Walking the Gauntlet

On Monday I received a “demand letter” from a lawyer representing Stephanie Cofell, threatening a civil defamation lawsuit and potential criminal investigation if I do not remove this blog post, and remove mentions of her, Cory Strode, and Joe Rider from my social media. She is alleging that the messages I posted from her are “fake,” including a private message she sent me directly herself, and screenshots from her phone that included her name in the EXIF data.

I KNOW what is real. I KNOW what she sent me. I STILL have it.

Nothing says, “I am definitely not an unhinged narcissistic person,” like hiring a lawyer to threaten financial losses to a desperately poor individual that you have been attacking and trash-talking for years, during the darkest part of a worldwide pandemic and the worst civil unrest since the 1960s. These are clearly the actions of a sane, rational person, and not the crazed woman with a personal vendetta against me that I described in the posts that she is demanding I remove.

The blog post in question is based on my first-hand experiences, details and information that I felt were trustworthy from third parties, and both direct and circumstantial evidence that I accumulated myself. I would not have published what I did if I were not confident in the conclusions that I reached.

The idea that I would knowingly fabricate something just to “defame” someone when, overall, publishing that post has brought me more drama and grief than any kind of “reward,” is ridiculous. I spoke out because I am tired of people hurting me, then trying to gaslight me and label me as crazy afterward.

I profoundly regret not filing criminal trespass (?) charges when Cory Strode chose to let himself in my home and touch my intimate items. At the time I only wanted to be left alone, but that decision to “let it go” has done nothing but indirectly cause me additional trauma over and over again.

The truth is not defamation. I am perfectly happy to take a polygraph test. I am happy to submit all my documents for computer forensic analysis. Let’s subpoena the Facebook and Messenger records for her account. I spoke out because I have been regularly talking to a therapist, in part, because I need someone to help me with the confusion, distress, and trauma these people have caused me.

I have endured people assigning malice and motives to me that I never had.

I have endured “armchair psychologists” attempting to diagnose/treat me.

I endured an almost two-year-long “anonymous” defamation campaign, and yet somehow I am the one being threatened with a defamation lawsuit for publishing the evidence I have of those involved, and speaking out about it. Unreal.

Haven’t I suffered enough?! I have nothing.

I live barely at, or below, the poverty line. I have nothing to sue for.

For the past several weeks, if not months by now, I have been openly wrestling with bouts of borderline-suicidal depression. I am highly suspicious of what appears to be an attempt to kick me while I am already down.

I have also had enough of being bullied, intimidated, and threatened. I am currently seeking legal resources for people in poverty, as well as inquiring what I may be covered for under my existing insurance policies. If any lawyer reading this wishes to donate time to assist me in this matter, please contact me.

I would also appreciate any journalist leads that might cover this story.

I am willing to attach my name to my statements, unlike those, including Stephanie, who spent almost two years trying to defame me and destroy my professional reputation under a thin veneer of “anonymity.”

I am an autobiographer and my life — warts and all — is an open book. When someone makes a conscious decision to interact with me, they do so with the knowledge that I draw and write in extreme detail about my experiences.

I will stand up for myself, even if it means defending myself in court.

In “health” news, in reference to my previous post, the therapist I have been working with since early 2019 is on board with an autism-spectrum diagnosis for me. It is an idea I had brought up a few times in the past, and she told me she has had similar thoughts about me over time. (She reads much of my writing in addition to our talks.) I will be going into her office later this month for further evaluations. I have been having increasing trouble again with behaviours like compulsively, repeatedly locking, checking, and re-locking doors, etc.

Autism and ADHD Overlap

An autism diagnosis does not change my current course of treatment (ADHD medication and therapy), however it does release me from the self-imposed idea that “normal” (neurotypical) is an attainable goal for me. Another way of putting it might be: giving myself permission to own my awkwardness and weirdness. I can learn to interact with others and the world more effectively, but I will never “bootstraps” my way to a Not Autistic Anymore trophy. Which is what I have, unknowingly, been trying to do for most of my self-aware life.

It also gives me a better framework for understanding my meltdowns and shutdowns, and an effective vocabulary for expressing my needs to others. I am exhausted almost all of the time. Maintaining an “average” American life requires a tremendous amount of focus and effort from me, and I am frequently confused, over-stimulated, and overwhelmed. For good and for ill, I possess many childlike traits: I tend to take statements very literally, trust people’s word, and assume “adults” have my best interest at heart. We learn not to take candy from the stranger in a van, but I cannot recognize subtle social signs of danger.

ADHD and Autism Overlap

Though I understand, it is difficult to not feel a little failed by my parents and teachers while I was growing up. In the early 1980s there was simply less awareness — and to an extent there still is, in girls.

Parents: You cannot beat/berate/scream/punish these behaviours away.

Like I also mentioned in October, I have been in a great deal of physical pain recently. After multiple visits to the doctor, I was diagnosed with simple ovarian cyst(s) and a decent-sized uterine fibroid. The pain is low-to-high; some days it has felt like a knife being wriggled around in my abdomen. A few times it has been so severe I thought I had a burst appendix. I see a specialist soon.

Today I had a small benign cyst removed from my scalp. I have another scheduled in January. They cause a lot of pain and tenderness, and headaches localized to that area. I was impressed with the dermatologist; she was very fast and used a tiny incision. I had a slightly larger cyst removed years ago that left my bed pillow looking like a murder scene the next day, and a noticeable scar.

Lastly, I get my first mammogram in December. I have not noticed anything suspicious, but I do experience breast pain frequently. While I tested negative for BRCA1 and BRCA2, I am hoping that I may still be eligible for prophylactic double mastectomy. I have a strong family history of breast cancer, and my own mother developed and died of it before 60. I do not have any emotional attachment to my breasts as a display of “femininity,” and would be quite happy to be rid of them entirely before they try to kill me. I would be happy to be rid of them, generally. If I have to live in the Apocalypse, might as well look the part.