go.

My mother has never had a particular moral issue with lying, until she gets caught.

When I acquired my IEP folder in order to go through it and bring in the great number of assessments in there to help the experts at UPenn determine if I had Asperger’s, I could see clearly why mom wasn’t thrilled about me getting the file. Much in there was exactly the way I remembered it – though mom had spent much of the last ten years trying to convince me otherwise, gaslighting until I finally – with some reservations – didn’t argue with her version of events anymore.

Where you come into this, and why I’m writing, is September ’97, when my school was investigating whether or not my mother was harming me, physically or otherwise. You told them a number of things;

– That I was paranoid;
– There was no ‘threat’ of residential placement;
– That any physical altercations were me “confusing” my mother’s efforts to “move” me.

Essentially, you state that it’s my psychiatric state generating these claims and that they have no basis in reality. There’s a few problems with these assertions, apart from the fact that as far as I can remember you never did any investigation outside of mom’s word, which is questionable at best, disturbing at its worst. I sincerely hope you believed these things or else your ethics regarding safety and treatment of children scares me.

So let me rebut, as I wasn’t able or allowed to do back then:

While there may not have been threats to residential placement that you were aware of, mom started threatening me with residential school when I was at least in first grade. I say “at least” because I remember seeing Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), and at the part where they show the boarding school the little girl was going to be sent to, my mom leaned over in the theater and said, “This is where you’ll be sent.”

Starting when I was thirteen, on the days when I wouldn’t get up for school or when she was particularly frustrated with me, she would tell me that she was going to call social services and turn me over to the state, so I’d end up in foster care. This was generally at least once a week, and more often the closer we get to September ’97.

I don’t think I need to explain to you the gravity of these kinds of threats, particularly to an adopted child who already has an understanding that someone had given her away before.

It wasn’t paranoia. It was what I was told, repeatedly, since I was very young – at that point, more than half my life I’d lived with those threats and with the escalating issues at home it seemed inevitable. These, and constant reminders that I was messed up, that it was ‘no wonder’ I had no friends, that I didn’t deserve things.

As for my mother’s efforts to “move” me, the reason why much of this jump-started was because I showed up at school with nail marks in my arm from one of the times mom grabbed and tried to yank me. I don’t remember what we were arguing about, but I had gone into the basement to try to cool off. Mom followed me down and wanted me to go to my room. I was in a panic as it was, and had (have) been prone panicking even worse when touched due to an issue of unnecessary restraining over the summer at the “special” camp I’d been sent to in ’96 that was, I believe, your recommendation.

Mom wanted me to go to my room, but I didn’t want to go there because there was a deadbolt on the door so that I could be locked in. (Was the lock your idea? I’m pretty sure she credited you for that one). The one place on earth I should feel safe, was not safe. I hated my room. Going in there while mom was still heated and might possibly lock me in would cause me to freak out even more. So she grabbed me enough to pull me, then gripped harder so her nails left marks in my arm.

So there I am, seeing the school counselor, trying to explain these marks away to her that I’m really hard to handle and other justifications as to why I might have deserved it. It was never with any paranoid or vengeance or attention-seeking intent. It happened and I was getting scared. So I went to the people I was supposed to go to, but you had to reach your long, biased arm into the mix and completely muddy me up while dusting mom off.

After finding out about it, I recall mom driving me home from the school, furious and yelling (she often did the same after sessions with you when she was angry at what I said – in fact, one of those horrid car rides was just a couple hours before I overdosed on ritalin and went to R—– R—–). I asked her if she knew what it was like to be scared of your own mother. Her reply: “Do you know what it’s like to be ashamed of your own daughter?” This goes up there with all the ways she asserts it’s no wonder I don’t have any friends, that if no on likes you, they can’t all be wrong. That sort of thing.  If I did have any good qualities, I didn’t hear about them. Compliments of my intellect do not negate being told that you are unlikeable as a human being.

There were a handful of incidents with hitting and grabbing that are similar to this – I’d try to get away to calm down, mom would follow and keep escalating. Mom’s need to be right always superseded my need to get a breather and think. I have never laid a hand on my mother, but she claimed, on one page, to be afraid of me. On another, not afraid. Whichever suits her need at the moment, she says.

And if these things were all paranoia, and not real, then how is it my mother, who apologizes for nothing, had her Lifetime movie moment in which she talks about how sorry she was for hurting me, that it hurt her that she’d done those things, and even managed to squeeze out a couple of tears before going to act like this fixed the damage that was done?

You do not have – and never tried to have – the slimmest insight as to what was really going on in my home. You accepted everything mom said, and medicated me accordingly. SSRIs create more behavioral problems in me; this was confirmed in my more recent attempts at medication. Behaviors that never existed before or after manifested only when on SSRIs. What you took to be my worsening condition was my increasing adverse reaction to what those meds were doing to me. And then of course trusting mom’s reports on my progress. Because children with oppositional defiant disorder are typically the sort to sit and read for hours at a bridge club, and occasionally play dummy hands to the delight of the elderly ladies.

But, hey, now we’re medicating me for these mythical ‘paranoia’ tendencies; you’ve entered in into evidence, and so medicated me accordingly. I won’t go into the issue that goes with putting me on things like risperidone.

Tack onto that the glaring misdiagnoses and the phenomenal instability of my mother, your willing blindness, and I really had no shot in hell of making progress.

The only people who have ever questioned my home life were the people at M—— P—- High School. Your records state my tenure there was poor up through the end of seventh grade. School records indicate positive gains the end of that school year, and that while I’d been depressed upon returning, I was seeing a counselor because I needed help, and my classmates were nice to me. They sang happy birthday to me and I almost cried. That is documented as well. I did not, unlike your records, feel that M—— P— was a terrible place to be. Home was a miserable place to be. I didn’t tell everyone that I had been in the psych ward; a so-called friend told everyone. And, embarrassed as I was, the students were all still really nice. That account varies depending on who wrote the report.

What I was upset about was that I was no longer in the hospital and right back in the middle of my hellish home life. Not the least of which being a dead guinea pig as mom punished me for something by refusing to allow my pet to see the vet for her broken leg.

Since the Asperger’s diagnosis, my life has changed for the better. I’ve been working on my sensory issues (many of my outbursts were caused by issues with sound), working on my self-monitoring issues (I can tell much better when I’m on the edge of having a meltdown), I’m on meds that help me avoid meltdowns when people say things that don’t make sense logically, or upset me. There’s numerous other confirmations – apart from that fact that some of the evidence for my diagnosis came from your own assessments – of why ASD fits my struggles, with depression and anxiety being co-morbids. None of the treatment you or the other people who were treating me for impulse and mood disorders worked. Interventions and cognitive therapy geared towards ASD have. But, I’m not here to defend my diagnosis to you as you were completely unable to perform your job effectively and without bias for the woman who was writing your checks.

Many of your  statements of “truths” in these pages came from my mother, through your mouth. I didn’t have a shot in hell.

Mom never stopped baiting me; the better I did, the more she’d find to fault me with and blow up over. One of these occurred right before I graduated from vocational school. Any time I have a major milestone like that, mom suddenly gets antsy, and finds something to tear me down over. Six months after that, when she blew up while my boyfriend and I tried to help her out with an issue of online identity theft, I cut off all contact, and I’ve wondered ever since why I waited so damn long to give myself that gift.

I have nightmares and minor flashbacks. I’ll be drying off my hair and suddenly my mind tells me that outside the bathroom door (the bathroom interior is similar to the house I grew up in) is going to be the hallway of the house I grew up in. I have to whisper to myself it’s not true, force myself to be correctly aware of the world around me. It can wreck my day to have those moments, though I’m working hard at improving this. The nightmares are harder to deal with, as they feel utterly real when they’re happening. Mom will be screaming at me, or hurting me, or just quietly berating me as she is prone to doing.

My entire family is quite sick. It revolves around my mother. It’s easier to cave into her worldview than fight her. I have no idea what kinds of things she tells people now, or even exactly what she was spinning then. Like I said, she has no qualms with lying.

I could easily recite a litany of more specific and more recent stunts my mother has pulled, the things she’s said, but frankly, I don’t feel a need to justify myself any further.

I’m writing this for me. I do not want a reply from you. If you don’t believe me, anything you have to say would just impede my recovery from this miserable experience. If you believe me, there’s nothing you can say that would mitigate the experience. You had your opportunity to believe me, take me seriously, maybe change the course my life was taking. Your job was not to make my mom happy. It was to protect me. And you utterly failed at that.

Your name is a blight on my records and it angers me every time I see it.


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