Sharing my struggles

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.


Passing Judgment

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.

sunset hands love woman

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Links of interest:

 

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.

Featured on Yoocan!

I am just about to sleep for 3 more hours before work but I wanted to send a huge shout out to those fine folks at yoocanfind.com because I am FEATURED on their instagram – Check it out here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgn_ooAgKuC/?taken-by=yoocandoanything

They post inspirational stories on their website. Here are two of mine that have been published:

I would love if you could read them and check out the website for so much wonderful content.

-Margaux

I am Colour.

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Yes, I will admit it: I am Weird.

I believe I have embraced this as my identity in a very subconscious way. I have no fear when it comes to expressing myself and I don’t think I ever did.

Anxiety is also a big part of who I am. It sometimes forces me to freeze and feel very weak-minded. It takes over me. I sweat profusely, I get heart palpitations, I just want to run and cower. It even can prompt me to sleep a whole lot.

Art is something that can help calm me right down, it is my soul doing the talking. It is an everlasting moment of freedom. I can look at my Art and think “I made that?”. It can be incredibly hard to believe.

I have hopes and dreams with it. Literal “close-my-eyes-and-fall-asleep” dreams. I see myself in the heart of a big city with my art in a gallery. I know it can be considered low brow and heck, I know there’s people who don’t like it and who could truly care less about me. I still have this dream.

“It’s too small. It should be bigger!”

“I can’t be your friend because I can’t stand your Art.”

“Your art is ugly.”

Tell me this. Tell me this over and over and over and over again. Please.

Why? Get your negative thoughts out, it’s good for you.

But for me?

I’ll keep creating.

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Love,

Margaux

Why ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ doesn’t sit well with me.

I want to make it evidently clear that I am all for mental health awareness and supporting related causes. I have always struggled and believe that funding is entirely necessary.

Bell is a Canadian Telecommunications giant. For one day each year, the #BellLetsTalk campaign overtakes social media, with Olympian Clara Hughes as their Spokeswoman.

They make sure you are aware of the campaign through every advertising platform imaginable. I can’t imagine the money they put in to advertising alone.

They utilize the hashtag to get their customers and even non-customers talking about it to which they make a donation to their own fund.

I just don’t think this is the right way to do it. I have most definitely had real-life disagreements on this subject as well.

Here’s why I don’t think it’s okay:

  1. According to Forbes, Bell Canada (BCE) has a market cap of 40.5 Billion Dollars.
  2. Bell’s employees do not get equal or fair treatment in regards to their own mental health. CBC has written about this and there are various other articles online too.
  3. They have various ways you can get involved and they donate 5 cents to different initiatives. As far as I am concerned, they can make a sizeable donation without using the hashtag to, essentially, get very cheap marketing for their brand.
  4. The Bell Community Fund has a financial cap of $25,000 and has all kinds of exclusions including: Anti-stigma projects and event sponsorships etc.

I believe we should get to the point where talking about our mental health is a regular thing we can participate in and completely free of judgment. I don’t believe it is right to capitalize on mental health/wellness/illness for financial gain. I also don’t think it should be segregated to one day of the year that is decided on by a multi-billion dollar telecommunications giant.

Let’s talk about it, I think we need a new hashtag.

#LetsTalkAboutMentalHealth maybe?

Margaux

Disclaimer: This is my own opinion and should not reflect the brands or companies I have graciously partnered with.

My plight as a Millennial

I never decided to be part of the Millennial or Me Generation.

I have heard that nearly half of Millennials rely on their parents for financial help! I think there’s a very common misconception that we all have that “luxury”, Simply put: We don’t.

Being nearly 30 years old, I have always known I do not want to have children. I am perfectly content with my beautiful, spoiled rotten Cats and constantly worry about the economical and environmental state of our fragile planet.

I have had plenty of time to potentially advance my career. I never knew what to pursue. The idea of student debt is a frightening preposition. In hindsight, I could have gone in to some kind of broadcasting or film job but it’s very oversaturated and there is never a guarantee that I could or would be able to make ends meet.

That brings me to my next subject, home ownership.

There is absolutely no way in today’s climate that I would ever be able to own a home. Firstly, I work at a job I enjoy but it’s only minimum wage. (surprise, surprise!) Secondly, with homes starting in the million dollar range, my only hope would be winning the lottery and, to be honest, I would probably skip town if that ever were to happen.

My social life is virtually non-existent. It’s so funny how we are in the age of technology and social media. Yet, we are so incredibly disconnected from each other.

I will say that I’m a content creator. There’s nothing truly unique about that other than my autistic perspective. That, sometimes, can sadly be seen as limited or not equal to the rest of the population. There are lots of us who want to change that often misunderstood perception and believe me: I’m working on it!

If  you happen to have baby boomer parents like me (or the generation that followed), some (not my own) don’t always understand what we go through.  For instance, I have heard of parents who own their home and can’t understand that their offspring will ever have the chance to be able to have the same lifestyle as them. That can really cause some deep family conflict. I often wonder if a common ground or sense of understanding  can happen here because the divide is so deep.

I would love to see affordable housing, an increased hourly wage and more support. I also believe that healthcare needs more funding. We really need to consider how all these things impact our mental health because I truly believe the state of the economy, the planet and our changing and dividing times impact us more then we even know and it’s not always positive.
Photo Credit:Nathan Dumlao