Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No: In a parallel universe

I had never heard the story of Piers Bolduc, but came across it yesterday over at Larry's blog. It's very much like other stories I know much better, but somehow this one hit me in just such a way that I was able to grasp at a deeper level what before I had known intellectually. I am Piers Bolduc, or would have been if my life had been just slightly different.
From the time I was 13 or 14, I was encouraged (no encouraged is not the word, it was implored, I think) by my parents to "see someone" about whatever it was that was "wrong with me". I am so very lucky, that however many ways they discounted my true nature and individuality, they did not force me physically into the car and on into the office of the psychiatrist they knew would have the right pills to make it all better.
They were not alone in thinking that something was wrong. I read a lot of books, and recognized in myself some signs I was sure were indicators of incipient schizophrenia. The odd jumbled language I used when I talked at all, my lack of typical interest in others, an all too vivid imagination which was always arranging random patterns to form meaningful, often frightening images. Of course, I had not lost touch with reality (well, no, because I wasn't schizophrenic), but I saw in the textbooks that this was scheduled to happen some eight to ten years later.
When my parents said psychiatrist, I said NO. I was allowed to say NO, though they protested I was wrong and they cried and told me how many hours of sleep they lost because I was, well, just basically, weird. I knew exactly what they wanted the doctors to do and I told them, I remember it distinctly. "You want them to make me not me anymore".
They had no answer to that, it was the truth. Probably, they felt some guilt about that, because after all, they are basically good people, loving people who wanted the best for their children. Their definition of "best" and mine were at odds. Though I was denied the rights to many decisions that should have been mine, I got to say NO this time, when it counted the most.
I know that they wouldn't be particularly pleased if they read this. It's not the kind of praise I imagine parents want from their adult children, but my gratitude today is sincere.
It is a sad state of affairs that I feel the need to say "thank you" that I was not forcibly drugged, imprisoned and otherwise abused by institutions. So many others have not been allowed the word NO. Some of what follows has been documented here and here. I want NO for everyone, adult and child, with every type of difference. NO is a most fundamental of rights and a prerequisite to a life worth saying "yes" to.


  1. This is something I'd like parents of autistic kids to know. Thanks for writing it.

  2. Thanks for this. And thanks to Larry too.

  3. ...and I had similar fears, but having a habit of trying to do what I thought was expected of me, tried to confirm them, which led to a lot of confusion for a lot of people.

  4. my parents would not let any shrink take me away. They tried once. My father had an important military career you see. Joint chiefs of staff and all. There could be no stain on the family honor. My father is an Aspie too. This could not be public knowledge! We had to present an image of perfection. I was counseled by my parents on 'the right things to say' to the school and any 'outsiders' I encountered. It was us against them. When the school demanded that I see a doctor.....my mom took me to her cousin who was a respected MD. The school did not want me mainstreamed. I got a clean bill of health, got to go to school with everybody else, and pretty good medical care from my cousin. He did not hold with drugging kids.

    My parents are not perfect people, but I have thanked them for keeping us together as a unit no matter how dysfunctional it was.

    ~Sarah- thought provoking post Thanks!

    1. I can very much appreciate what you wrote. I am a government brat and worked for the Space Command with a Top Secret military clearance. I had two sets of doctors. On and off the record. Today my shrink keeps my diagnosis in a separate book. I don't trust the system, obviously. And it isn't paranoia. It's practicality.

  5. I, too, was fortunately allowed NO. I did teeter on being institutionalized for awhile there, though, particularly when I was 13. If I hadn't ditched those 60 some days of school, I doubt I would've lived, much less lived free. Good thing my dad seemed to have a silent understanding that, however desperate the situation was getting, that the rest was needed.

  6. I didn't receive my initial diagnosis until 2004. Although I wish I had known and been treated sooner I realise and acknowledge that, due to the knowledge of this condition being recent, the sooner the diagnosis the higher the likelihood of a misdiagnosis and improper treatment. I'm lucky that my current shrink has me on the bare minimum of meds and believes in med holidays as well as non-traditional treatment.

    Basically, I take certain doses on work or social days and minimal to none in low-pressure days.

    Diet and sleep hygiene are positive factors.

    And a discovery: Noopept as a supplement, which allows me to have the cake and eat it too. I get to keep the positive attributes of autism while at the same time allowing me to be more coordinated, and perceptive to social nuance, people's depth and complexity of emotion, while removing social anxiety and improving gait.

    I find this supplement to have been a wonderful discovery to the point where I have been in the capacity of Director at my job and actually holding my own. I'm even amazed at myself.

    Of course I believe in acceptance, but if I can have the cake and eat it too, I'll take it.

    I still have my good abilities for pattern-matching but now it's like I know when I can turn my perseverationsl side on or off at will!


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