The stigma surrounding Autism and mental illness.

“Just ignore it, don’t complain, grow up, everybody has that.” things that I have heard to many times. As an Autistic individual with anxiety, I find the stigma around Autism and mental illness to be very frustrating. I sometimes wish I could magically put the other person in my shoes, so that they could at least experience some of my difficulties such as auditory sensitivity, panic attacks, phobias, social difficulties, loneliness, etc.

But, they are not me. They cannot understand what I am thinking and feeling, because they are not me. I am a unique individual, but also a challenged one. I believe that I can improve on things with time, if I work at it, such as social difficulties, but some things are probably going to be challenging for my whole life, such as my sensory issues.

Autism never goes away when you become older, it stays with you. It’s not something that just is in children and slowly fades away as you grow. I hate it when people talk about Autistic people like they are “children”, because I’m sure a lot of Autistic individuals don’t appreciate that, I would not appreciate someone talking about me like I am a “child”.

The stigma also stereotypes Autism, so if you look like a neurotypical person, a neurotypical might not believe you when you say “I am Autistic”. They might say “But, I know a boy named Robby, and he bangs his head, bites himself, and rocks back and forth, you don’t do that”. Well, we are ALL DIFFERENT, each Autistic person has different gifts and challenges. We are not all the same, stereotyping also prevents us from getting treatment that we need to help us improve things such as anxiety, social difficulties, and sensory issues.

Anxiety is a really hard thing to explain. I’ve heard about the stigma “It’s all in your head”, “you are just making it up in your head”, “If you would just try harder”, etc. I would, but some of my anxiety is super difficult to deal with. Imagine having panic attacks once or twice a week,  worrying about if the schedule will work out, analyzing your past social interaction to death, obsessively unplugging electric devices to make sure they don’t cause a fire, and having horrible images sometimes pop up into your head out of nowhere, this is what I deal with daily.

So, what would help? First, acknowledging my anxiety, accepting it, and trying to help me if you can. Maybe it would help me if you could text me instead of calling, or ask if you can give me a hug during a panic attack. Saying “just get over it” or “it’s all in your head”, or “why are you doing this??” will only make me feel worse and worse.

Someday I hope that the stigma around anxiety and Autism will change. I wish people would say “Oh, I’m sorry that you have to deal with this, is there any way I can help you?” instead of “Everybody has sensory issues”. I would feel better if somebody did not scold me for not talking on the phone, but rather said “I understand your anxiety about this, let’s try to break it into small steps, and maybe you can call Miss Kellie as a first step.”

Until then, I will just snuggle with my Service dog in training, and listen to some music to get the yucky bad feelings out, or draw too. It may be hard to deal with the stigma surrounding Autism and anxiety, but I will keep fighting it.

My new service dog in training.

On July the 8th 2017, I got my first dog. I adopted a border collie/lab mix named “Nikki”. That day was so exciting!

 

We are in the car. I am rocking back and forth because I am so excited, I am going to meet Nikki! This is soooo exciting! After waiting for what seemed like eternity to get to our destination, we finally pulled into the parking lot. I see a small black dog with a woman outside the building. We walk up, and it turns out to be Nikki! Nikki wags her tail excitedly. We decide to go inside, the woman, whose name is Liz, demonstrates some of the service dog tasks she has learned such as deep pressure therapy, block, and watch my back. I am hoping with all my heart that that I can take this sweet girl home. My mom asks about taking Nikki home. My heart flutters with excitement as the papers are filled out, and then we were out of the door and on the way home with Nikki. Later on that evening after a trip to PetSmart and Orange leaf, in which Nikki got a small amount of vanilla froyo, we headed home. That night she jumped onto my bed, she looked at me like “I am going to sleep on your bed with you, right??” So I let her sleep on my bed. At one point she came up beside me and licked my face, such a sweet dog. I think she is going to be a great service dog with more training.

 That was an exciting day. Nikki is learning how to sit, lay, and I am going to be teaching her come, stay, anxiety alert, and guiding through a crowd. Her vest, which we ordered today, is supposed to come on Wednesday. I am excited to start the process of training Nikki to be a service dog.

 

Beautiful yet flawed, my inner self.

Red hair,

Fair skin,

Freckles,

Brown eyes,

Long legs.

I am beautiful,

But flawed at the same time.

 

Artistic,

Creative,

Good with animals,

But flawed.

 

I have scars that won’t seem to fade,

The tears slowly drip down my face,

I always seem to be making mistakes,

And being criticized,

For being the person I am.

 

I am tired of feeling lonely,

Where the darkness seems to be my friend,

I am tired of panic attacks,

That try to steal away my breath,

I am tired of anxiety,

That whispers and screams in my head,

I’m tired of the demons,

That have made a home inside my head.

 

The demons,

They are there,

Waiting patiently,

To pounce on my mistakes,

To catch me when I’m down,

They whisper I’m not worth it,

They whisper I’m a mistake,

And they silently cheer when I start going under.

 

I start slipping,

All of my progress seems like nothing,

I feel alone,

I start sinking,

Slowly into the depths.

 

All the pain that I have experienced,

Seems to never fade,

They are my scars, my battle wounds,

The cracks that remind me,

Bullying,

Mistakes,

Failure.

 

I am beautiful, yet flawed,

Because I am these things,

I wish the pain would fade away,

I wish the demons would be quiet,

I wish I could be good enough,

Will I ever be?

 

 

A poem written by an Autistic individual.

 

Lonely Girl

I wander around,

Looking at the groups of people,

Talking, laughing,

Smiles, frowns, hand movements.

I stand by, watching,

The conversation goes on,

I cannot find a way to enter,

I slowly walk away.

 

Another group,

Adults talking,

Can I fit in here?

The conversation keeps running,

Each person chipping in their part,

But I cannot find a way to be a part of their group,

And so I still search.

 

I find a group of girls,

Laughing, giggling, and chatting.

I would like to say something, but I cannot,

the words are stuck in my mouth,

Like glue is attached to my words,

So I still wander.

 

 

 

 

Will I ever find a place?

have a friend that I can talk too about my passions?

Horses,

Parelli,

Dogs,

Service dogs,

Vaulting,

Art,

And Autism.

 

Sometimes the loneliness creeps in,

And I cry silently on the inside,

And sometimes the tears start dripping on the outside,

Slowly making wet lines down my face,

I wander “Will I always feel this way?”

Because I just want someone to be with,

To fill the gap of loneliness that I feel.

 

Someday I hope,

I will have friends,

A group that I can fit into,

So that I don’t feel lonely anymore.

 

 

 

A poem about lonliness and anxiety written by an Autistic person.

 

❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️

🙍🙍🙍🙁🙁😢😢