Too much pressure.

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Please don’t mistake me or try to make me

The shadow of anybody else

I ain’t the him or her you think I am

I’m just trying hard to be myself

Oh, society’s goal is to be part of the whole

That may sound good to you, not to me

The Turtles, Let Me Be

All I wanted was the ability to share my art with the world…. and it has turned in to half disaster, half success.

I don’t know how i’m supposed to handle 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:

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.

I even made an FAQ because I kept getting asked questions over and over again.

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.

I hope this provided insight in to just some of the things I am struggling with. Please be kind.

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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.


SensoryGoods.com Weighted Blanket!

This is a WIN WIN!! I hope you have a chance to check out my video and hear all about this Sensorygoods.com Weighted blanket!!

Don’t mind me.

Me

My imperfections are many. I have scars and zits on my face, I have gained weight, my teeth are not by-any-means perfect looking. I won’t smile with my mouth opened and my knees turn in to each other. My posture SUCKS and my back is constantly in pain.

Recently my Mom asked me if I had put on weight, I answered with a resounding “YES!! Didn’t you notice?”.

Yes, I’m overweight.

I’ve gone up 1 or 2 pant sizes (depending on the brand). I’m not sure if it’s from being fired last August or starting my Anti-Depressants not that long afterwards. It took me a very, very long time to come to terms with needing to take them. I believed, wholeheartedly, that they would hurt me. (I am not talking for anyone but myself.) I realized that they do help me. I’m not sure if it’s contributed to my weight gain or if having free sugary drinks during my work has instead. I need some self control but it’s hard, considering I have quite the sweet tooth.

My social life hasn’t grown at all and the fact that i’m pushing 30 doesn’t make me think that it’s ever going to change.

I do have something to look forward to, a few hotel collaborations and some product reviews coming up as well as a potential writing gig.

I’m still learning how to balance positivity in my life and it’s honestly a lot harder then I thought it ever would be. I’m trying to keep my mind open with a goal of positive personal growth.

-Margaux