Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month

As most of you know April is Autism Awareness Month. Or as some people prefer, Autism Acceptance Month. From my understanding it seems that people are pushing more towards “acceptance” because a lot of people still associate “awareness” with Autism Speaks.

In case you don’t know, supporting Autism Speaks is NOT the way to show your support for people on the spectrum.

Here’s why: The entire platform of Autism Speaks is working on a cure. If a person on the spectrum wants that cure then that’s fine, but it has to be their choice. The issue with that, is that eradicating autism does not help people who currently are on the spectrum. It sends the message that these people need to be “fixed.” This organization doesn’t help them thrive and excel.

Personally, I believe in choosing to advocate acceptance instead of awareness in this case. Think about it, when you hear of awareness months for other things like certain types of cancer or sexual assault (also this month) it’s about being informative and telling people how they can help, right? You get the stats on how many people are affected, what the needs of those people are, what resources are available, and how you can help. Advocating for a cure and nothing else, doesn’t do that. A lot of their proceeds also go toward creating a test that can detect autism in in the womb so that the baby can be aborted. Now, I am pro-choice and I believe you should absolutely be able to make your own decision, but do you see how “getting rid” of autism is contradictory for a group that’s supposed to be a support system?

Also, no “Light it up Blue” please. Blue is not the only official color of Autism Awareness. If you’ve seen the ribbon you know that it’s actually red, yellow and blue. This trend stems from the fact that autism affects boys more than girls (important fact to know!) but also that a lot of doctors refuse to treat autistic women and girls or even give them a proper diagnosis.

Another thing that a lot of people don’t seem to know, is that there are no autistic individuals on the board of directors for Autism Speaks. Sure, a handful of them have children on the spectrum but that’s still not the same thing. Kind of hard to know what the needs of a group are when you don’t include people from that group in decision making right?  Kind of like a bunch of men deciding what women should do with their bodies or straight people making choices for the LGBTQIA+ community…..I digress.

Anyway, so if you want to help but don’t know where to turn, I can help you out with that! These are the organizations that you should look into:

Also, in case you haven’t heard, Sesame Street has introduced a new autistic character named Julia. Now of course one character can’t showcase all points on the spectrum but it is a very good start. You can watch the clip with Julia below where Big Bird has to learn what autism is and Alan, Abby and Elmo help. (Yeah, I’m 23 and I still know the names of the characters) 🙂

The new Power Rangers movie also features an autistic character. The Blue Ranger is on the spectrum too!


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To Those Who Wrongfully Label – A Letter

Getting Through Anxiety

Dear Label Maker,


Please resist the urge to label that which you don’t understand. I know that sometimes the world can be a confusing place and that it brings out the temptation to create definitions, but doing so can be harmful to others. If you want to understand what someone is going through, please have the decency to ask instead of jumping to conclusions.


Creating false labels is not only caustic to those who you label, but also causes misconceptions and stigmas. Stigmas are extremely dangerous because they put people into categories and set limits that no matter what, people cannot escape due to the fact that so many people put their faith in these false notions instead of faith in individuals to overcome their obstacles.


Mislabeling is also extremely selfish. While labeling someone may cause you relief because it leaves you feeling like you understand a situation, it causes…

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Self care is NOT selfish

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people discuss self care and say, “Everyone needs to selfish once in a while.”

NO.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish.

Self care is a freaking necessity.

Surely, you’ve heard the phrase “You can’t pour from an empty glass.” Well, that’s not just a metaphor, it’s the truth. If you never take time for yourself but keep giving and giving, you are going to burn yourself out. When you’re burned out you can’t help anyone. You can’t keep exhausting all of your energy for other people while neglecting your own needs.

Self care looks different for everyone because we all have different schedules and workloads, different interests, and respond to different stress factors….differently. Basically, what I’m saying is you have to find what works for you. What soothes one person may not work for another. Take a look at the situation that you’re in, what’s causing you stress and come up with ways to decrease that stress. (*Note: you don’t have to be stressed to exercise self care)

Self care does not only include your physical health but mental health as well. A lot of people still cringe at the mention of mental health. If you are one of those people, you need to cut that out right now. The stigma surrounding mental health is a part of the reason that so many people leave theirs neglected. Everyone has to take care of themselves mentally, just like they would physically.

Like I said, everyone has different stress relievers but here are a few things to remember/ suggestions on how to keep your energy up:

  • Make a playlist
    • If you’re the kind of person that really connects through music, make a playlist of your favorite songs for when you get stressed. Ones that motivate you, energize you, and that help you get through whatever you’re going through.
  • Take some time to catch up on work/school
    • Example: When I was still at my university I was a RA, I ran three organizations and in my last semester I was taking an extra class plus a science lab. Sounds like a lot right? Well, sometimes it was. Every now and then when I felt overwhelmed with everything or started to feel like I was falling behind I would take a day to play catch up. I would make a list of EVERYTHING that I needed to accomplish for upcoming assignments, exams, and events and complete them in order of what was coming up first. At the end of the day, having so many things crossed off was like a weight being lifted off of my shoulders.
    • I would recommed doing this before you fall behind so that you can get ahead but life happens and it doesn’t always work out that way.
  • Find a hobby
    • A good hobby could pretty much be anything as long as you find it enjoyable. I read a lot. And I blog (obviously) so those are my two main things. But you could knit, write novels, play a sport or an instrument. Or what about coloring books for grown ups? Not gonna lie, it’s pretty relaxing. Whatever you feel like doing.
  • Have some alone time
    • Again, this depends on what you find relaxing. So maybe you want to go to a spa, get a manicure, shop, some people find that cleaning calms them.
    • I like to go to the library, buy some books, stop at a Starbucks and write a little bit. If I’m in a really good mood I’ll be productive too.
  • Stay hydrated
    • People say this all the time and I think that sometimes it’s not always taken seriously. You must stay hydrated. I feel so sluggish if I don’t it makes a huge difference sometimes.
  • Exercise (if you have the energy)
    • This doesn’t necessarily mean go crazy at the gym and I know that when things are hectic we just don’t have time for a full total body workout. That’s okay but the little bit of time that you can spare, use it. Even if it’s just 10 minutes. Even if it’s just five. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Stand up from your desk and stretch your legs, roll your shoulders a bit and relieve some tension.
  • Catch up on sleep
    • I know that it’s recommended that we get 8 hours of sleep but I rarely do. In between classes sometimes I would take a power nap and sometimes in made all the difference, especially before night classes.
  • Talk to someone
    • Call a friend, go to counseling or therapy. Never ever ever be afraid to ask for help. Don’t miss sessions with your therapist.
  • Take your medicine
    • If you have any sort of prescription for your physical or mental health don’t forget to take it. Set an alarm on your phone if you have to. Just make sure you take it.
  • Say no – THIS IS IMPORTANT
    • If you’re feeling down, you’re exhausted, and/or you just want to spend time alone do not let other people talk you out of it. If your friends are asking you to go out but you’re swamped or just don’t feel like it, tell them no. You don’t have to say yes all the time. You do not have to compromise you health to make someone else happy. If they don’t understand that, then they are not worth your time. This is especially important for those with chronic illnesses, reserve your spoons!
  • Eliminate negativity and toxic relationships
    • If one particular “friend” is really stressing you out. Distance yourself from them. If that one person only calls on you when they need something but never shows up for you, it might be time to cut your losses. This sucks to have to do but it’s a relief once its over.

Those are just a few of things that you can do but as I’ve said it depends on you. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Listen to your body. Never let someone tell you that taking time for yourself is selfish when in reality you’re doing what needs to be done. If you have any other tips for self care feel free to let me know what they are!

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Mental Illness Myth Number Three: ‘Triggered’ Is Used By SJWs As Censorship

Currently, I’m raising mental awareness by dispelling common myths is something I started with my posts The Importance of Raising Mental Health Awareness, as well as Mental Illness Myth Number One and Mental Illness Myth Number Two.

When I first started these common mental health misconceptions, I was actually quite furious: it disgusts me that there are people in this world that genuinely believe this bullshit.

But now I feel as though I can turn something extremely negative into something amazingly positive.

Again, I don’t want any of these attacks on the person or persons that constructed the material I’m deconstructing and analysing. I am attacking the material, and the myths, that some people genuinely believe.

This particular piece that I stumbled across was a poem. I’m being deliberately vague as, like I stated, I don’t want anyone starting any attacks on the person(s) responsible. I want to focus on the material solely.

“Entitled little brats, who say they are triggered.”

Firstly, people have the right to tell you if something you’ve said or done is offensive. If they are telling you you’ve offended them, it’s probably because you have said or done something offensive. I know everyone’s currently obsessed with “PC police”, but realistically, the truth is that things aren’t suddenly more offensive, sexist, racist and homophobic … it’s that they always were, and now people are telling you that because they’re in a position where they can be heard.

If that’s the case, it doesn’t make the person/group of people “entitled little brats”.

It actually means you are an entitled little brat because you just dismissed someone for calling you out on your bullshit and you seem to think you’re better than everyone else.

Secondly, like Noelle Martin wrote in her post, we need to stop using the word “triggered” as a joke (if you’re wondering who the insensitive assholes are that think triggering people is a game, look towards the MRAs and MGTOWs).

Image result for triggered meme
Yeah, this isn’t funny. It makes you a dick.

A lot of people suffer from PTSD, and triggers are real.

You also don’t need to be specifically suffering from PTSD to be triggered by someone or something.

I know that, as a result of a domestic violence relationship, sexual assault and other traumatic events from my past, I am triggered by certain things, and those triggers can cause overwhelming panic attacks.

Whilst no MRA has triggered me, we need to stop being so psychopathic and sadistic that we think it’s fun to try and trigger someone (and no, that’s not hyperbole, unfortunately).

We also need to consider the fact that someone who says that they’ve been triggered may actually be suffering from PTSD and may have actually been fucking triggered.

And if you think that’s okay – and you want to label someone as an “entitled brat” because their past is so traumatic they’ve developed a disorder, then you’re a wanker and I’m seriously disturbed by your lack of empathy for others.

The poem continues with:

“Fuck you, for your attention-seeking pretending to have a mental illness.

“Writing on Tumblr [so] you can get the highest oppression score.

“God forbid that someone on twitter [sic] says something you don’t like, grow up and be an adult, your [sic] in your twenties and should be standing on your own two feet.”

I don’t know how any times it has to be said for it to sink in for some people, or if some people enjoy being deliberately obtuse: raising awareness about mental illness is necessary.

In Australia, almost half the population  (45%) will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime (BeyondBlue, 2016).

One in five women will experience depression (BeyondBlue, 2016).

One in eight men will also suffer from depression – averaging it out to roughly one in six Australians who will suffer from depression at some point (BeyondBlue, 2016).

Those statistics are incredibly high, and that’s just depression.

One in three women and one in five men suffer from anxiety (BeyondBlue, 2016).

On average, eight Australians take their lives each day (BeyondBlue, 2016).

At the moment, one Australian man is taking his life (on average) every four hours.

That’s close to 3,000 Australians who will choose suicide each year.

Now, tell me: did you know the stats? Do you read this and think there’s enough awareness currently being raised?

In your country, without using Google, do you know what percentage of the population suffers from a mental illness?

Without Google, do you know how many men and women suffer from depression?

Anxiety?

Without Google, do you know how many people take their lives each year due to a lack of support and help and the idea that most people are just “seeking attention”?

Also, harassment and abuse via the Internet is on the rise.

Online harassment of women, for example, is starting to become normalised (which I can’t express how damaging that is).

According to CNET, harassment and abuse of women online is an ‘epidemic‘.

Male vs female harassment.

Or when Milo Yiannopoulos frequently sends his followers to abuse other people – for example, like in the high-profile case of Leslie Jones.

Or how about when certain ‘trolls’ couldn’t attack an author, so instead they started sending rape threats to his five year old daughter?

So please, don’t say harassment and abuse is ‘normal’, should be accepted as normal, or isn’t a severe problem.

Sure, there’s plenty of low-level bullshit on Twitter, but whatever the reason (even if you don’t think it’s acceptable), someone has the right to block you.

If you’re disappointed that you can’t hurl further insults and abuse at them, that means something is wrong with you, not them.

And lastly, age doesn’t mean shit when you suffer from a mental illness.

Some people can’t stand on their own two feet and actually do need extra help and support.

Growing up and behaving like an adult is about realising that there are plenty of illnesses and disabilities – both mental and physical – are comprehensive and complicated.

Some things will work for some people.

Some things won’t.

Being an adult is about letting go of your judgement, hatred and prejudice you have of people that don’t fit your description of “unwell”, and realising everyone is different.

Originally published on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise.

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Mental Illness Myth Number One: Only The Poor Suffer From Depression

If you read my recent post, The Importance of Raising Mental Health Awareness, you’d know that I was furious when another person suggested that I was faking my illnesses and that, by raising awareness, I was essentially doing more harm than good.

Whilst this person apologised (which I both appreciated and forgave; whilst it wasn’t a nice post, we all make mistakes), it made me start thinking of some of the myths, judgements and misconceptions this blogger expressed, and how so many people share similar beliefs.

I have no intention of naming and shaming anyone when discussing these myths, and whilst this is a direct quote (although I won’t be naming the source), I’m sure it’s something similar we’ve all seen before.

“SJW’s [sic] are moving onto mental illness .. [and] are romancing it on social media platforms. [Why] are they being this way?

“Attention. When all these social justice whiners, upper middle class girls tell you they have a mental illness, and she knows the struggles, I have to laugh. [Your] therapist is probably telling you you have these [mental illnesses] to get more money out of you.

“Therefore, Upper [sic] middle glass girls with Twitter PTSD, living in your nice expensive flat, and many job prospects. Try living in the under classes.”

Whilst I plan to deconstruct the entire comment I just mentioned, I first want to focus on the main, reoccurring myth in this post: the idea that mental illness is something that can’t happen to the wealthy.

And that isn’t true.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, depression and anxiety (among other mental illnesses) can happen to anyone, and there’s not always a reason.

There are so many reasons why someone can suffer from depression  (or anxiety).

Just because someone appears to have the picture-perfect life doesn’t mean they do.

Money doesn’t buy happiness and it certainly can’t cure depression.

Look at Marilyn Monroe.

Anna Nicole Smith.

Robin Williams.

Kurt Cobain.

Alexander McQueen.

Kristen Bell.

Lady Gaga.

The Rock.

Jon Hamm.

I could go on, but my point is pretty fucking clear.

All the people listed have been wealthy, at least at some point.

All have suffered, or still suffer, from depression.

Some have even taken their own lives.

These people have, or had, extensive wealth, and I would imagine unlimited access to psychologists and different therapies that we possibly couldn’t even imagine.

Wealth isn’t a factor, and insinuating that being wealthy means you can’t have a mental illness is fucking bullshit.

It’s also dangerous as it also makes assumptions about other people’s financial well-being. Which is often impossible to tell, and is sometimes relative to your community. (Meaning you and your family may appear richer to others within your community, but that doesn’t mean you are rich.)

Secondly, I don’t know anyone that has a mental illness who wants the illness, let alone romanticises it.

I know I’d be much happier if I could take a magic pill and not be depressed or suffer from anxiety.

Raising awareness is not the same as romanticising mental illness.

Thirdly, raising mental illness isn’t about attention. However,  those that suffer from a mental illness need to speak out to raise awareness.

Our depression and suicide rates are far too high to ignore.

Fourthly, psychologists aren’t evil people. They don’t want to take your money. They want you to get better.

Thanks to my psychologist and my medication, I rarely have depressive episodes anymore, and I’m able to control my depressive “moments” better.

Fifthly, what the fuck is Twitter PTSD!? Seriously!?

The important take-away from all of this is that money doesn’t equal happiness and being poor doesn’t equate to suffering from a mental illness.

Originally published on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise.

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Opening Up About My Disease

This isn’t something that I talk to a lot of people about. In fact, I hardly talk to anyone about it aside from my mother and stepfather to remind them that some of the things that concern them are just symptoms of the disease. Other than that the only person that I’ve talked in depth about this with is Ariel.

I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

What this means is that my immune system attacks my thyroid gland.

Apparently it’s a fairly common disease even though I only know of one other person with it and had never heard of it before my own diagnosis.

I was diagnosed shortly after I turned 20. For years, every doctor that I went to told me that my thyroid was enlarged. They asked if it hurt, I said no, and that was the end of it. It wasn’t until I went back to my family doctor in my hometown that someone thought that I should get it checked out just in case. She sent me to an endocrinologist who checked some of my old blood work. The results were startling. My hormone levels were all out of whack and he was very concerned. But, because the blood work was a few months old he wanted to double check and had me go again. Everything came back normal.

I don’t know what constitutes “bad” for hormones levels but whatever my results were the first time were BAD! The endo doctor said he was surprised that I was able to recover, but that I would have to get blood work done every six months just in case.

What’s weird about my thyroid levels coming back normal is that I still suffer from a lot of the symptoms including unexplained weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, aching in my hips, stiffness in my shoulders, pain in my knees, stomach pain, menorrhagia, depression, fatigue, and sensitivity to cold.

Until the diagnosis (halfway through my sophomore year in college), I had no idea that all of these things were related. I was always cold compared to everyone else in the room and my hair started falling out in high school. At the very end of my senior year of high school the knee pain started, and then the fatigue, shoulder stiffness, and everything else started in college.

Freshman year my roommate and I would always take naps around 4pm. I knew it wasn’t “normal” but since my roommate did it too I didn’t think it was a big deal. I didn’t realize until a year or so later that it was a problem. I couldn’t sign up for classes after 3pm, otherwise I would fall asleep. Even if I drank energy drinks or a lot of coffee, I could not keep my eyes open. Once 3 o’ clock hit, I was completely burned out.

The pain and stiffness in my shoulders started later that year. I never really thought anything of it and assumed that it was just stress.

When I realized that I was gaining weight, I started eating healthier and working out…. It didn’t help. Even now, I work out 6 times a week for at least 30 minutes. HIIT 2 or 3 times a week, and strength training every Saturday. I eat a pretty balanced diet, and occasionally cut out sweets for months at a time. Sometimes knee pain would prevent me from working out, but I still keep up a pretty good routine.

I think the thing that shocked me the most was the depression. Some days I just woke up feeling so low. I had no motivation for anything. I had to fight to get out of bed, I didn’t want to go to class, to deal with people, I didn’t even feel like reading (that says a lot). I just referred to those days as “bad days” but I had no idea what was causing them. Even my mentor would pull me into her office and ask what was wrong and all I could say was “I don’t know. I’m just don’t feel like doing anything today.”

I’m at least glad to know that there is a reason for all of these things. The problem is, I can’t be treated for any of them at the moment. Not until there’s a change in my hormone levels again. It sucks, but for the time being I just remind myself that there’s a reason why these things happen.

Sometimes the best I can do is not do anything. On “bad days” sometimes I skip my workout, stay in bed, and sleep. Otherwise I would be miserable for the entire day. Luckily I don’t have multiple days like that in a row. They sort of just pop up once in a while.

So for now, I guess I’m just dealing with it. My next appointment is at the end of December so maybe I’ll have some good news then. We’ll see!


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Fighting the Mental Health Stigma on College Campuses

I didn’t realize that there was such a huge stigma around mental health until I got to college. It was almost as if everyone believed that if you had any sort of mental health issue, it meant that there was something wrong with you or that you had something to be ashamed of.

This is not true.

What people fail to realize is that everyone has to take care of themselves mentally. Just as they do physically, emotionally, socially, etc.  Your mental health can be affected in a million different ways, especially in college. You’re starting the next chapter of your life and that’s a big deal. It can also be scary. It’s okay to be scared! In fact, it’s normal and much more common than people realize.

Every single person that I know (and that you know) has dealt with some sort anxiety. But it’s important to remember that only ever feeling anxious before an exam is much different from having anxiety every day. It’s also important to know that it’s possible for someone close to you have high functioning anxiety or depression and you may never know unless they tell you. Whichever category someone falls into, going to college could set off triggers that they didn’t even know they had. Some of the most common ones (at least at my university) include:

Homesickness – Some students leave home for the first time when they go to college. It’s not always easy to go from seeing your family every day to only every few months. It’s also hard to be away from home when family member is dealing with health issues, and you want to be there for support or you’re worried about them.

Overwhelming course load – College is different from high school. Some professors will ask you to read over 100 pages for one night. Some will make you write every day. It really depends on your major and the courses that you take, but it can be a lot to take in.

Peer pressure – This is always something that I talk to my freshmen about. A lot of people when they first get to college, want to go out and drink and party. That’s okay, but if it’s not your thing then you don’t have to. A lot of people think, well if my roommate or friend invites me to a party then I have to go. No you don’t. You can if you want to and if you don’t like it you can leave early. A lot of people also feel pressure to drink. If you don’t want to drink before you’re 21 then don’t. A real friend – a good friend – won’t force it on you or tell you you’re “no fun.” They’ll ask if you’re sure and then accept it.

Uncertainty – Not everyone starts college knowing their major and what they want to do with their life. And if you do (that’s great!) but, it is still possible that you’ll change your mind (I did). That’s okay! It happens a lot actually. It’s also possible that you won’t follow a typical two or four year path (even if you do have a plan ahead of time). Between switching majors, finding your career path, and sometimes having to add an extra year or semester, uncertainty is a part of the college process. Maybe not for everyone, but it’s definitely not uncommon.

All of these things can either cause anxiety or make it worse. It can be difficult to deal with, but at the end of the day you have to remember to take care of yourself. Of course, that isn’t always easy and sometimes you may feel like giving up. When you get to that point, find someone to talk to. Friend, parents, roommate, academic advisor, counselor, whomever you are comfortable talking to. Once you find that person, together you can figure out the best steps that will help you cope.

At my university the counseling center was called CAPS: Counseling and Psychological Services. If students were having a rough time and someone suggested CAPS to them, their immediate response was, “I don’t need to go there. I’m not crazy.” This comment, is one of the biggest problems. It pisses me off every time I hear it. Mental health issues are not synonymous with crazy. EVER. But so many people have no idea how to address mental health openly, that at the first mention of it they shut down. At the end of the day, what those people don’t realize is that it doesn’t matter if you understand. This is someone else’s life. You don’t get to judge just because you have different experiences. It doesn’t matter if you “get it” what matters is that you support them and still treat them with respect that they deserve.

I was having a conversation with a friend on Twitter the other day and apparently there’s also a negative stigma around the phrase “taking a mental health day.” Supposedly, people are under the impression that this means calling in sick just for the hell of it. No. I don’t take a mental health day to be lazy. I do it because I’m overwhelmed, stressed, and need to reorganize my life, because if I don’t I might have a breakdown. I like to keep busy and stay organized so that’s what my mental health day looks like. I use the entire day to cath up and then get ahead. Other people may use this day to relax themselves in different ways; going to a spa, catching up on sleep, running personal errands but staying away from work things. Whatever your mental health day may look like, it serves a purpose. In college, it is really important to have these days to prevent burnout when you have a lot on your plate. By the end of your mental health day you should feel refreshed and ready to face whatever you have ahead of you.

So what did I do about all of this?

I was already a student leader and an RA so I was trained on dealing with mental health and suicide prevention. To get more involved I joined Active Minds: a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about mental health on campuses. Most universities have a chapter on their campus and if you don’t you can apply to start one. The two biggest events that we host are Stomping out Stigma and Send Suicide Packing. Stomping out Stigma includes writing down a myth about mental health on an empty soda can,\… and stomping on it! Send Suicide Packing happens once a year and we place 1,100 empty backpacks all over campus to acknowledge the amount of students lost to suicide every year. Aside from those two big events we also participated in the Wellness Fair and other small events that are for the purpose of educating students about all elements of wellness.

Hopefully, this post is helpful if you’re about to start college, currently in college or just needed to be reminded to put your health first.🙂


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