As many of you probably know, I used to work for and with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). And, as many of you probably know, I stopped working with them a while back. The issue was that I was using slang on my private time. This was slang that I promised never to use professionally. However, the powers that be at ASAN let me know that I did not have the right to freedom of speech on my private time when I am not at work. For that reason, I refuse to work with them.
In this blog entry, I will not refer to anyone individually, as I outright refuse to attack someone personally on my blog. That is frequently a tool of people who belong to ASAN, when they actively try to hurt people. Instead, I believe in a degree of respect.
Now, on my firm's Facebook page, I have the following post:
Yes, I have bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depression. No, it does not mean that I am about to commit suicide or harm others at any moment. I'm on meds, and I have therapy, and I'm pretty much always happy. Bipolar often has too much nonsensical stigma attached to it. If you are perpetuating that stigma: STOP IT! Love, Autistic Reality
As any reasonable person can tell, this post is meant to encourage people with bipolar disorder to have more self-respect. Of course, I also have bipolar disorder, and I believe that self-respect is a tremendous part of keeping yourself healthy.
A member of the page then commented:
When bipolar disorder isn't treated it can be a terrible thing to not only deal with as a person but the whole family structure can feel the pain of this disorder. So with medication and counseling this can be medically managed. However it still is classified as a disorder in DSM-5 and is considered a medical disorder and is not "normal" when not managed properly.
I then commented:
We agree completely. However, when managed properly, it is not worth all the stigma.
He then commented back:
The problem with mental disorders people usually go untreated and most of the time undiagnosed. So the family pays the price.
To which I commented:
Please note that I never denied that the person with bipolar suffers as well. I simply acknowledged that the family can also suffer. It is simply being considerate to acknowledge this fact.
From time to time, I check up on ASAN. I was checking their reviews when I encountered one that I agreed with professionally, so I had my firm, Autistic Reality, give the review a "like". However, the person who gave the review, who is listed as a member of ASAN on their Facebook page, commented on my firm's post and told us the following:
So my grandparents were actually the ones to suffer when they were relentlessly abusing my mom all the time? wow disgustingly ableist for a page supposedly against ableism might as well kill yourselves..
He then commented as follows:
just delete the entire page.
I then banned the individual from my firm's Facebook page and personally blocked him. Before doing so however, I checked his personal page. On it, he had posted three insulting comments about my firm.
The first one:
where can I find an anti-ableism page that isn't like, ableist lol?? derp ur undiagnosed so ur family suffers!! u don't!! ur a burden!! wow
The second one, which was listed as a comment on his first post:
"we suffer more than the disabled person!! no diagnosis!! we pay the price!! not the person with the condition struggling every day bc of it!! we're the oppressed ones!! not disabled ppl!! life 2 hard!!"
And the third insult, which was a second post about us on his page:
idc if ur disabled or mentally ill or some bullshit if ur ableist u don't deserve to exist.
Okay, if you think that I am ableist, you are willfully ignoring the endless suffering I have undergone due to having disabilities, suffering that only resolved itself relatively recently in my life. You are also willfully ignoring the equally endless endeavors I have undergone to rectify inequities in the lives of those with disabilities which include but are definitely not limited to changes in public perception, improvements in education, and drastic increases in community living arrangements.
At no point do I ever say that the person with the diagnosis or without it who has bipolar does not suffer from the attached mental trauma. At no point did I or the other person commenting on my page say that the family members suffer more than the people with the disabilities. I frankly believe, and I believe that the other person on my page will also agree with this, that the person with the bipolar disorder and/or other diagnoses is always the most seriously affected by that condition.
My second to last comment on this is a somewhat minor one. People will take you a lot more seriously if you post in proper language, or at least something kind of close to it. As it is, I doubt that people will regard you with much credibility. That is a part of the reason why I often post in such formal sounding language.
Here is my last comment on his post: How dare you act so callous and disrespectful of human life and people's suffering!? Encouraging someone to commit suicide has to be one of the worst things someone can do. Not only is it a negative act, but it tends to imply that you have absolutely no heart whatsoever. It is one of the very most unkind things that anyone can do. Sir, I have looked at your page, and you claim to be a disability rights advocate. As long as you post things like this to your page, or in any public forum, you will just be an abusive bully. But, in checking on your page, I have come to realize that you have some very deep-seated issues. I certainly hope to goodness that you get them sorted out, and soon.
A Note to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
You folks used to be so nice and reasonable. However, I have since had members of your organization repeatedly insult and threaten me. One incredibly powerful and respected member of your organization repeatedly called me a murderer because I choose not to go to vigils. Now this person outright demands that I commit suicide, and several times as well. Since I know your leadership, I can imagine what you will say. You will say that what your members do and say on their private time has absolutely no bearing on your organization. I am going to call you out on that. You very specifically terminated me from your organization while stating explicitly that what I say and do on my private time may reflect negatively on your organization and would not be tolerated. ASAN, you cannot have it both ways. I hope for your sake and the sakes of the people you claim to advocate for that you clean up your act, and significantly.
This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!