Today has been a slow, boring day. I’m lactose intolerant, and yet I still ate multiple milk-based popsicles for breakfast anyway. Then I spent an hour in the bathroom hating myself, which is nice. I actually woke up at a semi-reasonable time this morning. At least it was reasonable for a fifteen year old in the middle of summer. Ten past ten in the morning isn’t all that bad, yeah?
Today I’m going to see a therapist, which I guess is a thing. I’m pretty nervous about it. What if she doesn’t like me? Or what if she sucks and I have to tell my mom that I want to see someone else? That’d really suck, but I guess I’ll have to deal with it. My mom already made the appointment. I’ve known for a week now, and yet I still find that I’m not mentally prepared.
Today I’m here to tell you where my anxiety came from! Oh boy, exciting! Anxiety comes from a lot of different places. All I know is that I wasn’t born with an anxiety disorder, I developed it over time. That’s usually how it works with most people. Maybe they grow up in harsh conditions, or are just nervous people at heart. Either way, it stems from somewhere.
My little brother is autistic. He’s really high on the spectrum. He can sort of talk, but he has trouble communicating what he wants. When he gets too upset, he stems. Stemming is basically them letting off steam. And to stem, he screeches. At the top of his lungs. And he hits himself in the face. He grinds his teeth, and he bangs his fists on his head. It’s scary to watch.
Growing up, my parents didn’t really know what to do with my little brother, Logan. They didn’t know how to control him, and they were still sort of learning what autism was. People with autism as bad as Logan’s feel trapped in their own bodies. Everything is out of their control. It’s like they’re trying to play an Xbox game with a Play Station controller. It just doesn’t work.
Logan loved any sort of control he could get, so he didn’t know that it was wrong to hit me. All he knew is that when he hit me, I would cry. My mom would get mad, and my dad would yell at him. He was making that happen. He was in control. My parents didn’t want to call the police, so they told me to hide. They told me to lock the door and not come out. Logan would bang on my door mercilessly and scream at the top of his lungs. He’d throw his toys out of windows. He’s break my brother’s things. Anything he could do to feel even a little bit in control.
That’s when I began to develop it. At the age of six, I was too shy to make any friends. Not that I could have them over. Logan would scare them. He’d yell at them too. I didn’t want anyone to come over. I was pretty embarrassed by him to be honest. So I grew up alone in my bedroom. I couldn’t come out and watch TV without getting screamed at. I couldn’t get a snack from the kitchen without being slapped.
Finally, just last year, we placed him in a group home. It’s basically a home away from home for people like him. People with disabilities. They’re given a stable life with a consistent schedule. Someone is there and awake twenty four hours of the day. He’s really mellowed out now. He’s so zen, and I love visiting him. I don’t hate the guy or anything. He didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. He’s like a little kid trapped in a teenagers body, that’s all. We play video games together, and he likes to watch me play Minecraft for him. I’m glad we can have the type of relationship we do now.
But the issues he left behind in his wake still remain. My family is slowly starting to put itself back together. My brother has developed a dislike for noise now, and it makes him anxious when it’s too loud. When someone drops something in the house, I flinch. I always lock my door out of habit, and I still don’t come out all that often. I don’t have any friends either.
So… yeah, that’s where mine came from. It came from years of abuse and fear! I just wanted to share, and vent. But I also wanted to spread some awareness about both anxiety disorders and autism.
People with autism may:
- Have dramatic mood swings.
- Have odd obsessions. (My little brother adores vacuum cleaners and vacuum hoses)
- Harm themselves. (Slapping themselves, banging their head against walls or their fists.)
- Stem. (Screaming, self harm, and other odd behaviors)
- Have meltdowns. (Screaming and sobbing. Throwing things, hitting themselves, breaking objects.)
- Experience intense anxiety (Needing to leave a store or room after five minutes. Getting upset at family events and gatherings. Not liking music or change in schedule.)
- Have irrational fears. (Logan has an serious fear of cats and most flying insects, especially moths. He calls them skunks and thinks they will kill him.)
Different, not less.
That’s all I’ve got for today, I guess. Don’t judge the kids or adults you see with disabilities. Not cool man. They’re human beings too, and they deserve to be loved and treated as equals.