I Don't Know If It Was Supposed To, But I Was Left Horrified

Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

I'm a neurodiverse person and, while I have fantasized about understanding others with some scientific procedure, I've always said I wouldn't change my position for the world. This book solidifies it. Just as a heads up for anyone, I do use the "r" word in the following paragraph, and I cover a lot of ableism, so if those are triggers for you, I recommend proceeding with caution.


The ableism that occurred throughout the book really hit close to home. Despite my hyperlexia, I was often called "retard" as a kid because I was socially awkward, shy, and my maiden name rhymed with the word. Like Charlie, my world was very closed off for a long time because I never related to my peers; to this day, I mainly hang out with people old enough to be my grandparents instead of people my own age. I was told I would never be able to hack it at a four year institution (I eventually did, although many years later) and that I would be lucky to be able to live on my own. I beat the odds, but I still am highly deficient.


When Charlie discovered he was deteriorating back to his original intelligence, I found myself horrified. When I was growing up, my only friends were characters in books, and I can't imagine having that ripped away from me the way it was ripped away from Charlie. Even worse, to understand the deterioration and why it's happening is utterly frightening to me; I'm always terrified that I will lose my intelligence, the one thing I have going for me, in my mind, is my ability to read and understand the world around me despite my inability to understand others. 


I have relatives who died from Alzheimer's disease on my dad's side of the family, and I wonder if they ever had the moments of lucidity that Charlie experienced as he was slipping back into his original level of intelligence, knowing that they were slowly losing who they were and the memories of everyone around them.