Autistic pride day!

Autism

18/06/2018 represents Autistic Pride Day.

But what exactly is the day all about?

Autistic pride day is the celebration of the neurodiversity of people on the autism spectrum. It celebrates what people with autism bring to the community and recognises their potential.

Pride being a huge component in the way I feel about my diagnosis. Admittedly, I do become frustrated with myself at times for finding “simple things” tough, but there’s nobody in life (Neurotypical or Autistic) who views everything as an easy ride.

We live in a World where anything other than the “norm” is considered “weird” and it’s vastly become something avoidable and scary. People with Autism aren’t weird, what’s weird is the stereotypes and the judgement. What’s weird is that Autistic people can be mistreated due to their disability, no fault of their own. People with disabilities are people too, people with big hearts capable of love and affection. People who shouldn’t be treated any less than the rest.

People deserving of acceptance.

I’m privileged to share my condition with an intelligent, bright and inspirational lady who makes me proud. Who I feel honoured to write about today.

Dr. Temple Grandin is an American Professor, alongside an animal and autism advocate. She is also one of many well recognised people diagnosed with Autism. A kind hearted, compassionate and strong individual. Grandin invented the “hug machine”, designed to assist those on the spectrum with hypersensitivities. Evidently, Autistic people are intelligent, they’re capable of achieving amazing things regardless of what outsiders may assume.

In recent times I’ve seen so much information staggered around online about curing Autism, how people with Autism are evil and how Autism is “caused.” Well, in my opinion, people who view and understand The World from a different and unique perspective aren’t evil, they’re fantastic. People who battle through each day despite personal difficulties aren’t evil, they’re courageous and strong.

But, hey! Guess what? The people making assumptions haven’t bothered to gain an insight into what Autism is and what it can mean for people on the spectrum. Therefore, they aren’t worth getting upset over. Autism isn’t an illness, it’s a lifelong disability present from birth but not always picked up on until later in life. Ie: you can be diagnosed in adulthood and autism doesn’t just magically disappear after childhood.

If Autism isn’t an illness, why would anybody want to cure it?

People aren’t robots. Let’s stop trying to model the “perfect person” and instead, accept people for who they are.

I struggle with many things, including loud noises and social anxiety, changes in routine and so on but my “cure” comes down to hard work and stepping out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t come from over the counter in the chemist, mid-evil research or fad articles written by narrow-minded people.

But people attempting to cure others just for being different, people forcing others to use bleach to cure their condition? They’re evil.

I’m proud of myself for accepting my Autism diagnosis, for allowing it to motivate me to overcome my areas of weakness, for never letting it define me as an individual. Autism is a taboo subject, unfortunately, but Aspies are stronger than the stigma. I’m meeting milestones, making memories and creating beautiful friendships – all of which can be difficult for people on the spectrum, but something I won’t let put a halt to my success.

I’m different and that’s okay. I wouldn’t change my Autism for anything, today, and every day, we can stand up and be proud of who we are, for not allowing our diagnosis to define us in a negative light. For bringing something special into The World.

Autism is amazing. And everybody on the spectrum? They’re amazing too! Autism pride is about accepting people for who they are and encouraging others to find pride in themselves and their abilities.

For more information on Autism, please visit The National Autistic Society.

Farm fun with my farmyard friends

Little Owl Farm

A little insight into a day of Volunteering at Little Owl Farm. Though, no two days are ever the same which makes it all the more enjoyable!

Today, the sun was shining and my day was filled with Goat cuddles and wheelbarrow pushing as I enjoyed another day at the farm – my happy place. Soon, Cindy and John will have to build me my own pen because I love it there that much. Or I could just live with the Goats…

I certainly feel like I’m coming out of my shell more (hey, look! I’m a tortoise now) in terms of a boost in confidence and the ability to speak to people and my animal friends aid me in doing so. I’ll say this a thousand times and more: finding Little Owl Farm was the BEST thing to ever happen to me. Whenever I go, I feel on top of the world and whenever I leave, my heart is filled with so much love.

Today started off as a freezing day (typical British weather) so I wrapped up accordingly. But then to my surprise it warmed up in the upcoming hours. Again, typical British weather – unpredictable. I tied up my shoes and went on along to the bus stop, ready for my journey to the farm.

Buses. Unpredictable. A theme’s going on here, right? Arriving later than expected, impacting my entire bus route and valuable goat time – not cool.

Fast forward a couple of hours, 3 bus drives later (I’m not crazy, I swear) and YAY! I hopped off the bus, which is always filled with older people, equaling a peaceful ride with stunning views and most importantly, no screaming kids. Heaven! I soon found myself walking down the path, ready to be greeted with John and Cindy hugs (the best kind). Another highlight in my day, having such wonderful, caring people in my life who always seem delighted to see me. I love that!

Being at the farm in the company of such wonderful, jolly people and the most beautiful animals warms my heart massively and fills me with joy and contentment. Spending time outdoors and with my friends makes the journey worth it every time. It’s there that I feel free and uplifted as I gain an escape from everything bad in the world, and in my own mind.

Cuddles with Poppy and Mary-Jane are always my favourite part of the day. (just look at how adorable they are!) It’s difficult not to be absorbed into their cheeky, loving personalities and kind, gentle souls. It’s seemingly impossible to be sad when in the presence of animals who create a shield between myself and negativity.

I also gave them a brush too. Well, to begin with Poppy kept standing on me whilst attempting to brush Mary-Jane, so it turned into a cuddle session which I can’t complain about. But I was soon successful.

Most of the farmyard friends enjoyed some banana today. I must remember to take more supplies next time! I was thrilled seeing them nibbling away happily so I had to record it, of course. The Rabbits were so graceful compared to the Goats who would’ve ate my hand if I let them. (Ha ha!)

The cleaning of the Duck houses, something I weirdly enjoy due to the fulfillment of seeing a spotless space afterwards. If only it stayed that way! I always feel accomplished afterwards. It kept me very busy and made the Ducks content too. Who knew removing substrate and replacing it for new could be so fun?

Ella the Lamb arrived! Coming from a local area and a lady named Hannah. Ella had been hand-reared and therefore developed a strong attachment to Humans, not so much a part of the herd. She follows people around everywhere because she’s the most comfortable with them, she’s gotten used to their behaviours. A requirement for extra love and attention meant she definitely suited a new home at Little Owl Farm with her new Sheep friends where she’ll continue to be spoiled rotten. She had a wander around her new home, eagerly, and was then placed with the others, I’m sure they’ll soon take her under their wing as Ella thrives and grows comfortable being with the others in the next chapter of her life.

With the addition of chatting to visitors, playing with the goat kids and filling up the water bowls/buckets, that was my day complete. It’s crazy how quickly time goes when I’m at the farm. Though the saying goes “time goes by when you’re having fun” and every day at the farm is certainly that.

And off I went on my journey, heading home after another beautiful, memorable day! Saying my good bye’s to my animal friends, Cindy and John is always the hardest part which leaves me counting down until I’m back again. But, all the hugs makes it that much easier.

I’m very thankful to be able to volunteer at Little Owl Farm, and for always being welcomed back with a warm embrace and big smile!

Battling Depression – an ongoing journey towards happiness

Mental Health

I wanted to write this for those in need of some helpful words to hear, some reasons to carry on and a reminder of the positives in life when everything seems so dull and hopeless.

What is Depression?

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act… Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

 

My struggles with Depression coincide with the suicidal and depressive thoughts I feel regularly. I’m not depression recovered, no. But each day I’m trying my hardest to steadily manoeuvre from the shell of a person I once was, the unrecognisable girl sat uncomfortably in the deepest, darkest depths of depression and sadness. The girl lacking motivation who saw no way out, no hope, no future. Nothing. But. Darkness. Constant feelings of failure and inadequacy painfully ruling my mind as I tirelessly battle to get to the next day despite the voice in my head telling me otherwise.

Once you’re trapped inside that dark space, it becomes very difficult to find a way out. Especially when you’re renowned for being the bright and bubbly character full of laughter, admitting you’re not okay is all that more difficult. Seemingly impossible, in fact. You become a victim of your own mind, you can’t just cheer up, the battle is against yourself and everything you believe. It’s as though you’re trapped in a pit screaming for help, but nobody is around to hear your calls of desperation. Finding any form of light begins to feel impossible; feelings aren’t facts – the best way out is always through.

Just because somebody may seem okay on the outside, it doesn’t mean they’re very well on the inside. Remember: it’s the mentality that counts, not the person’s physicality.

Healing takes time. Healing isn’t linear. There have been times I’ve struggled to leave the comfort of my bed. Times I’ve breathtakingly expressed suicidal thoughts and harmful urges towards myself and acted on destructive behaviours. I’ve cried and I’ve fought, I’ve shouted in anger and hidden myself away from The World, yet here I am. And although I’ve truly despised every moment of the times I’ve no longer wanted to be around, I’m somewhat thankful to them for enabling me to find my inner strength and for encouraging me to better myself and beat my demons.

In the recent years, it’s safe to say I’ve battled many things. All of which include things I never imagined myself to encounter. If anything, I want this to give hope to others that things will be okay – a common phase often thrown around but not so often believed. Things will be okay, and if we fight our hardest and hold onto the belief that happiness is in the distance, things will only get progressively better.

Something that’s continuing to help me keep going (aswell as the support I receive) is prioritising my own happiness, meaning I take more time to add things into my life that fill me with joy and positivity as opposed to dwelling on my thoughts lying in my bed. Sometimes, happiness seems like nothing but a distant memory and I haven’t always believed that I’m deserving of anything but misery, but spending my time volunteering with animals, making more time for my friends and my family instead of being my own worst enemy is working wonders regarding my mental wellbeing. Just going outside for a small walk is a huge improvement for me considering where I was a few years ago. Happiness comes in different forms for different people. It’s about finding something that makes your heart happy and your soul shine, with the aims of blocking out anything preventing you from feeling brighter.

Depression can’t just be cured with the click of a finger or an hour spent in talking therapy. It’ll drag you back under if you let it. Different techniques work for different people. We’re all individuals with personal treatment needs. It isn’t a matter of laughing and being cured just like that. But each day is a step towards bigger and better things, each day when you begin to find yourself again you become stronger and realise than you can, regardless of the voice saying you can’t or you shouldn’t.

“Rome is built on ruins and it quite breathtaking, what makes you think you can’t be too?”

Lastly: you’re NOT alone, you’re valid and important deserving of love, peace and contentment. Please seek help if you’re struggling. Nobody should suffer alone of in silence.

“The mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”