Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Are You Neuroqueer? by E.J. (Ibby) Grace

So maybe you take Prozac or Lexapro and you don't know if you should add Abilify. It's on TV, so that's normal enough, right? But you can't tell anyone at work. And you've got your emergency panic attack pills in a Motrin tube, of course, because if people got the idea that you were crazy or unstable, you'd be finished. And it's not like you're some psycho, because then.... But listen.
[Visual image of a person's head mapped out from an old book. It says Fig. 3. Human Head.]

Sometimes you literally cannot get out of bed. You cannot. Get. Out of bed. You have tried a couple of times confidentially to explain to a couple of close, trusted friends that you are depressed. They do keep your secret, thank goodness, but they also incessantly tell you stuff they find online or hear on the radio. You should really get more exercise, you know, more sun? But you cannot get out of bed when you cannot get out of bed, so how are you supposed to get out of bed?

Just do it, man, we feel great when we go jogging in the morning, when we eat fake food or something, take expensive vitamins. As Dr. Oz says....No. Shut up. This is not like, I've got the blues, I'm bummed, right? Gah. OK. No.

I, the Autistic writer, do not have depression, but let me tell you this: I invite you to notice that there are many others such as myself who also think it is a giant injustice that you should have to face stigma for being who you are. Why should you have to fear what people think of you, on top of having to worry about how you are going to get out of bed? How much it costs for you to get the pills for you to be able to get out of bed?  Good grief.  They call depression a 'mental illness' label, but I call it a way to be Neuroqueer, and I warmly invite you into our culture.

Bipolar? Anxious? Schizophrenic? Epileptic? Autistic? Borderline? Perhaps... a little too... creative? All the ways our brains work, they use these against us.  I can proclaim I'm Autistic at work and unlike say twenty years ago, when I had to hide trembling in the shadows, right now I can make it sound kind of like I'm saying I'm a rock star.  There are people who think it's a perfectly fine idea to kill Autistic kids, though, at the precise same time in our human history. We are in flux.  So I need to tell more people what a rock star I am, what a great thing it was that I was left to live.  Sometimes this is terrifying.  The ones on our team need more reinforcements on the team at all times doing this.

Many of the people I know who have neurologies others call 'mental illness' cannot right now announce it and make it sound like they are a rock star.  People will blame everything on them, on that name, and they know it.  The news uses it to whip up ratings when they have no idea: none.  But I and my friends, the ones who think like I think, especially the Neuroqueer Autistics and others, we have your back, and we live and fight for the time you can be free to be yourself and bring the rest of everyone through the gates, up the ladder (and elevator, which is glass and awesome looking) with you.  Soon you can tell people out loud whatever you like and the stigma which will probably still be there will be balanced on the other side with political power.  This is how it has happened for many Autistics, and we on the edge want to open this social capital up to more people.

We welcome you to join us, as quietly or as loudly as you feel you can.  Be one of us: the requirements for membership are desire and relation.  Badassery is of course welcome as well, but you can work up to that.  ;)

[Visual image: Red fist on black background, over the word "Resist."]
When we are all freely who we are, we will stun the world by being the majority.

Love,
Ib

40 comments:

  1. I love you Ibby. I was just washing dishes, admitting to myself how disabling my depression has been...all my life. Yeah, I am NeuroQueer with you.

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  2. We have never met, but I love you, too! I AM NEUROQUEER!

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  3. Every Thursday afternoon at about 3:40, I stand up from my desk, grab my handbag, and announce to my office neighbors that I'll be back soon. I'm off to get my head shrunk and, I remind them, they wouldn't want it any other way!

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  4. My anxiety, while intensely present from time to time and occasionally troubling/disruptive enough to require medication, has never been truly debilitating for extended periods of time, and I am in a position of high intersectional privilege. And yet your perspective, and those of other neurodiverse/neuroqueer folk, resonate more deeply with me than anything that would present itself as "normal". So I AM NEUROQUEER, if I am worthy of such a word.

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  5. I love it! Jim Overboe and Richard Ingram have also been using "psychocrip," which I see as approaching "neuroqueer" along a winding country road.

    I'm in favor of language proliferation. Taxonomy seems to be my destiny, but at the end of the day I really just want ALL THE NAMES.

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  6. You ARE a rock star, Ibby!!!! Love all this. <3

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  7. W00t! Love all you NeuroQueers! What a bunch of Awesome! I am so glad to be one too!! xxoo!! ALL THE NAMES, ALL THE WIN!

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  8. Just found you via Twitter, and am now following.
    re your post: this is definitely something to consider. I *want* to believe that my depression, anxiety, creativity and huge emotions are natural and don't need to be medicated away... and at the same time, I'm scared. I'm tired of being "weird". I'm tired of living below the poverty line due directly to that weirdness. I'm tired of everything being an uphill battle all the time.

    I wish I could invite you all over for cookies. Or soup. Or something. Just being in the same room, knowing we have something in common, would be amazing.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. PS: The term "neuroqueer" is problematic at best and could be very hurtful to Queer folk. Can a term be coined that represents your idea but isn't appropriating from anyone?

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    3. Hi, Otherkin! I'm Elizabeth Hassler, and I've posted on the blog before. I'm glad you're following us. All the NeuroQueer (or neuro-queer, in my case) writers identify with/as queer somehow (Ibby's first piece is about her queerness), so I'm confused as to why you think we could be "very hurtful" to (other) queer people. Is it the part about acknowledging our own neuro-ness? I for one have no interest in enabling ableist queernesses by shutting up about my existence. To the very best of my knowledge, we aren't appropriating from anyone but ourselves.

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    4. I'm NQ, yet straight. " Neuroqueer" to me means .....finally...acknowledgement that I'm not alone. That there are others who think like I do, or will accept me for me( like my wife does). Those who will accept my ideas, foibles, strengths and will not judge them , based on something society says .

      I'm Neuroqueer ...and damned proud of it.

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  9. Dear Otherkin,

    It is a delight that you have come to read us. Join us only if you desire and relate. There is no requirement beyond that. Read us without joining as much as you like. Joining is... a mental step, immaterial, sort of a fun party trick.

    Elizabeth Hassler got it said (thank you :) ) but apparently I didn't, because I have a tendency to write in a sort of serial style, saying one thing in one post and the next part in the next post and the next part in the post after that.... Probably not the most useful.... Something to work on: I think in fits and starts.

    I do feel fine appropriating my own hard-earned scars which are righteously intersectional in shape to try and help defrag the world now that I find myself miraculously situated in a place of relative privilege in so many unexpected ways.

    One thing I want to clarify before I write another post in which I try to Clarify All The Things is more pressing, so I must get it said now. I do not believe there is anything wrong with needing medication. For many of us, it makes our lives work better. Should all the people who need things toss them out and feel guilty? Throw out your wheelchair and walk! It is, I hope, food for thought and not merely food for offense.

    Remember this. I think many things, and none of them are that I should police the life choices of others. My experiences are my own and when I share my own stories, my life, my heart, my mind, it does not seem to me like I am stealing from my self, or by extension other people who can rightly say they are like me. If they are really very much like me, they will pump their fist in the air and say good! Mess with the gatekeepers! And they will privately ask me if I have gone too far for myself again and need really to take a nap.

    Love,
    Ib

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  10. Thank you, Ibby. I love this post in so many ways... I'm very glad to have found your blog, and look forward to reading more.

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  11. Thank you Ibby. I'm an anxious, depressive, neuroqueer Aspie and proud of it!!

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  12. Thanks to all who cooked up this excellent intersectional badge. I find it more welcoming than "psychocrip," because I can't shake the condescending references from the last four letters. My bi self, and my bipolar self, and my fatigued and pained and multiply medicated self feels neuroqueer is just right.

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  13. Love this! If "neuroqueer" makes anyone uncomfortable, there's always good old "neurodiverse.";) Has the extra advantage of embracing people with differences that sometimes are seen as positive, but usually just make you seem "weird" and wander around trying to find your tribe (e.g., "highly sensitive people," "gifted" people).

    Also, your description of depression is quite accurate even though you're not depressed. Is there a blogging medal for that?

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    1. Yay I feel like you made up a medal and gave it to me! xxoo

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  14. Hi there. Let me first say I am queer, trans, and also of the neurodiverse camp in a self-identified crazy way. Have been as long as I can remember.

    I'm both digging and nervous about the neuroqueer blog. I only read a few articles but I can't tell, I don't think everyone on here is queer.

    You taking the word queer and adding it to neuro to mean something else outside of sexuality and gender, which the word queer was reclaimed by folks from that camp, is appropriating that struggle. Heterosexual people using the word queer is insensitive at best to those struggles.

    We, as crazy/autistic/ld/etc folks, have many labels we can use that are radical and also not taking a label from somewhere else and changing its meaning. For instance, neuro-atypical, neurodiverse, craxy, mad, etc. The first two were made and the last to were reclaimed.

    I am queer and crazy. Both. I am not queer because I am crazy and I have met plenty of homophobes and transphobes who are neurodiverse/neuro-atypical. I think to toss the term queer in there and just say "it means weird" is really missing the point of queer folks who reclaimed that term and the people that term was used to harm who worked to take it and use it to empower.

    Please reconsider your use of the word "queer" unless you are queer. If you are heterosexual and cis gender, using the world queer is an appropriation from the people who worked so hard and put their bodies and lives on the line to reclaim that word. Yes, you CAN use it proudly now, but it doesn't mean you should.

    Plus, neuro-atypicality/diversity deserves its OWN term because it is IMPORTANT. It needs to leave room for people to be QUEER and NEURODIVERSE. Not meld the two together, causing a loss of the original meaning.

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    1. PS, the more I read, the more I see several queer posters on this blog. I understand the neuroqueer label for these folks. I just hope there is a strong message that heterosexual neurodiverse folks using the word queer is silencing to queer folks. Heterosexual folks have already begun appropriating the term for various things (I am queer because my boyfriend and I like to use handcuffs in the bedroom, etc). I'd hate to see crazy queers lose even more empowerment and visibility in this way.

      Thanks for writing. I am enjoying reading your stuff.

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    2. Right. NeuroQueer is intersectional, like Jesse said, not melded. I like to say I'm Neurodivergent--that's what my Neuro side is short for. Everyone's diverse. Would you like to write a piece for the blog?

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    3. To me, intersectionality doesn't weaken me or make me lose meaning. It strengthens me and adds to my meaning. But that's why I made this blog. People who don't feel that way will not be attracted to it.

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    4. I love the idea of this blog, though I see it has been inactive for a while. Just a brief comment: Robyn Wiegman's recent critique of intersectionality is, to my mind, really spot on. The term hopes to escape that which it cannot: that difference is produced along a variety of axes, some of which do not in fact intersect but are heterogeneous (though I also understand all oppressions as overdetermined by capitalism). Anyway, I am trying to figure out how to come out as neuroqueer. Guess I just did.

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    5. John Champagne, I would love to hear more from you about what you are saying!! On the upper right hand corner there are ways to email me and join the Facebook Community, which the latter is even a better idea. The blog has not been inactive as much as the moderation. Great new things are being published all the time. Would you be interested in doing an article on the overdetermination of oppressions? I think we very much agree on that!! love, ib

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    6. Or really, you could write about anything you like :)

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  15. Ibby, you see amazing. :-) Love, Linnea

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  16. Oh Ibby, this is wonderful. I love it!

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    1. W00t! Yay, so glad to see you here Autistic Vegan!! <3

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  17. Beautiful thinking translated to beautiful expression. Thank you.

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  18. You are a bad ass rock star and I love you with all that I have!!!

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  19. I'm an autistic, hyperlexic, twice-exceptional, and definitely neurodivergent. I am choleric-sanguine (ChlorSan), ENTP, Gamma ILE, 8w7 sx, a High D, and an Inventor Rational.

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