Sunday, August 21, 2011

Showcase: Xanthe from Asperger's Child

Today we're interviewing Xanthe from Asperger's Child.

Parts of your blog are fairly edgy. For example, your latest posts regarding Penelope Trunk, are as you put it, blunt. You question her honesty, and it had to take some courage to do so, given her past reactions. Do you weigh the pros and cons before writing posts you think might cause you negative attention?

Yes, of course I thought about it, especially because PT has a hoard of admiring fans and because she wrote about how she hassled a man over a tweet - she pretty much stalked him. To her credit, she leaves her criticism posts up too (so do I) and she wasn't very popular over her 'I have David...' post - some said she got the nukes out over a bow-and-arrow comment.

Someone tweeted me and said they thought my hub article would be more credible if I took out irrelevant stuff which just makes it look judgemental. He offered some specific pointers and I revised it to be more about questioning whether her behaviour is Asperger's or not. A internet psychologist writer that has recommended PT in the past said it was an excellent analysis and certainly food for thought.

When I started my 2 blogs on Asperger's and rejecting my religion, I was already aware of internet nutters from debating on the religious forum of hub pages - plenty of extremists there. I decided to blog under a pen-name because 1. I don't care about fame 2. I want to protect my family from stalker nutbars 3. I don't want employers and potential employers looking me up and judging me - I'd rather people at work don't know everything about me 4. I write about personal stuff, yet am a private person - it's not stuff I tell people about that I meet. 5. I don't want my son to be embarrassed by being easily identifiable. He thinks it's cool we're on a website 'undercover'. 6. I don't want the stress and drama of being sued

I decided that PT has no problem putting her opinion out there, and blogs are about opinions, so I'd put mine out there too. I hope that I managed to be objective and not judgemental of her as a person, but rather that I had problems with her claims and behaviour. My writing is blunt and confrontational, which some people find unsettling. There's an atheist, ex-minister blogger that is a published author that lives in the bible belt. He can't get work cleaning carpets because he is known & because of the bigotry.

I've considered taking down any photos of us from HubPages (where I first started writing) - concerns about deranged stalkers.

But I figure if they're old pics that don't really look like us now, it probably doesn't really matter. Someone would have to go to a lot of trouble to link me to my blog entries about how I find work and link it to my employer to get me fired. Or to dig around to find my real name. I don't want to censor stuff (apart from specific identifying details like names) because of fear of getting fired and having my family known and hassled.

You also write honestly and openly about issues with your mother and sister and how they treat you. Do you find that sharing this provides an outlet that is therapeutic and makes you able to continue to interact with them? Do you think there comes a point where the healthier thing to do is break off all contact permanently?

I want to write more about the dysfunction in my family particularly with religion, as it affected me a lot. I've been accused by my mother and sisters of being mentally unstable and bitter and angry for doing so, but this is not the case. I am writing about it objectively because there are many people out there in the same boat that grew up to believe they were the crazy ones. My mother is concerned about what people might think of her, despite the fact I use a pen-name and 99.99% of readers wouldn't know who we are.

I have even set up a facebook account in my pen-name and no longer post my articles on my 'real name' FB (which has several christians from my past). I have a note on there that if anyone wants to follow my blogs on asperger's and losing my religion, please contact me. I have a few christians that read my blogs and know who my family is, but they don't judge me. I got the idea of using a cartoon-style avatar from an atheist blogger who writes honestly about very personal stuff. He has a facebook account under his pen-name too.

I have suggested to my family that they don't have to read it if they find it uncomfortable. It is also my perspective and how it affected me. They want me to 'forgive and forget', yet I get the same hypocritical behaviour of where I get slaughtered and rejected, but they say I love you. To me, saying I love you and doing the opposite with behaviour is hypocrisy.

At first when I wrote about leaving religion on Hub Pages, I'd avoid mentioning my family and not reveal what things they said that were detrimental to my mental health and self-esteem. These family dynamics are an important part of my story, so I want to write about them, not to shame them but to show how religion and family dysfunction can affect people. I'm not about revenge, but exposing hypocrisy and injustice. It felt good to write about getting fired from work unfairly even though I couldn't reveal the workplace.

My mother has indicated that she's done talking to me, and my sisters don't really communicate with me anyway. I accepted the dysfunction in my family years ago, so it doesn't cause me a lot of pain if my sisters and mother refuse to have contact with me. I'd prefer no contact over toxic interactions - where I just get told that everything I do is wrong. What makes me sad is my mother is making the decision that I don't have contact with my father.

I've had awesome support from people that have left messages, comments and emailed me. Their encouragement and support in complete contrast to my family keep me writing. For me, writing is not about my ego or being most popular. Sure it's therapeutic writing, but I know there are a lot of people lonely and isolated out there that are going through what I've been through and might not make it out the other side. I had a man write to me that he decided not to commit suicide after reading my stuff (on another profile where I put stuff I was too embarrassed to write about). Maybe I'll get brave enough to join it all together and share some secrets. Generally I don't write about something unless I've gotten over the pain and can be objective about it. Also that I can handle any criticism (which has generally been from my family and a few extremist fundamental christians - the moderate christians can see my points).

How long have you been blogging and communicating online through other outlets? Have you learned any lessons that you wish you'd known before you started?

I used to excel at essay writing at school and university but didn't write much since. I entered an essay writing competition a few years ago about mental health. I was shy about sharing my story, so I wrote it using a metaphor and in the second person so it wasn't clear whether it was my story or someone I knew well. I won a major prize which gave me confidence to write more. I wanted to start a website sharing what I've learned about food sensitivities, but didn't know how to go about it. My hubby found Hub Pages and suggested I try that as a hobby. I started writing on Hub Pages under a pen-name 'baileybear' over a year ago. I write about any topic of interest to me. Hubpages was an easy platform with plenty of support from other members and I learnt how to do links etc.

I got a lot of positive feedback about my articles on Asperger's and some people encouraged me to set up a website. I 'came out' that I didn't believe in God anymore. I linked it to my Facebook and waited for my family to react. My mother went nuts at me and didn't speak to me for months.

I started my Asperger's Child website on an easy-to-use platform, Weebly and put a blog on one page. I started it just 4 months ago. When I got tired of debating on the HubPages forum about religion, I started a blog on Blogger (to try it out and because I didn't want a 'website'). That was 3 months ago. I don't write on Hub Pages much these days. I am also nearly ready to publish a website about food sensitivities (finally!).

I'm not a prolific blogger - I try to write at least one post on any one of my blogs per week. I have so much to write about, but never enough time to. I get told I spend too much of my spare time on the computer as it is.

Do you have a favorite post you want to share with readers? A post you wish in hindsight that you hadn't done?

My most read article so far is 'Evolution and Unintelligent Design' on Hubpages. I've won 3 hubpages 'awards' for my writing. 
My favourite articles on Hubpages are the series I did on colour in nature (as I like science and art) and Old Man's Nuts. If you've got a strong stomach, you can read "I could have sworn I flushed that" about our toilet dramas. I've only removed one article, about a murderer I knew that went to my family's church. I want to rework it with less identifying details and put on my God Confusion blog. I've got some unpublished at the moment, as I'm transferring the bulk of the content to my new website.

Xanthe's two blogs, God Confusion and Asperger's Child are both on the directory under bloggers with autism. You can find her hubpages here.



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