As usual – I have been slacking when it comes to writing and updating this blog. That’s a little unbecoming and not up to the high standards I reluctantly uphold for myself.
It’s been hard and my energy has been fluctuating. There are days where I am apt to clean and tidy up my surroundings and then there are days that are spend entirely in bed, sometimes accompanied by cookies.
I’m on a constant rotation of just a few things. Netflix, napping, eating, art and a minute amount of self care. I’m trying to focus more on that because I know how important it is for my mental health.
Some tasks are more difficult than others, including running Made by Autistics Community on facebook – a task that is emotionally draining at the best of times – it puts me right in the forefront of having to maintain some order and good reading comprehension. I’m not great at the comprehension aspect and I find that keeping objects orderly versus people is already something I obsess over. Throw emotions in to the mix and I sink, real fast. I make mistakes, we all do – but there’s one thing we can choose to NOT do – and that’s call people names. I had enough of this in my past (hurled towards me with a cold blast of anger, no less) and I don’t need to be triggered.
I’m thankful I have people I can speak to who have been supportive of me because I can only take so much criticism in one day. I burn out faster than i’d like. It’s been hard not having any physical affection or the inability to see my friends and hang out in close quarters. I realize that we’re trying to do our best as a whole to stop the spread of a really horrible virus and some of the things we can do are:
Wash Your Hands
Maintain Your Distance
Three rules that could make a big difference. Hope you are staying healthy and happy!
PS. I also started a petition to make it mandatory to have ALL cosmetics be tamper-proof sealed. Could you sign it?
For a bit of a backstory, I posted some of my cat themed art in to some various cat facebook groups. Some were more receptive than others, some banned me for accidentally violating their rules (even though I had made a google docs with the different groups and varying rules), and my facebook exploded. Messages, friends requests, a lot were welcomed with open arms but it was non stop and very anxiety inducing. I already have very, very bad anxiety but this actually made it a lot worse.
I ended up making my own group, Nice Cats for Nice People. We actually welcome those who are Neurodiverse, who want to share their cat-related art and etsy store and try to adhere to less stringent rules.
I then had people writing me, telling me how they thought I was violating (cat facebook group) rules and giving me feedback I didn’t ask for, which made me even more agitated. I can’t tell you how many new people i’ve had to cut ties with. It just hasn’t been healthy for me.
Yesterday, I was in the car, traveling to go to a concert and I cried. I flailed my hands for a short few seconds. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to do anything but go back home, miss the concert and weep in bed. This was after a few people decided to tell me that I was oversharing the negative messages I was receiving on my facebook page and some of the private messages sent to me seemed to have a good intention but had a lot of unwanted, “real” or “brutally honest” advice that I didn’t ask for. I was already on the brink of an emotional collapse and that sent me over the edge.
There have been incredibly positive people and really negative people.
There’s also those who don’t understand:
why telling me to use their cat for inspiration offends me (I am not spending the painstaking time to get the features of your cat perfect–for free)
why telling me that Autism isn’t an excuse for my behaviour essentially discredits my entire being
that not every single piece of art I make is going to be for sale and that I get emotionally attached to some of my work
There’s even people who believe it’s okay to tell me that I clearly have issues after i’ve made it incredibly clear that I suffer from mental illness, which is intertwined with being Autistic.
Being Autistic is not an excuse, It’s a NEUROTYPE! It’s part of who I am and why I behave the way I do. I honestly can’t even believe I have to justify myself to anybody but I have to write this because these things keep happening to me over and over again. I also had to reiterate that my artwork and my Autism are very much hand-in-hand and that I utilize my art to talk about Autism and vice versa. I have HUNDREDS of pieces i’ve art that i’ve painted. I’m not new to this at all. I have been making art my entire life.
There was a time where I really only worked intuitively and for myself, as a way to relax and unwind. When people can’t understand why a pet portrait costs 150.00 USD, I don’t really know what to say without sounding really upset and hurt. It’s a lot to take the personality of someone’s cat and turn that in to my own style. If i’m working intuitively, I don’t think. I don’t need to plan the way something looks, copy features and make it look like someone’s best friend. Getting the features right and the art completely perfect puts so much pressure on me to appease my customer. I’m almost at the point where I have to set my price at something that aligns with my thoughts of “how much would it take for me to drag my ass out of bed and paint something for someone else?” Honestly, I don’t even know what that price would be.
My brain is not only wired differently due to the fact that I am Autistic, but my chronic depression, anxiety and poor coping methods are linked to the fact that I spent 15 years or so being verbally and emotionally abused by my father…EVERY SINGLE DAY. Add that to the childhood bullying and ostracization from my peers at school and you have a brain that suffered from a lot of trauma during it’s most vital developmental years. I also hear that if you’re removed from your mother immediately after birth, which I was, that can also lead to developmental issues. I also am learning disabled. I never graduated, I got my GED instead.
I really want those reading this to understand a few things so i’m linking them below.
It takes a lot out of me, energy-wise to even get out of bed, get ready, and leave the house. I decided to go to the mall – which I rarely do and it was a huge mistake.
I walked in to this store, the teenage sales associates were standing around, three of them, conversing. I actually had to interrupt their conversation to ask a question. No one wants to have to do that. It also was a Sunday and I was the only customer in the store. The last time I went to this mall and walked by this store, their sales associate was sitting on the cash table, legs dangling down towards the entrance. This should have been a red flag, but it wasn’t.
I wrote both their social media and their email and received form email responses. Nothing says “I don’t care about your patronage” by copying and pasting a pretty generic message – especially after spending the time to actually file a complaint and give them room to rectify the issue. From what i’ve read, it seems like their customer service, generally speaking, is pretty awful.
There was a few other issues, but i’ll spare you the details.
What really gets me from all these interactions is that someone from head office called me and our conversation went sour, fast:
Her: Hi this is __ at Journeys , who am I speaking to?
Me: It’s Margaux calling you back
Her: So I know you’ve spoken with Ryan, or social media team etc and i’m just not sure…(i can’t remember the rest)
Me: Yes. I don’t feel comfortable on the phone, can you email me?
Her: I’ll be short with it
Me: I’m on the Autism Spectrum, i’m really not comfortable on the phone, can you email me?
Her: I’m sorry, i’ll do that
Well, that email never came. I decided to contact the highest-up person I had been corresponding with through email and I was shocked at the response:
I was already visibly upset and after receiving this response I feel even worse now – but that’s not the first time they have refused to respect an Autistic Person:
I’ve also read cases of racial profiling, emails being ignored, product fulfillment gone wrong and a lot of customers vowing to never shop there again.
Throughout my life, people have passed judgment on me based on the way I look, act or quite frankly who I am.
I think the way I present myself has a lot to do with my sensory sensitivities. For instance: I don’t “dress my age” and I prefer wearing comfortable clothing such as shirts that are a men’s size small, jeans, and slip on shoes. I rarely wear makeup and I usually just brush my hair and head out the door. It’s already so mentally trying to go out in to the world that the energy I would use to make myself presentable gets used up so fast. By that time, i’m already beyond drained and I start feeling physically ill.
Sometimes I dress very casually and sometimes I look fancy.
My intellectual capacity is clearly questioned because some people, whether it’s conscious or not, believe that the way someone looks has to do with the way they think.
I was treated very poorly at a restaurant and I can’t say for certain that it had anything to do with the way I looked, but I wouldn’t be surprised. It seemed like I was stereotyped as dumb and trashy because of my use of coupons and was spoken down to – which i’m still feeling anxious and upset about.
The English idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a metaphorical phrase which means “you shouldn’t prejudge the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone”. For example “That man may look very small and insignificant, but don’t judge a book by its cover – he’s a very powerful man in his circle”. —Wikipedia
We all deserve a little kindness and compassion, no matter what we look like.
There are plenty of us who are able to express ourselves and plenty who can not. I always hope when I share my stories that I am able to speak from deep within. It’s incredibly humbling when I receive messages of support.
To know that there are people out there who find what I say relatable and comforting is wonderful.
With everything that has been going on in the Autistic community, primarily those who have chosen to speak for us/at us without being Autistic, I feel that much more compelled to share the experiences that have shaped me.
I feel fragile and lonely at times. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am still growing, changing and evolving. I realize that the sentiment “be kind” can be so much more. Hold the door open, say hi to someone! Maybe even practice random acts of kindness? The simplest acknowledgement can really brighten a human’s day.