Those of us that are diagnosed with long term conditions (especially those that affect us mentally) are labelled as vulnerable adults. They tell us that this status is to help us access services we need etc. However, in reality (and from my own experience of this system) this doesn’t seem to be the main reason we are categorised.
The majority of people whom I know that have been categorised as a ‘vulnerable adult’ have had similar experiences to me. The system may have originally been designed to help situations, only this isn’t what is happening in the current system. As a vulnerable adult, it is time someone speaks out about their experiences. The status has ruined many lives. It has led to suicides and even murders in some cases. That is in cases where a vulnerable adult has had enough of the reality they’re forced to contend with and snap. I’m not the type that would hurt anyone else. But, recently I did try to take my own life because I was that frustrated at my own situation. I do have a lot of anger towards how I’ve been treated and it has come out at the wrong people (normally those you deeply care about). I do not wish to fight anymore; nevertheless, those that know me are aware that I am going to be brutally honest about everything. That is the kind of person that I am, not related to my disability. It’s not meant to offend anyone reading this article. I am simply trying to plainly make a point about the life a vulnerable adult is technically forced to live. Those of you that know me are also aware that I told my support service to leave my flat over 6 months ago because I’d absolutely had enough. That is not something I would recommend because I’ve had to learn to function with no type of support literally over night. There were things I found extremely hard at first because I’d never been without some form of service around me. After what I’ve found out recently, I am very glad that I told them to go and never come back.
The support services are supposedly there to help. Those of us diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome don’t think much of the National Autistic Society. They are more appropriate for those with Lower-Functioning (non-verbal) Autism. There are similarities between AS and Autism. However, those of us with the AS simply cannot relate to those with severe (non-verbal) Autism. NAS hasn’t really developed anything that has been suitable for those that can verbally communicate (all be quite haphazardly at times). It is highly irritating for us not to have the skills we need to communicate correctly, but can pass for normal most of the time. It is more beneficial for someone that is non-verbal and has associated learning disabilities to be labelled as a vulnerable adult. The majority of those people are not going to want what we see as a ‘normal life’. The label isn’t going to prevent them having relationships, a career, children etc.
There have been cases I’ve read about involving a woman with a mild learning disability that wanted to get married. Social services told her that she didn’t have the capacity to know that she loved him and wanted to be legally joined to him. They managed to get married eventually by running away to have the ceremony. Then they tried to have children. Social services walked in again questioning whether she had the ability to parent. The couple had to flee to another country to bring up the children. The authorities there left them alone. They returned to their home town because they missed their family etc. Their children got taken into care and were subsequently placed for adoption due to still being at an adoptable age. The woman had another baby which was also adopted. I didn’t just read about this case. I actually have spoken to the couple involved and their friends.
In my own case, the support service told me what decision they wanted me to make. I was told that I wouldn’t be supported to challenge the exclusion at the university. The support service knew that this is what I wanted to do. I was in tears but they didn’t care about that. I had to do what was demanded of me. I wasn’t able to tell the truth even when I told my support to get out. This is because I was basically told that if I said anything to anyone I’d be in serious trouble. By the time me and my support service ceased working with each other, everything had happened and a permanent order had been made by the court. They knew that if I told the other person involved it would get me into trouble anyway. Then, after all this time, I find out that the support service was behind a lot of what was said to cause the whole situation to happen. They were telling the other person not to talk to me. But, even worse, they were constantly tugging at my emotions saying that the other person didn’t care because they would have got in touch if I meant anything to them at all. That is what led me to saying the completely awful threats to the other person. I have to carry that guilt, not my former support service. I also should have been told by my support service that the other person had signed something from the university saying they wouldn’t be in contact with me. I would have understood and not ended up saying all those awful things to the other person involved. Instead, the truth was kept from me for 3 years.
In all honesty, it doesn’t matter to me about social services dictating to me who I marry because I’ve never wanted to get married. But, I do not think it is fair what they did in the situation above. I don’t like being dictated to about who I can and can’t talk to by social services. I truly did want children though. They took my first, and most likely my only child. I was treated horrendously by the health visitors and social workers when my son was born. They ensured that I felt so unsupported that I crumbled and failed so that my son would go for adoption. I had never been a Mother before, and they used my inexperience combined with using my disability traits against me to convince a court that my son would be better off adopted. I had a cousin that had a child the same time as me. I can no longer emotionally stand to have her on social network sites etc because I see her son growing up and painfully miss my own. Therefore, they’ve caused a wedge between me and my family members.
I hide how I feel and the smile on my face is just a cover for how I’m feeling inside. In some respects, I am quite a private person in many areas of my life. There are things that I will not talk about from my past with anyone. I won’t allow anyone to know the whole of who I am as a person. I actually still have meltdowns when I feel that others are prying into my business that I wish to keep private. I will not be made out to be an awful uncaring person behind my back by my support service playing one off against the other. I’ve spent a few years in emotional turmoil, not knowing the truth. I’m still in that state of mind due to the things I want sorting out without having to go back into a court situation. I know that I can’t deal with that and after what I’ve found out recently, I don’t see how it is fair because of what my support said to both of us involved.
This is how it is for those of us labelled as vulnerable adult. I do feel that my life is inadequate because it is far from what would make me happy. I can’t honestly say that I’m happy because I’ve felt oppressed and unable to be myself comfortably under the vulnerable adult system. I feel that it is extremely important that we speak out about how this system treats us. It’s left me unable to trust and fearful of other people. I’m sure that it’s made others feel similar. I do not sleep much after all the things that have happened in my life. The guilt, emotional turmoil, pain etc is much worse at night. I never wanted conflict and instability. I long for stability and peaceful relationships/friendships. But, this is something that the system has never really allowed for vulnerable adults. They make the excuse that they’re protecting everyone involved, but really they’re just making things worse. All I’ve ever wanted is a smooth, predictable life full of family (or at least friends that I can call close enough to replace the family life I don’t have). I dislike fighting and everything that has happened.