Autism support…

People say they love autism. They love changing their profile pictures and banners to “light it up blue”. They love the little puzzle pieces. They love pictures of cute, adorable autistic kids and videos of them behaving properly (ie neurotypically). If you ask them, they’ll tell you that of course they support autistic people. And they do… as long as the autistic person keeps on being “normal”.

Autistic people aren’t “normal”. We rock and flap our hands. We sometimes make strange noises. We get overwhelmed and have meltdowns, which range from standing silent in the corner to screaming and crying. We eat the same thing for weeks… months… years on end and wear the same clothes day after day. We wear headphones in public, even during conversations, and cover our ears when there’s loud noises. We lack mouth filters and sometimes say things that are horribly rude without any idea of such, at least until the berating starts.

And the attitude follows us online too. We get laughed at or yelled at for mistaking a sarcastic meme for a serious one. We have no idea which emoticon to use for complex posts. We get accused of missing the point of posts when we didn’t miss it, we just felt a different point was more important. But our view doesn’t matter because it isn’t “normal”.

We don’t stay sweet, adorable children. We grow up. We’re your strange neighbour who wears the same clothes every day and talks to himself. We’re the person crying on the bus because we’ve done three transfers already and now the bus is stuck in traffic and we just want to be home. We’re the person online who’s trying to be helpful but misunderstood the meme and now looks unsympathetic. We’re the person you’ve known for two years and is “so rude” because we still haven’t learned your name, even though we know your favourite colour and you only said it once a year ago. We’re the person who will. not. stop. talking. about. ducks.

Next time you tell yourself that you support autistic people, change the word autistic to weird, strange, eccentric. Do you accept those people into your life? Because, if you don’t, you’re an autism poster supporter. So stick up that puzzle piece in April, even though autistic people don’t like it, and tell yourself you’re doing your part. But at least try to be honest with yourself. If you don’t support us in all our messy, glorious rainbow of existence, you don’t support autistic people at all.

special interest

Colin’s blog post…

We are starting to get into a world where, instead of having it where you buy a video game and can play it forever, we just can’t. Look at a game like Dark Spore. It was an okay game I’ve heard. I have two copies and I can’t play either, unless I somehow get a crack for it or a server emulator, which is stupid. There are people who probably saw the game and bought it after the servers were brought down. I know that because that’s when I bought mine…

If you’re interested in reading more, please head over to Colin’s blog here.

Colin’s Go Fund Me…

I was walking through the park with one of my caseworkers in December when she paused, looking like she had some bad news.

“I don’t know how to tell you this,” she started. “The housing list has slowed to a stop. There’s no new units and no one’s getting placed. They’ve closed the list entirely, no new people can get on. You’re looking at another two or three years wait at least.”

What could I say to that? It’s not like she could pull an apartment out of a hat for me. And, besides, it would give us time to save, not our haphazard saving where we put $50 away for moving then use it for groceries, but real saving.

Three weeks later I got a call from someone I didn’t recognize. He turned out to be the housing manager and he had a one bedroom apartment for me alone, available this summer. Which is great for me but Colin needs to find a place too. Not only that but he needs to save last month’s rent and a moving van. I don’t need last month’s rent.

We’re looking but it’s going to be hard. So many rooms have high expectations. Must be female… over fifty… have two positive reviews from landlords… good credit rating… full time job. He wanted to move into the building behind us but was told by disability he’d be kicked off if he did because, at $875/m, it was too expensive. Most one bedrooms are over a thousand dollars. And, of course, he needs money. Landlords don’t take promises, they want cold, hard cash. And he doesn’t have that. That’s where you come in. I’m hoping that anyone who can afford it will donate something, no matter how small. And if you can’t donate, please share. Right now Colin is so anxious and this will help.

Thank you!

Colin’s Go Fund Me Account

So many emotions!!!

It feels like it was weeks ago but it was only yesterday that I got the call. A stranger introduced himself then explained he was with the housing department of CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association). Was I interested in an apartment? It was a new unit in a building that wouldn’t be completed until July or August… in Bowmanville.

I was all yes, yes, yes until he got to the town. Bowmanville is two towns to the east of us. We used to pick apples at a farm there that was surrounded by fields then and is surrounded by houses and big box stores now. That’s all I knew about it. A quick look at Google Maps showed me I’d be able to walk to the farm but I needed to know more than that.

I love Google Maps and used them so much before Colin and I moved here. And now I’m using them again. There’s a Wal-Mart and a Superstore (a Canadian grocery store) within walking distance… and a Dollarama. I need to have a Dollarama! I didn’t bother looking much further because stores can change so quickly. My Mom and I will drive up there soon enough and we can see what’s local.

There’s a gym a fair hike down the street and a COPE office right near my place so I might be able to go on the walking track and in the pool there and I might be able to join some groups through COPE. That’s too many “mights” for me but I should have answers soon.

And, finally, the bus. I’ll be able to take the bus westward to visit the kids and my parents and to the east to visit L. And I’ll still have my relatively cheap Access Pass to visit them with.

It all sounded good so I called the office this morning and told them I was taking the unit. Then Colin called disability to ask if he could get a form to claim obesity. If you’re fat they’ll give you $50 a month to improve your diet. Colin’s hoping he qualifies because $50 more for food would be a huge help. While he was on the phone, he mentioned that he was looking at the building behind our current apartment because it’s only $895 for a one bedroom. And he was quickly informed he’d get kicked off disability if he moved there because he’d be paying too much for rent and wouldn’t have enough for food. Which doesn’t make sense to me because if he got kicked off he’d have no money for food at all.

So now we’re taking up juggling. We need to save for moving trucks and last month’s rent while finding an affordable but clean unit for Colin. He’s already planning on asking if he could get into my building, even though I’ve explained it’s all subsidy and the people on the list will get spaces first.

I hadn’t expected to be moving this quickly. I was told right after Christmas that I had about a two or three year wait, which would have given us plenty of saving time. Now we’re really going to have to pinch pennies and each as cheaply as we can. Lentils, pasta, and I are going to become really well acquainted.

August will arrive in due time and I’m sure all these issues will long be sorted out by then. But, until then, I’ll be a bit of happy, excited, nervous, and antsy while I juggle agencies, finances, apartments, and moving dates. The next few months are going to be interesting.

 

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A boy went past me today and said, “Hello Mrs Rainbow Lady” I certainly can live with that as a name!

A simple act of kindness…

I noticed his eyes first, rheumy blue with a vacant gaze. The bright orange safety vest was obvious, I’ve seen several seniors wearing them lately. Then I noticed the cane he clutched with both hands. With that, I turned my attention away, back to my conversation with Kait.

A few minutes later, the man across the aisle from me crouched down on the floor in front of the senior. His shoes were untied, something I hadn’t noticed. The man tied them both neatly then the senior looked down at his newly tied shoes and gave the man a shaky wave. And that was that.

Several years ago I was on the bus going to work. It was pitch black outside and freezing. My main goal was to warm up beside the heater. The driver stopped at the bus stop and I looked up, noticing a car in a nearby parking lot with the indoor lights on. An elderly man emerged, briefcase in hand, and started running toward the stop just as the last person boarded. Then it happened. His feet hit an ice patch and went right up in the air before he crashed down hard. I lept from my seat and yelled to the driver to stay and that a man had just fallen.

The man was obviously sore but just wanted to get on the bus. I tried to help him up and couldn’t. Thankfully a big, heavily tattooed man got off the bus and came over to help. Between the two of us he was lifted to his feet and (thankfully) he was able to walk to the waiting bus.

Random acts of kindness happen all the time. Lifting a row of seats up so a passenger in a wheelchair can board the bus safely. Paying a teen’s fare. Helping carry a senior’s groceries to the car. Our world is made more beautiful with each act.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of assuming that most of the world is filled with horrible people, even though that’s not the case. I think media plays a big role in this. Drama and shock sell so they write articles about things that are dramatic and shocking, which means that’s all people see and read. Then people assume that’s all there is out there. But it’s not.

We need to pay attention to what’s going on around us. The young mother interacting with her baby, the senior’s little dog who patiently waits for his owner’s faltering steps, even though it means taking a tiny step and waiting a minute. All the myriad of volunteers. This world is nowhere near as bad as we think. We just need to take the time to notice the good. We need to be the good.

be the good

Letting go of the past…

Head’s up: My ex and I have multiple friends together. I don’t care if you’re friends with him, best friends with him, or engaged to him. Congratulations on the latter. He’s a decent person who deserves friends and loved ones. I don’t want you to have to choose sides… I’d really rather you don’t. This is purely my opinion of my own relationship with him. Thank you for understanding.

It felt like we were perfect for each other. We both loved cats and each had three. We had similar tastes in music and veganism. In fact he converted back to being vegan while we were friends. We both loved to read and enjoyed Doctor Who. And we were both creative, me with writing and him with jewelry making. Several years went by as we slowly started talking more and more. By the time he asked me out as his girlfriend we were talking all day, every day, from the moment I got up to the moment I went to bed. The only time we weren’t talking was when I was at work and, even then, we talked at every break. I even messaged at family gatherings.

my-dressWe made our relationship Facebook official within minutes of deciding to date and had our wedding roughly sketched out by our one month anniversary, something I’d carefully recorded in my calendar. My dress was bought by our two month anniversary, a lovely pastel pink and gold one, with enough sparkle for me and room for my boyfriend’s lace butterflies. I bought tickets to go meet him for that October and started counting down the days with an app. He immediately bought tickets to go see Wicked in London and informed me he would be singing all the songs. I assured him that chances are I’d end up singing them too. I pick up songs very quickly.

I look back at that time and remember how perfect everything felt then. I wasn’t lonely. How could I be with a boyfriend I talked to all the time? One who knew all my secrets. And soon I was going to have a dream vacation, followed by a dream wedding, and a move to Richmond, England. Me, the woman who, other than my first two months of life, had only ever lived in Whitby and Oshawa. And now I was going to move across the ocean. It was going to be an adventure.

The adventure came quickly to an end the day after he promised he wasn’t breaking up with me and two days after I confessed I was suicidal. The words didn’t seem real for a moment. Then I couldn’t breathe. He was breaking up with me? But he promised he wouldn’t.

We went back to friendship but it wasn’t like before, even though we still messaged regularly, and he blocked me a couple of months later with this message:

Well, I told you. It was your self fulfilling prophecy and you were the one pushing me away for daring to grow and change, so now, I am done.

Even at the end he couldn’t accept responsibility for his actions. Instead he blamed it on me. I was hurt enough to archive his message thread so I didn’t accidentally find it but that also made it really easy to find. Several years later I scrolled through to find a bit of information and was floored at the gaslighting and manipulation. It was not a healthy relationship at all. It took a while longer for me to realize that messaging with anyone constantly throughout the day isn’t healthy and while the relationship wasn’t good for me, it wasn’t good for him either.

I blocked him on Facebook this week which is something I would never have believed back in 2016. Then I figured he’d unblock me within weeks, months at the most. At this point I’m reasonably sure he’ll never unblock me and I finally, honestly, don’t care. I wish him all the best in his future and am simply relieved that future will not include me.

not my baggage

Depression resurfaces…

I woke up to a room filled with sunshine and a sleepy cat purring by my side. My favourite breakfast food, hot chocolate and an english muffin, were waiting for me to prepare them and I bought myself a pomegranate as a special treat.

Soon the cats started pleading for their wet cat food then, as I rolled out of bed, a thought came unbidden.

“Oh no, not this again!”

The weight of all those hours and minutes ahead pressed down hard. It was overwhelming enough to take my breath away. Meanwhile there’s nothing stressful or even annoying about today. It was my body’s automatic reaction to simply being alive.

I have so much to live for. My adult children, a happy, adorable grandson, my parents, my cats. I’ve got a girlfriend who’s nice and doesn’t live too far away… who I’m seeing next week. Friends I see every week and more friends I chat with on messenger every day. I have an apartment I love and activities I truly enjoy. I have an amazing trip in a month and a half, where I’ll be surrounded by family. It’s a good life.

This depression didn’t spring out of nowhere. I’ve been struggling for several weeks to keep up with the dishes, wash my clothes, and make healthy meals. I have to start cooking by 4pm, otherwise I simply won’t have the energy to cook. I’m exhausted all day and need a nap in order to function… then wake up fully after using the toilet at night and need to settle myself all over again. I can’t understand how, at 2pm, I can sleep with my lights on and my comforter crumpled up under my right hip while at 2am, I can’t sleep because there’s a wrinkle near my big toe.

Luckily, this time, I haven’t reached the point of suicidal ideation. The cynical part of me whispers “yet”. I really don’t want to go to the hospital. It’s not bad, just boring as hell, which is okay for the first couple of days but gets more frustrating as time goes on. I can walk around the hallway and get my 10,000 steps (which I did last time), colour pages in the cafeteria, and chat with the other people. But there’s a lot of time and a limited number of activities to fill it with. I’d rather be home with my swing chair to calm me down, friends to distract me, cats to soothe me, and family to love me. Plus the freedom to walk in nature instead of around a sterile hall.

This post took me way longer to write than I expected. I started at breakfast time and have just finished lunch. And I keep on rocking in my chair and trying to breathe normally. Now I’m going to take a nap to calm me down and settle myself and hopefully the rest of the day will be better.

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Me at Cedar Valley Park