A while back, when my family was financially struggling, and we weren’t sure if we would have a roof over our heads, someone suggested to link a Donate button to my blog. So to help my mother, I set up a Donation button, and moved the details of my situation to my About Page – how I had Asperger’s, Anxiety Disorder, was housebound; how much my mother was struggling with money and how much I wished to help.
I wanted to help her, in some way, any way, and as the government did not care (I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, none of which were applicable for disability because the psychiatrist could not figure out why I couldn’t go outside without feeling so anxious I would sometimes cry and have a panic attack, feel exposed and bombarded by lights, noise, people (I loathe the city), which were all symptoms of Asperger’s, but, being female, I didn’t have all the “logical” elements so he didn’t diagnose me).
I wasn’t trying to gain people’s pity or sympathy, to wheedle money from people; I was merely trying to show how much I was struggling, due to forces beyond my control, and how little financial help I had, and how I wanted, so very badly, to help my mother with the mounting bills, the mounting debt, the mounting pressure ever since my disgusting father took all the money and left, short of stealing it or selling my blood or something crazy like that.
To compensate for it, I thought I’d promise to send people who donated my future published book (writing is the only thing, really, that I have now), only later realising what it mistake it was, because I had inadvertently tied the donations I received to how many people believed in my writing in the world, when, in truth, most people are just struggling themselves or want to save their money (and sometimes nice people want to help but don’t have access to Paypal, or own a credit card), which is absolutely, completely fine, and I absolutely, completely understand; I would do the same, if I was in their position. The thing about donations is that they’re optional, and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone for not donating – the idea is absurd. It’s other people’s money, that they earned, and they should have the choice on how to spend it.
But today I found a new email in my Inbox, stating that writing so much, about all the problems I was experiencing, made me look desperate for money, and that, well, who knew whether I had all these problems, anyway, it’s all very easy to make up when you’re an anonymous person on the Internet – and that he had been in worse situations, with drugs, staying at homeless shelters, violence, and that my life was all peaches and cream in comparison. And it just absolutely crushed me, and I was very upset, deeply upset. The accusation that I was desperate was true, if uncomfortable – I was desperate to help my mother, hating seeing her exhausted from work, hated the mounting debt, and felt powerless because of my psychological issues – but to have someone tell me that they thought I was making up my mental illness, pretending to have Asperger’s, or fibromyaglia (which is very common among sensitive people, like Empaths and HSPs), especially in light of this morning, just cut me to the core.
So I’m taking down the explanation of my situation on the About Page. I’m not sure if this is conceding defeat to that person, but I don’t really want to look desperate, and I don’t want to allow the slightest opportunity or chance for people who visit my blog, all the people who read my words and make me happy, to think that I might be pretending to be disabled. I know that people in the world have it harder than I do. I live in a first-world country; I’m not starving, and I’m not homeless, at least yet. I just had nothing, really, except this blog, so I thought I’d try to help my mother using it, and I never dreamed someone would think that of me. It was just horribly invalidating, I just felt horribly upset, and it jangled my nerves.
The thing is, the reason his suspicions hurt me so badly was that I was starting to think some people did think I was being money-grubbing. After asking for donations, the views on my About Page dropped abruptly, and I started receiving no comments on my posts anymore, when usually, in the morning, when I woke up, I found a good two or three to read and cheer me up and reply to. Nor did I receive many emails anymore. So perhaps maybe that man was right, maybe the presence of length explanation of why I needed donations, desperately, made people uncomfortable about my blog, and uncomfortable towards me as a writer – which wasn’t my intention, not in the slightest. I wrote, very clearly, that I would understand and still love everyone who came to my blog and visited and wrote to me and made me happy with their Likes and their sweet comments, even if they didn’t donate a cent. I am alone, all by myself, most days, partly because that’s the way I like it, and partly because, well, when you’re housebound, you don’t exactly have a social life, but this blog offers me a touch of the human connection without the anxiety, and that is priceless. This incident, triggered by the message, just feels like a big, ball of awfulness, where I feel as though I don’t know where I stand.
The problem is, capitalism, the necessity of money for survival, pushes the disabled and the old and the mentally ill to the fringes of society, where they struggle, unseen, unheard. And, as my experience with the Donation button showed me, money does sully and dirty things which were once pure: my blog, my integrity. It’s just that – and this is very typical of my excitable nature – when I received one donation from Leonor, who I dearly thank for donating and believing in my writing and being so lovely, hope shot through me – that perhaps, even housebound as I was, I would still be able to help my mother. The fact that even one person donated, invested in me, believed in me as a writer, brought tears to my eyes.
So even though I’m not deleting the Donation (Or Buy Now) Button, because I must still keep the opportunity to earn even a couple of dollars here and there open, to help my family, I did delete the explanation of my situation on the About Page. I don’t know if I did the right thing, but I just couldn’t stand that email, and I couldn’t stand the thought of other people thinking the same. Just to make it, once more, very, very clear: I am not making up my problems; the only time I ever spoke a single lie on this blog was when I was seventeen, first starting out, and pretended I was an adult (which I am now) in the false belief that it would make me seem more knowledgeable. And I was also not pressuring people to donate by making myself look desperate. I just wanted to shine a light on what it was truly like, to have a host of issues working together, preventing a young, able-bodied person like me from stepping a foot outside into that noisy city on the worst days, and wracked with anxiety on the good days, when I go to Headspace, or the doctors.
The problem is that money sullies everything in our society. Do you know, my doctor keeps on smiling and calling me back, and pretending to make it seem like I am in a very serious and suicidal state, just so he can continue milking money from me? I don’t pay the doctor myself, the government does, but the more “patients” he has, the more money he gets. So he has convinced my mother that my situation is dire and I must be brought back, again and again, despite the panic attacks, the overwhelming agoraphobia-like fear of the open sky and spaces and city and the noise and the busyness, whereupon he pretends to care, and pockets the money. A doctor, someone who is meant to heal, and show empathy, and truly care – and yet he is one of many who do not care for his patients, and is simply in it for the money. To sit in his clinic, as he smiles in that sickly-sweet way and ask afters how I am and pretends to care, makes me want to scream.
But it’s not just doctors. Money dirties every facet of society, boiling everything down, including people, into a matter of dollar signs and transactions. People are defined by their jobs, by their salaries, by their net worth. Employees only suck up to their bosses and tolerate their colleagues to keep their job even if they’d rather spend time with anyone else, making human interactions artificial. People at the cashiers say, “How are you?” in a way that very clearly shows they do not give a damn how you are, that spouting the line is just part of their job. People don’t see other people: they just see people who can provide them with a product or a service.
Or a struggling person like me tries to reach out for some help, and has her integrity doubted, and perhaps I don’t blame him. Corruption, theft, crime, murder, people trying to scam people out of their money – it’s everywhere in the world, all because of money. Because of money, and the economic system, people feel more financially uncertain, and more suspicious of other people. People feel defined by their jobs, people are forced into occupations they dislike or hate for the money, and society then becomes this miserable, suspicious morass, addicted to consumption, full of fear of not being able to pay the bills, not having enough for retirement, no compassion, no kindness, no care. Money is a wonderful tool and resource – but it also controls, taints, and dirties. It replaces compassion, as in the case of my doctor, with a horrible greediness, where, no matter where you go, you are a customer, rather than a human being, and people are only there, like teachers (many of whom look miserable or bored at work, frankly), buzzing around you, to keep the money flowing into their bank accounts. Even some students only talk sweetly to their teachers to wheedle good grades out of them – and what are the purpose of good grades, ultimately? To one day get a “good” job, so you can earn money.
I don’t know how to solve this problem, really. It does make the world feel very cold, very impersonal, which, as a dreamer, who often longs for human warmth, feel even more out of place, more unhappy. Basically, because of the way society is run now, people now pay for kindness when once kindness was the reward in itself: doctors worked because they wanted to heal, teachers taught because they were passionate. A society fueled on passion is a thousand times more genuine than one fueled on money. I would write, for instance, as I do now, for no money at all, because the act itself is the reward. I just wish money wasn’t like this, supplanting all the good things in the world, making it cold, uncaring, exploitative. It’s so terribly wrong that it makes me so sick, sick to my heart, so sick I could throw up.
The Fire Incident
The awful incident that happened this morning, before I read the email, was that a fire alarm went off in the apartment block.
I was home alone, my mother was driving my brother and sister off to school on her way to work. She was tired already, I could tell. I wasn’t left with the key to the unit. And I couldn’t go outside, as the fire alarm went on and on. The sound was deafening, bashing through my skull: “Evacuate Now. Evacuate Now”, blared through speakers in the ceiling. I was shaking, grabbing my sunglasses, my earplugs, putting on my shoes, gasping at the noise, shaking with anxiety. I was forced to leave the unit, and go outside, whereupon I had a panic attack, started crying even though I berated myself not to be a baby, an idiot, anxious amongst all those people clustered outside who had been flushed out of the building by the alarm.
Then my mother had to be late for work to drive back and give me the key so I could go back inside the unit, a blubbering, shaking, rattled mess. She was furious with me, and her fury hit me like a slap; her boss would be angry with her for being late, and she would be stressed and angry for the rest of the day – and it was all my fault. What if she lost her job for being late, again? Then we really would be homeless. It was all my fault.
It was agony. And in the end, it turned out there was no fire, after all, that it had been an accident, a curl of smoke in someone’s bedroom activating some hidden mechanism. Better safe than sorry, I suppose, but I couldn’t put feel as though I’d been dragged through Hell for nothing.
This was what it was like to have Asperger’s, Anxiety, whatever you want to call it. Forced outside without preparation, startled by the evacuation announcement, unable to even return home without my mother having to drive back, for the first time I felt what I a burden, and how disabled, I truly was, and I was fearful for my future, and full of hate for myself.
You can’t imagine how much the city burns me. It is a poker, pressed to my flesh. I think I require grass, trees, and peace to feel sane, and that, in the absence of nature, of peace and quiet, I have retreated into the apartment. I do loathe where I live, all the busy roads, all the people who seem to sleepwalk through their days.
And after all that, I came home, and found that horrible email in my Inbox, after that torturous experience, and I just couldn’t bear it. If nothing else, please understand that issues like Asperger’s and mental illness (or whatever constitutes an inability to function as other humans do; I’m of the opinion that, along with the Asperger’s and the anxiety, I’m just not spiritually built for city life) are real, and that I would never, ever lie and pretend to be disabled or, have various illnesses or problems, in order to gain sympathy or donations.
And thank you to all the people who have been kind to me, and read my words, and commented and been so kind, understanding, sympathetic. Sometimes, all we need is someone to say, “I see your pain.” I know it was only one person who sent the email, and the message itself was odd and hasty (he seemed personally angered, even though I do not know him, and he has, to my best knowledge, not commented on my blog before) but it nonetheless ruined my day. Words can heal – and they can also hurt.