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We Deserve Better

by Juno

This is for all the kids out there who are being let down. But especially the autistic ones, whether they know it or not - I see you.

I can't promise that ‘everything will be okay’ because I don’t know that.

I’ll try, though, to help change the system that hurt us.

I promise.

My name is Juno, and I deserve better.

I am a human, and I deserve to be treated like one.

Not like a toy, a paycheck, a problem - but as a person: with feelings, thoughts, opinions. I am a life, not just a job, not just something that you can turn off once office hours are done.

The mental health system needs to change. For everyone.

How is a system that leaves people at their breaking point, dying, considered functional?

It’s ironic - a system that’s supposed to restore people to their ‘high functioning’ states, itself is perhaps more non-functional than most things.

I’ve been let down, countless times, by the system that’s supposed to help. By a system that treats me like a defective object - a system that will do anything but listen to those who need it the most.

I’ve been let down because of stereotypes - I’m Asian and ‘academically able’ so ‘obviously not autistic.’

I’ve been let down because I’m not dead yet, so surely I’m not ‘actually suicidal.’

I’ve been let down because I’ve been deemed to be ‘too difficult,’ and professionals don’t want to ‘waste time’ on me.

I’ve been let down every time I ask for help. Every time I try to speak.

I’ve been accused countless times of being defiant - purposefully acting out.

Helpless children are not acting out - they are crying, silently, for help.

Suicidal children, 'naughty' children, are not acting out. They are being silenced, by those who claim to care.

Autistic children are not acting out. They are being told that they are the problem, that they need to change, that it's because of them the so-called ‘treatment’ isn't working.

Those ‘who know best’ try to convince me that I need to be cured of who I am, that I am the problem, and they refuse to listen to me.

But none of that is true.

It's just so much easier to blame those who are struggling than the system that is actually to blame.

I don’t hate the system.

I don’t hate the professionals - not the ones who have shown nothing but kindness to me, nor the ones who have told me in A&E that I’m a liar and deserve to be dead.

I am grateful that it’s there; without it, I wouldn’t be alive.

But, a huge but, I barely am.

Yes, I am alive, but I am not me. I deserve better.

I deserve to enjoy life, to be treated like a human - respected - and so do all the other kids in the system.

The mental health system needs to change.

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