(nobody ever told me they can lie)

gaslighting (v)

the practice of brainwashing or convincing a mentally healthy individual that their understanding of reality is mistaken or false

 

The majority of childhood abuse victims meet the criteria of at least one mental disorder.

The majority of people who live with mental illness have been abused.

 

When you google “abuse mental illness”, you get articles about how domestic abuse is a very common problem in individuals with mental illness and mental illness linked to violence and does mental illness cause abuse.

 

They are abusing us and they are telling us that we are the abusers, and then they go on to talk about victim blaming and how it is terrible and you should never do it, and they do it all without a trace of irony in their voice, because they believe it. They believe that they are not blaming victims, because we’re not victims, we’re monsters.

 

 

150 mentally ill people are killed by hospitals every year.

 

Countless more are tortured. Do you know what it’s legal to do to us?

 

Probably not, actually.

 

It’s legal to kidnap us. It’s legal to tie us to a bed for days at a time, even if we’re nonviolent, because ‘acting weird’ means we must be dangerous. It’s legal to shock us 5,000 times in one day for things like “being afraid”, “talking to ourselves”, “saying no”, “twitching involuntarily”, and “crying”. It’s legal to starve us to get us to obey you. It’s legal to force feed us medication that hurts us; it’s legal to do so by injecting it in while we cry and scream and struggle.

 

Remember: it is legal to torture someone with PTSD for having PTSD. Many places say that it is necessary, that it is the closest to a cure we have.

 

It is illegal to kill us, at least on purpose, but it was probably just an accident, it’s not their fault that they didn’t listen when their patient said the ties were suffocating them, it’s not their fault that they beat us and held us down because we were acting weirdly. When our parents kill us, they get sympathy: it must have been so hard, they say, having someone like that as a child, no wonder they snapped.

 

I call bullshit.

 

 

I used to flap my hands and grin and pace and jump up and down when I get excited, when I got happy.

 

My mom told me to sit down, because “when you do that, you look, you know…”

My teacher told me “quiet hands” when I fidgeted.

My friends told me “you look retarded” when I rocked back and forth during a panic attack.

 

And the thing is, fear doesn’t cure people, but it makes them hide things from you and get steadily worse until one day they can’t hide it anymore.

 

 

When you tell a mentally healthy eight year old, “crying is overreacting to your best friend trying to kill you, you’re being oversensitive, you’re probably just making everything up to hurt her and get attention, you’re being selfish, or else you’re delusional and it’s all fake” you are generally agreed to be an abusive asshole.

 

When you say the same thing to a deeply disordered eight year old, you are generally agreed to be right.

 

It’s agreed that mentally ill people can have things like emotions that are too intense for the situation, a strong desire for attention, delusions and hallucinations, a poor memory, meltdowns, bursts of anger, and a blurry distinction between real or not real.

It is not agreed that mentally ill people are people and therefore are, in fact, sometimes legitimately hurt.

 

 

When I had a psychotic break and ended up in the nurse’s office, they called me “profoundly manipulative” for being too afraid to talk to them or drink the water they offered me.

 

When I went into the guidance counselor’s office to tell them how my friend was hurting me, they asked her for her side of the story and then agreed that I was the one in the wrong, and that I should be made to apologize to her for hurting her feelings.

 

See, my story’s not a story where I’m allowed to hurt, and if I’m not the victim then I must be the monster.

 

 

I have a petrifying fear of being angry, of being mean, of being the monster that everyone believes I am.

 

My class made fun of gay people. They said I wish it were the 60s, so I could beat gay people up without getting in trouble. Society now is just too accepting.

I almost got angry, but I was so afraid of hurting their feelings that I had a 7-hour panic attack instead, apologizing over and over for being gay and existing, in between tears and shakes and fast shallow breathing.

 

I let people abuse me, because I was taught, this is how you make friends with someone. From the time I was 4, I always let my best friend hurt me. I would do anything to make other people happy, and if they were mad at me I would never get mad back. I made myself become whatever everyone else wanted, and if it lapsed, even for a second, I would hate myself for it.

 

I’m supposed to forgive my abusers, it helps healing, everyone says that, but how can you forgive someone you were never mad at?

 

 

What I’m trying to say is that 250 mentally ill people were shot in America by police last year for the crime of being mentally ill (and often black, too, because rapists and school shooters get peacefully taken and their victims blamed, but if you dare to exist when you’re not supposed to then you get shot), and it is generally agreed that murderers are psychotic thugs, what I’m trying to say is that when a mentally ill person is afraid of the government they are experiencing a delusion of persecution (or obsessive thoughts or excessive anxiety).

 

 

I told my friend what she did to me. My friend asked her for her side of the story and she threatened me until I said that she had done nothing and that I was just delusional.

 

And the definition agreed, because nobody seems to realize that the victim was delusional and the victim is lying about being abused are, in fact, different things. Most of the time, they’re opposites.

 

 

She could have told me that the sky is green and I would have believed her.

She told me she was a fairy queen and I believed her.

She lied all the time, every conversation I had with her was peppered with it, from things as small as the breed of her dog and the type of watch she owned to things as big as who I was, and I always believed her.

I wasn’t allowed to question her or else she’d hurt me.

But I never questioned her, because I believed her, because she took my hallucinations and told me that they were real and that there was more, and that it all meant that she was better than me, and I believed her completely.

But that’s not brainwashing or convincing me that my reality is fake, because I was mentally ill so it was.

I was delusional, so that means she had done nothing.

 

 

It wasn’t abuse, either:

You abuse people when you hurt them.

And I may have been hurt, but I wasn’t a person. So it didn’t count.

 

 

And what I’m trying to say, is that the definition of gaslighting doesn’t include mentally ill people.

We can be hurt by it.

But we don’t count.

Because we never count.

 

 

I passed out in french class after starving myself for months because I had a friend with anorexia and I didn’t think I deserved to eat if she wasn’t, because she mattered and I didn’t.

They hear her story, of her abuse, and agree that it is abuse, because it was terrible and cruel and the police were involved and she hasn’t been a virgin since second grade.

They hear my story, and decide that since it is different (since different means defective means broken means not worth it) it doesn’t count.

 

 

We’re always told that to be perfect we have to be good and pretty and nice.

We can’t be angry at the people who hurt us; we must always put everyone else above ourselves; we must always cover up any bad emotions or else we won’t be pretty, because caring and loving and existing are all worse crimes than actual violence.

 

 

What I’m trying to say is, we are hurting so much.

What I’m trying to say is, why is it decided that our hurt doesn’t count?

 

 

What I’m trying to say is that when they tell us your hurt doesn’t count, when they tell us you don’t count, they are telling us that our reality is mistaken, is false, they are telling us that our understanding doesn’t matter.

But that doesn’t matter because they wrote a neat little escape clause into the definition: abuse is only abuse when it happens to people we like.

 

 

(Can your compassion extend to someone you are not told deserves it?)

 

 

What I’m trying to say is this:

Every time they say “your hurt doesn’t matter, they are the ones that are hurting you.

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Author: hearts

crazy kids sharing a body and a life.

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