What It Feels Like to Be Gaslit

I lost my apartment to autistic burnout and the buildup of emotional abuse. The emotional abuse is a doozy, especially with my denial having lasted so long.

Note: This post may be triggering, as it contains a first-person POV. Reader discretion is advised.

You know how the feeling that everyone is talking about you behind your back is a sign of anxiety?

In my case, people do tall behind my back. Something I tell one person gets told to another. Anything I post online gets shared with another. There is nothing between me and one specific person, in this context to which I’m referring.

The worst part is that, upon confrontation, they deny it. They tell me no one is talking about me — and if they are, it’s because they’re concerned and care about me. Sometimes, they’ll tell me they did it because the other person deserves to know due to our relationship/connection, to which I declare a broken boundary.

“You weren’t going to tell her, and she deserves to know, so I told her for you.

So there is this constant play happening, month after month, until you finally can’t take it anymore. That’s when you’re your most vulnerable. One tells you that you need help, that this behavior isn’t normal, that you need to be on some anti-anxiety meds, etc. because you’re having panic attacks and clearly depressed.

And you believe it. Man, do you believe it!

me, distraight, sitting on the floor in front of a bed, eyes looking off to the side, hand between upper lip and nose, wearing a grey Mickey Mouse shirt
I try not to hate myself for believing it, for falling for it. It says nothing about me as a human.

But then you realize history is repeating itself, just from a distance. They’re even going to go with you to get you “the help you need”.

And it clicks.

This person doesn’t have any access to your mental or medical health records. They know absolutely nothing about what you are experiencing.

They have no idea if you are seeing a therapist, but they presume that you’re not. They presume you’re not on medication. They presume you should be on something, because that’s what helps them.

Because they experience anxiety so bad that they constantly worry, practice toxic positivity, and do all of this until they get sick. And they are worried about you, because you’ve been behaving anxiously lately, panicking and flailing, and now that they think about it…you’ve never been “normal” in your life.

So something is clearly wrong with YOU. You need help. You need a therapist. This must be caused by your trauma! That’s right! You STILL haven’t gotten over it yet! Shame on you! You need help so you can move past this! That’s the real issue here.

That’s how you’ll become a compliant person who behaves properly, who is easy to control, who will drop this boundary bullshit because it’s disrespectful to the people who raised you! Don’t you know you owe them??

Then you realize your greatest fear after hanging the phone up on them: Are you moments away from an officer knocking on your door with an ambulance and EMTs patiently waiting to hospitalize you?

Sitting on the floor in front of a bed, worried, eyes darting around

The person who first narrates the story is the one who dominates the narrative from then on. This is how abusers stay in control.

If you confronted your family about this, you would be labeled paranoid, delusional, dramatic and ridiculous. They’d say, “This is what I’m talking about! This kind of behavior isn’t normal! You need help, honey. You need to be taking something so you won’t act this way!”

On and on and on.

The irony of all of this is that I don’t have an anxiety disorder. My anxiety levels are “healthy considering everything” I’ve endured in my life. I don’t need to be medicated for mental health when I’m away from abusive environments, surrounded by people who listen to me and value what I have to say.

When you’re surrounded by people who disregard your boundaries, criticize you, and try to fix you? It’s going to affect your mental health.

I asked,

If I need so much help, then why am I better when I’m away from you and surrounded by people who accept me for me?

The response I received was that there was something wrong with them, too.

My medical issues involving my chest, for which I have very real diagnoses, were dismissed as mere anxiety attacks. There I was, diagnosed with chronic stress and heart palpitations, being told that I just needed to calm down because it was “definitely not going to be a heart attack or stroke. 🙄”

As if that’s not enough, they will rope my dad in — convince him of my problematic behavior, send him limited screenshots of the conversation — to gain control. And because they communicated that to him first, they control the narrative. This is something you do to a CHILD.

I’m a 31-year-old adult, but I’m not allowed to confront them without being told,

“If you behaved like an adult, we wouldn’t treat you this way.”

…I behave independently, have boundaries, and live my life per my standards. It’s not an act of rebellion because I choose not to live the same life as them, or to pursue an unconventional path. 🙄

Not to mention how gaslight-y it is to say something like that.

For now, I’m maintaining my distance. I’ve no clue what the future holds, but I know I won’t let history repeat itself.

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