Coming to terms with identity.

As you may already know (but you might not?!) I already have a hard enough time calling myself an “Autistic Artist” without a few people getting rather upset with me over that.

Now, I am adding a new term to the mix:

Non Binary

Nonbinary, also known as genderqueer, is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or exclusively feminine‍—‌identities that are outside the gender binary.” –Wikipedia

I have never felt female. I also haven’t felt male. I just feel something else and it’s just a fluidity of sorts. I went through a phase in my life where I would ONLY shop in the boys section at retailers like The Gap, The Bay and Zellers. I practically lived in my carpenter jeans, a “no fear” shirt and a red gap pullover hoodie. I hung out with a few boys on the school yard. We would discuss Pokemon. This was when Red version had just come out — 1996. I guess I was around 8 years old.

I had no desire to wear anything remotely feminine. I didn’t even want to get my ears pierced, learn how to do makeup or anything my sister was doing.

I just felt awkward. I knew I already had struggles fitting in, but I couldn’t figure out why I felt such negativity towards being outwardly female. I still am unsure.

When I got a bit older, I embraced it. I learned how to do my makeup, I got my ears pierced, I wore dresses sometimes, skirts more of the time and styled my hair. I’m not saying these things are necessarily feminine but for me, I equated those experiences with that gender role. I’m not sure I ever felt comfortable dressing that way. I went to a family wedding and dressed up nice and in a dress, but it didn’t feel like me. I may have to invest in a nice pair of dress pants or something different.

Here’s a video that makes the concept easier to digest:

I am still coming to terms with things like pronouns. I know that she/her makes me uncomfortable. I just haven’t decided what I want to replace that with. I’m not sure if they/them would work for me.

I also don’t like terms like “pretty girl”, anything to do with “lady” or “m’am”. There’s just a feeling of not being able to relate that comes off pretty strongly for me. I’m not really sure what about it bugs me so much. I guess when you have something this deep-seeded and it’s been manifesting for so long, there’s a point in which a decision has to be made to live your truth. I’m starting to learn how to LIVE MY TRUTH.

I realize there’s probably a lot of places where I refer to myself with female pronouns and other female identifying words, so please don’t call me out on that. This is a work in progress and i am in a stage of my life where a lot of things are changing and patience is an exceptional virtue.

I definitely needed to get this out and share this with my readers. I know that sometimes there’s quite a bit of time between my posts. I often have to wait for that perfect moment where I can sit down, write and unleash all the thoughts that are building up in my mind. It’s a perfect release.

Anxiety, take the wheel.

Do I start this off with a content warning? Candid, mental health & anxiety sweat ahead.

With that out of the way, I want to talk about a few things that i’ve been thinking about lately. You know those perfect photos you see online? It’s all smoke and mirrors. All of it. I’m completely guilty of this. I am really struggling with my mental and physical health. I have been sleeping a lot, crying a lot and just overall not being terribly productive. I am basically a fleshy paperweight.

You see this here? This is what excruciating, emotional pain looks like. This is what a half hour of makeup application and meticulously placing my bobby pins in my hair looks like. I don’t even think I even am able to effectively fake a smile.

I know, i’ve gone around and around and around and posted about stuff like this (mental illness) before, but it’s such a large part of who I am and I wish it wasn’t.

Today tested me. It put everything I have been struggling with in to one hellish mess. Firstly, I had a big emotional meltdown yesterday — that started it all. Crying and saying a lot of things I didn’t mean to someone I care about are actions I severely regret. I have a hard time regulating my emotions. I’m not medicated–and the medication I tried did not work for me. (I had a very dismissive psychiatrist.) Our mental health system is very broken and I am having a hard time accessing suitable assistance.

Back to what happened today: I went to Superstore and tested my blood pressure at the “Wellness station” in the pharmacy. My reading was 149 / 100. Not good. Not good at all.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

We walked around a bunch because my health is not the greatest, so it was an attempt at physical activity. I was on board for this. I got a nice magenta top and then we walked over to H&M and I got a black tank top to wear under. This was an attempt at doing something nice for myself. We continued on and made a few more stops before we went in to Winners, which is owned by TJ Maxx — it’s essentially a Canadian version. I looked at some stuff. I went to go check out the Women’s clearance, and at this time I was feeling really concerned about my blood pressure reading. The thoughts were very persistent and added to the anxiety that is gnawing at my brain and tightening it’s grip on me. That induces sweat–the worst kind of sweat imaginable. I tried wedging my way in to the aisle where the clearance was and there was another customer looking at clothes. I tried to get by her and she kept looking at me. I couldn’t figure out why. Was I being rude? Was I bumping in to her and taking up too much room? What was going on? Well, I learned what it was quickly. Her eyes locked with mine, she gave me the filthiest, most disgusted look I have seen. My heart sank. She persisted to walk by me and wave her hand in the air, fanning it. I realized something: she was disgusted by the way I smelled.

I didn’t even realize it. No matter how much deodorant or anti-perspirant I put on, I still could not cover up my extreme anxiety. I was so embarrassed. Everything I wanted to see in the store, she happened to end up in that department. When I went to check out with the two items I picked up — a rust coloured top and some Schmidt’s Charcoal + Magnesium Deodorant (yes, I picked it up after this happened), GUESS WHO WAS IN FRONT OF ME IN THE LINE? Oh my god. I almost had a panic attack. On the one hand, I already felt like trash but then apparently I smelled like it too? Awful. I couldn’t even look her in the eye. I tried to maintain my distance but lines make it so that there’s a person in front of you and a person behind you. If it wasn’t for the purchases I wanted to make, I would have left right away and went back to being a hermit.

I still feel ashamed and disgusted. I obviously learned a valuable lesson today and I realize that I have to really put more effort in to the way I present myself and carry some kind of spray or something with me, even if i’m irritated by artificial smells, just to maintain some level of decency and consideration for those around me. The last thing I want is to be looked down upon by people I don’t even know because the emotional pain that it brings me just adds to the depressed and anxious feelings I already have.

Oh, and on top of that, I spent nearly 5 hours at the Emergency room in regards to my blood pressure, I had various tests done and will be following up with an outpatient clinic. I want answers or at least medication to help get it more regulated.

I definitely want today to be over.

My SSRI Story

SSRI stands for Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Simply put: Antidepressants.

joshua-coleman-623113-unsplash.jpgJOSHUA COLEMAN

The last week or two of September were exceptionally cruel to me and even still the withdrawal symptoms linger. I have been strongly against taking these pills ever since I was a child. My childhood Psychologist would constantly mention these as an option to help curb my mood disorders and I was always hesitant and frustrated. I would put up a fight till my eyes were read and tears were streaming down my face.

This was not something I wanted to do. I did not want to partake in taking pharmaceuticals to help me. I didn’t even like taking Tylenol for any generalized pain.

I felt like being alive was bad enough;

I might as well suffer.

Fast forward to now and I still feel like a shell of myself. I’m always worried about the actions of other people and how they create a lasting impression on me. If someone says something rude, I dwell on it. I ask myself repeatedly why they did that and I start to feel unwell about it. I negatively obsess.

My activism, coupled with the horrible emails I receive from companies, corporations and wealth management companies make my mood worsen. I try to focus on the bigger picture and the hopes of creating a positive impact through my own pain and the pain and misunderstanding associated with my peers in the #actuallyautistic community.

I just can’t deal with anything very well.

I have tried three types of pills: Escitalopram (Cipralex/Lexapro), Sertraline (Zoloft) & Venlafaxine (Effexor XR) with absolutely no positive experiences.

The Cipralex left me feeling very hollow, very distracted and very much like I was just dragging myself to do anything – although, out of the three I tried, it worked the best.

The Zoloft didn’t seem to do much at all.

The Effexor XR just made me feel really unwell and my mood was worsened so, I decided to just stop without tapering off. The withdrawal effects were worse than what I expected. Sweats, vomiting, car sickness, the worst nausea I have felt in what seems like forever and a “shaky brain” feeling. There was also a strong need for a whole lot of sleep.

I went to another appointment to my Psychiatrist and it didn’t go particularly well.  He is incredibly dismissive and has me in and out of his office in 5 minutes or less.

He asks me questions completely unrelated to my suffering:

“How are your parents?”, he asked.

“Well, I don’t REALLY talk to my Dad… so.. yeah. My Mom is fine though.. but why didn’t you just increase my dose of Cipralex?”

“Oh, If it wasn’t working at that dose then it’s unlikely it will work at a higher dose.” He then followed that statement up with another unrelated comment.

The sense of defeat and the dark cloud over me seemed to take on more rain at that instant.  It’s apparent, This person, this professional, this DOCTOR who is supposed to help me just wants me out of his office as fast as possible. I like to call them “Fast Food Doctors” because you’re in and you are out very quickly so the Doctor can see more patients and make more money in a shorter amount of time.

My depression and anxiety make my already intense light sensitivity and poor balance much worse. I often feel like I’m going to faint or fall over and my heart starts beating a mile a minute.

What now?

Well, I can’t even work. How am I supposed to get anything done when I just am running out of viable options? I can’t afford to get any kind of mental health assistance where I can talk to a psychologist. That’s not in the cards for me.

 

 

Disclaimer: Please don’t take my article for professional advice. If these medications worked for you then I wholeheartedly commend you on your successful wellness journey. These are my own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect my readers mental health/wellness plan.

Consumer VS. Corporation

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Blogging can be joyful but it can also be incredibly disheartening, frustrating and full of defeat (yes, i’ve mentioned this plenty of times before).

I owe a lot of gratitude to the companies that have been kind enough to work with me, not because of a ROI but because they genuinely care about my opinion and the content I create.

If you are a large corporation worth billions of dollars and you decide to run an “Autism at Work” program, employing autistic individuals and running seminars/talks with lots of press material and attendance, it’s in your very best interest to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

What do I mean by this?

Your PR company should know better than to use the terminology “with autism”, they should also realize that if they are employing autistic individuals then that would be a perfect segue to attracting autistic customers.

I got so wound up and so incredibly anxious after dealing with all this in the morning that I have felt unwell the entire day. I tend to internalize my feelings.

Sometimes I think of our home, our planet as seen from space. It makes me realize how insignificant I truly am and helps puts things in to perspective.

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-Margaux

Ben & Stella Review: Alex Toys!

I want to introduce you guys to my Nephew and Niece, Ben and Stella. They are charming kids and have a lot of honest opinions! We would like to extend a gracious THANK YOU to Alex Brands for sending us some Toys in exchange for our review.

 

What should we review next?

Thanks so much for watching!

-Margaux, Ben & Stella

Actually Autistic: Rejection and Defeat

Look good, Feel better?

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I’m not really sure if looking good really makes you feel better. I believe that channeling who I am inside with my outward appearance helps me connect to others just a bit better. I’m not implying that my no makeup, t-shirt ways aren’t any less of who I am.. but they may convey a sadder, more depressed me. I’d like to attract happiness, good things, positive things, new experiences and new opportunities.

I’m a bit aloof, i’ll happily admit (well, maybe not so happily…) that i’m sometimes lacking those oh-so-neccesary interpersonal skills that neuro-typicals possess. I don’t think people realize how lucky they are to be able to have a conversation with others and not be perceived as being a weirdo or just completely inept. This has happened to me way more times then I could even begin to count on my fingers and toes!

I even try hard to make small talk with people. I’m still able to confuse others and end conversations on the flip of a dime. Ugh. Will it EVER get easier? I’m still lacking a social circle. I still haven’t made any art lately (i’m going to damn well try), I still need to list items on my eBay and figure out the big, bold, wondrous answer to my very apparent and repetitive question:

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ME?

They do say “All good things come to those who wait.”

Haven’t I been waiting long enough?

Just when you want to forget.

It’s been just about a month since i’ve been let go from my last job. I’ll never ever think that’s a nice or delightful way of firing someone. I don’t think saying “you’re fired” is much better, but when you’re dealing with someone in a vulnerable state, any bad news is going to feel like a thousand pounds of hell.

I do sometimes wish that it was a smoother transition from feeling like I had some kind of stability in my life to then feeling like a worthless sack of shit. What’s the point of mincing words or not swearing? I don’t think I could possibly convey the emotion I felt when I was let down by those I had put a lot of trust and faith in to. I figured our values and our end goals were the same, but as always, it’s about productivity and not mental health. It’s about profits, not people. So many companies pass themselves off as really truly caring about their employees but i’d really like to see companies step up to the plate and care about the mental health of those who slave away all day to keep things in tip-top shape. I can’t believe there isn’t regulation in place. I know, i’ve said it a thousand times, both in the typed word and the spoken word in my passionate youtube video.

I want to cause change, so bad. A lot of the time I truly feel alone, i’m loved. I appreciate that so much.

Sometimes I distract myself, I look at the media kit on ikea’s website just to see what new furniture they are coming out with. I can’t afford any of it, hell, I can’t even afford a nice pair of high waisted jeans which I hold in such high regard in my brain. That shouldn’t be a priority of mine. Food & rent are my priorities. I’ve listed a lot of things on my eBay account and hope that with my continued cross promoting — that I can get it all going on and profit. Even if that profit is honestly just to help me keep afloat.

Weirdest thing happened yesterday. I went to Neil Diamond with my boyfriend. I had won tickets from a local radio station. We got in to our seats, I won GREAT tickets. Not floor seats but we were staring straight at the stage. So good!

Anyways, there was this #tweetcaroline thing, where you could tweet your picture and a caption and it could end up on one of the 2 screens, one on either side of the stage. I did it, so exciting! There was our faces up on the screen for all to see. Yes! I thought this was awesome.

I kept watching the photos. Happy couples, mom’s and their daughters, groups of smiling folks…and there it was. My former manager. The same lady that fired me. She was with her partner and a friend. I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was her. Same twitter handle, same smirking face.

Why can’t I just have a good time and not be reminded of someone who has caused me so much grief and upset? Honestly?

I’m not sure if it was so much a coincidence as it was life trying to bite me in the ass, again.

Awake

I’ve been sleeping for over 12 hours a day. I went to bed at midnight and woke up almost at noon. I’m not sure if it’s the medication or just feeling downright miserable. It’s sometimes hard to be completely present. My self-worth has been diminished, slowly, gradually and over a duration of time that’s beyond comprehension. I know, I’m not the easiest person to get along with. I’ll definitely admit that. (It’s not for my lack of trying.)

“Breathe. Inhale, Exhale. Relax.”, An inner voice calls out to me. It’s hard for me to listen. There’s so much inner chatter and I can’t differentiate what’s positive or negative, what worries are real and which ones are fake. Constantly, I’m psyching myself out.

I’ve been twirling my hair and running my fingers through it, constantly. I’ve been picking scabs on my scalp and my face. I’ve been scratching, I’ve been sore, my eyes are dry, i’ve been profusely sweating, i’ve been exhausted. How can I be SO tired without doing anything productive?

It’s all part of this illness. It’s all part of this monster, this control, this sadness, this frustration, this anger, this uncertianty.

I feel like i’m a one person army fighting against this invisible war.

I might feel that way, but what I do know is that i’m not alone.

What’s your story?

Anxiety’s Reign

You know how this starts out… “It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining…”, Positivity. Super positive vibes. Well, honestly? That’s not how I feel. A tight feeling in my chest, my heart, beating ever so loudly and my brain, not turning off. When will this be better? When will I find answers to my questions? I don’t know. I feel pretty dumb just writing this. I’m sitting outside on our patio and there’s so much uncertainty in my mind. How can I afford to buy anything? How can I handle this? I feel like i’m on the verge of panic. I feel like the walls are closing around me and I am trapped without a way out. There are way too many questions. No answers. I can’t even hold a proper conversation right now without freaking out. I feel victimized. I feel like a game of cat and mouse was played and I definitely, I most definitely lost. I didn’t think my health problems would become so persistent with a very unfavourable outcome: Losing my job. I feel wronged. I feel confused.

I..should..know..better. I should have known better than to trust someone who was clearly not working in my favour .

You know what i’ve done the past few days? I’ve slept. I have slept so much. I didn’t think I was capable of it. I don’t know if it’s my medication, or if i’m just depressed. I’m 30 next year…and what have I got to show for it? Nothing.