It’s a mood, for sure.

Trying to see through the thick cloud of anxiety and depression is no easy task. It’s a huge, huge burden to bare. The flashbacks have become more repetitive, they feel deeper. Each time I fail, I feel those traumatic events seeping back in and filling those gaps where hope once was. It is a situation full of despair.

I’m so lucky to have these cute, silly beings in my life though. They make it all worth it.

I should be happy or at the very least feeling fine. I think part of the disappointment is due to the fact that I really thought the article on The Mighty would perform better. I thought it would drive people to my website and to my shop, but the views and interactions have been fairly dismal.

The hits on my Etsy shop have totally decreased too. I heard there’s something going on with an algorithm to do with the people that don’t have free shipping or don’t offer it on all their listings. It’s making them less visible. I know for me that when i sell original pieces, shipping is included. It’s everything that’s made by a 3rd party that has shipping separately.

I also should be pleased with myself about having my speech coming up later this week and being approved to be a consultant about issues surrounding mental health and Autism–and yes, I am looking forward to creating change, but i’m also the poster child for those issues. So, I guess in a roundabout kind of way, i’m going to really be able to reflect on my experiences and create change. That’s the silver lining.

I wanted to share some images that my customers have shared with me, which is pictures of their purchases from my etsy shop. This helps keep me going, but sales in the last while have been so dismal. I’m also upset because the way advertising works on etsy is that I paid 4.80 American to get one person to click on one item that they didn’t even buy. So frustrating. I’ve heard better things about facebook ads but i’m just not even sure how to go about it. Seems when I talk about business, there’s people that genuinely want to help and then there’s people who poach on my lack of experience and try to manipulate me to pay them. I guess that’s another business strategy–but it’s one that I don’t want anything to do with.

If I can bring joy to others, even though i’m suffering, well.. I think that’s a way to turn something negative in to something positive.

I tried creating a new plaque that says “cats make life purrfect” but the cats I drew look terrible. The two wood signs I was happy about completing, haven’t really seen much traffic either. I thought they’d be a bigger hit.

My holiday cards are also still up for pre-ordering at a reduced rate. Hoping to have my hands on those the 3rd week of October, ready for shipping.

Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist and fellow Autistic has been taking quite a beating online. It really upsets me that people say such horrible things about her. I think politics are a main driving factor for people to be so hateful in this world. I tweeted about the honesty of Autistic people and how we’re fact based and it definitely goes for her too. Actually, this quote of mine says it all:

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Lots of things happening!

I wanted to start this off with some really good news.

My Kickstarter has met AND exceeded it’s goal! I’m so pleased and so grateful!

I’ve been approved to work on a local, digital collaboration project and I will be speaking later this month about my artwork and being autistic. So many things are happening for me all at once and it’s absolutely insane. I can’t even begin to express how totally thankful I am.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I’ve also made a lot of new friends on facebook and my etsy is seeing wonderful amounts of traffic. The feedback about my artwork is so positive. I am happy that I get to share my story of success and what Autistic people are capable of.

It’s really awesome that I will be able to have Christmas cards in 4 different designs to share with people. The fact people want them as much as they do is something I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams!

On another side of the coin, i’m dealing with some pretty severe stress and anguish because I have someone who has made it a point of posting completely untruthful things about me on Reddit. I’m not sure how to handle this. I’ve shared my side of the story and I would hope people would read it and come to their own conclusions. It’s really too bad because this person has insinuated that I don’t do research when it comes to getting my art on different items and also questioned my Autism diagnosis. They purposely misgendered me as well and took multiple different subjects I spoke about in a live stream to craft a gigantic LIE about me. This person is a fellow Autistic Artist too. I had to actually ban them from my Made by Autistics group for coming after me.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

I’m really doing my very best trying to mentally compartmentalize all of the things I have coming up and what I need to prioritize but it’s incredibly hard and dealing with such unnecessary drama takes a toll on my executive functioning.

Ah, C’est la vie.

“…And it’s preying on my mind

…That there’s nothing left in my hands but time
Time don’t really care if I carry on.”

I have a few things on my mind so I figured it would be important to get it all out in the open.

Sometimes people send me an image pertaining to Autism with the best of intentions and yet the imagery is so widespread that the notion of it being offensive fails to cross the mind of the person sharing it. I do my best to write about these things in my blog but not everyone takes the time to read my articles. 

I was sent an image of hands in a handshake position that had one of the hands being disgustingly adorned by a rainbow of interlocking puzzle pieces with words like “awareness” placed over top of the neutral/skin-toned hand. 

Autism Daily Newscast

Immediately, a wave of frustration with a dash of anger washed over me. I thought I had made it very clear how I felt about these words and images used. I had even posted this image a day prior:

I had responded with a numbered list of how generally we (Autistics) don’t like skin to skin contact, that the puzzle piece is offensive and that we do not need awareness. I also linked an article titled “the ableist history of the puzzle piece”. The response I got surprised me. It was not taken well. I had to explain that Autistic people are generally fact based and that my attempt to educate had no malicious intention.

I can not sit idly by and not say anything- that just isn’t in my nature. 

On another note, I am in the process of updating my sales terms on Etsy in as many places as possible.

I am not sure how many people know about print on demand but it is a service that I utilize for the majority of my offerings.

Here’s how it works:

I upload my artwork to their website and I configure it on a number of products. The website creates a very realistic looking digital mock up of said item. I add the price, edit the description and list it on my Etsy store. The item will say “ships out of the United States” or sometimes China, depending on where it is manufactured. 

I would say that 95% of my customers live in the USA. It didn’t occur to me that “ships out of the United States” is not enough information in regards to duty. 

I purchase a lot of things from online American retailers and I also live near the British Columbia / Washington state border. Duty is something I always consider and take in to account. I have even been sent promotional items for review and had duty slapped on.

I will be adding “This item ships out of the USA. I am not responsible for duties, shipping and exchange rate incurred” on each listing. I have nearly gone through two out of five pages of listings so far. My laptop can’t handle it. 

I also need to express that some people have perhaps attempted to reach out to me through various channels and I am not always quick to respond. This is because I am still going through a lot of personal things and I am doing my best to prioritize. However, I am under a significant amount of stress and I am having a very difficult time viewing things accurately because of how clouded my thought process is. Anxiety is not easy to deal with.

I am doing my very best and trying to cope in a way that I am still able to be productive. I just need a bit of room to breathe. 

Life would be so much easier…

..If I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

It’s so hard for me to read people, I know — i’ve written about this in the past, but it’s the truth.

I am vocal about being Autistic because my inability to connect with people is rooted in my neurodiversity. Now, i’m not saying it’s a bad thing (but it definitely can be).

I am still figuring out where my place is in the world and how I can integrate myself more seamlessly in to the environment around me and it’s not going well.

I don’t understand intent from others. I have been taken advantage of or put in situations that I believe will have a favourable outcome, but they don’t. It’s generally the other party who is interested and I go along with what is happening. I meet someone, spend time with them and then afterwards feel incredibly remorseful during my reflection of what just happened.

A lot of the time it can simply be the energy that I sense from others, i’ve been told before I am a “sensitive” and I don’t know the validity of that label, however what I do know is that I tend to repeat scenerios in my head. The more I seem to do this, the worse I feel. It’s the anxiety (once again) propelling me to a very dark place I didn’t want to go.

I have been getting back in to the dating pool and it has been incredibly draining for me. I don’t think i’m going to continue. I put my heart and soul in to everything I do and it tends to make me feel objectified. I am so eager to get to know people and learn their quirks, but I can’t say that it’s been easy trying to find people who understand me. They see me for one thing and that’s it. Also, identifying as non-binary puts a whole other wrench in to that situation because I am viewed as strictly female.

So, I deleted the dating apps and i’m done with that. I am not going to put myself through that hurt anymore. It’s time I focus on myself, my art, my writing, my advocacy work and OBVIOUSLY cats (because, hello, life is incomplete without them!)

Life always throws something my way, I feel like i’m always trying to decipher a code that I can’t crack.

Be kind; for I am fragile.

Sharing my struggles

Yesterday, I was absolutely taken aback by a comment I received on one of my twitter status updates.

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

I had posted a mini rant about my frustrations with my art and my mental health struggles. It felt liberating to be able to “clear the air” and be transparent.

Nowhere in my rant did I ask a single question. Not. One.

I had a few positive, supportive comments from fellow Autistics and followers of my page, which I was grateful for.

However, there was one person who decided to go off on me and write an entire paragraph about how I need to stop trying to sell my art, that I need to work on my mental health and that I clearly didn’t have it under control. Also, that I shouldn’t be posting these questions and not expect a response. There was no question. I wasn’t asking for advice.

I was pretty upset, shaken and I felt like this person had the clear intent of kicking me while I was down.

I posted a couple tweets which seem to be going viral. I penned them right after this person decided to delete their comments.

stig·ma/ˈstiɡmə/

noun

1.a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.”the stigma of having gone to prison will always be with me”synonyms:shame, disgrace, dishonor;

If you’re looking to end the stigma of mental health, giving someone unwanted feedback and being insensitive is the absolute 100% WORST WAY TO GO ABOUT IT.

if you’re reading this and you’re going through something, don’t ever feel like you deserve condescending comments & unwarranted advice.

The Crippling Severity Of Mental Illness

I have always been very open about the mental illnesses I have dealt with for as long as I can remember. I’m not trying to plan a “pity party” or attract negative attention to myself. I’m just trying to find a way to decompress, even if it’s just temporary.

The tension in my chest feels like a bubble that you can’t pop. It sits in my chest, nestled right above my breasts in the centre. it’s below my neck. I am tense.

I can’t think very straight. Recently, I made a very abrupt, irrational decisions to approach a person from my past and said things I don’t mean. Just today I was working in a poor employment condition and I blamed it on myself. I quit the work I was doing because I started internalizing everything that was going on and felt that if I resigned, that was me taking the blame for what was going on and being responsible, even though what was happening was mostly beyond my control. I don’t feel very good. I also feel as though i’m lacking any intellectual value.

I wish I had the option of having an “away from keyboard” moment for my life. I just need the opportunity to disconnect and relax. I can’t seem to do that. The sound of a text message, the sick feeling I get when I anticipate a negative response through an email or even just how I feel when people are impolite towards me – it makes me physically ill. I’m talking about: blurred vision, profuse sweating, vision distortion, light sensitivity, a feeling of dizziness/wobbliness, nausea and headache. I used to cry a lot as a child. I had a reputation for it and looking back, it was my body’s coping and defense mechanism.

It emotionally hurts me when I try so hard to communicate and clarify things I am saying and the response I am met with is an eye roll. I already feel like just speaking and having to “think on the fly” is the worst way for me to get my thoughts out. Whether it’s in person or on the phone, my mind hits in to overdrive and I start flapping my lips. The thought process is skewed and the results are not always becoming.

I spend time at home, hanging out with my cats. I sleep a lot. I’m trying to do positive things that will make a difference, but the worry is always still there in the forefront of my mind. The obsessive tendencies I have, like checking/looking for things, thinking about misplaced items and other repetitive thoughts are worsening. The flashbacks of my traumatic youth interject themselves in things as simple as self-care routines, which is a detrimental setback. The fact I can’t take a bubble bath without these visions of being verbally abused is a really painful reminder that I still have so far to go. I am not hesitant to find a professional to help me through these things, I just don’t know where to start. It would be nice to have that chance without being reprimanded and grilled on all the things I discussed.

Even if I don’t have a visible wound, I am still badly hurting inside.

Birch + Fog Review

I was provided me with a gift card to put towards the products of my choice and the opinions are my own.

Birch + Fog is a rising star in the online cannabis space. They provide the ease of shopping at home and having it delivered to your doorstep in a very quick fashion. They are Vancouver based and have a very luxe feel to their website and marketing strategies. There are lots of unique products I have never seen before.

With that being said, there are a few things they can work on. I’m not sure what legal grey area they operate in. I don’t believe they have any government licensing. At this point, their location of operation is untracable. The packaging is very vague and there is no certification on the products i’ve seen.

In terms of flower being sold, The Roll Model CBD Mango Haze says it’s 60% Sativa/40% indica and lab tested. It does not indicate what dispensary has grown the flower. I have purchased this same strain from the government and the percentages of CBD & THC are different and it indicates it’s a Sativa. Perhaps each individual grower comes out with different statistics on their products when they are tested? I’m not sure.

The customer service is very friendly, but they do need to work on their communication time. I found that the facebook discussions I had left something to be desired and the auto-reply becomes very redundant. Probably best to contact them directly.

I’m not saying it’s all bad but I wanted to write a realistic view of the experience I personally had. Some people want to support indie companies and NOT the Government and I completely understand. I wish we, as a whole, would embrace these small businesses so that they can grow, flourish, hire more people and continue to improve.

If you’re interested in purchasing from them and testing it out for yourself, the website is www.birchandfog.com and you can use my coupon code NAVIGATINGLIFE for $20 off your very first order!

Art show and an unexpected conversation

I currently have a piece of art up at the JCC Vancouver’s Community Longing & Belonging exhibit. Tonight was the grand opening of the exhibit and a lot of people made it out. I was happy to share the space with so many talented artists, some of which included my Mother, who painted a Hamsa and birdhouses, as well as my two Sisters, one picture missing. My younger Sister used a pouring technique.

I was also interviewed by an old school friend of mine, Alison, for Co-Op Radio which will be on this Sunday.

I was taking a photo of myself with my art and lingering around the same general area when a Lady came up to me and started talking. I can’t recall the exact conversation but it got to a point where I tried multiple times to end it. Being an Autistic Person is part of my identity and I harbour no shame towards that. I believe I may have introduced myself as an Autistic Artist. This Lady was very forward with the things she said, some of which included how we shouldn’t label ourselves and how she does not believe in that. I was saying it’s part of who I am. I can’t remember what else I said but she was still persistent. I felt really invalidated and upset but I didn’t want to show those feelings.

If someone wants to refer to themselves as the way they identify, there’s no reason for someone else to decide that for them. I wasn’t saying anything negative about myself! I find it empowering because it’s a celebration of what Autistic people are capable of and bringing light to how diverse we can all be.

I just want to add that i’ve felt incredibly depressed lately and my emotional sensitivity is taking a beating. I can’t handle very much and I am in no mood to argue. It completely depletes me of any energy I was harbouring.

I was able to channel my negative mood in to some new pieces of art that are very bright, happy and positive.

Reliving my (painful) past

I want to preface this post by saying that these are things i’ve experienced and at the time of writing this, I do not have a PTSD diagnosis. I, in no way, want to make those with a proper diagnosis feel less than or devalued in any way.

Often times I find myself in these dizzying spells with negative thoughts running rampant. They flood my mind: terrible, painful memories that I wish would vanish.

Discovering deceased pets, multiple instances of being bullied which included: thumbtacks, sharp side up- They would be left on my chair with an audience that consisted of my entire class, watching and waiting to see if I would notice and sit on it, purposely having dodgeballs thrown at my face, having friends-of-friends find out personal details about me and they would attempt to humiliate and berate me based on it, being excluded from birthday parties, having the whole class turn against me while the teacher was out of the room – that’s just some of the bullying that occurred during my elementary school years. Can’t forget the workplace bullying with all kinds of instances that included customers yelling at me, management making me cry or not believing things I say (I am very honest) and being fired – which was one of the most humiliating things i’ve ever lived through, co-workers being nasty to me for reasons i’ll never know.

I also can’t forget all the things my Father did: the daily verbal abuse, screaming so loud that you could hear him down the block, chasing me to my bedroom and holding the door closed so I couldn’t leave, yelling at me for questioning things he said and having friends witness his emotionally destructive behaviour which was embarrassing and continued to pile the stress on top of me. 

This is just a small portion of the hundreds, maybe thousands of memories that flow through my mind.

Even though I had the support of my Sisters and my Mum, I still felt so alone and depressed. I didn’t think I would survive so I failed to look after myself. I think sadness was one of the first emotions I remember experiencing.

I want these painful memories to subside. Easier said than done. I can’t seem to shake off things that happened as far back as I can remember. 

People often say things like “Forgive and forget”, “don’t dwell on your past”, “move on” and “live in the present”. It’s NOT THAT EASY. Diminishing the valid feelings of those who often have to suffer in silence is not something that sits well with me. It’s hard enough to allow those feelings to come to the surface, let alone feel comfortable enough with anyone to actually allow the words of pain to flow out of ones mouth. It’s a PRIVILEGE to listen to such agony. I don’t think it’s okay to interject comments telling someone to forget, move on and live in the present. It makes things worse.

I have reached out to some people that have caused me pain and forever haunt me in my memories and I was unsuccessful. I also was left feeling as though what happened was my fault. I do my best to cope.

Forgiveness is so much harder than its made out to be and it has stages that are very similar to grief. I would say that one of my biggest faults or personality flaws would be the severity of my anxiety. Many thoughts continue to haunt me, not only during my waking hours but even during my sleep.

I’m talking about those nights where my mind and my heart feel like they are racing in unison.

Trying to fall asleep, I toss and turn. Sometimes, I wake up at 3am and lay there, trying so hard to go back and sleep peacefully when my mind is at war with it’s self. My body becomes warm, clammy and my night sweats are the worst. I try to find something to think about or something to do. If one of my cats happens to be awake I will gravitate towards them; their soft hair, their therapeutic purring – it helps me stay mindful, it’s calming, it puts me at ease.

Every day is a new chapter but my story starts with pain and my book is still being written. There’s still a chance for happiness.


Sippin’ hot drinks!

I have been enjoying a lot of hot chocolate and teas while frantically entering Christmas contests. It’s that time of year again and it happens to be one of my most enjoyable hobbies. Seriously. I do this…!

I did some more background work on film where I was dressed up all 80s and it was WILD. I didn’t realize my hair could get that big.

I also was featured on GEEK CLUB BOOKS and they’ve been so kind to post me on their social channels. I would love if you could read the article here: https://geekclubbooks.com/2018/11/impactful-blogs-navigating-life/

Lastly, I actually drew something that conveys my hyper-awareness & anxiety all at the very same time: 

I have been thinking of some articles i would like to write so i’m just kind of waiting for that BURST of creativity to hit me so I can get it done. I haven’t neglected my blog. I always fear people are going to think i’ve abandoned it. That’s just not the case.