Instagram, Family, and Special Interest Paintings

I have been staying up WAY too late these nights. Mostly because of my darling son, but also because of my new social media love- instagram. Oh man, is it addicting! But honestly, one of the biggest things that I am really grateful for when it comes to instagram, has very little to do with pretty pictures. Ok, well actually it has a little something to do with it and I will get back to that.

Mostly, I am grateful that it has allowed me to reconnect with my aunt.

This is my Aunt Mary Anne…

Mary Anne or Mae West?

She did this Mae West Tribute show for a long time, and then did some vintage music shows for assisted living facilities where they would appreciate it the most. Which means that she was caring about these older people before they were in danger. Which to me, shows that she was ahead of an all different curve, you know basic humanity and compassion.

She is my father’s sister and the very same aunt I told you about at the beginning of quarantine when I was worried about who I was gonna lose to this sickness. In that post, I also told you about the grandmother that I did lose, shortly after I wrote that, actually. Which meant that when I saw my aunt posting her work outs on instagram it was like I had to see her. I didn’t want to miss my chance with her, like I did with my grandmother. In fact, there is this strange connection that whenever I see her picture, I think “grandma.” Not because she is old enough to be my grandmother, no. It’s just this impetus. It’s like the word “grandma” has become “don’t wait.” Don’t lose her too.

Now, I am not saying my Aunt is going anywhere. She’s incredibly healthy. She does these stair climbing marathons and is doing a virtual one to raise money for Leukemia, her team is called Stair Down Cancer. (Love a good pun.) I just really don’t want to waste anymore time with her.

And seeing her virtually is good enough during this crisis, like I said, despite being ridiculously healthy, she is older than my father. And my uncle, the writer, has MS, and is a quadriplegic. He also has a great blog about their adventures in a handicap accessible RV from a wheelchair perspective, called Wheelie Out There. I think that pun alone shows you how great he is. (Seriously, love a good pun.) But it also shows you that I want them to be safe in this uncertain time.

Picture courtesy of his blog, Wheelie Out There.

Sidenote- When I first met my Uncle John I believe he had a cane. Then a walker. Then a motorized scooter, and now a wheelchair. The interesting thing about that, is that none of my memories of his mobility aides are bad ones. Sure, I didn’t want that for him. But his presence has never been a sad or tragic one. When it was the walker, I remember him showing me the “grassy knoll” in Dallas as we looked over the fence where a “second shooter” might have been. When it was the motorized scooter, I remember him nearly plowing into a hissing goose outside his apartment, a war whoop of glee on the air. What I am saying is, despite his difficulties, which are enough to destroy most people, he has a tremendous spirit. He also skydives. So there’s that.

We’ve made plans to get together once they swing through my little town. And I’m pretty happy about it. Honestly, I’m just hoping I won’t burst into tears when I see them. Undiagnosed autism and other mental health issues can be so isolating. The best thing about getting diagnosed (and the proper medicine) has honestly been “coming out.” It allows you to get over yourself a bit and go after what matters to you. My family will always matter most to me. So it’s like a starting pistol has gone off, and I want to go see everyone. Too bad it happened during a quarantine. Nonetheless, I’m pretty pumped.

I’m also pumped about an idea my aunt gave me over instagram. I was posting some of my old paintings which included this teacup painting I did for an antique shop.

And she suggested that I create painting of rare teacups for collectors. And while I am not sure that I want to necessarily go the teacup route, because rare teacups are usually quite intricate, and would not really be my.. ahem…cup of tea, per se, I really loved the idea of painting a piece that a person might collect. Because you will often find that autistic people are collectors. This also made me think of the other unique special interests that people on the spectrum have. I think sometime in the future I would like to do a series based on such an idea, highlighting those special interests and elevating them into art.

Do you have a special interest that you would like a painting of?

But maybe, more than that, do you want to see your family more? It’s hard living with mental health issues, like I said before. And hopefully, once all this is done, and it’s safe to be with each other once again, maybe it doesn’t have to be so isolating.

Maybe it’s not too late.


The painting is by Salvador Dali. It’s inspired by Mae West, the real life actress my Aunt has made a career out of impersonating.

Sensory Issues = Short Temper

I was perusing facebook and I found a gem of an infographic from @mombrain.therapist. So of course I hopped on to instagram, followed her immediately, and found a bunch of other great infographic gems, one on pandemic parenting, another on comparing yourself to other moms, all cute and cartoony with really great information. You should go look. But this particular pic was it for me. It helped me so much.

Visual clutter, bad smells, and bright lights are my biggest hotpoints.

Now technically, I knew a lot of this information already as an autistic person. But for some reason I had not connected it to my patience as a parent (or as a wife really.)

I just knew it was why I was feeling so wrong and why I needed to hide in hyperfocus tv bingeing or some other kind of distraction. Which always makes me even more irritable because there is no progress or problem solving when you’re hiding out in hyperfocus mode. It’s like running in place.

I hate running in place. Treadmills? Don’t get me started. Like, I think Dickensian orphans would be horrified that people use treadmills for exercise now. What’s next? Voluntary debtor’s prison? … There might be a university and student loan comparison, there…. but offtopic.

So, how do I deal with this? I’ve tried the usual fixes. I did the candles, I did the audio book, I upped the ante to some of my favorite music, but with the inability to have my cleaning time without my family… not to mention all the walks that my buddy has me going on (And that whole gluten rash debacle) I’m just stuck. And I was really pissed about it.

Was… that’s the key word. Why am I no longer angry? Was it meditation? Therapy? Good old fashioned gratitude?

No!

I took a Klonopin!

I am not making fun of meditation, therapy, or good old fashioned gratitude, those are definitely a part of my bag of tricks. But the reality is, this isn’t just a foul mood. It’s not a lack of perspective. It’s a sensory reaction. It’s physical. And sometimes physical problems needs physical answers. So I took a klonopin with my daily cocktail. And it helped a lot.

Truly, if I could add klonopin to my daily meds, I would. But I don’t want to develop any kind of resistance to it, because it can be a lifesaver when you are dealing with something just that much extra. Like a global pandemic, near house fire (oh yeah, that happened. I’ll tell you more later) and so much visual clutter that I’m tripping over it.

This is a sidenote, but to explain just how insane my environment is right now… My son… has decided to collect all the floor vents in one place, leaving these rabbit-warren-like holes in my hardwood floor, that I’m pretty sure he’s thrown some toys down. I definitely stepped in one. And for some reason… he pushed my chair into one so that it looked like a sinkhole had developed in my dining room? I am not kidding. I almost wish I had taken a picture but it was just too much.

And in a wonderland like twist, last night while we were sleeping, he woke up and found my cache of slinkies that I bought for him. So there are dozens of slinkies hidden amongst the laundry and clutter. And every once in a while, one will just spring out at you.

I also had started a few projects that I didn’t finish, my fault there, so there are bins of my books and storage and one of my statue models from art school just hanging out in the living room. But really… my kid has been loving that, so I’m not as angry on that one.

I won’t mention how he keeps fondling the butt on this statue. I think it’s the texture… yeah… we will go with that.
The infamous wedding typewriter. Bubba has been loving that too.

So, yeah.

Uh… Now, I just found a melted green crayon in my fresh load of whites.

What was I saying about meditation again?

Diagnosing My Parents

I’ve spoken often of both my parents in this blog. I spoke about my mom in a tribute to her on Mother’s Day and in my coming out story. My father I have spoken about many times, about his photography lessons, and his own health and diet issues in my ode to fat, which was also an ode to my dad. (That’s not a comment on his physique, he’s very slender now. Mostly because of his high fat diet. It’s a whole thing, just trust me.)

What I’d like to talk about now, is a bit tricky. You see, my relationships with my parents are two of the best and most complicated things in my life.

They are good relationships, let me say that first. I love my parents very much. I know that they did their best in raising me (which was a damn good job, in my opinion. Any trauma that comes from my childhood was always because of societal pressure, not them personally.) I am obnoxiously close to my mother, and still very close to my father as well.

Honestly, I am a complete and total mash up of the two of them. Some kids might have a few traits of each of their parents, and others really favor one or the other. I look and act, exactly like BOTH OF MY PARENTS.

I have a few pictures from their youth that I think really show this off, like the one above, I’m pretty sure that if you morphed their faces together, it would be me. Like one of those facebook future child picture generators. Seriously, just remove the mustache. And then of course, this more informal black and white gem below.

Personally, I think my Dad is rocking those shorts, and my mom very typically has paint on her jeans. She was constantly painting our house when I was a baby. My first memory of her is with paint specs on her glasses. But those crinkly hooded eyes on my Dad- I have those. That pale freckled coloring on my Mom? I have the sunburns to prove it.

Like I said, I am a complete mash up of the two of them. Which begs the question…

If I am autistic, OCD, ADHD, and Bipolar… what are they?

It’s a tough thing to discuss because it is so intensely personal. And what I know is only what I have researched myself. Neither of my parents are formally diagnosed but I think they have come to terms with some of their more neurodiverse traits, or at least copped to them, for me. I do know that whenever I bring it up, each of them gets a bit tense.

That stigma is hard to break. And the self-loathing ableism and shame cycle is the worst of all. I think of this especially when I think of my father. (Mom too, but I will get to her in a second.)

With my father- his mother, my grandmother, was like me, I think. But in a time when mental health was not only misunderstood but often criminalized and institutionalized… well, she obviously wasn’t going to explore that side of herself. But I’ve concluded, from family stories, and her behavior that I recall from my childhood, that she had trouble connecting with people, even my father.

I honestly don’t know enough to say one way or the other. I prefer to think that she was more like me, than say, she just didn’t like us, my family. We are delightful. So it couldn’t be that.

At the start of this year, I was in a pretty terrible fight with my father. I mentioned it in my coming out story. We have since come to understand each other better, in a way because that fight was so much about clashing similarities. Or our inabilities to properly communicate.

A sign of autism.

I am not going to say that my father is autistic. Not officially. He has MANY of the hallmarks of autism, and I know he holds a lot of trauma from living in a society that expects you to communicate in only one way, but calling out someone as autistic, like Babe Ruth pointing out a shot, is not helpful to the person who is coming to terms with their identity. And I don’t know that he will ever really see it until he starts looking for it. But they are definitely there. I see him.

In fact, this is probably what I was most angry about. His inability to see himself, was somehow, a rejection of me. And all the times that his self-loathing showed through by being hard on me about being “overly- sensitive,” or communicating properly, or any of the other traits we shared- that made my blood boil.

In fact, the first breakthrough in our argument was when he admitted to sharing these traits with me. With just that connection, I was able to let go and forgive everything else. And in fairness to my father, I was dealing with a lot of trauma, fixation, and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria during this phase of our relationship. I would not put him “at blame.” Just like me, he was doing his best.

Now, my mother. My mother, because we are so close, I have very rudely told her “You are so ADHD” about a million times. And it wasn’t like some insult. I was letting her know like I might tell her that her shoe was untied. She’s still on the fence, I think.

Why? She’s a special education teacher. More than that, she’s a tenacious person. And somehow, I feel like she thinks that you can’t have ADHD and be tenacious. She once said to me, after I called her out, “I have multiple degrees, you know.” To which of course, I was like, “Grandpa built multiple houses, Walt Disney built multiple worlds. ADHD does not stop you from being successful.”

By the way, my grandfather was definitely ADHD. I will call that one with surety. (Especially because he passed away almost twenty years ago, so I don’t think I will be hurting his feelings or causing any internal struggle.) Anyway, he always had multiple projects going, had a bit of short fuse, and was constantly thinking. He and Walt would have been good friends. Especially, with Walt’s obsession with trains. My grandfather worked for a railway company as an engineer for many years.

Off topic. I know.

My mother has the same kind of tenacity as my grandfather, and Disney too. She never stops. She’s always thinking, always moving forward. And for the most part, this is a super power of hers. BUT she also has time blindness. Hyperfocus can sometimes effect her health when she stays up until all hours of the night to finish a project. And she has trouble with sequencing.

All trademarks of ADHD.

I’ve come to terms with their refusal to see some of these issues within themselves. It’s understandable. But an interesting thing happened on Mother’s Day.

I was chatting with my mom on the phone and some ADHD things came up and she apologized for not having done anything to help in my youth, and I said, “Don’t worry about it too much. They were so focused on boys with ADHD that they probably wouldn’t have even tested me.”

There was a bit of a pause. Then she told me that many of my teachers asked for me to be tested for ADHD. But she thought that I just wasn’t doing things like my homework because I had no interest in them. And I wondered, did she think all the other traits of ADHD I was showing were normal, because she also has ADHD?

I forgave her immediately because that is my nature. And also because I am very close with my mother, and for any wrongs that she did me, she also supported me through a lot of hardships…

But it’s there still. In my mind. That lost time… What would I have done with it? Maybe I would have finished college? Maybe I could have done better in high school instead of regularly flunking out of classes that I daydreamed through? I would at least know that I wasn’t broken.

It certainly explains why, when I started to question my neurotype, in particular, about possibly being autistic, she kept saying, I think you are more ADHD than autistic. Not because ADHD was more socially acceptable than autism, like I thought, it was because people had been telling her I had ADHD for years.

Nonetheless, my path was my path. I know who I am, my identity is secure, and like I said, for every wrong that they did to me, they also supported me and taught me what is truly important.

If you are considering the traits of your own parents, I suggest that you try to forgive them for the wrong calls that they made for you and for themselves. Sure, you can try and help them come to their own realizations with information or subtle suggestions. But you can’t really go further than that, you can’t diagnose them.

As for me? My diagnoses for my parents is that they are human. They have made mistakes, there is no doubt. But they also did their best.

And that best, was still pretty great.

Some Labels are Good for you

This might be more of PSA than a blog post. But…

Read The Labels on Your Food, Folks!

Some of you may know that I have been experiencing some difficulties recently due to food sensitivities. When I say difficulties, I mean horrible GI issues, swelling, stabbing joint pain, and blisters all over my hands.

This is due to gluten. Now. I know gluten is a triggering words for some people. It might as well say, “This is due to being fancy.” Or “This is because I’m special.” But it’s legitimately due to gluten. Honestly, if I actually had weight loss at the same time, I would consider getting myself tested for celiac. But in the end I think it’s just due to food sensitivities and autoimmune disorders like my dermatographia and other allergies.

So the reason I mention labels is because I have been unintentionally poisoning myself FOR WEEKS. I knew that I was having a gluten reaction but I thought it had to be from the occasional slip up or the hidden gluten in some processed food items. BUT, it was a different kind of hidden. It was hidden in my own stupid assumptions and unfortunate circumstance.

For anyone who has been to the grocery store lately, you can attest to the run on “emergency like” foods, for example, canned goods, potted meat, and rice. Now I eat a fair amount of rice, because it’s literally one of the few grains I can tolerate. And when you are dealing with GI issues from food sensitivities, rice is one of the few mild items I can eat. (It’s the R, in the BRAT diet for GI problems- Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast.) So when almost ALL the rice was gone at the grocery store, I had to resort to these pre-packaged “rice sides” from Knorr’s brand.

This is a product image from Amazon. The real package is actually much more clearly marked. I was just a dummie.

Now being called “Rice sides” I assumed they were made of Rice. Nu-uh. It was made of rice AND pasta. AND PASTA? Who does that?

So anyway, that is why I have been MIA for a couple of days. Because my fat sausage hands were not too good for typing, and my joints were screaming to be excised from my body entirely.

Now those are just a few of my Gluten Sensitivity symptoms. Here is the whole list. Check it against your issues to see if you have gluten issue too.

  1. Blisters and rash around my joints especially my fingers, wrists, and ankles. It also happens on my chest sometimes.
  2. Joint pain that will literally wake you out of a dead sleep.
  3. Worsening mental health issues. So things like my sensory issues or my OCD or my anxiety all sky rocket when I am having a bad reaction.
  4. This is TMI obviously, but I get horrible GI issues, which means… well, everything that you take pepto bismol for.
  5. Fatigue. I get super, super tired.
  6. Headaches. Uhg.
  7. Mood issues. Which could really be #3. But it’s bad enough that I think I have to mention it on its own.

Like I said, the only one I am missing from being celiac is the weight loss. The one I probably wouldn’t mind to be totally honest. Figures.

What’s my point? Read the labels on your food! And wherever possible, just make it yourself.

And don’t put pasta in rice. That’s just messed up. Degenerates. I bet they put glass in halloween candy too.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day in quarantine came with some interesting wants. Instead of breakfast in bed or anything like that, my husband took my son on a walk while I vacuumed and it was wonderful!!!

I haven’t been able to properly vacuum in weeks because my buddy has painful sensory aversion to it. So even just the sight of the vacuum freaks him out. And yeah, I could put him in his headphones and sequester him to one part of the house, but it just unsettles him too much. And in a time where everything is so unsettled, we’re doing our best just to survive.

So whatever you need to do to survive on this Mother’s Day, I hope that it has some sweet thing that you are needing, whether that’s a phone call to a loved one, some alone time, or a vacuumed rug.

Does my Diagnosis Come With A Ball Gown?

I have been thinking a lot about “formal” diagnosis. Mostly because I have to keep wading into the perpetual argument that is the autistic community.

The argument is “Are self-diagnosed autistics really autistic?”

And I am not really gonna get too much into that argument, because I feel that it is ultimately just another form of gatekeeping and FOMO induced scarcity. As in, “But I am really autistic, so my opinion matters more.” Or “If doctors keep giving out diagnoses like candy, there won’t be enough services for the rest of us.”

Those are both totally real comments I have seen on this argument. 1) Autism is a diverse spectrum full of different experiences, strengths, and weaknesses, no one voice is more real or authentic than the other. They are just different. One person’s story will not somehow dilute yours. And 2) A person would not be going through the painful process of jumping through hoops and paying through the nose for a therapy or service if they didn’t need it. In fact, most autistic people would prefer to be independent without any kind of service. Usually this “therapy hoarding” is coming from a parent of an autistic person who sees Autism Mom™ as their identity. And so ultimately, it’s just another case of “I was autistic before it was cool.”

No, I want to talk a little more about my “formal” diagnosis, because I am starting to think it’s not as formal as I once thought…

As I have written before, I was self-diagnosed before I was formally diagnosed by my doctor. It was a huge battle to get to that point. I was misdiagnosed with wrong disorders, and then partially diagnosed with many co-occuring conditions, like Bipolar, OCD, Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.

But I had to fight for my autism diagnosis. Mostly because I am a woman who can mask my way through a fifteen minute conversation. (Also because my stimming seemed like manic behavior to my doctor, who specialized in Bipolar Disorder. When you’re a hammer…)

I also had to fight for my ADHD diagnosis. Now that the meds have worked so well for me, my doctor is convinced about my ADHD like it was never questioned by him. But when I mention my autism, he goes strangely quiet.

Which leads me to believe that he is still questioning it…

Now. That could be me and my Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, I can cop to that. Cognitive distortions magnifying something that isn’t actually there. And to be fair to him, I don’t mention it a lot. I basically pushed for it until I got an agreement and immediately shut up about it because I didn’t want to annoy him.

(I talk more with my counselor, who is very aware of my autism, very affirming, and very helpful with my more bothersome traits. My psychiatrist is really more about medication and diagnostic legitimacy.)

With all that said, I don’t think it’s that strange to feel that I am being patronized as a female patient.

And truthfully, as a master masker, I do change my behavior to what he would want to see. I dig deep for my southern background and say, “Yes, sir.” And “Thank you, Doctor.” Good old fashioned manners to match his good old fashioned suspenders and stoicism. I mean it too. I am not being disingenuous. I am just falling into old patterns because he makes me nervous.

He’s a great psychiatrist. I am not complaining. I think he is certainly the best that is available to me in my small town (technically, the only psychiatrist available to me in my small town.) And even if it took some pushing into modern schools of thought, he got there with me. Who knows? Maybe he was always there. Maybe he just genuinely thought that I was only Bipolar, until he didn’t. Until he saw the effect that the stimulant medication had on me.

But, as I’ve said before, should I have had to fight so hard with a professional to come to a conclusion using the same information at his fingertips that I had? I was researching medical journals, not some hippy-dippy anecdotal evidence. I was looking at the DSM.

Which, ultimately, to me, means that “formal” is nothing more than another example of systemic pressure to conform to what we are supposed to be. What do I mean by that? I mean, we aren’t autistic until we are the right kind of autistic for our specific doctor.

In my experience, no two diagnosticians are alike, so not only are we running up against a gender/racially biased DSM, but the political and cultural opinions of fallible human beings.

“Formal diagnosis” is just another way to fail by society’s standards. And I think we’ve had enough of that for one lifetime. There are good reasons to get a formal diagnosis, insurance purposes and proper help, for example. Like my medications. I needed a formal ADHD diagnosis to get the stimulant medication that helps me the most. I needed my bipolar diagnosis to get the right medication to help me with my mood stability.

But there is no real medication for being autistic. Because autism is not a disease. So, in the end, I say that formal diagnoses are necessary for co-occurring conditions that can be helped by therapy and modern medicine. Like ADHD, like Bipolar, like anxiety and depression, etc.

For your “formal” autism diagnosis? I say get yourself a top hat and ball gown and call it a day. You know you.

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”

#Quarantine Walks

I’ve got some good posts coming up but I also wanted to show you why I have been MIA for a few days. The Little Prince has been having some trouble with being stuck inside for more than a month (can you blame him?)

You see, I have been extra crazy with his lockdown because he is very texture focused. Meaning that if he sees a texture he likes, he touches it, and then he licks it. So when there is a global pandemic that travels via touch, you lock up the little licker as much as you can.

Lately though, it’s been really effecting him. So we’ve been taking walks. He still wants to get in the car and go places, and sometimes we hang out in the car just to feel like we have a place to go, but mostly we stick to the crumbling sidewalks in our neighborhood.

Here’s a few of my favorite shots from the last few days. No captions needed I think.

Plans, plans, plans! Yeah!

That post title was done to the tune of The Thompson Twins in case you were wondering.

(It was also done before my grandmother passed away and before my grief drove me to my easel. These particular plans I laid out are still on the drawing board, I just had an artist’s detour to deal with the unexpected pain of my grandmother’s death. Back to the original post.)

I am finally, FINALLY starting to feel better. (Technically, I am fully recovered now, but the healing part seems to be taking a little bit longer.) I tried to do a load of laundry- and got winded- so I have to find other ways to revel in my newfound almost health. Therefore, I have decided… to make plans.

I love making plans. When my executive dysfunction was at its worst, that was literally all I did, plans and pinterest. So, yes, planning is not usually the healthiest of progress, but it’s still a lot of fun.

My latest dream is two-fold- no- maybe three-fold. Actually probably four? ANYWAY, let me get to it.

With all the ASMR and youtube I have been consuming during my illness, I would love to get into some form of ASMR and Autism Vlogging. It encompasses so many of my loves- photography, film, lighting, art, ASMR, advocating, writing, and performing. It seems like a goldmine of fulfillment.

Which means that I am now in the best part of planning- RESEARCH! I love RESEARCH! It’s like hyperfocus-ADHD-candy- without the unnecessary sugar!

SO- if anyone out there, dear readers, has wanted to get into vlogging or making a youtube channel, I am doing some of the research for you.

Continue reading “Plans, plans, plans! Yeah!”

Bad Pancake Painting

I’ve discovered a bit of hurdle in my want to start a new painting, post-diagnosis. I’ve put some undue pressure on being my most authentic self, considering how much I masked even in my art before the diagnosis.

Also, though, it’s because this painting is gonna be a “bad pancake.” The first pancake in a batch is always just a bit wonky, you know? So the first painting in this new style is gonna be the worst painting most likely- so I don’t want to waste a good idea on it. Know what I mean?

Here are the things I want to paint. By the end of this post, I am gonna choose my least favorite (they’re all good ideas) and just take a whack at it.

-neurodiverse abstract brain illustration- like a cutting for a slide, but…you know, pretty

-normalizing sensory accommodations self portrait- headphones and tinted glasses

-Tribute to Hannah Gadsby

-Tribute to Kenneth French

-A mish-mash of science fiction references that will drive nerds absolutely crazy.

(I stole this idea from one of my favorite illustrative artists, Joey Cho. I have the “Spock riding a raptor with Loki’s scepter on Dagobah” in my son’s bedroom. And I also have a print of the “The Three Little Pigs”. They remind me so much of Mary Blair, that I thought Joey was a chick for the longest time. I am not exaggerating when I say to you that I WANT ALL OF HIS WORK. ALL OF IT. I just want to swim in it.)

-Tribute to my grandmother

-Tribute to both my mother and father (Maybe a portrait?)

-portrait of my son or still life of some of his toys. (Normalizing sorting and lining up instead of ONLY functional play as well.)

-kaleidoscope/mandala of patterns and color- pretty but not necessarily personal

– floral still life with a more futurist geometric tilt like Jess Franks or Franz Marc

-pure abstract with cruciform composition or L-shaped composition

-a literal pancake

You know, I am still not sure… The literal pancake seems a little too tongue and cheek, even for me. Plus, I know it shouldn’t matter, but as a gluten free person I don’t want to torture myself with reference images of pancakes. Just thinking about it is making me hungry for maple syrup.

It will probably be a mandala or something pure abstract…

Either way, it’s time to get started. I will photograph the results to show you here, bad pancake or not.


The image is from some sketches I have been doing before I jump onto the canvas. This one is a self portrait with headphones. As I told Instagram, I don’t know why I keep doing self portraits. It’s not my thing, and not my most natural talent, probably why I keep trying to prove that I can do it.

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.

NEURODIVERGENT GLOSSARY Part 1

I have noticed as I go from one Autism support group to another that there is often a lack of understanding in the terminology surrounding Autism and neurodiversity. This is very important for one reason: Fights are constantly starting over miscommunications.

More than that, people are starting to use dog whistle manipulations to start those fights. Meaning that the environment is so charged with tension that a word will SET the page on FIRE. It’s unhealthy and it’s unhelpful. And while, yes, I am on a mission to stop it, I also just want people to be informed. So, you can safely navigate the politics of Mental Health and Autism, both online and in the world, especially when it comes to parents who are trying to provide services for their children.

With that in mind, once it is done, I will be adding this series of Neurodivergent Terms and their explanations to the Neurodivergent Survival Guide under the Me(ntal Health) category on the main menu. And while I will be putting some of my opinion into these definitions I will also be trying to be as unbiased as possible, so that you can make your own decisions.

NOTE: While the majority of these terms are not controversial, the highlighted definitions can be highly controversial and triggering. Use with an abundance of caution and kindness.

Let’s get started, after the jump.

Continue reading “NEURODIVERGENT GLOSSARY Part 1”