Bread Crazy

For a lot of neurodiverse people, food sensitivities are a major pain. Sometimes a pain in the ass, the stomach, or even the mind. Unfortunately, food sensitivities can seem like a lot of other things. Like anxiety. Like IBS. And maybe, it’s both?

I’m going through this right now, the food sensitivity issue. And even though I know that certain foods cause me problems, I still end up eating them from time to time. Whether it’s from impulsivity or boredom or just good old fashioned habit. I keep torturing myself.

Let me explain some of my food sensitivities, and maybe they can help you do better than I am doing today.

First off is gluten. I’m not a celiac, I wouldn’t even say that I am “gluten intolerant.” All I can tell you is that when I have too much gluten, I get horrible skin rashes and become extremely anxious and irritable. Now you might say, “Duh, that means you’re intolerant.” But here’s the strange twist. When I am not on my medication, I can eat as much gluten as I want with minimal skin reaction. BUT my anxiety still goes through the roof. So, even if I wasn’t on the medications that I am on, I would still probably need to be gluten free.

I do alright with this restriction. The only problem is when I come across something small and delightful. Like a cookie. Which is one of the things that tripped me up this morning. My son’s golden oreo bite-size cookies. I snatched one up and ate it without even thinking.

Now my ankles are bleeding from the scratching that it induced and my mind is all aflutter. Oh, and my lips are swelling up a bit. That’s a dermatographia thing as well. But all of this is from… One. Stupid. Cookie…

Sigh…

It wasn’t my only mistake though. I also ate some potato chips. Now here, you might say, “But Holly, potato chips are gluten free. They shouldn’t bother you.” Unfortunately, they were fried in vegetable oil, which means immediate GI issues and more itching. (And it seems like EVERYTHING is fried in vegetable oil these days, or it’s a main ingredient.) Honestly, I could chock this one up to no longer having a gallbladder. So the only fat I process really well is lard. Not even just animal fat, because dairy and tallow give me just as much trouble. I use a digestive aid when I want to eat dairy. (Those little dairy pills you can get at any drugstore or supermarket.)

I believe this is situation specific to me, by the way. So I am not suggesting that you cut out gluten, cook everything in lard and your GI issues will go away. Interestingly my father really only digests tallow very well, so he cooks everything in tallow. I cook everything in lard. Together, we sound like an old western cooking show. But that’s how we roll.

(If you are unfamiliar with the terms I am using, lard is pork fat and tallow is beef fat. So both are animal fats. If you are a vegetarian, I find that avocado fat can be pretty mild. Same with coconut. It really is a person by person kind of thing.)

I know my father also has issues with nightshades. Which are basically plants that are mildly poisonous even though we eat them with regularity, like potatoes, tomatoes or peppers. Cutting those out helped him enormously. Those also happen to be some of the most fun foods. So he basically consumes only meat and water. Like a big cat.

Oh, and I also drank some caffiene. Caffiene is one of the hardest ones to quit. Before I started taking a stimulant medication, it was necessary to get through the day. Even though it would give me an unbalanced form of stimulus that consistently caused me to crash and my emotional dysregulation to flare up. Now that I am on a stimulant medication, I don’t need it, but I often drink it out of habit. I have quit many times. But then I popped the top on one of my husband’s diet pepsis this morning… for no reason.

I’m pretty sure I need to quit artificial sweeteners as well but that’s one I am just not ready for. Then I’d have to drink plain tonic water or seltzer to get my bubbles, and that stuff’s nasty. Maybe I’ll get fancy and switch to sparkling wine? I don’t know. Prosecco’s a breakfast wine, right?

What I do know is that I seem to do best with bacon, broccoli and lean beaf. Gluten free bread and I do alright together, though it mostly hurts my wallet. That’s pretty much it. Maybe a pork tenderloin from time to time? Oh, and fruits. I do pretty well with fruits, even though I don’t need the sugar.

Honestly, I’m still figuring this all out. The best thing I can do is to try and remember the physical and mental pain I am in right now and try not to repeat the habits that got me here. This is probably the only aversion therapy that I am ok with, the natural consequence kind.

So, to sum it up. Gluten, vegetable/seed oils, and caffiene are a problem for me. If you find that you are having similar issues, they might be a problem for you too?

My condolences, friend. See you in the gluten-free aisle.


The image above is the infamous “bread picture” of me when I was a kid. You can also see that my love of texture started early when you look at the purse I held in my hand. I can still feel that cool metal fabric, it’s still one of my favorite textures. The rest of the dress up was all my mother. And yes, I refused to take the picture without my bread.

Dysfunction Breaking Playlist

If you have read my blog before, you might know that Executive Dysfunction is a huge problem for me. Some of it stems from stress, some of it is about my ADHD, then there’s depression, but mostly, it is triggered by environmental dysregulation.

OR MY HOUSE IS A MESS.

Now, a little clutter I can handle. But once things start to overlap, or perhaps, I can’t finish cleaning because the world is in a pandemic and my son and husband never leave, because I want them to stay safe, but I also kind of want them to lock themselves into a room so I clean the rest of the house to my specifications…

That seemed kind of specific didn’t it?

So, I have been having to learn how to deal with my Executive Dysfunction and environmental dysregulation- quarantine style. Which is apparently, a later adderall time and some very loud music.

The adderall thing has to do with timing. And the fact that my son will often have minor panic moments when I start to clean up his toys, because he had them “just so” even if it looks like madness to me. And then because he wants them back at “just so” he will take them away and throw them back all over the living room. He doesn’t mind them being cleaned up when he’s not looking, in fact he loves to take them all out again. Or just enjoy the empty space. He just can’t watch the sausage being made, essentially.

So if i take my adderall at a later time I can stay focused longer, especially after he goes to sleep for the night.

That’s part one. Changing my dose and activity schedule to when my son is asleep.

Now, two, there is a lot I have to do when my son is awake or I will wake him up. Like dishes. Something about that activity will wake him out of his light sleep, even with the fans and the white noise. So, dishes, have to be done during the day. They are also the hardest thing for me to start. I have written about this before. Basically, the dishes are one of the hardest things I do because of sensory issues.

And today, the usual was just not enough. Audiobooks, candles, my usual dish gloves. I just couldn’t handle it.

So I had to find a way to break myself out of it. That means I upped the intensity. Instead of my usual audiobook, I switched to music (more on that in a second.) Instead of candles, I sprayed the room with a favorite fragrance. And instead of my usual dish gloves, I used disposable nitrile gloves. (The industrial blue gloves that you are probably seeing a lot of these days. I know that people are buying them because they are sold out everywhere I usually get them.)

Anyway, it worked! Well, sort of. I got the first load done. Pretty much every dish in my home was dirty, so I have several more loads and handwashing to do, but with my handy dandy “Executive Dysfunction Breaking Playlist” I think I can do it!

Was that a good segue? It felt a little forced…

SO… The playlist! My taste in music is eclectic, it’s true. Everything from indie hipster to global to retro to classical. Basically, it has to evoke some kind of feeling in me. Usually, that’s my only requirement. But when it comes to breaking me out of dysfunction, it has to have a good beat or some kind of crescendo.

And these songs are in no particular order, in my usual fashion, because the actual curation of playlists is something I am still working on.

Continue reading “Dysfunction Breaking Playlist”

Art supplies and Navigating material loss from trauma

Or, the Shit I literally Left Behind When I Ran Away

In case you are wondering from my Mean Reds post. I did end up rewarding myself by looking at my art supplies and organizing my studio space. That might sound cooler than it is. Let me just remind you with an earlier picture… it’s a twenty year old easel and rolling tabouret that I keep in my dining room next to my son’s toys. The toys have twice the real estate that I do. So, yeah.

I live a very glamorous life.

But even this brought up some things for me. This lovely gathering of my brushes and paints. That’s how it is with trauma. You’re doing something wonderfully entertaining or even wonderfully mundane, keeping a wary eye on any potential mental dangers ahead and BAM! Trauma memory! In from the sides, where you were least expecting it!

The point is… you are alive when they start to eat you…

Uh. Ok. That was a Jurassic Park reference. My trauma memories don’t literally eat me alive. They just feel like that sometimes.

No, this was about all the beautiful art and art supplies that I have lost because of my need to run from certain situations.

For some people, leaving material goods behind in an escape, is about escaping from something truly dangerous or unhealthy at the very least. Refugees from war. Leaving a spouse.

A friend of a friend, was leaving her husband while he was at work, and all I could think about was her collection of glass jars, filled from the soil of all the places she’s traveled. Could you imagine a more petty revenge? Smashing the sand from the Himalayas with the brick gravel of Prague? You could never un-do it. It would all blend together like a discarded mandala. It makes me shudder to think about it.

A wonderful high school friend of mine, who is now a teacher, with a beautiful family, wrote about such an escape and loss on her blog, back in 2014. She was leaving an abusive situation and had to abandon many of her prized possessions, including a cherished ceramic Christmas tree. It’s the little things that you really miss.

I on the other hand, have lost a lot of little things, but not because of war or abusive relationships, when I ran, I was always running from myself.

One such loss came in the form of the most beautiful, most precious collection of paint brushes I have ever owned, a wooden paintbox, and several good paintings.

I left them in the art studio of my school. Just left them.

Two traumatic things happened that caused me to leave and never come back. One, a very kind art professor passed away. And two, I made a very vulnerable, very public mistake. I was at her service, my professor, feeling very uncomfortable with all the people. And as I was signing a condolence book, someone behind me asked, “How are you doing, Holly?”

And it all just came pouring out. Vulnerable grief and doubt, not very well spoken. Honestly, I can’t even tell you what I said. It was just a lot.

Then I turned around, and they were talking to a different Holly. It was so humiliating. I can still see all the looks of gobsmacked confusion on their faces. Who is this person? Why is she talking to us?

How do you come back from that? I had already had so much trouble connecting with people. It was like having the rug pulled out from under me. Or being stripped naked in front of a crowd.

So, I ran.

I’ve run from a lot of things. Relationships, classes, jobs- all because of the trauma of living as an autistic person in a neurotypical world.

And legitimately, my brushes and paintings mean nothing when you compare it to real abuse, or real war refugees. Especially the people in camps, or war torn countries. I know that, I don’t lack perspective. If anything that knowledge makes the humiliation that much more keen.

Today though, it’s making me think of the german painter, Franz Marc. I have recently rediscovered Marc’s work (mostly because I had conflated him with another German expressionist by the name of Kandinsky, and always wondered why I couldn’t find his beautiful blue horse paintings anymore. That was because they weren’t his paintings, they belonged to Marc.)

Anyway, Franz Marc was a German Expressionist painter at the turn of the century. He did these beautiful futurist, fragmented, but colorful, paintings of animals that I just loved so much as a girl.

Stables, by Franz Marc, 1913.

He died in the Battle of Verdun, after they had already given the order to pull him back from the fighting. For the sake of modern art, that’s why they ordered him away from the front. What a reason, right? It was true too. He probably had so much more to give. Before he died, he was in charge of painting camouflage tarps. He said he did them in the style of Seurat.

All that waste, just breaks my heart.

I imagine that my brushes weren’t wasted. I like to think that someone put them in the lost and found. Then maybe someone took them home. My paintings might still be leaning against a wall somewhere, or someone might have taken them home too. There was a particularly beautiful oil still life of copper kettle and a book. Maybe it will always be more beautiful in my memory. And that’s not so bad. That’s not a waste.

I can make more paintings. I won’t be a casualty in my own war against myself. I might have to retreat occasionally. That’s realistic, but I really, really just want peace.

Peace… And maybe some new brushes.

Sensory Issues or… GhOsTs?!

I think my son’s room is haunted.

We’ve gone so far as to name the ghost Steven, in hopes that familiarity will breed contempt, and it will fucking go already.

Now, typically, I don’t really believe in the common idea of ghosts. Like, yeah, I believe in some kind of entity separate from the body, whether that is a soul or energy I don’t know…

But something in my son’s room… is creeping me out.

My theory is that it is something sensory related. Perhaps there is a wire that is pulsing with just a little too much energy. Perhaps it’s the swing that hangs from the ceiling. Something about it is tweaking my vestibular input. It also happens to be the coldest room in the house. Whether that’s ghosts or because the house is facing a certain way? I think there is an answer to everything.

I think it bugs my son too. He’s non verbal so he hasn’t told us so. He’s had a few night terrors in his room, though. (Night terrors are not uncommon with Autistic people. I’ve had them when I’m on particular medications. Remind me to tell you about that another time.) He’s more sensitive, like I am, though. My husband thinks I am a nutter butter. An adorable nutter butter, but a nutter butter.

All I know is that when I try to sleep in there, whether it is to keep my son company or because he has taken my spot in my own bed and I don’t want to move him… I always feel like I am about to be attacked.

I’m not seeing any shapes in the shadows. Which was a difficult problem for me as a child. You see, I’ve always been able to see shapes in negative spaces. Not ghosts, just shapes. It’s actually one of the things that makes me a good artist. But shapes can come together to form a man, or worse, a monster, and when you’re a highly imaginative child and see something perched on the ceiling beams in your living room, you will scream for your parents. (Seriously, just very imaginative. It wasn’t psychosis or anything. Though I could see why someone might make that assumption.)

This makes me wonder how many hauntings are the result of undiagnosed disorders. Because anxiety can make you feel a “malevolent presence.” Usually, it’s just life, but you still feel it all the same. I know there are the big scary illnesses that can result in seeing things that aren’t there. Some more severe forms of my own bipolar can lead to hallucinations, mine is the more ragey, manic, buy too much stuff at Target, kind of bipolar. But what about things like anxiety or other neurotypes, like autism?

We are extremely sensitive to the world around us…

So, is Steve a person who died in this home? It’s old enough that it could have a few deaths… Or is Steve just a part of my nervous system prematurely hitting a warning button?

Honestly, I think my answer will be to redecorate my son’s room. That’s my answer to almost everything. And possibly look for any hot spots of electricity? I’ve seen it done before on fun shows like Ghost Hunters. If I find one, maybe I can bring in an electrician to re-route whatever is bothering me? I already need to bring in a professional to fix my vintage stove that is trying to murder me. (It has legitimately electrocuted me several times. I just don’t like inviting strangers into my home to fix it. Don’t worry, I’ll force myself to call an electrician before it kills me.)

Murderous oven. I thought it was so adorable when we moved in. Possessed.

So I looked up if there were any real life phenomena that could explain that haunting feeling. And of course there was an article for that. This 2016 article attributed it to three things, suggestibility, electromagnetic fields/sounds, and… toxic fungus.

So suggestibility and electromagnetic fields and sounds I can totally understand. But now I have to look for toxic mold?? Oy!

Yep. Sometime in the near future that kid is getting a whole room makeover, a sterilizing, and possibly an exorcism. On a totally unrelated note, does anyone know where to find a good shaman? How about sage? Hazmat suit?


Just a quick note on the picture. You might think, “Duh, Holly, it creeps you out because you have a RED LIGHTBULB in your son’s room.” Red lightbulbs are the easiest on the eyes when you have photophobia. So we have color changing bulbs in every room that can be changed to amber or red. Sometimes we do a slight pink color to give more light without the pain. It’s fun on holidays because you can have it periodically change, easiest Christmas decorations ever.

And to another person that is like, “Your son is totally gonna end up strangling himself with that hanging lamp.” Way ahead of you. He started using it like it was a chandelier and he was a swashbuckling pirate… so we installed a more sturdy swing and stored the lamp to be used at a much later, more mature date. He now has a plastic standing lamp that he occasionally uses as a light saber… but what can I say? He’s a special kid.

Mean Reds

I had a different post planned for today, and I will still continue with that, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about the “Mean Reds”.

This refers to a line from Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, who, for better or worse, is really the Borderline Personality Disorder poster child. (I think there are serious gendered issues when it comes to BPD and its diagnosis, but I’ve already commented on that in my therapy post.)

Here’s the quote I’m referring to:

No. The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Sure this also could apply to anxiety or a myriad of other mental health issues. But Golightly has a lot of other symptoms that go down the BPD route, especially her relationships, manic behavior, and can we talk about the trauma of her child bride marriage at 14? And“cat”? Cause that is some serious abandonment issues there.

(I won’t even get into the super racist Japanese neighbor comedy routine.)

Anyway, BPD or not, I am feeling the mean reds today. I’m trying to look back and analyze what happened that may have triggered it. (ABC works for introspection, not just “naughty” children who “don’t know how to behave.” Different argument.) Anyway, I was looking for what triggered it. I’ve limited it down to a couple of things.

I had to have a zoom meeting, which brought on a whole new level of both protocol anxiety/ and safe space breeching. (No matter how much I love my son’s therapists, my home is my home and I only want people to see it when I want them to see it. Certainly not with all this mess and disorder.) Then I had another appointment with my therapist in the same day. The therapy was useful, but more than one appointment in a day usually causes problems for me. (We’re also using a different interface than usual, that just exhausts me.) Then I read something on facebook that made me want to correct someone and I knew that I shouldn’t. (I just did, of course. So now I’m waiting for that sword to fall.)

I think that’s it.

The problem is how do you get out of the mean reds? I think I am gonna try and make some progress on my house. Clean up the toys, try and find the can opener, the usual. Maybe, put away all the clean laundry before it becomes dirty laundry again with an errant chicken nugget chuck by my son. That’s what my husband would like. (But because he asked for me to do this, the mean reds are like, “NO!”) Uhhhhhhhgggggggg……

Earnestly, I think I am gonna try and execute my plan from yesterday, clean up the dining room, the toys that are trying to kill us, and then organize my studio to start painting again. It’s progress, with a short term goal and reward. Yes, I think that’s what I will do.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this out in the world. Because just like Holly Golightly, and HollyLovesJohn, a lot of people get the mean reds from time to time.


The painting is one I did in my early years, based off of the ending scene where she goes running after “cat” in the rain. You know something funny? I was so obsessed with Holly in this film, our similarities and our matching names, that I don’t even remember the love interests name. Did he even have a name? Rick? Carl? PAUL! That was his name… Paul.

ASMR & Autism Part 2

So, it’s been a little while since I first wrote my piece on ASMR and Autism, most of that has stayed the same, but upon further immersion, I have a few more thoughts that I would like to share.

Misophonia can occasionally make ASMR a real crapshoot. I will be enjoying a particular video of sounds and then someone has a more explosive “P” sound in the microphone and it’s like a small landmine going off. And the “wet whispering” that some people love, makes me want to physically cringe.

I am not trying to insult any ASMR creator that uses those triggers. It’s just my experience as an Autistic person with ADHD and OCD who partakes heavily in ASMR to mitigate some anxiety and focus issues.

For a moment, I thought about making some reviews for people that both love ASMR and suffer from misophonia, but I imagined that misophonia can be triggered by many different things. And after doing more research on other’s experience with misohponia, I was right.

Read this quote from Neurology Times:

A number of sounds can elicit the agitation characteristic of misophonia. Chewing noises are probably the most common trigger, but other sounds such as slurping, crunching, mouth noises, tongue clicking, sniffling, tapping, joint cracking, nail clipping, and the infamous nails on the chalkboard are all auditory stimuli that incite misophonia.

Most of the sounds that trigger misophonia are produced by the human body, but some misophonics become annoyed by the sounds of inanimate objects, such as clicking of a remote control or the whirring of a motor, although the degree of irritation is not usually as severe. Interestingly, people who suffer from misophonia do not experience irritation when they produce the same exact noises themselves.

Now, for myself, I can agree with chewing, crunching, wet mouth noises, nails on a chalkboard, also fork on a plate (not listed here), and the whirring of a motor. The whirring of a motor is actually probably my WORST misophonia trigger, so it’s funny that they say the irritation is not as severe. Look at me! Bucking statistics everywhere I go!

BUT on the more positive side, I think I have narrowed down my most beloved relaxation triggers. Here’s the list:

  • Still love finger fluttering, super consistent and beautiful
  • scratching your nails across almost any surface (not chalkboard, obvs.)
  • brushing, with soft brushes on a microphone, or brushes in hair (If it’s a wig though, it has to be good quality. You can hear a bad synthetic wig, I know that sounds snooty but it’s true. It’s something about the netting structure, has to be soft lace, not acrylic that will catch on a brush.)
  • Painting! Oh my goodness, painting is my new fave! More on that in a minute.
  • Big fluffy micorphone windsocks. Ohhhhhh… they are the best.
  • Personal attention and affirmation. It’s just good for the soul.
  • Reiki is still a big favorite. Although I prefer kind of the “modified” reiki that most ASMR creators use, and call it “toxic energy pulling” or something like that. If I am gonna have full blown reiki, I want it to be in person. For some reason it feels like acupuncture by proxy to have a reiki session over the internet. So you, know, without the proper “punch” essentially.
  • ACTUAL hair cuts or hair dressing. Not role play. I will get into that in a minute, too.
  • Make up “on you and me.” Informative and relaxing.

I think that is a pretty comprehensive list. Of course, I am open to new triggers and mediation sounds. I’m really starting to enjoy the creators who put a low level of rain or some other traditional nature sound under their ASMR. It adds a level of consistent sound that is very soothing.

Here’s the misophonia triggers. Again, I am not trying to insult or rag on any ASMR creator or enthusiast who loves these sounds, I am just trying to warn other misophonics who need to know before exploring ASMR.

  • As I said in my last piece, chewing. There is a whole sub-category of the ASMR genre that is just chewing and lip smacking. Shudder.
  • Crinkling sounds. For me, crinkling is just too loud and inconsistent. I don’t know that it triggers my misophonia, but it’s not relaxing either.
  • Overly wet whispering and breathy speaking voice. Not only does this occasionally feel a little too phone-sex-operator for me (no judgement, for real) but this majorly triggers my misophonia.
  • Inconsistent repetition. This is actually more of an OCD thing than a purely Misophonia thing, but if you are gonna repeat words, they need to be consistent or have an appropriate rhythm and crescendo. Otherwise you’re just tweaking out your listeners who deal with this kind of verbal inconsistencies all day, every day.

So with all that being said, I’d like to go back to the positive part of this post. And that is I have found some new favorite ASMRtists to share. First up is Caroline ASMR.

Caroline ASMR

Caroline doesn’t really need my help in telling you that she’s a great channel to listen to. She’s highly sucessful in subscribers and views on youtube. You can also find her on the Zee’s app, which I really enjoy as a more comment friendly place to get my ASMR. (Zee’s was also produced by my original fave Gibi ASMR. So I legit use this platform out of loyalty as well, just being honest.)

BUT MY FAVORITE are her brain massage videos. They really helped me through my COVID-19 headaches. Which were the worst headaches I had ever had in my thirty odd years of life. No contest. She’s also got some adorable merch that I plan on splurging on when I am no longer in trouble from my last shopping splurge. (My husband is thrifty, I am impulsive. Together, we try not to have too many financial arguments.)

Here’s one video that helped me especially, it’s also good for focus:

Perfect headache cure.

Next up is a seriously under-appreciated young ASMRtist-

Taylor ASMR

Not to be confused with Taylor Darling of Darling ASMR. Taylor is someone I discovered when I was trying to find more painting asmr. She started with some very Bob Ross style painting ASMR videos and evolved to more of her own style. Does a lot of Palette knife painting, which I LOVE. I seriously love a good palette knife painting. (A good palette knife sound too.)

She is so flipping adorable. I almost can’t handle how cute and sincere she is. She also is a budding talent in both art and ASMR. She’s really triggered that loyal want to protect feeling from me. Which, honestly, is a sign that I am very moved by your work and want to support it. Not that I am like a creepy stalker or something. It’s nerd loyalty. If you are a nerd, you know what I am talking about. If you aren’t, I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of comic-con. That’s loyalty, my friends.

Anyway, she’s really good at what she does, is super honest and funny, and is getting continually better and better. In a short time that I have been watching her channel, I’ve gone from charmed to super fan. (I also lived in Georgia for a short time, originally from Texas, so her accent is just like coming home sometimes.) From what I can see, she’s very authentic and should be on your watchlist. No matter what taste in ASMR you have.

Here’s one of her painting videos from about two years ago that just charmed the heck out of me:

She’s so cute. I seriously cannot handle how cute she is.

I’m on a very secret mission to try and get her to photograph her paintings and sell them on platforms like Society 6 or even Teespring. This secret mission usually involves me yelling at my computer screen, “Monetize your art! You deserve more money for all the good you are putting into the world!”

This is how most of my secret missions go. I know. I’m not a very persuasive person, not yet at least. My biggest compliment I can give to Taylor is that when I think about my ambitions to create my own ASMR channel and Autistic Vlog, I would study her for her effervescent quality. She’s that good.

So yes, look up these pre-approved ASMR creators but listen with caution! Misophonia is hard but it shouldn’t keep us from the things we enjoy!


OH! I forgot to mention why I only watch real haircutting ASMR instead of role play. Ok. It’s one of those trauma- RSD related issues. I am a big believer in getting your hair done in a salon. My sister is an Aveda trained master of hair and if I could only use her services, I would- although she does tell me what I want instead of asking me, but that’s older sisters.

You see, I tend to make hair stylists angry. I have A LOT of hair.

Let me show you a recent example of the size and thickness of my hair:

Fluorescent lighting is doing nothing for my almost middle aged face but you can see just how much hair I have. It goes on beyond the camera’s lens too. You can almost hear the sigh in my eyes. SO. Much. Hair…

I’ve tried to cut it all off, but then I end up looking like this squat mushroom type character. Very Mario Brothers, circa 1990’s. Oh, and by the way, my hair is not “teased” in that picture. It just hasn’t been brushed down. Eat your heart out, Dolly.

So, like I said, if I go to get my hair cut or colored, especially colored, hairdressers get VERY ANNOYED with my existence. This has always messed with my Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria qualities.

An example… One time I was getting my hair colored professionally, and the young girl complained, LITERALLY, THE WHOLE TIME. In trying to pacify her, I said, “I know that I have a lot of hair, I tip accordingly.” And she angrily huffed, “I would hope so.”

That was the last time I got my hair professionally colored by anyone other than my sister. I would rather make mistakes at home than be berated by a, well, I thought of a lot of unkind words here, but, by a young lady who apparently doesn’t like her own job. (I also paid WELL over a hundred dollars for that cut and color with a huge tip. Just to be traumatized for a decent job. It was not worth the tip I gave in compensation for EXISTING.)

SO, I don’t like haircut role play ASMR anymore because they bring up a lot of trauma memories. This is not uncommon for people who are either on the spectrum or deal with ADHD, or people like me, who are both. BUT I still really like the sound of scissors, and have had very relaxing haircuts in the past.

I have an ambition to one day create a relaxing haircut role play ASMR for people like me. But that’s way down the line. In reality, I think it would be better to just bring in my sister and record my own haircut. My brother in law is a professional in the film industry too. I KNOW! I keep trying to tell them they would be so good at ASMR. Maybe one day, they’ll listen and we’ll all benefit.

Again, my sister is also just very good. Even when she did that horrible highlighting cap on me when we were kids, I have less bad memories from that catastrophe than I do from strangers. And she was an untrained, bossy, sixteen year old girl. She also cut my face once, when she was about thirteen and using sewing scissors to frame the hair around my face. STILL prefer the face cutting to being judged for having too much hair. SO yeah, RSD is insane and thirteen year old beauticians probably need a little more practice. That’s why they have little sisters.

HAPPINESS INVENTORY

Some of the therapies or tricks involved with mitigating the shortcomings of being autistic often involve a form of happiness distraction. It’s hard to regulate your emotions when you are Autistic or have ADHD, let alone have ADHD while being Autistic, so this is something very important to me.

In fact, today, it’s really important. I’m having a rather raw day. Between the death of my grandmother, and general mental health issues, I just… can’t.

In that vain, I like to take an inventory of the things that make me happy. This isn’t just for fun. It’s a cache that I keep tucked away in the back of my mind for emergencies. When you are stuck in an emotionally volatile state, you can’t suddenly think, “What would I be doing if I were happy?” No, you need to pull that happiness out of your mind like a switchblade you keep in your boot. Ready to be used at all times. This is basic self defense.

That being said, I would like to give you an example of my Happiness Inventory. So that you can make your own- or get that switchblade, whatever works for you.

An important note before you start. It’s true that things like “hanging out with friends” or “making out with my husband” might definitely make me happy, but they depend on another person. For quick happiness distraction, I like to focus on things that I can do at a moment’s notice.

Holly’s Happiness Inventory

In no particular order:

  • Watching ASMR videos on YouTube.
  • Binge watching “The New Girl”
  • Shopping for skater dresses and skirts. Oh! And cardigans. Shoes made for big girls as well. Those are hard to find.
  • Wearing colorful tights- that fit! Fit is very important for plus size girls like me, not to mention autistic big girls like me, who have sensory issues with clothing.
  • Watching great plus size fashion vloggers, like Sarah Rae Vargas, I love her!
  • Taking a nap.
  • Making jewelry. I haven’t done this as much since the birth of my son. He tries to eat my supplies, and pull my earrings out of my ears. (I actually haven’t worn dangle earrings in four years, one of my holes has actually healed over. One of these days I will have them re-pierced but due to slightly hilarious childhood trauma, I have yet to even consider how I will do that.)
  • Organizing. Not cleaning! Organizing. Big difference. I like having things clean but do not enjoy the actual maintenance of cleaning. (If you do, nourish that love. It’s something special.)
  • Shopping for original art online. Check out Society 6 or my favorite contemporary artist, Jess Franks.
  • Making and eating the dish I stole from my favorite local Mexican restaurant. It’s so good, with chorizo, bacon, onions and pineapple! SO, so good.
  • Making homemade aiolis and mayonnaise. Yuuum.
  • Pinterest binges WHILE netflix bingeing.
  • Listening to amazing podcasts like Getting Curious, Radiolab, Nancy, and This American Life.
  • WATCHING “QUEER EYE”! That was in all caps because I love it THAT MUCH. All five of those men are my role models. Helping people while being entertaining, I can’t imagine a better way to live.
  • Painting. Sometimes I can get caught up in the perfectionism of painting, but it is something that I have always loved. Still life is the most relaxing painting. Portrait, the most stressful. (Bob Ross is also the OG of ASMR.)
  • Planning or studying. I like to study examples of the projects I am working on and taking notes. SO, since I have ambitions to create my own Vlog, I research great vlogs or YouTube channels, and take notes. If I am writing a show that I want to have a little bit of “Chorus Line” flair, I will watch the musical online, and take notes. Take notes, people. This doesn’t just make me happy, it’s good advice.
  • Playing with make up. Because of how I grew up, my make up skills really only came to pass because of the theatre. So now that I want to do it more for myself, I like to play with it on my own. Practice makes perfect, but it also makes for some giggle inducing mistakes.
  • HGTV! I don’t have cable anymore, but I will still pick up my favorite decorating shows on my streaming platforms. “Dear Genevieve” was an all time favorite, love Erin and Ben from “Hometown”. Could do that ALL DAY.
  • Doing DIY projects, like making light fixtures or painting furniture.
  • Watching my hero Hannah Gadsby, do literally anything.
  • Going through family photos, especially of the little prince.
  • Oh! And my new and undying love… Instagram. I’m all about the gram!

That’s it!

Of course a Happiness Inventory will change with the literal weather, like “look at fall leaves” or “safely sunbathe” or “go skinnydipping!” I don’t know your life.

The point is, to survive the lows, sometimes you have to force a high. Or at the very least cognitively try to distract yourself with happiness. You never know when you’ll stop trying and just be happy!

Best Day of My Life?

There are a few days that are “supposed” to be the best day of your life. Graduations, big birthdays, childbirth, weddings… But for neurodiverse peoples those days are often the hardest. While I am stuck in my sick bed I have been doing a lot of instagram scrolling, a lot of swiping through my own pictures, and I happened upon all my wedding photos… and I got some… feelings.

Yes, of course, I had happy feelings. But I also remembered the reality of that day. Of how so, so many things went wrong. Of how I literally had to escape my guests and hide in a back hallway to deal with the sensory overload. How I got to talk to so many people that loved, but also how I HAD to talk to so many people that I loved…

So I want to share the reality of some of those beautiful photos… and for those of you that are perhaps neurodiverse, especially the socially anxious, and yet to be married, I want to give you some real wedding day survival tips to put on your “one day” pinterest page.

So first- the reality. My wedding was adorable. It’s true. I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t cute and entirely handmade. But it was not perfect.


Continue reading “Best Day of My Life?”

Right Now

This probably won’t be a very well written post. But it will be honest. That is because I am going through a crisis… right now.

You see, I forgot to take my medication yesterday, because of the general lawless quarantine- no routine- life we are all living at the moment.

And even though I remembered my meds this morning. I am paying for yesterday’s mistake… right now.

I feel like crying and throwing up all at once. My sensory overload is almost unbearable and my ADHD is in overdrive, which means that my Rejections Sensitive Dysphoria is also in overdrive. So all the progress I’ve made in the last few months, has just disappeared.

Fortunately, I have been doing a lot of studying in those properly medicated months. With my counselors, and on my own. I am especially interested in something called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which deals with regulating emotions and living in the moment. Or you know… right now.

It feels a lot like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, if any of you are familiar with this hobbit-like genius. (I have always felt that Eckhart looked like either the spirit that helps you find the true meaning of Christmas, or a super villain. Don’t know why. He’s really awesome, so I’m not trying to make fun. Anyway, ADHD, like I said…)

My father went through a Power of Now phase, I think, in the early 2000’s? It was a big deal for us in our house. Unfortunately, my father was a little more in-tuned with his issues than we were at the time, so we were like, “Ok, whatever Dad, I’m gonna go watch the Gilmore Girls, with the power of fast talking.” I wasn’t very enlightened. I was also suffering from severe ADHD, so yeah. Not my fault.

(Okay, as an honest observation here, I think you might be able to see what an un-medicated ADHD mind is like. It jumps, and jumps, and jumps. So even if the person themselves, is not jumping about, that does NOT mean they do not have ADHD. I’m sitting perfectly still as I write this, but my mind is doing somersaults.)

So, honestly, being without my meds is a good reminder that you need more than just pharmaceuticals to get you through the hard times. You need tools. You need methods and tips to reason with the parts of you that are simply unreasonable.

I’m gonna look more into DBT, because I think it might be good for ASD people as well. I know that it works well for people with Borderline Personality Disorder and that’s something of a cousin to Autism Spectrum Disorder. (I think BPD is more trauma-based where ASD is a neurological type. Don’t quote me on that. It’s just my understanding.)

Honestly, this might also be an anxiety hangover.

I was saying to my instagram buddies yesterday, I have severe, SEVERE conflict anxiety. And Autism Awareness Week always puts me in a state. Letting people be wrong, is very hard for me. But having the conflict to tell them they are wrong, is excruciating. This is also hard on my self esteem because I find this part of me to be something like cowardice. And so I am not forgiving in this aspect of my mental illness.

What is cowardice if not being afraid of a fight? But fights- just destroy me.

My Enneagram type is Type 2- The Helper- Or the Caring, Interpersonal Type- Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive. Which means that I literally just want everyone to get along. And for me, that “posessive” quality transfers to a fierce, FIERCE loyalty. Meaning that I am often drawn to fights because of my intense emotions and need to protect what is “mine.” And as deep as my social anxiety is, I will go to WAR over loyalty. Basically, I’m the “Leave Brittany Alone” guy, crying under a blanket. I just don’t film it and upload it. My sensibilities stop that kind of public self destruction, most of the time.

(Disclaimer, I completely agree with “Leave Brittany Alone” guy. She’s bipolar and should not have been photographed in the middle of an episode. Her attacking a car with an umbrella after shaving her head? Duh. That was an episode. An episode that allowed her family to come in and take over all her finances. I’m not saying that they did that to her. I’m hoping that they did it for her. But who knows?)

One of the best portrayals of this feeling I have ever seen came from Silver Linings Playbook. Honestly, that was one of the best portrayals of Bipolar Disorder I have ever seen, anywhere. Especially when he has an episode in the middle of the night looking for his wedding video. I’ve been there. But mostly I am talking about the scene while they are tailgating and someone goes after his therapist and then punches his brother.

The fear and anger is this overpowering wave of “fight or flight” but mostly just “fight.” Like extreme, red eyes, nose flaring “FIGHT.” Because I’m only 5’3″ and very soft, it probably seems laughable that I want to fight people. But I want to DESTROY them. And that kind of uncontrollable anger is scary. Hence, the severe, SEVERE conflict anxiety. Thinking about it now, it’s probably the opposite of cowardice. It’s barely contained restraint. And anything that is “barely contained” is going to be uncomfortable.

And some might say, just get angry! Start that flame war! Tell them off! But I’ve been down that road and it does nothing to help anyone. More than that, they haunt me. Those moments will haunt me forever. So even if it seems simpering, if I offend someone on the internet, or god forbid, in real life, I will apologize almost immediately. Not to admit fault, but as a ritual to spare me the pain later. I have to make peace, or I will never have peace.

Huh, well that was a little bit cathartic. I feel better. That or my Adderall is finally kicking in. (I’m also listening to ASMR as I write this.) Whatever, it is. I’ll take it.

The point is… I started this blog to help. Not because I have it all figured out, but because I am a deeply flawed human being who tries to learn from her mistakes. If you can learn from my mistakes before you make them yourself, then I have accomplished what I set out to do. So, thanks.

Also, don’t forget to take your meds.

Therapy Roulette

I would not say that I am an expert at therapy, but I have certainly had my brushes with the noble art. Some of them I have written about in this very blog, like poor Marueen, others I have been rather tight lipped about. But I think, just as we need to be more open about therapy to reduce the stigma of getting help, we need to be more honest about the quality of the help we are receiving. And what to do if your therapist just doesn’t get it.

So just like with poor Maureen, the names have been changed, not to protect the innocent, but because I honestly don’t know what the protocol around that is. (And you know my love/fear of protocol.)

Let’s start with the most recent former therapist. Rodger. He was actually a fantastic counselor. I met with him after my sister suggested I try online therapy at a particularly rough time for me. She sent me to betterhelp.com, and it was not false advertising. Up until now, it was the best help I had ever had. He was a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and specialized in trauma as well as addiction. I had no problems with addiction but he also had experience with bipolar and LGBT issues, so when the website set us up, I went with it.

Like I said, he was one of the best counselors I had ever had. We would meet up online, and even though you can do video chat, I chose to text chat. That is just a better situation for me with my social anxiety. He was a bit of a typo guy, but his advice was really solid. This was so much better than the last therapist I had… His name was Jack.

Oh, Jack. I will always think fondly of Jack if only for the material he gave me. I came to him when I was in a particularly horrible phase of my mental health rehabilitation. I was going through awful medication side effects that included- night terrors, panic attacks, nerve damage, skin irritation, deteriorating self esteem, worsening ADHD symptoms, and probably the worst one of all, the sudden “fight or flight” feeling while being intimate. Essentially, I would feel like I was being raped in the middle of fooling around with my husband. It was traumatic to say the least, for both of us.

Jack was the kind of therapist that you sometimes questioned how solid his life was. He was a very nice man, don’t get me wrong. But he made huge gaffes in our sessions. When I told him about my son being autistic, he grimaced and asked, “Oh no, is he a screamer?” I honestly almost left after he said that, but I figured, he’s just like everyone else in this small town. So he might still be the best I can do.

Second gaffe came when he kept telling me about his other patients. I am a people-pleaser, so I didn’t say much when he repeatedly brought up other patients, but still, it was off-putting.

Third gaffe, or perhaps, just a bad therapist moment, was when I told him that I was LGBT, and he suddenly found ways to keep bringing up Jesus. I dig Jesus, but the conversation was suspiciously not about spiritual matters. It was definitely not WWJD.

Anyway, after several months of therapy, where I was just starting to understand my own autism/ADHD, I repeatedly tried to get him to talk to me about what I was feeling on that subject. In response, he repeatedly tried to diagnose me with Borderline Personality Disorder. There is nothing wrong with being BPD, it’s a very misunderstood condition, with some very misogynistic stereotypes and diagnostic issues. It just wasn’t my situation.

Here are some of the problems associated with BPD (and why they did not apply to me)

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family. (This is similar to Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, but I never actually thought they’d abandon me. Same Emotional Dysregulation, but different issues.)
  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization (“I’m so in love!”) and devaluation (“I hate her”). This is also sometimes known as “splitting.” (Obviously debilitating, but not an issue for me.)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals and relationships. (Again, similar to RSD. But BPD can refer to distorted in a “I’m on top of the world” kind of way. Not my problem. )
  • Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving. (I have impulsive behavior from my ADHD but no where near this level of harm. I’m in a healthy relationship with no substance abuse and I’m a relatively boring driver. It mostly becomes a problem with internet shopping.)
  • Self-harming behavior including suicidal threats or attempts. (Any suicidal idealization I had came from medication side effects and sensory over-stimulation, which I tried to make him understand, but he didn’t want to listen.)
  • Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days. (I was being treated for Bipolar so this always felt a little like lazy diagnostic thought to me. Duh.)
  • Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness. (I have ADHD, I am not bored. I get depressed but that is different.)
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt. (Ahem… Bipolar, RSD.)
  • Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity or “out of body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes. (This was a problem for me only in the aspects of Autistic burnout. Different animal.)

Now, if you know anything about RSD or autism, you can understand how Jack might have been confused. Especially because of the longstanding psychiatric idea that women are not autistic, and men do not have BPD, which has lead to misdiagnosis all over the place.

My problem with Jack was not that he misdiagnosed me, but that he wouldn’t even listen to my objections to that diagnosis. Then he made the mother all gaffes, that allowed me to leave him without any second thoughts…

He told me all about his former patient that was “just like” me. More and more I agreed with his description, until I finally asked with hope, “Well, what did you do for her? Did she get better?”

His face went white, he gave this very old man clearing of his throat and said, “Well, she told me that she would always remember the time that we shared together, and that made me feel better after she… uh… passed.”

That’s right, folks. His patient killed herself. And he forgot about it right up until I asked about her.

So, even if he were not so incompetent, I would still say that he just didn’t get me.

Before Jack, was Marueen, who you can read about here. I only had two appointments with her a year apart. And neither were helpful. Not only because Maureen didn’t get me but because I wasn’t telling her the truth. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was masking.

Before Marueen, there was Debrah, when I was about twelve years old. She told my mother that I was depressed from the novels I was reading. Yeah. That was over before it started.

So that brings us back to today, where I made the difficult decision to leave the best therapist I have ever had. Why? Did he compare me to his other patients? Did he try to diagnose me with a disorder that I didn’t have? Did he compare me to a tree? (Again, check out Maureen’s story.) Did he completely ignore my autistic diagnosis?

No, he was a great counselor. But he just didn’t know enough about autistic people to help me with my atypical relationships and problems. He was great for emotional regulation and RSD, but when it came to my autistic traits, he dismissed them. Purely from a lack of knowledge on the subject. He fell for all the usual tropes, assuming that I had a lack of empathy, that I don’t understand emotions or that I would be unable to understand facial cues (I do not have this particular problem, some autistic people do, I don’t. Don’t make assumptions.)

STILL, he was the best I’d ever had. But was that “best” good enough to keep seeing him, even though his advice was becoming more and more neurotypical? No. It wasn’t. So I took the chance that I might hurt his feelings and asked for a new counselor on BetterHelp.

Again, it delivered. I am starting with a new therapist, let’s call her Donna. She is LGBT with personal autistic experience (!!!) And I am hopeful, if not confident, that she will get me. And I would have never met her had I not had the strength to stop using Rodger’s services.

So like the title of this post says, therapy is a bit like Russian Roulette. Counselors and therapists are still just people. And people can be both good or bad at their jobs. They’re either the bullet you need to take out your problem, or they’re just an empty chamber. (And the damage from an empty chamber is worse in this scenario, in case my metaphor is mixing you up.)

My point… If the therapy you are experiencing is not right for you, get a new therapist. There is no shame. As always, reader, I implore you … demand help.


Check out any of the internet based therapies out there, but I will always suggest betterhelp.com. They really made a difference in my life.

Also, if you are interested in the fun “finding yourself” journal check it out in Emily McDowell and friends shop. She’s one of my favorites. Like she says in the product description, technically that journal is a lot cheaper than therapy.

I weigh…

As you know, I’ve recently started exploring the wonderful world of Instagram. Yes, I’m in love. Not just with the platform, but with several new faces and hashtags that I am following. #effyourbeautystandards is both delicious and nutritious for my mental health. That’s where I found the downright glorious Tess Holiday. (It’s also where I have had to practice my “no flame wars” rule, because damn, people are mean.)

But it’s also where my love of one Jameela Jamil has been forever cemented in my heart.

I did not find Jameela on Instagram, though. No, I first really heard of her, Jameela Jamil, the person, not just a character on “The Good Place”, because people were being so damn shitty to her. Oh, and that hasn’t stopped by the way, just look at what her boyfriend James Blake had to say recently…

Good man, James. Good man.

No, the first time I heard her name it was because the LGBT+ community was outraged that she had been cast on the HBO ballroom show “Legendary.” For those not in the know, ballroom does not refer to the dancing you are picturing right now. This is not dancing with the stars. It’s referring to the ballroom culture started in the 1980’s (check out the documentary Paris is Burning, then you’ll know.) Now this is not my scene so I am not going to say that she was the right person for the job, that’s not what drew me into this particular media splash.

No I came in, when a lot of people basically decided to “cancel” her as a judge on this show because she is not LGBT+… BUT SHE IS… She’s queer. And after being forced to correct a lot of misplaced anger, she decided to come out as queer, even though she shouldn’t have had to do it at such a time. Did this appease the community? NO, they turned on her more. A large portion of them pointing to the fact that she was dating a man, again erasing bisexuals from the “authentically” LGBT+ community.

As a queer woman, madly in love with her cisgender husband, you can bet that this put Jameela on my radar. I decided then and there that I would go to war for this south asian queer goddess, any day. (That’s how you know I love something, my loyalty is unparalleled.)

So to find her I_weigh movement on Instagram, well, my pledge for war in her honor went from a skirmish to a full-body measure of devotion.

The I_weigh movement is about “body neutrality.” Trying to turn the focus from bodies and looks to interior beauty. I know, I know. She’s not the first to do this. But I think that she might be the first to have the tenacity, and the platform, to really take it somewhere.

She has a new podcast by the same name coming out on April 3rd and you better believe that I will be listening.

Just like Jameela, I had some health problems that made me gain A LOT of weight. (I also fell in love with a man who introduced me to the idea of takeout. So it wasn’t all side effects.) Then like most women I had a tough time with yo-yo dieting. I lost weight when I worked for Jenny Craig but then gained it back when I left to start writing full time. I lost weight when I started protein and LCHF diets, but then gained it back after emotional meltdowns dropped my manic ass right off the wagon. Around the same time I had a baby, and well, hormones + wrong medication + medical emergencies + carbs = big FAT mental breakdown. (You can read more about it in my post about my chronic illnesses.) I’m losing steadily again now that I have finally found the right medication, but it’s a journey for sure.

So in the spirit of I_weigh, I want to share some images of myself that I would normally not want the world to see. These particular images were taken when my body was at it’s most endomorphic, or you know… fat. (I’ve lost some weight but I’m actually not that far off from these pics, either. So these are not “before” pictures.) Like you will see on the I_weigh Instagram page, I’ve superimposed some of my more important attributes.

Well, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Like I said, they speak for themselves.

Sick While Anxious

DEALING WITH TWO ILLNESSES AT ONCE

In the interest of not burying the lead, I believe that I have COVID-19. I say believe because getting tested is not something I am interested in. My symptoms are still relatively mild; I have a big boot of pressure on my chest, a dry cough, and a mild fever. It’s painful, but I can still get air. So I have no interest in leaving the house to endanger vulnerable people just to get a cotton swab shoved into my brain cavity.

But it’s got me thinking about what it’s like to be physically sick when you have an invisible illness at the same time. You see, whenever I get ill, that RSD inner critic starts to eat at me. It calls me a hypochondriac, a drama queen, it savagely whispers, “No one will believe you. No one will care.”

This is, of course, because I spend the majority of my time trying to convince others about those differences that I live with- those “illnesses” that require some occasional accommodation, i.e. ADHD, agoraphobia, autism, OCD, etc.

Now, you might say, but COVID-19 isn’t invisible. You are coughing, you have a fever. You look like shit. (Thanks for that last one.) And still I find myself on my phone, texting my sister about what else it could be. And then the obvious, irritating, always on the edge of my tongue question- Is this just anxiety?

It should be an honest and innocuous question, and it would be, if it weren’t for the ungodly amount of real life illnesses and complications that I have had that were blamed on my anxiety. And I know I am not the only woman to have this problem. Let’s get real. Female hysteria was a “legitimate diagnosis” for a very, very long time. And not that long ago, unfortunately. Ask me about Rosemary Kennedy’s lobotomy if you want a real medical horror story. Or do yourself a favor and read all about it.

TRIGGER WARNING: The article I’ve linked to about Rosemary Kennedy discusses an extreme form of ableism, medical assault during her mother’s labor, medical malpractice, and special needs abuse- abuse, in general. Even if you aren’t sensitive, it will effect you. If you have trauma in any of these areas, you might want to research a different source on Rosemary’s story.

A bright, beautiful woman failed by the medical profession from the time of her birth to her death.

Leaving the gender issue behind, people with diagnosed mental health conditions, including autism, are also being under-treated when it comes to physical health problems. (Judging from the information available about Rosemary Kennedy I think she was most likely autistic, if not intellectually disabled from her traumatic birth. So she had two “conditions” going against her.) In my life alone- where I was mostly only recognized as “anxious while female”- gallstones, pancreatitis, allergic reactions, dermatographia, and chronic infections were all vaguely blamed on my “stress.”

In one stunning moment at the ER, someone had the gall to blame my physical symptoms on my son’s autism diagnosis. I’m a very, very polite/timid person, mostly because of my RSD and anxiety, but I believe my direct quote was, “Are you shitting me?”

Maybe I just said that with my eyes. I’m not entirely sure. I was in a lot of pain.

The point is… and this is pretty much my continual, all-consuming, message… is this:

Demand help. If you are sick, take up the space that is necessary to protect yourself and others. Even if someone wants to downplay your symptoms, it’s on you to not only get help for yourself, but in this time of contagion, it’s on you to protect others. (Not just medical help either. Demand it from your family, your friends, your roommate, whomever. I’m not going to the doctor yet but my husband and I took the time to recognize my symptoms and make a plan if it gets worse.) Anxiety may lie to you and call you dramatic, but a virus will still infect your loved ones, whether they are willing to believe you or not.

A virus does not need outside confirmation to be legitimate, it just is. So in this case, just this one time, be like corona. Rear your ugly head (I told you I look like shit) and demand to be noticed.

It’s the only way we can live.


For interesting information on the effects of COVID-19, check out this New York Times article: What Does Coronavirus Do the the Body?