aspergers

How Harry Potter saved my mental health

Ok, so maybe Harry Potter didn’t really save my mental health. He saved the ENTIRE WORLD from Lord Voldemort. All Hell broke loose at the Battle of Hogwarts, and Harry claimed victory, (even though Hermione did ALL the work but that’s not the point I’m trying to make). Since the beginning of the end, AKA middle school, the Harry Potter series has had a tremendous influence in my life.

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I read the books on the school bus every morning as a distraction from the impending doom and anxiety that awaited me at my destination.

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I read during study hall.

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*Except for that one year, where my study hall teacher was the wife of Satan…

damn kids!

I read on the ride back home.

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It was middle school that taught me that the majority of other people my age were severely lacking in moral fiber, rational thinking, and general intellect. These are not qualities that a young girl needs during a time of mental and emotional turmoil. My peers were alien to me, and so, I sealed myself shut within the pages of the HP books; a safe and comforting place to be.

One of the Gang

Soon, the films were created. Amazingly, I was the same age as the actors playing the main characters: Harry, Ron and Hermione. When they were eleven years of age and starting their first term at Hogwarts, I was nearly eleven myself. What a coincidence, I thought to myself, it’s like I was supposed to be at Hogwarts too.

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As my neurological crap grew increasingly more devastating, I propelled myself into the world of wizardry and witchcraft. No human bodily malfunction could bring me down me, I WAS A WITCH IN TRAINING. There was bound to be some spell to alleviate all this junk happening in my life.

I clung to the ridiculous and impossible chance that I would receive my letter to Hogwarts. I fantasized about the day I would look out my window and spot a doofy owl hurling itself towards my house, a tiny white envelope clutched tightly in it’s possession. I would retrieve the letter containing my acceptance, and my life problems would simply vanish. My salvation and mental health were dependent solely upon my acceptance to Hogwarts.

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My letter never came.

I started high school in September, trying to retain a sense of normalcy despite the fact that everything was not normal. My anxiety, depression, and sensory processing disorder reached a record high score on the “How Much Does Your Life Suck Right Now” meter. I was brought to doctors and therapists of all kinds, and in return, I received puzzled expressions or bottles of pills that made everything worse.  But I still had Harry Potter.

At the end of my freshman year I was pulled out of school because I was so ill. During that summer, I painted murals all over my walls – my own art therapy. Sprawled across one wall, monumental and extraordinary, was my rendering of Hogwarts Castle. Above it was a portrait of Harry surrounded by his name. In my little miserable world, it was breathtaking and comforting.

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PERFECTION

*Note: The mural truly looked like this. It was ginormous and super awesomesauce.

The years grudgingly went by….

The one constant in my life was Harry’s journey. During the deep, unrelenting surges of depression, anxiety, anger, and isolation, the wizarding world was my safe haven – an alternative reality. Granted, things were not super great in Harry’s world either. Lord Voldemort was trying to kill him, and he was trying to kill Lord Voldemort; it was not all butterbeer and chocolate frogs, if you know what I mean.

But the idea of it all – the story from start to finish – carried me away.

Here I am, 24 years alive, and still awaiting my Hogwarts letter. Santa bought me a fake one for Christmas a few years ago – was he seriously foolish enough to think I’d fall for that crapsauce? Would YOU fall for this?? (note: the fuzzy yellow caterpillar was not included in the original letter. I drew it there to cover my address. I don’t need internet hooligans knowing where I live).

(click to view bigger):

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I do not want to identify myself as a muggle (non-magic folk), for that would delete my rich, inner fantasy life that keeps me afloat in moments of suffering. I am the owner of a wand – with a tip that lights up when the wand is waved. I have a Hogwarts cloak, Gryffindor scarf and hat, Harry Potter quiz book, a 200 lb Harry Potter encyclopedia of sorts, Harry Bobble head, Snape action figure, and a million more things which you don’t probably give a crap about.

Dementors and Depression

By engulfing myself into the wizarding world, my numerous illnesses morph into Dementors; soul-sucking, happiness-destroying, butt-ugly creatures. Dementors cannot be killed, only kept at bay until they die from natural causes, or from crashing into the night bus.

Either way, you must use the Patronus Charm to protect yourself from the Dementor’s kiss of death (it’s as delightful as it sounds). The Patronus Charm is conjured by concentrating intensely on your happiest memory while stating the words, Expecto Patronum. Your wand should release a glowing animal figure which will defend you from the Dementors.  Expecto Patronum can be roughly translated from Latin to mean “I await a protector.”

“Ok Kelly, that’s real fascinating, but how does this all relate to depression?” -You

“GIVE ME A MINUTE, WOULD YOU? THIS IS COMPLICATED MATERIAL!” -Me

 

The author of Harry Potter, JK Rowling has confirmed that she created the Dementors after her own experience with depression. She stated: “Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them”.

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The story of Harry Potter has given me unrelenting strength when facing situations that I was certain would be my demise. When curled into a blobby ball of emptiness, it is the thought of the antics of Fred and George that bring a stupid smile to my face. It is Hermione being a general badass. It is Ron dancing awkwardly with Professor McGonagal. It is Severus Snape, dashing around down the castle halls with his cloak billowing behind him like a majestic, dark stallion. It is Harry, doing…ugh…whatever it is that Harry does.

 

In conclusion, I’d like to amend my original statement to this: Harry Potter did save my mental health. Thanks, Harry…cough…cough..Hermione.

xo kelly

 

 

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Personal Hell: Visiting a psychiatrist

When I’m being treated by a psychiatrist, I imagine I’m on the popular television show, Jeopardy. It goes like this:

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Throughout my twenty-four years of existence, I’ve had a heaping amount of visits to doctors of all kinds in an attempt to manage my numerous life issues – my sensory processing disorder being at the forefront.

I believe psychiatric/psychological help is imperative when dealing with physical illness. So darn it all, I’ve got to pull on my big girl panties and get stuff done, no matter how miserable it is to visit a psychiatrist.

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I never enjoy going to see a psychiatrist. If I had $5 for every bizarre session with a psychiatrist, I could probably afford to go to medical school, become a psychiatrist, and THERAPEUTIZE myself.

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As usual, I just made up another word: therapeutize.

Definition: Therapeutize: to use therapeutic techniques.

In a sentence: “I’m going through a tough time with my wife, if I could only therapeutize my marriage back to where it used to be, we’d be happy again.”

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Psychiatrists never seem to pick good locations for their offices. Unfortunately for me, these locations are sensory UNFRIENDLY. I’m uncertain whether or not these locations are chosen on purpose.

One psychiatrist had the office lights so bright, I almost couldn’t open my eyes. That was a fun visit.

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Another had a million winding stairs up to the office, like one of those M.C. Escher paintings. I felt like I could die at any moment whilst making my way to the top. Additionally, it was nearby a train station, so periodically, the train would blare its horn and I would feel my lungs give out from the intensity of the sound. I’d grip the staircase railing, waiting for death.

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Some psychiatrists have leather couches to sit on. I don’t know about you, but my body doesn’t understand leather. It’s shiny, and rubbery. My body actually hates me when I sit on leathery surfaces, as I find myself sliding right off and into a pathetic puddle on the floor.

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Some psychiatrists don’t understand my sensory needs at all, which is both humorous and sadly ironic. For example, everything they do is often very noisy, including speaking. It’s not done intentionally, but most of them are so oblivious that they don’t even notice how sensory unfriendly they are. Even if I tell them directly about the nature of my issues, all psychiatrists seem to live in their own psychiatric bubble. Must be nice there…

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Even WORSE is when I’m in the middle of an appointment, and I REALIZE the absurdity of what is happening. I want to explode with rage and hurl various sized fruits at the ignorant person in front of me. Problem is, I never remember to bring the fruit with me.

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why yes i am

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thank you darling

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Still, the most difficult part of all of these psychiatric visits is when I have to think critically about myself and answer endless complicated questions.

How do you feel? How are you feeling? Describe that process? Can you give me an example of a time when your SPD did this or that and why it made you behave in this or that manner? The severity of anxiety and depression dissociative tendencies increases or decreases when compounded with the negative associations of certain stimuli with which you are negatively associated on the grounds ohfds  hfds hjbdnjcfnd sun43uhu nfjdnsf

My brain, now reduced to a mushy potato, replies:

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When it’s all over, I have an overwhelming urge to fill a void in my delicate psyche (created by psychiatrists poking at it too much). There is only one remedy for this kind of destruction:

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xo kelly

p.s. Please send all cake to me, I will stuff it into my psyche void. Thank you.

 

 

I am my disability

I have Sensory Processing Disorder. Some people don’t refer to it as a disability – I do. My SPD disables me everyday; it’s impacted my life since birth. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say this, even if some people with SPD do not consider themselves disabled. Huzzah for those guys….but I am not them.

 

Say what you mean…or mean what you say?

About three years ago, I started to hear this new, fancy term known as people first language (also called person first language or PFL). Everyone loves abbreviations, right?

As a psychology student, this term was used all the freaking time. My professors and fellow students agreed that it was the correct way to address a person who has been given the diagnosis of a certain disability/condition (neurological or physical). I will now demonstrate, for you, at this very moment, how people first language works. OK, here I go:

Instead of saying, “that boy is autistic,” you would say, “that boy with autism.”

Instead of saying, “she’s schizophrenic,” you would say, “she has schizophrenia.”

Instead of saying, “he’s learning disabled,” you would say, “he has a learning disability.”

 

People first language is using words that put the person before the disability. It is supposed to emphasize the fact that the person in question is not defined by the nature of their disability, whatever it may be. It suggests that they are not part of their disability, rather, they are a unique individual whose personality and goals are a separate entity from their disability.

 

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In my brain, this idea doesn’t exactly sit so pleasantly. There’s a lot I don’t agree with.

(Before you begin to express your dislike of my opinion in the form of rage-filled comments, please give me the opportunity to explain my reasoning.)

We have come a long way in regard to changing the way in which our society – at least westernized society – views various illnesses and disabilities. Still, neurological conditions are far behind physical conditions when it comes to social acceptance.

People first language is often used with physical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, spina bifida, or skin problems. But when referring to many neurological conditions, PFL is often not used: anorexic/bulimic, autistic, epileptic, dyslexic, and schizophrenic are just a few examples.

Then again, I can think of disabilities and illnesses that break this rule.

People with diabetes are often called diabetics, and I’ve never come across someone who protests this wording.

Yet, we don’t say people with cancer are cancer or cancerous.

We also don’t say that people with cerebral palsy are cerebral pals…ic?

 

Back and Forth

Do you see how confusing this is? It is such a sensitive topic, and I did a great deal of research – and a lot of pacing and stimming around the room – to formulate my opinion. For the record, I am not entirely one-sided on this issue. In fact, there are several valid points supporting PFL that I agree with. In many circumstances, people do not want their disability to be part of their identity; they believe they will be seen only as disabled and nothing more.

However, I think the direction in which people lean in this PFL or non-PFL debate depends upon their relationship with their identity as a disabled person. Even though I have SPD, I accept that I am recognized as a disabled individual by many, but that knowledge does not disable me. Being comfortable with the label “disabled” allows others to see that I am more than the limitations of my disability. I do not expect people to see me as nothing more than a disabled individual because I avoid seeing myself in that way, and people sense this.

 

Disability Identity

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve encountered the words, “I am not my disability.”    I don’t entirely agree with this statement either.

I believe the reason we are using people first language is because society is still rather ignorant about the nature of various disabilities and illnesses. When I say ignorant, I’m also including the words judgmental, fearful, unsure, and assuming. Right about now you’re probably thinking, “gee, that’s a very bold thing to say.”  Yes it is, my internet friends, yes it is.

While people diagnosed with diseases like cancer or diabetes often face stigma, it doesn’t hold a candle to the stigma faced by those with neurological diseases.  This stigma, I suspect, has very little to do with PFL. The judgment and misunderstanding that disabled people face every day is the result of lack of education and knowledge of disabilities. The attitude towards disabled people is the attitude that has existed for so long. I think it is the mindset BEHIND the language that creates stigma.

Stigma is the big, awkward elephant in the room. (He smells quite a bit, and everyone gets used to him. Still, he’s there…being an elephant in a room. Everyone’s thinking about how he needs to be addressed, but they’re not sure where to begin. I mean, he’s an elephant – you can’t exactly carry him out.)

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“But Kelly,” you say with a skeptical tone, “isn’t stigma created by not using people first language?”

Dearest reader, I understand the mind-blowing power of words. I have snuggled in bed at 3am sobbing over a single sentence in a novel, and the next morning, questioned my sanity.  But I know that no matter what words we use to describe a disability, that disability will always be thought of in the same way, unless the stigma – the mindset behind the words – is altered. Hear me when I say just because your disability creates challenges that you wish were not part of your life does not necessarily mean that it should be disconnected from you as a person. Disabilities – differences of any kind – define who we are. They shape our personalities; they establish our moral code; they form social skills and self awareness. You are who you are because you have lived disabled, and damn it, that is part of your identity – good or bad.

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We refer to people of various sexual orientations with the words gay, bisexual, asexual, etc. You don’t hear a gay person referred to as “a person with homosexuality.” Being gay is part of who a person is; it is part of their self. Even identities that do not originate biologically, such as religious affiliation, are often considered part of a person’s identity. “I am Jewish.” “I am Agnostic.” “I am Pastafarian.” (Yes, Pastafarians are part of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and yes, it is a real thing. Go google it and be amazed.)

 

Really, you guys? I mean, REALLY?

Are humans so oblivious and uneducated to believe that if we say the words “the autistic man”  that we will never assume there is a person inside that man with thoughts, feelings and dreams? But miraculously if we change the words to “the man with autism” suddenly, we can see beyond his disorder. Supporters of people first language use this as an argument. I’m going to be real blunt right now and let you all know I think this is kinda ridiculous. “A man with autism” and “the autistic man” do not make me think of two different people, nor does it make me think less or more of that person. Both phrases describe the same person, who has lived their life with this neurological problem which has shaped the person they have become. THIS, is what we need to be teaching and advocating for. 

Would you tell your transgender friend to think of their gender identity as a detached person who isn’t really them, but you know, still lives in their body and will always be part of their self? Could you IMAGINE THIS ABSURD CONVERSATION? (Replace the transgender topic with bipolar disorder, for example, in the conversation below.)

Random human 1: “I hear you’re a person with transgenderism. So you have your transgender self and your inner non-transgender self, correct?”

Random human 2: “Um, no. I am transgender. It is part of my self, and my being. I’m the same person inside with or without being transgender.” 

Random human 1: “But I’ve always thought that someone with transgenderism tries to separate themselves from their transgenderistic qualities because they want people to know that they are more than their transgenderism, considering it causes a lot of problems and can make life difficult in various ways, also – “

Random human 2: “Why would people think there wasn’t any more to me than my identity as a transgender person? You cannot seriously tell me that you believe that I am not ONE person, no matter what types of, or how many identities I give myself, and what connotations those identities have? Also, if you use the word transgenderistic again I will…I will…..meh, I need a cupcake to get over this level of crapsauce.”

(Note: transgenderistic is not a word. I made it up. You could probably tell. However, crapsauce is a word because I say it is.)

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 Bad Words Linger

I need to mention that despite all I’ve said here, there are words in every language that should never be used because they are only used in a degrading, ignorant way. Words like retard, mongol, midget, or schizo, are just a few that come to mind.

These words are only associated with negative connotations. They are tied to dehumanization, and nothing more. Bottom line: don’t be a goober – don’t say words like these.

 

How I See Myself

In my case, Sensory Processing Disorder is always referred to in PFL because, well, that’s just how it’s said.

Unless of course, you’re like me and say “I am an SPD’er!” SPD’er is a phrase that I use on this very blog, and one that I see on dozens of other websites. People refer to themselves, their children – their goofy uncle – as an SPD’er, and most people are fine with this.

Does my SPD suck fun and normalcy out of my life? Yes.

Does my SPD stomp all over my efforts to be a functioning adult at times? Yes.

Do I cry over it? Yes.

Has it carefully shaped my personality, my outlook on life, my goals, and my self-worth both positively and negatively? Yes.

Does connecting my disability and my identity – deeming my disability part of me, and part of what makes me, me – cause me pain, humiliation and discrimination? NO. NO WAY JOSE, AND JOSE B.

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I also have depression and anxiety – I am depressed and anxious. I’m not enraged when someone refers to me as depressed and anxious. It is what I am. In spite of this, the stigma that surrounds mental illness permeates my self-perception. I laugh in disbelief at myself, for I’m guilty of harboring discomfort when recognizing myself as a depressed and anxious person – even when I know that depression and anxiety are real illnesses, just like any other illness and I should not feel discomfort when identifying myself in that way. It is a battle that is entirely my own, as I know I can think of my depression and anxiety in the same way that I think of my SPD. I’m just not there yet, but I’ll get there sooner or later.

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But, this still sucks…a lot

I will not tell you that having a disability isn’t hard. I know it’s hard – and miserable, and annoying, and frustrating, and isolating, and a bazillion other things. But to end stigma, disabled people have to OWN their disability. For me, and other people with disabilities, it will only hurt us more if we continue to not embrace our identity. I think people first language can separate disabled individuals from their disability, as if we’re pretending the disability doesn’t exist. Honestly, I’d like my SPD (and depression and anxiety and other issues) to not exist, thank you very much, but that’s not an option right now. It’s stuck in my body, and there is nothing gained from me ignoring it. Instead, I treat it, fight it, and work my way around it; laugh at it, cry at it, and learn to love the body that carries it.

And by it, of course, I am referring to me, because I am my disability.

 

xo kelly

p.s. Sorry for the lack of blogging recently. Depression has me mostly non-functioning. What a jerk.

 

 

 

I am the Navajo Warrior

Somewhere in the woods behind my house lives an entire pack of coyotes. I know this because every now and then, they will all begin to shriek and yelp together for a minute or two. The sound of it is rather disturbing, and it usually happens in the middle of the night.

One night, I woke to the sound of the coyotes howling, except this time, they were louder than ever before. In fact, they sounded as if they were right outside my house. They went on forever, until suddenly, I saw a light flick on outside my window. Instantly, the entire pack was silenced. The light remained on for another minute, then went off. No more sounds were heard for the rest of the night.

The next morning I jumped out of bed eagerly (which is not normal for me, because getting out of bed is my most hated activity). I ran to my sister in the room next to mine, hoping she too heard the commotion last night.

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Next, I quickly searched for Momsy. Surely she must have heard the wild noises in the night! She hears everything.

 

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On the brink of completely losing it, I texted my dad.

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(Yes, I  still have one of those awesomesauce flip phones with a keyboard, built in 2007 or something.)

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When I got Dad’s reply, I was overjoyed! DAD HEARD THEM TOO.

Then he sent another text:

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What a fantastical idea!

I was already wearing my striped pajamas, so I quickly threw on some heavy duty neon teal socks, then my boots, my poofy coat, a polka dot scarf, old blue mittens, and of course, my owl hat. I contemplated putting some sort of helmet on my head, either a metal pot or pasta strainer, but I opted out and risked head injury. The wilderness called me, and I was prepared.

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I stepped outside into the cool morning and marched through the snow towards my garden. I peeked around like a ninja and scanned the trees and snow banks, looking for evidence of the wild dogs. It was quiet and still. The trees loomed over my head, watching me.

I  hunted for tracks in the snow, or anything to give me a clue! Suddenly, I spotted some faint tracks and a brown blob just ahead of me.

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To my frustration, it was just the paw prints and old turd of my dog Sam.

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Sam was outside on the deck, glaring at me. He poked his pudgy face through the deck railings.

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After the incident of false hope, it was then that I noticed that I had forgotten to grab a golf club for protection. Instantly, I was vulnerable; a snack waiting to be devoured. I tried to imagine the scenario if the coyotes appeared. It went two ways:

Option 1, I beg for mercy and convince the coyotes that I am not worth their efforts because I would be a pointless snack.

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Option 2, I summon my inner wilderness warrior and become the leader of the pack.

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After a while of searching, there was no sign of the pack of coyotes anywhere. I returned inside, a little TREMENDOUSLY disappointed.

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I texted my dad, and told him I found zero evidence. I also casually mentioned that I went out there without any weapons. I told him I was a warrior of nature, essentially.

This was our actual conversation, I copied it directly from my phone:

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At the end of the day, it was only my dad and I that heard the coyotes. We have yet to purchase night vision goggles, as they are more expensive than either of us realized. Still, my quest to track down the coyotes will never cease. When I hear their calls in the darkness, I stealthily peer out the corner of my window and hope to catch a glimpse of the scruffy dogs of the wild.

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Are YOU a wilderness warrior? Have you had an extreme run-in with nature?! Comment below and join me in my quest to become keeper of the wilderness! Together, we can save the animals.

xo kelly

 

 

 

If Disney Princesses Had SPD/ASD

In all Disney movies, the “Disney princess” faces various, complicated obstacles. However, I cannot think of a single princess that has faced a real-life disability or disease. Then I thought, what if Disney Princesses had Sensory Processing Disorder? What if they were on the autistic spectrum?

The following is my prediction of what Disney princesses (and their stories) would be like if they had SPD/ASD.

(Also, for the first time ever, I did not draw any original illustrations for this post. Instead, I added my own bits to Disney pictures. I hope you enjoy it anyway.)

 

Cinderella

Ok, I’m skipping right to the part in the story where Cinderella goes to the Ball. Logically, if Cinderella had sensory issues, this would never work. Sure she could give it a good effort, but in the end, a meltdown is likely to ensue. No sensory sensitive princess leaves untouched after a large royal gathering.

We all know how that ends.

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Belle

The most glaring problem here is the fact that Belle is in a relationship with an unstable beast. Belle would find herself overstimulated, unsupported and for lack of a better word, really turned-off by the beast’s intense personality.

Additionally, there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that Belle could have soared around the library on that freaking bookshelf ladder.

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Pocahontas

While she does live in the peacefulness of nature, Pocahontas would most likely not be flinging herself over waterfalls and just around the river bend. Hello! This is too much to ask of any sensory sensitive princess’s motor skills.

Not to mention, she has to deal with a bunch of gun-wielding maniacs who want to destroy the Earth and Grandmother Willow. Talk about stress! Better hope a girl’s got some sensory tools in that longhouse of hers.

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Merida & Rapunzel

All I can say is: HAIR.

I’m still adjusting to my shoulder length hair after years of having short hair. Of course, Merida and Rapunzel may find their excessive hair very soothing, but to imagine having the hair of either of these ladies is beyond my comprehension. The only exception would be that scene where Rapunzel wraps herself tightly in her hair after rolling down a hill. She’s got her own personal deep pressure device.

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Jasmine

When I look at Jasmine, the first thing that pops into my mind are those ginormous earrings. Alright, so she’s royalty and gold earrings are traditional attire for your basic princess, still, Jasmine appears to have two heavy triangular-shaped fruits hanging by her face, smacking into her whenever she turns her head too quickly. The sensation of those ALONE would be enough to make any princess lose it.

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Jasmine is lucky however, because she has a large tiger friend to provide her with lots of sensory tactile relief. I need a large animal to squish me and stuff.

 

Ariel

This one’s pretty obvious: SHELL BRA.

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No further comments.

 

Mulan

I’ll admit that I’m kinda biased here because Mulan is my most favorite Disney Princess. Not only did she sneak her way into the Chinese military, but she defeated the vicious Huns and saved an entire country with some uncoordinated soldiers, the Eddie Murphy dragon, and a cricket.

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If Mulan had sensory issues, China would have been overtaken by the Huns and everything would be terrible. Yes I said it.  She’s trying to save an entire country – I’m certain she would have no time to take sensory breaks. Even if she survived the military training, I do not think her sensory stamina would hold out for that entire duration. I’m talking about that scene where she shoots the rocket into the mountain and causes an avalanche, miraculously survives, and then goes to the city to fight the Huns with her gang of loonies. AND WINS.

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The Emperor’s chaotic celebration ALONE would be a solid nope.

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Dory

Technically Dory is not a princess. She is a blue fish who helped Marlin find his son. I’m including her in my list because, from my observations, Dory might have sensory/autism issues. We know that Dory has complications with short term memory, but aside from that, she’s got quirks much like those with sensory problems or autism.

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Although she is friendly, she struggles with social situations, including lack of awareness of danger. Dory enjoys things like talking to whales and bouncing off jelly fish. I can only conclude Dory is a sensory-seeker. She is very sensitive, as she spends much of her time comforting others and generally being optimistic about the state of things even if the world looks bleak. She is a curious adventurer, and despite her peculiar behavior, Nemo would never have been found without Dory’s help. Perhaps things would have gone a bit smoother if Dory had brushed her fins with a sensory brush that morning.

 

Elsa

Unlike our favorite fish Dory, I imagine Elsa is a sensory-avoider. I almost hate to include Elsa because she has become the “celebrity” Disney princess. She has made this list, however, because Elsa displays the closest thing to what a princess would be like if she had SPD/ASD.

Although Elsa has learned to control her ice powers, her behavior and life has been drastically shaped by her condition. The same thing can be said for those of us impacted by SPD/ASD.

Elsa’s parents responded to the difficulty of their child by locking her in her room. Obviously, this was never a good idea. Elsa grew isolated and depressed.

After having a meltdown in front of basically the entire town, she ran away into the snowy mountains and built herself a fortress of ice. In the sensory world, this would be similar to you coming home after an overstimulating trip to Target and building a couch fort with blankets and pillows, and trapping yourself in the safety of the sensory-controlled space surrounded by all your favorite fidgets.

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It is only until Elsa learns how to channel and manage her ice powers does her life improve. She becomes Queen, sends the bad guys home, and restores order to Arendelle. Similarly, when those of us with SPD/ASD learn to manage our various issues, we could become royals, defeat bad guys, and restore order to an entire Kingdom.

Or, we could just manage basic life skills and that would be a big freakin’ achievement too. 

I may not be a Disney princess, and neither may you, but I like to dream that one day Disney will create an animated film about a princess (or prince!) with Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism. Not only will this character be most awesomesauce in every possible way, but the film will accurately portray the reality of these disorders. It will surpass Frozen and The Lion King in profits, and become the most beloved Disney film of all time ever in the history of mankind. No, my expectations are not too high. DISNEY CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN.

 

There you have it.

Are you (or your child) a wannabe Disney hero with SPD/ASD or something else? Tell to me in the comments and maybe Disney will see it and make a film about you.

 

xo kelly

I’d like to buy a mattress

I recently went mattress shopping. Yes, I took advantage of the president’s day mattress sales at Sleepy’s.

I knew I wanted a FIRM mattress, and I knew this because I do some of my best sleeping on the floor. I’m letting my SPD take the complete blame for this one. The hardness of the floor pushing against my body feels super awesome.

Unfortunately, my family frequently has to poke me to make sure I’m not dead. I’m fairly certain it’s an unsettling experience for them.

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Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, THE MATTRESS STORE. Once inside, I was greeted by an overly-friendly man in pink. He had intense eyebrows

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The dilemma occured to me quickly. I had a near IMPOSSIBLE time finding the difference from one mattress to the next.  ALL the mattresses felt EXACTLY THE SAME. Was this my sensory processing disorder? Could my body have an inability to distinguish different types of pressures? I don’t know.

I DO know that it made the whole experience very daunting.

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I was instructed to lay on the mattresses for approximately 3-5 minutes. Eyebrow man said it was because it needed to conform to my body. What a load of crapsauce. There was no way I was gonna sit on each mattress for up to five minutes. I had stuff to do! Like, buy a mattress, for instance. It never seemed to end.

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I was a lost soul, wandering hopelessly and without a destination through the outer reaches of the mattress solar system.

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It became quickly overwhelming. I did what my body told me to do, which was to go to each and every mattress in the store and pick up the little flap at the bottom and read the information about the specific mattress. I did this for about 50 mattresses. Luckily for me, eyebrow man was distracted with other customers, so everything sorted itself out.

 

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At one point, I tried a super expensive mattress that nearly sucked me into the underworld.

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In the end, I went for a firm mattress with a pillow top. I also upgraded from a twin to a FULL SIZE bed. (GET ON MY LEVEL).

The tag on my mattress said this, roughly:

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And so, I essentially purchased a very expensive boulder. I most likely could’ve chosen any mattress and it would have felt like the same damn mattress to me. What matters, however, was the experience. I’ve slept on my new rock-hard mattress for a few days now, and let me tell you, I don’t want to leave my bed. You should be impressed that I reached my computer to even make this post. Even now, I can hear my new mattress calling my name.

“kelly………..come lay with me……kelly…..”

I should get going. I have to lay in my bed and stare at my ceiling.

xo kelly

Be My SPD Valentine?

Love is in the air! (WOW IT SMELLS INTENSE, SOMEONE GET ME OUTTA HERE). Just kidding….eh, not really.

In honor of Valentines Day, I’ve teamed up with the lovely Rachel S. Schneider, author of the SPD blog, Coming To My Senses, to create four unique sensory valentines. Rachel created the funny valentines messages and I took care of the illustrations. Two of the valentines feature Rachel and her husband, while the other two feature yours truly. If it isn’t obvious, Rachel and I make a great team.

Check out these badass heartwarming Valentines:

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Feel free to share them ❤

I hope for you that love may find you – sensory friendly love, that is.

xoxo kelly

Marcus and the Club

I’ve come to realize that one of my greatest obstacles in life has been (and probably will continue to be) getting people to understand my sensory processing disorder. This rings true in college, the epitome of social involvement. But as you know, social-ness is not part of my expertise, as my sensory needs consistently seem to trump successful leisure activities. I have a very specific moment engraved in my memory that highlights this struggle.

This is me sitting in class at my local community college about three years ago:

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(Yes, in case you were wondering, I was the coolest person on campus…if you couldn’t tell from the illustration).

That day was unremarkable. I, along with several other students, were waiting for the arrival of our professor, who never showed up on time. During this time, most people were on their phones viewing pointless crapsauce, or chatting with their neighbor about pointless crapsauce. Meanwhile, I spent my time doing more important things:

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Suddenly, and I mean like outta freakin’ nowhere, this guy smashes his body onto my tiny desk, interrupting my wizard battle drawing.

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After I succeeded in NOT crapping myself, I realized he swiftly took the empty seat next to mine. His name was Marcus. He looked roughly similar to this:

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Marcus never talked to me up until this point, I doubt he knew my name. He normally sat on the other side of the classroom and generally made life annoying for the professor with his shenanigans. Every now and then, he was incredibly insightful during class. This was not one of those moments.

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I was all like:

WTF-face

I realized I had to, you know, respond. So I did.

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Without missing a beat, he fired right back.

“YOU SHOULD COME CLUBBIN’ TONIGHT!”

Hold up. Did I miss something? Didn’t I already address this invitation? I didn’t feel like diving into the hundreds of reasons why I didn’t want to – and probably should never – go to a club in NYC with this random guy from school.

Luckily for me, Marcus was a real charmer.

“But, sugar, you should come tonight.”

I tried politely turning down his offer.

“No thank you,” I said again.

Marcus replied, “But why don’t you want to go clubbing? I mean, I’LL BE THERE.”

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KILL ME NOW.

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It became apparent to me that I needed to give Marcus an explanation for why I couldn’t go to the club with him. I tried the simple response; nice and straight-forward.

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Marcus stared at me with silence and uncertainty.

With nothing left to lose, I began rambling on about what I’m sure was a complicated mess of crapsauce. On the bright side, it sounded great in my head.

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*pause*

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This ridiculous charade went on for several minutes. Marcus was a persistent bewb, and I was slowly losing my faith in mankind. I was beginning to worry that I would run out of ways to explain my SPD issues to him, because no matter what I said or how I said it, Marcus didn’t grasp the concept of me being physically unable to go clubbing…whatever the heck that means.

Just when I thought it was nearly over, a female classmate with very yellow hair and about ten thousand bracelets joined in the madness. Apparently, she was also going to the club, and now I had the pair of them giving me this look:

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It was at this point that I attempted to smile, because I was out of options and kinda stressed. KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS….ERR SOMETHING.

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Fortunately, since there is mercy in this cruel world, the professor FINALLY arrived. Marcus and bracelet girl stood up and returned to their seats on the other side of the classroom.

Of course, not before shouting, “YO SUGAR, I’LL PICK YOU UP TONIGHT. THEN WE’LL GO TO THE CLUB! AWWW YEAAA.”

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Moral of the story: If you get invited to “the club” or someplace similarly sensory dangerous, do a better job explaining yourself than I did. If that doesn’t work, smile intensely until you scare the person away. The latter method has rarely failed me.

 

xo kelly

Do you have a funny experience trying to explain your special needs? Share it in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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I did a podcast!

Good afternoon, gorgeous people of the internet!

I want to share a quick post about a very exciting thing I did recently – I was beyond honored to be featured as a guest speaker, if you will, for an organization known as SPD Parent Zone. I was interviewed by the lovely Kelly Jurecko, president and co-founder. This organization is a superb resource for anyone who needs support and info about SPD.

In the podcast, I talk about my life, my blog, my artwork, and most importantly, sensory processing disorder!

Click the link below to listen to my voice – I’m more than just a quirky illustration! Believe it or not…

http://www.spdparentzone.org/episode-14-with-kelly-dillon/

Here’s the link for the home page of SPD Parent Zone http://www.spdparentzone.org/

 

ALSO! I’ve created Facebook (here) and Twitter (here) pages for this blog – now you can follow me through social media. That’s what people do, right?

xo kelly

 

Successful Mall Girl is Successful

Once upon a time, like last week, I went to the mall to do some shopping. 

(All of my SPD friends can get up off the floor now, as I’m certain all of you must have fallen out of your chairs with the sentence you just read).

But fear not, bloggy friends! Not only did I go to the mall, but I went BY MYSELF, and….

I LIVED TO BLOG ABOUT IT.

Is this a miracle? You could say that.

Is this a product of my fearless badassery and warrior-like approach to my entire life? Mostly.

Is this a freaky incident that I tried to savor as much as possible because it was so unbelievable. Yes.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time to recollect my astounding mall experience.

First, I had to make it through the parking lot. An SPD’er in a parking lot is usually a recipe for disaster. One horn, one beep – we are done. When I strolled through the lot, bracing myself against the painful NY coldness, I was like prey being hunted by my predator. Yet as I passed car after car, nothing happened. I hauled open the heavy doors of Dick’s Sporting Goods and threw myself inside. Awesomesauce, I thought.

Once inside, I tried to pretend like I was a very capable young woman on a shopping adventure. I also knew it was important for an SPD’er such as myself to review my body awareness – am I walking straight? Do I look like I’m dying? Do I appear as if I’m in need of psychiatric help? If YES, then it’s time to find the nearest exit. It’s a simple evaluation process:

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Luckily, I was fine. Everything checked out.

Being inside the mall is one thing, but then you must have to deal with the specific environment of each store WTIHIN the mall. I began my journey at the ever-sexy Victoria’s Secret.

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I was anxious. What if something happened inside? I was alone! Also, oh yea, I HAVE SPD.

Amazingly, the only bad thing that happened inside Victoria’s Secret was a shattered sense of self-esteem and general uncomfortableness.

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After Victoria’s Secret, I did everything that a good little SPD human was supposed to do. I avoided candle stores. I stayed away from the food court. I dodged screaming children. However, I did do something bad….

I WENT INTO HOT TOPIC.

For those of you who don’t know, Hot Topic is a scary-looking store on the outside with lots of interesting things on the inside: Harry Potter, Frozen, Walking Dead, Disney Princesses, Adventure Time, music, earrings, magic, delight, etc.

The music in Hot Topic usually is overwhelmingly loud and as much as I love the merchandise, this place kills my SPD.

BUT AGAIN, I MARCHED OUT COMPLETELY UNTOUCHED. ANOTHER MIRACLE.

What’s happening??! I thought to myself. I should do MORE stuff!

So what did I do?

I GOT A PRETZEL AND SOME LEMONADE.

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I sat on a bench, enjoyed my salty pretzel and sweet lemonade. I chuckled at the funny array of people, myself included. I felt so blessed to be doing all of it. At the same time, I remained vigilant for my top enemy.

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I somehow managed to survive the encounter, so I kept going.

Through Hallmark, Macy’s, and the cheesy leather goods emporium, I frollicked like the very normal shopper that I was so desperately trying to be.

It was surreal; it was exciting; and dare I say, enjoyable?

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THE FINALE

One of my greatest foes in life has to be escalators. In fact, the very first post I made on this blog was about escalators. This is the level of seriousness I’m talking about here.

Due to my perfect record so far that day, in addition to my overwhelming desire to be a complete BEAST, I marched towards the great escalators, and then I stood before them as one would do if they were about to destroy their enemy.

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Escalator was all like:

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And I was all like:

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AND THEN I WAS LIKE:

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Then it was over.

No traumatic escalator experience. I mean, I held on for dear life and looked so awkward that I could’ve out-awkwarded anyone in a 10 mile radius. BUT WHO CARES….I DID IT.

While it wasn’t a perfect time at the mall, it also wasn’t a complete disaster. More importantly, I went ALONE. I had nobody to fall back on if necessary, but I did it anyway. The successfulness of this day was in the very fact that I conquered my anxieties by going to the mall by myself while experiencing anxiety, and being ok with the unease.

I’m not sure why the sensory gods blessed me with a nice trip to the mall, but they did. I left on Cloud 9, wherever that is. Probably near here:

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xo kelly

Also, I was only there for about 2 hours. This post makes it sound like I was there for 10 hours. Just wanted to let you all know…I’m pretty beast, but I’m not 10 hours beast.