On Autism and Identity

While inking over the past few weeks, I have had much time to reflect on my recent autism spectrum diagnosis, my current health issues, and how both these things intersect with my identity and reframe the formative events of my past. I am interested in exploring this more deeply when I am ready to finally put pen-to-paper illustrating my early life. I hope my story can benefit others.

“Camouflaging” in autism refers to the process by which an autistic person develops strategies to hide and/or mask their autistic traits so they can interact more successfully with neurotypical people. For myself, this has felt like trying to learn a foreign language that everyone else seems to speak naturally. The inner disconnect caused by rejection of the authentic self, and acceptance by others of the “camouflaged” false self, lead me to the formation of secondary maladaptive coping mechanisms. Along with how I have been treated due to my previously-undiagnosed autism and ADHD, these have mostly manifested in the form of Cluster B Borderline traits that have lessened with age and awareness.

I believe that “Jin Wicked” began as elaborate camouflaging.

Without understanding why, exactly, the self-imposed process I have been engaged in since approximately the beginning of 2015 has been about undoing this camouflaging and its collateral damage. It is a difficult and rocky endeavour to untangle where the camouflaging ends and the authentic self begins.

I believe that camouflaging has been an element of my recurring depression.

Adding another layer to this is the introduction of gender, and gender roles. I have commented in the past that my femininity has often felt performative, and have less-publicly discussed feeling something best described as “agender.” For me, this means that I do not feel especially feminine or masculine, rather than identifying with one, the other, or both. This is not unheard of. As a child, I fantasized about being born a boy because I, at the time, believed it was unavoidable that I would be forced to bear biological children.

Frequently, these fantasies also included having no breasts or nipples, or my ovaries suddenly shriveling up and dying. It is important to note that I did not, and do not, identify as or want to be male. It was simply the only “other option” imaginable to me as a child. This is key to the outsized offense I have felt when facing obstacles as “a woman,” since I do not identify strongly that way in the first place. These days I prefer female pronouns mainly due to my interest in breaking down the barriers of how “being a woman” is defined.

Maybe relevant; there is some interesting research demonstrating that the brains of autistic females seem to resemble the brains of neurotypical males.

Last week I got my first mammogram, at nearly forty-one, which escalated quickly to an ultrasound and biopsy due to a small mass that was discovered. The mass was benign, but my overall breast cancer risk has been calculated at about 42%, compared to the general population at about 11%. I was deeply affected by being a caregiver for my mother, and witnessing her slow decline and gruesome death from metastatic breast cancer. I have a consultation with a surgeon shortly before Christmas to discuss my wished-for prophylactic double-mastectomy.

I hope that will happen in the spring, after healing from my hysterectomy.

It is a strange gift from the grave, indeed, that this illness and my mother are helping to give me the body that I have always wanted for myself.

My sexuality is not something I care to discuss in great detail. However, I have collected enough data, experience, and perspective to realize that the number of people I have been genuinely sexually attracted to over the course of my life can be counted on one hand. The life-long process of discovering this has resulted in many awkward, unfortunate, and sometimes traumatic sexual experiences.

I believe autistic women are uniquely vulnerable to sexual traumas, due to the dual pressures to “fit in” with a confusing, neurotypical world, and meet society’s expectations of women in general. Most of my sexual experiences have resulted from a desire to please or placate a partner, figure out what I am/was “missing” because I felt abnormal, and/or perform my role as a woman “correctly.” This includes situations where I feel my naivete and loneliness were exploited.

It also cannot be understated how addictive and insidious “approval” and positive-reinforcement are to someone that relies on internal scripts to get by; particularly to myself, suffering from alienation and chronic loneliness.

Enduring, and even provoking, unwanted attention and sexual advances from men because I thought that is what I was “supposed” to do took quite a heavy toll on both my self-image and psychological well-being over the years.

This has been compounded by unwanted sexual advances, comments, and inappropriate behaviour coming from customers, convention attendees, patrons, and others who financially supported me in some way — forcing me to regularly choose between my sense of safety and the ability to live. This is a systemic problem most women endure, but autism further complicates it.

I am grateful to the men who were able to recognize my vulnerability, on a conscious or subconscious level, and maintain appropriate sexual and/or non-sexual boundaries and relationships with me. I am grateful to all those who have been patient with me, as I have dug into the past, to understand who and what I am. And I am sorry for those I have unintentionally hurt by not being able to know myself; above all, my ex-husband, who never did anything “wrong.”

If you take only one thing away from this, let it be the importance of early intervention, and recognizing when children need extra help and guidance. Our world is increasingly constructed for a specific kind of brain that easily navigates a one-size-fits-all education system, society, and workplace. It is impossible to know how my life would have turned out differently if my parents’ response to my behaviour problems and struggling was attention and professional intervention, instead of anger, judgement, and violence. I do know that I am one of the fortunate ones — I could have easily been another suicide statistic.

Though I will be looking into if I qualify for SSDI, there are also not many services available to people who can almost, but not quite consistently support themselves. For environmental and interpersonal reasons, I have had significant trouble maintaining traditional employment for more than a year or two at a time. My fundraiser at the beginning of 2020, a dwindling emergency fund, and small business aid have helped me weather the pandemic. Going into 2021, and the long-term, I need to at least double my number of Patreon subscribers.

I will be off-camera for a while as I continue to focus on my upcoming art book, take time to process everything that has happened recently, and recover from medical procedures. I am still currently in a great deal of discomfort — and frequently — pain. More generally, I have been burnt-out and exhausted.

Please stay safe, and I hope you have the best holiday season possible.

CATEGORY:

Walking the Gauntlet, Vol 2

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with a lawyer regarding the “defamation” case against me. I have also distributed the digital archive of 100+ documents, police reports, screenshots, video, and other evidence I collected to multiple trusted third-parties, in the event that something happens to me.

If you were involved with the JIN WICKED VERITAS page and you provide me with any additional evidence and/or testimony that I do not already have linking Stephanie Cofell, Cory Strode, or Joe Rider to either the Facebook page or the WordPress blog, I will refrain from identifying you or taking any future action(s) against you. Proceeding to a trial may mean you are exposed regardless.

Click for larger image. My “Priority Mail” copy never arrived.

On Wednesday I saw an OB/GYN. Barring any disruptions due to COVID-19, I have a hysterectomy scheduled for January to address the chronic pain and other issues I have been experiencing. It is my hope that once I have recovered fully from that surgery, I will be able to pursue having my breasts removed.

I have lost 3-4lbs in the last two weeks. I find it difficult to even enjoy food at this time, and I am forcing myself to eat the minimum amount of calories I know I need to remain healthy. I am alive almost solely to prove motherfuckers wrong. For the remainder of this year, I will be taking a step back from my social media, except Patreon, to focus on completing the remaining illustrations for my upcoming art book. I am also working on a wearable-art project.

Thank you to my customers, readers, and Patreon subscribers, as always.

CATEGORY:

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.

CATEGORY:

Cruelty Culture

Recently, I scrolled past a meme on Facebook that referred to ADHD as “diet autism.” While amusing at first glance, there is a nugget of truth in this. Those close to me know I have regularly mentioned suspecting I might be on the autism spectrum myself — especially since 2012, when I began working a part-time job again after years of limited human contact. I had to consciously and deliberately rebuild my socialization skills from scratch; the sort of systematic way I went about it is probably good example of how I approach myself, generally.

For years I have, only somewhat jokingly, referred to my struggles as learning how to be human. It has been the dominant theme explored over and over in my self-portraits. In aggregate, these images are obviously an attempt to relate my lived experience in ways I am unable to communicate with words. I don’t “love” or even “enjoy” drawing, but now theorize that I developed it as a part of my functional “vocabulary” adjacent to verbal and written language.

I have also illustrated the intense inner-conflict between my desire to be “good,” while believing for much of my life that I am “bad” or deficient. Apparently that is a documented phenomena. I tick off a lot of boxes, including some repetitive and ritualistic behaviours that I always assumed might be OCD, but are more likely a form of stimming. I do not know if a diagnosis at my age is easily possible.

When I dig deeply into my earliest memories, a clear pattern emerges of my struggles with social interaction and relating to others. Though I was never too bullied by classmates beyond the scope of isolated teasing, I did frequently feel “othered.” I saw myself as the “weird” one, and was definitely treated that way. I was often rejected without understanding why. Part of this was obviously due to the extreme restrictions placed upon me by my parents, but I believe that my neurodivergence played a role as well. They are irretrievably intertwined.

Throughout my life, I have encountered people that absolutely loathe me for reasons I did/do not know. I am speaking about elementary-aged school children to adults — going so far as to accuse me of, fabricate, and spread rumours about things I “did” that literally never happened. Even my parents! This could have been a source of bitterness for me, but it has mostly been bemusement.

“Confused” describes my immediate reaction to most interpersonal conflict.

It makes much more sense in the context of a brain/developmental disorder. Impulsivity, opaque and fast-moving thought processes, and an almost complete obliviousness to “tact” has generally led me to having virtually no verbal filter and expressing myself in the worst ways possible. People around me have also never hesitated to tell me what was “wrong” with me, which normalized that behaviour. I know this may come as a shock, but independent of good intentions, helpfully informing people what you feel they are doing wrong is rarely well-received.

These days I have learned to slow down and/or just keep my mouth shut.

For those that cannot or do not want to understand me — that is okay. I am doing my best, and constantly evolving. That is all I, or anyone, can do.

The Prisoner, 2016

Yet — in spite of the impairments I have had to overcome, and my personal shortcomings, and in spite of how I have often been treated over the course of my life — I have never relished being cruel. (Petty, sure, but in a harmless way.) Even at my most oblivious, I have never deliberately acted to deprive, destroy, hurt, or injure someone. Cruelty, and indifference to the pain and suffering of others, is something I find morally repulsive. I do not understand it.

The concept of deriving delight, or even joy, at the genuine misery of another person is also a concept I cannot wrap my mind around. I lost several Facebook friends, and a paying Patreon subscriber, after I repeatedly deleted ghoulish and gloating comments on a post I made when Donald Trump was diagnosed with Coronavirus. Readers ignored my numerous requests for them to stop, and eventually I became so distressed that I deleted the entire post.

I despise Donald Trump specifically because of his cruelty and I do not want to become the thing I despise. Is this truly that alien of a concept? I did not feel bad for him, and I do not wish him well, but throwing a party? is a whole other level. Trump’s discomfort and pain do not improve my life in any measurable way.

For those who believe in karma, how is the hypocrisy not apparent?

At times like these, I really do feel like some kind of alien being. Everyone is entitled to their emotions, and I am not lecturing anyone or trying to claim the moral high ground. I am attempting to convey my utter bewilderment.

Earlier this week, the Trump campaign finally pushed out a story that fucking broke me. Amid the fraudulent “scandal” about “Hunter Biden’s” alleged laptop, the New York Post published a series of private text messages between Hunter and his father. These are text messages from a hurting, vulnerable person, grappling with addiction and grief, laying bare his insecurities.

Joe Biden’s response was to be a compassionate, loving, and supportive father.

That’s it. That’s the “gotcha.” Joe Biden is a good dad. These malignant assholes’ sense of compassion and humanity has atrophied to the point that expressing love to your family is something to be looked upon with derision.

They intend me to read these messages and think less of Joe Biden.

I would have sawed an arm off to feel even half as supported by my father.

Right-wing Twitter began circulating a portrait of both Bidens together, as adults. It was a beautiful and warm photo, shared with a nudge-wink insinuation that there was either incest or pedophilia going on at some point between them.

A tender moment between a father and son, brandished to humiliate.

And I cannot handle any more. I do not understand these monsters. I do not understand this world where people are mocked for caring about others. I do not understand this world where kindness equals weakness. I do not understand this world that invokes the name of Jesus Christ constantly, while doing the opposite of everything he preached. I do not understand this world of greed, dishonesty, selfishness, and power at all costs. I do not understand this world where the Stock Market is worshipped as God, while people die in the streets.

The brain circuits tasked with processing this cruelty have over-loaded.

My heart is tired. My bones are tired. My spirit is tired.

I have had to temporarily withdraw into my projects for my own health. I am still posting my work-in-progress over on Patreon, but have dialed back my social media exposure until the belching firehose of cruelty has abated.

Tend Your Garden, 2018

Because of the election — no matter which way things go — the continuing increase in Coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors, economic fallout from lack of action by the government, and the persistent threat of militia and white supremacist violence, we are in all likelihood about to confront one of the darkest and most grueling winters in living memory.

Here in the Midwest the daylight is dwindling, and the snow has started falling.

I recommend that you mentally and physically prepare yourself, in whatever forms that may take. Buy a few extra cans of food on each grocery trip (leave some for others though!), keep Gatorade/broth/soup and other such liquids on hand in addition to water, have a supply of general OTC cold medicines, make sure home and vehicle maintenance is up-to-date and winterized if needed.

Have plenty of your preferred entertainment and/or escapism stockpiled — books, movies, music, hobbies, creative activities. Hang Christmas decorations early if they help to keep your mood up. Try to limit the use of destructive coping mechanisms, like alcohol and opiates, that can fuel downward spirals.

Most importantly, reach out to and maintain virtual contact with your family, friends, and neighbours. It is only through coming together as a community, and acting non-selfishly, that we will successfully navigate the challenges ahead. It is going to get worse before it gets better, but I still believe things can get better.

Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Stay safe, my friends. ❤

CATEGORY:

[VIDEO BLOG] DUMP TRUMP NOVEMBER 3RD

VOTE NOVEMBER 3RD
And get your DUMP TRUMP multi-pack!
➡️ http://bit.ly/DUMPTRUMP2020

Please Support my Work
http://patreon.com/jinwicked
http://jinwicked.etsy.com/

It took at least two dozen attempts and an hour-and-a-half to record this, not including clothes, hair, makeup, editing, or closed-captioning on Facebook. I have been in excruciating on/off pain recently. No connection to the car accident in August. I have a doctor appointment this week. Hopefully nothing serious.

The unfettered callousness, cruelty, and selfishness on display every day is destroying my will to live. Please vote blue to help end this nightmare.

Dump Trump 2020 Multi-Pack

CATEGORY:

[VIDEO BLOG] NASTY WOMAN reporting for duty!

Black lives matter.
Brown lives matter.
Indigenous lives matter.
LGBTQ+ lives matter.
Women’s rights are human rights.
Trans rights are human rights.
Science is real.
Climate change is real.
Coronavirus is not a hoax.
Vaccines do not cause autism.
Love is love.
And FUCK Donald Trump.

I’m Jin Wicked, and I approved this message.

Dump Trump 2020

CATEGORY: