Hello, I want to start by saying that Asking Jude is a wonderful service and what the team does is amazing and so helpful and kind! I also wanted to say that what I write about concerns some emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, work harassment, suicide, and self-harm in case anyone needs a warning.
So, a bit of background: I’m in my mid-20s, a woman, diagnosed as on the Autism Spectrum. I also come from a mixed-race Latino family that has always lived far below the poverty line in California, USA and I’ve always been very plus-sized. I’ve been emotionally abused my whole life in varying degrees and the physical abuse stopped when I was around ten years old, and there was sexual abuse when I was a young child. I was bullied and outcast throughout my childhood and teenage years too, and I sometimes feel very lonely.
I graduated from high school in 2016, and I got my drivers license with a lot of struggle as driving has never come naturally for me. I would get overwhelmed on the road, have panic attacks, meltdowns, and I couldn’t drive without careful preparation. After moving out with much fear (and a bout of homelessness because the arrangements my family had made for my living situation fell through), I found a room to share and I had to start driving to college. I found college difficult and more stressful than it seemed for most people doing their studies. I was always home-schooled and was considered gifted as a kid, but as I got older, my academic abilities in a structured school environment became poorer. School went on break for winter and I got my dream job working at Disneyland, but after a horrible panic attack in the road, I caused a car crash that I never emotionally recovered from (I received a Complex PTSD diagnosis too). I wasn’t able to drive to my job at Disneyland anymore either, so I had to quit, give school and work up, and move back home. I lost my independence, and it wouldn’t be for the first time.
I tried working at different places, but my mom wasn’t able to drive me and I get abused and/or harassed at these work places, or I can’t manage the job because I get overwhelmed or I struggle. After giving up on working and resigning to being a financial burden to my mother, a few years later in late 2019 I feel fed up with living in poverty and being unable to make money. After excellent therapy and support from a mental health team, I decided to move to Anaheim to sleep in a living room on a blow up mattress within walking distance of Disneyland, and things started turning around, I started working out for health and being body positive, I love my dream job at Disneyland again, and was able to financially support myself. I didn’t have to drive because I could walk or take the bus, I started college again (paid for by Disney) and I was asked out by a friend for a long distance relationship. I was very happy, and even though I didn’t have my own bedroom, I still felt like I was living my own life.
Even when the pandemic started, I was furloughed and still making money enough to support myself, and I got to live with my widowed grandmother in an affluent town and I could afford medical care, and I could afford my own food too. Unfortunately, my partner cheated on me and the relationship started going downhill, and because of changes with the pandemic wages, everyone including me got far less money to live with each week, and like a lot of people, I had to go into debt, and an unhealthy coping method I developed too was ordering packages online, like I know a lot people did. My debt isn’t very great, and most of it is medical or school related, but it’s still part of the reason I feel really bad about my life today. I also had to stop going to college because Disney had been paying for it, and they took that away from the Cast Members when most of us were laid off.
I broke up with my ex, which ended with them really, really hurting me, which was very confusing for me and I almost took my own life, but the break up was really good for me in the long run, getting away from a cheating and borderline abusive partner. I got my job back at Disneyland and moved back to Anaheim, getting an apartment to share with my dad and my brother, but Disneyland was no longer a dream job for me or most people working there, with grueling conditions, no more magical extras, no more college paid for, grumpy staff and even crueler park guests. I tried transferring my job, working operating rides that I loved, but I realized that like driving, I struggled to operate the machinery safely, and after some cruel words from a manager, I resigned, again leaving the place I once felt was a dream come true.
At the same time, I took a chance and signed up to be trained as a birth doula, a job I’ve wanted since childhood, not thinking through the logistics of having to drive due to poor public transportation, which is an issue I face now.
I had to move away from Anaheim to a rural, isolated area to live with my mother, and unfortunately, I couldn’t afford healthcare anymore and I looked for a new job after my birth doula training ended. I found a job as a Girl Scout camp counselor, which I was very qualified for because I was an excellent scout my whole life and had a lot of outdoor experience and plenty experience in childcare as a professional babysitter in high school and working in hotel childcare when I was a teenager (and was too young to drive), but unfortunately, that job turned into a literal nightmare, I was starved, sleep deprived regularly, not given legally required breaks, and forced to work under a cruel manager again. This manager in front of everyone told me that I could be seen as unfit to be working in childcare settings (when childcare is something I professionally excel in) all because I shared with her in confidence during the interview that I had a diagnosed neurological disability. I resigned, and was treated cruelly until my last day. I had to file a harassment and abuse report with the Girl Scout council, and while that was a few months ago now, I haven’t fully recovered from the ordeal and because of insurance issues that affect a lot of people in my state, I am unable to afford mental healthcare at this time.
Because of poverty growing up, I had to move over 15 times, and after coming back from the horrendous camp experience, I had to move once again, but the move has been so difficult for me, my room is unfamiliar and sparse, and I’ve found myself stuck in deep depression. The only wonderful things right now is that I just had my one year anniversary with my best friend and queer-platonic life partner, who while she lives long distance, has given me such wonderful support for many years, and my mom provides me some support too. I also received a scholarship to Selfmade business mentorship and school program because they liked my business startup, but I currently have no motivation or drive for that, no confidence in myself or my business.
I still live in bad poverty and, and I’ve tried to start an online business with some success, but that business venture is on the back-burner because I’ve been so depressed. I don’t feel I can go back to work at Disneyland because of how miserable it is for the Cast Members there now, and I can’t get a local job because I can’t drive. I feel utterly trapped in my own life, with no way out. I feel relegated to feeling fat and ugly, a burden, unable to support myself, unable to leave the house. I can’t currently manage to create a kind thought about myself, I feel like if I had the ability to drive or if I was ‘normal’ in appearance or mind, I would have such a different independent life. I’m not suicidal or harming myself (it’s been four years since I last self-harmed), and I don’t plan to do either of those things, but it’s so hard not to feel like I just don’t belong here, on Earth, and I feel like nothing has ever gone right in my life (besides finding my best friend/life partner). I struggle with taking care of myself too with this depression, with things like eating and showering, for example. I can’t see things getting better right now, but I haven’t completely lost hope.
I feel so trapped, I can’t afford or go to school and I know I’d struggle with it, I can’t work a regular job, I can’t find motivation for my business, and I can’t afford mental healthcare and the state insurance isn’t cooperating for me or a lot of people. It’s so easy to blame myself, though, for all of it and how most things just don't work out for me. I feel so trapped.
I would love some resources, free or very low cost mental health support ideas, or ideas about anything that might help me really. Thank you so much. <3