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.

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.

My Un-Finished Zombie Novel

I was speaking with a fellow adult diagnosed autistic writer, in one of my many favorite online support groups, and I told him, “looking back at my unfinished novels, I think I made almost all of my main characters autistic, without even knowing it. I think I was always searching for answers or connections with someone like myself.”

For those that might not understand that, I wanted to share a few excerpts from my “unfinished zombie novel” that I have been writing through my unmedicated ADHD for a good ten years. Writing with ADHD is nearly impossible, FYI. Sure, you get some good spurts with hyperfocus but for the majority of the time you are fighting with yourself to get some legitimate work done. Not easy.

In this untitled work, a young woman who left town due to a trauma at a very young age, returns home just before the zombie apocalypse. I should mention that this is more of a zombie-fantasy novel, with some complex religious themes, because, you know, I don’t do anything simple or easy. The following is from a study I wrote to get a better idea of the character.

She was a rule follower, for sure. The sheep of sheep. Which made her perfect for church. Jesus was a shepherd, was he not? 

But the thing about sheep is they are often frightened. And so was she. Frightened. All the time. Of everything. But most of all, she was frightened by no rules at all. Not anarchy, not a complete lack of rules. No, she was afraid of not-knowing the rules. Not-knowing the right things to say. Not-knowing the right thing to do. Not-knowing what would spare her the stares of those that did know what to do. A room of people where everyone knows the rules but her, like a stage she had casually happened upon during opening night. 

Which is why she avoided the post office. There were just too many rules to follow. Too many rules to know, rigid rules that she would never-ever remember. Air holes, fragile and not fragile, freight versus priority, thirty two cent stamps and those that supposedly lasted forever—  and the lines. Oh, the lines. She never knew which line not to cross. So, she didn’t cross any. She hand delivered her letters instead. 

It’s why she skipped adolescence too. She looked at the beautiful girls that her brother dated, and they were all the same. They all understood something that she didn’t. They all had read the same rule book: on how to dress, how to speak, how to speak to boys, and how not to speak to other girls. Girls like her. They would never tell her how to be, what to do, what to say. She knew that the instant she became a teenager, it would be like walking into a room with no rules to guide her. The post office, all over again. 

So she skipped it. She turned twelve, ran away, and became a teenage mother. The one thing she knew she was not supposed to do.  She simply skipped over adolescence, like a crowd she wanted to avoid. Now… she was the oldest seventeen year old she knew.

Yeah…

That almost makes me emotional to read. It was practically a cry for help. I wrote this particular piece of writing probably six years ago? It shows you that even though I had no idea about my diagnosis, I was still autistic. And severely suffering from that lack of knowledge.

Here’s an interesting bit of dialogue that shows one of my favorite “stims”, the ocean. As a bit of background, my main character is talking to a young man who has also returned home from a failed escape. As to any quality of the writing, like I said, this book has been a ten year process. I’ve matured since some of theses original drafts.

“I wanted out of the Midwest. It’s just so flat,” he gestured at the dark horizon. “I wanted to see something else. So I thought…” 

“You thought, California.” 

“Yes, I thought California. I thought of the ocean. I mean, is there anything more different from the Midwest? But what’s funny is that the ocean is so flat. You wouldn’t think it, but once you get past the waves it’s nothing but flat water. In the right light the ocean looks just like a wheat field. It looks like nothing more than grass for miles. And so much horizon—it goes on and on.”

“Only a boy from the Midwest would think the ocean looks like a wheat field. Were you disappointed?” 

“A little. I left to find sunnier skies but the skies were no different in California, because California is just a place like any other. Just like here. Same sky. But I loved the sound of the ocean. It looked like grass, but the sound—the sound was something else. It was so loud and so visceral. It was biblical—like it was pulling me back into the sea…this… push-pull.. push-pull… push-pull.. It was so…so…”

“Wet,” she blushed.

He grinned. “Yes. It was wet.” 

And again later:

“My whole life I had always worn a tie and stiff, lace up shoes. I was eighteen, and I had never worn sandals. So the difference was liberating. I spent two weeks just listening to the sound of the ocean. This slap, slap, sure,” he clapped his hands together twice and slid them together slowly. “Slap, slap, sure. Sometimes I would fall asleep right there on the sand.” 

I also dealt with a sensory related, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria meltdown, long before I knew what it was. Again, remember that this is a zombie novel, so I am about to mention said monsters.

Her head was swimming. It was like the church bell had gone off, right beside her. And the wave of it was ringing through her whole body, making her dizzy. Like the first time she heard a church bell chime. Everything faded away, their laughter, her shame, muffled under the vibrations of something so large and resolute. 

She stumbled to the high windows, once so beautiful, now boarded up and hidden away. Through the cracks she could see the sun dropping below the bell tower. Already there were monsters careening across the square, looking for others. Already she could hear their moans, calling to the other people locked safely away, calling to her.       

She felt trapped.

And these are just a few of the examples. There are so, so many more. But I don’t want to dump my entire novel into a blog post. Need to finish it first! But honestly, now that I am properly medicated, that is a legitimate possibility for my future, for the first time. It’s not some far off goal, some “someday.”

And that is a wonderful feeling.


As my lawyer, my husband would like to mention that all writings original to this blog or novel excerpts, complete or otherwise, are copyright to Holly Beardsley, 2020.

So, uh, don’t steal my book.

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.

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.

Who Am I?

While being sick in my bed, I don’t have a lot to do but daydream. Sure, I’ve watched some movies (Oh Greta Gerwig, your Little Women makes my heart ache it’s so good.) I’ve listened to a lot of ASMR. Done some writing, of course.

But mostly I’ve slept and daydreamed.

And in all this dreaming I’ve begun to wonder, Who am I?

No, the coronavirus does not also include amnesia now in its list of symptoms. No, just now that I am post Autism diagnosis so late in my life and I am living without a mask for the first time in years…so I’m wondering who I am, for real.

Well, for that, I think I should start with what I was. I was definitely a performer. First in the theatre itself. I spent a lot of years in semi-lead roles and secondary parts. Nothing to sneeze at. Performing throughout high school and the years in college before I dropped out. Then after I dropped out, my mother’s school failed to pass a referendum. So they cut the middle school play due to financial reasons. This didn’t sit well with my mother, so she brought me in as a ringer to direct a show. When I say ringer here, I mean “for free.”

But that decision turned into a program between my mother and I that spanned almost two decades. I wrote and directed several shows, published one with an international publisher and continued to publish the rest on my own. I’ve created online courses on directing, costuming, and set design. My shows have been performed by schools all over the world, and I don’t mind saying, have made many, many children happy.

So, I’ve done things. I was successful despite my difficulties. But I was still not completely myself. Part of that was being queer, but by in large, it was because I knew I was different.

And because I was different, I was also just a little bit lying. That’s why the subtitle to my blog is “honestly.” Because even before my diagnosis, before I knew what I was, I knew that I was tired of hiding who I was. Tired of performing a reflection of what people thought I should be.

That kind of performance, that kind of masking, it tears you apart. You begin to fracture your personality for the consumption of others. Carve away at your soul, just to make sure that you are palatable to everyone. So no one sees the truth. So no one is angry with you, for being yourself. (It’s a lot like, a less evil version of horcruxes, only the person you are murdering is yourself. You do it to protect yourself, but in the end, it destroys you.)

But that kind of brings me to a different, more hopeful thought. Once you reach the realization that you have been masking for a very long time, or in my case, three decades, you start to grieve for the time that you lost. (It’s interesting that parents often grieve an Autism diagnosis, not knowing that without that diagnosis, their child could be grieving a misspent life. Maybe if they knew that it wouldn’t be so hard.) In grieving the lost time, you can go down a really dark hole. I was really starting down that hole when I came upon a post from Autistic Women and Non-Binary Network, it was a quote and a link to a blog from another adult autistic woman.

 “Despite my late discovery of being autistic, I am learning to flick on the switch of possibility and reinvention, instead of obsessing over lost time”

Possibility. It was so simple. Now that I was aware and open about who I was, everything seemed possible. I could be who I really wanted to be, an open, honest, person, who helped others by example.

It is literally all I have ever wanted. To help others. It is my calling. More than theatre, more than writing, I want to help. All the children, my students, that I failed to connect with on a deeper level because of my mask. I will devote my life to overcoming that regret.

I will still honor the person that I was, the innocuous nuggets of truth that managed to surface over the years. Like the fact that I am a huge Harry Potter nerd (see horcruxes above) or my love of science fiction and comic book movies. My years teaching in theatre. My love of writing and reading.

But I will also eat more pineapples. And wear more tights. I love tights. I might even perm my hair. Color my hair more! Pink! It’s gonna get wild folks. More than anything, I’m not going to live afraid.

Because this is a rebirth. This is who I am.

Holly Really, Really Loves John

So, being sick at home, or quarantined at home, is probably putting a lot of marriages to the test. If you are one of these people, skip this post, because I will probably piss you off.

My husband John is pretty much the best person I know. Strike the “pretty much”, he is legit the best person I know. Of course, like any other marriage he does little things that occasionally drive me crazy, but that’s just run of the mill differences. He was raised a Republican, I was raised a Democrat. He likes video games for relaxation, I like books. And honestly, none of those things “drive me crazy” more than they occasionally perplex me.

We met on Match.com, like a lot of other people of our generation. And he got me with alliteration; the phrase was “ham-handed”, and instantly I knew that he was something special. This is one of his proudest achievements. He got me, his wife, with alliteration.

He’s a lawyer that started in computer science, you know, like most lawyers, right? He’s a partner in his own firm. He works incredibly hard to be the big bread winner in our family. (Even though he would be just as willing to stay home and take care of our son.) He is patient, he is kind, he is literally all the things that Corinthians said love should be.

He’s also autistic. If you have read my blog before, that’s probably not a surprise. But it sure is for everyone else.

“You don’t look Autistic,” they say.

Anyone who is autistic knows that is not a compliment. (Just ask Autistic Barbie on Instagram. Smart and gorgeous woman, who also happens to be a fantastic advocate. I’m a big fan.)

John and I both discovered our autism after our son was diagnosed when he was about two years old. And honestly, our son’s autistic traits were so “normal” to us that if it hadn’t been for his Apraxia, I don’t think anyone of us would have ever understood why we were so different from everyone else.

(That is probably the only time I will be grateful for my son’s Apraxia. Apraxia is the reason he is non-verbal, at the moment. That deserves a whole other post though, so look for that one on the horizon.)

No, John and I really came together because we were just so perfect for each other. Little did we know that one of the main reasons we were so perfect for each other is that we had mostly the same disorders. Neither of us are ashamed of this, in fact we find it to be kind of amazing. Two Autistic people with ADHD, OCD, and occasional agoraphobia, unwittingly came together and fell in love. The only thing that I have that he doesn’t is the RSD and the Sensory Processing Issues. Most of the time we say that we are neurodiverse and leave it at that. Still, what are the odds?

It makes for a pretty fantastic marriage most of the time. We both prefer to stay in. We each have our own interests (or obsessions if you want to call it that.) We are both extremely empathetic to our son. We are compassionate of each other’s more difficult moments. And we both know the ironic and exquisite pain of wanting more friends, and fearing social engagements at the exact same time.

It’s true, we occasionally run into the problems of two neurodiverse minds rubbing against each other the wrong way, but we have learned to always trust the intent of the other person, and the validity of all feelings. That doesn’t mean we don’t fight. Of course we fight, we’re human. He’s a lawyer for goodness sake. He’s a professional fighter. (Not like kickboxing or anything, we don’t fight like that. Although I maintain that my old cheerleading high kick could still take out his 6’4″ nose. I’m only 5’3″… so that may be bluster.)

Where was I going with this? Oh yes, I am sick. Just like a huge percentage of the world right now, my body is fighting the Coronavirus. It’s not as dire as the poor people on ventilators, my fever is still very mild. The only worrying symptoms I have are some weakness from the the slight oxygen deprivation, and the horrible pain from inflammation hitting all over my body. Both come and go, so I won’t be rushing to the hospital anytime soon. But that also means, I can’t go grocery shopping. I can’t put our son to bed. I can’t hug and kiss either of my boys.

So it still really, really sucks.

Not just for me, but for my husband too. The grocery store gives him a lot of sensory problems, between the lights, the smells, and the people, it just makes him very uncomfortable. He can white knuckle his way through it, but I’ve always been able to tolerate it just a little bit better than him. He’s working from home even though our son is extra clingy because I can’t hug or kiss him. And he’s dealing with me, constantly making sure that I drink water, especially when I get a little loopy from the thinner air I’m living with.

It’s moments like these that you get really thankful for the people in your life. Especially when they step up to the task as well as my husband has. So yes, this is just a public love letter, friends. A declaration of bragging rights. I am so damn grateful for my beautiful family, even with the troubles we face from time to time.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Except the corona… the coronavirus really, really sucks. Stay safe everyone!

Neurodivergent Survival Guide

I’m starting a new aspect of Holly Loves John, with the Neurodivergent Survival Guide. This will be a living document that records my tips and lessons on how to survive in the neurotypical world with a neurodivergent mind. Now, this is my neurodivergent mind, or more specifically, an autistic woman, with ADHD, OCD, RSD, Sensory Processing Issues, Anxiety, Bipolar, and Agoraphobia. There are many other aspects of neurodiversity that I have little to no experience with, so they will not be apart of this guide, just an FYI.

This week, I am starting with sensory issues, including Hyperosmia, Misophonia, and Photophobia.

It will be under the Me(ntal Health) menu option from now on as the “ND Survival Guide.”

Check it out! And happy reading!

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?

ASMR and Autism

As some of you may know two very pivotal things happened in my life, I was diagnosed with autism at the age of thirty five AND (this one most of you won’t know) I also discovered ASMR. Don’t know what ASMR is? Oh man, you’re gonna love it. Or not. Me? It’s one of the best tools I have in my mental health toolkit.

Continue reading “ASMR and Autism”