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Let that be enough

My hearts breaks every time I see a fellow autistic believe they are a burden. My heart breaks every time a fellow autistic thinks they aren’t enough. My heart breaks every time I see a fellow autistic think they don’t deserve accommodations, that they’re asking too much, that they should just suck it up.

You aren’t a burden because sometimes you need things reworded in a way that you understand. You aren’t a burden because sometimes you need silence and sometimes you need noise. You deserve to have a place you thrive in for work and school or anything, really. If that means you need noise canceling headphones, if that means you need to do it in a seperate, dedicated room – that’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with that.

If you need expectations written out and not just, well, expected  of you, that’s okay! That doesn’t make you a burden. Just because it’s not what the majority of the world seems to thrive on doesn’t mean it’s what YOU need to thrive on.

If you need to take a comfort object, if you need to stim, if you physically cannot sit still, that’s okay. You aren’t hurting anyone else by stimming, you’re doing what makes you comfortable in a very scary world.

Your existence is not a burden. . Neurodiversity is natural. You are WORTHY of the help and supports that you need to THRIVE in the world. Just because someone needs different, more frequent, or what you deem as “easier” accommodations, doesn’t mean that yours also don’t exist and that yours aren’t worthy.

The accommodations I need due to being autistic may be different than the ones someone else needs. That doesn’t make theirs more or less important than mine; it doesn’t make theirs more or less valid than mine. They still exist, because that PERSON exists. 

You are a beautiful, worthy person who just happens to be disabled. You’d beautiful and worthy and perfect without that disability, you’re beautiful and worthy and perfect with the disability. Accommodations make it so that you can enjoy and thrive in the world as you deserve to!

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. There’s nothing wrong with needing supports. It doesn’t mean that you’re a burden. There’s nothing wrong with needing help sometimes.

You exist. You’re worthy. You’re loved. You’re valid.

And just for today, just for now, let that be enough.

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No cure doesn’t mean no hope

I was born with a neurological, genetic disorder with no cure. I’ve often said, and I will say it again, no cure doesn’t mean no hope.

I have neurofibromatosis type 1. What does it mean, for me, personally? Well, I’m glad you asked!

My vision is absolute shit. I am defined as low vision, meaning my vision does not correct above 20/70 even with glasses. Lasik or other correctie surgeries are not an option for me. It means I use larger fonts, sometimes need help reading things, etc. It is one of my more difficult disabilities for me, though I’ve learned how to adapt in many ways.

I have multiple learning disorders. I have dysgraphia, dyscalcuia, and ADHD. I am also autistic, which may or may not be related. I also struggle with spelling and grammar, which while it isn’t a specific learning disorder, it’s certainly related to all this stuff.

I have…well, had? Scoliosis. I’ve had two back surgeries as a result. I also have vertebral scallopingand dural ectasia. Basically, my back is a hot mess.

As a result of my NF, I have migraines.

Because I have NF, I don’t know what it’s like to not be in pain. I don’t know what it’s like not to hurt. I don’t know what it’s like not to be able-bodied, because I never have been and I never will be.

This disorder has no cure. This disorder has no treatment.

But it doesn’t mean I’m without hope.

It doesn’t mean that my life isn’t worth living, disabilities and all.

In September, I’ll be walking with the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Please consider sponsoring  me?

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Accepting Depression

I’ve made it no secret that I have depression and anxiety. It’s very much a key aspect of who I am. It shapes how I view the world, it’s the lens I make decisions through. It’s my very core – I don’t know who I am without depression and anxiety. Despite meds (which is my choice!), despite therapy (again, my choice – I am currently choosing not to be in therapy but that isn’t a choice I have always made or had the option of making), despite hospitalization in the past… it’s very much a part of me.

I don’t know who I am without depression. I don’t know who I am without OCD. I don’t know who I am without anxiety. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Part of accepting being disabled has been accepting depression. Accepting anxiety. Accepting OCD.

It doesn’t mean it’s not disabling. Oh lord, it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t learn coping skills or ways to navigate the world. That’s silly to think I don’t. But it does mean that I realize it’s a part of me and I make accommodations in the world to make it possible for me to get around. It might mean I need a friend to talk me down when anxiety brain goes haywire. It might mean that some nights I need someone to watch fluffy and/or crappy YouTube videos with me. It might mean that some nights I’m just a puddle of exhaustion and brain cooties.

And that’s okay, because it’s my normal. That’s okay, because it’s the person I am. Accepting my limits, accepting my flaws has been crucial in accepting who I am. It doesn’t mean I glorify it, by no means do I. I don’t think it’s amazing to be depressed, I don’t think it’s great to have soul crushing anxiety that impacts every little thing I do.

But I do think it’s okay to accept it.

I do think it’s okay to say that other people need to accept it if they want to be my friend and interact with me. I do think that it’s wrong that when many people find out that I am psychiatrically disabled, their immediate reaction is “you need meds”, “you need therapy”, etc before they even interact with me and find out why I am the way I am.

Accepting my disabilities has allowed me to accept who I am. It’s high time for other people to accept them now, too.

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When I say I am autistic 

When I say I’m autistic I am not using it as an excuse. I’m not using it as a justification to act a certain way. What I am saying is hey, this is the way I am. This is why I am the way I am. This is who I am. I’m Nora, and I’m Autistic. My brain functions a certain way, and that’s okay. 
When I say I’m autistic, I’m trusting you with a part of my identity. I’m trusting you not to use it as ammunition against me. I’m trusting you to understand, be compassionate, and to treat me with respect. 

When I say I am autistic, I’m not glorifying autism. I’m not pretending it’s all sunshine and daisies and lollipops. It’s not. There as aspects that suck. But it does mean that I’ve accepted it all as a part of who I am – the beauty in it and the suckiness in it. 
When I say I am autistic, I am inviting you to see the world with the  filter uses. I’m entrusting you with the app that is installed in my core, the one that I literally don’t exist without. I’m letting you know who I am. 

I am Nora. 

I am autistic. 

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Those who mourn…

Grief is hard. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Those who mourn…

Grief isn’t ever something you are prepared for. Sometimes someone dying is expected, sometimes it’s very unexpected. But every single time, for me, anyway, it’s a fresh slap in the face. I remember the moments when I found out. The moments my world came crashing down. I remember where I was when I found out that Nick died, that Beth died, that Sarah died. I remember finding out about Rachel and Stephanie and… I remember.

Those who mourn…

I don’t think I ever fully recover from grief. I adapt to my new normal. I learn my new ways of living. Nearly two years later, I still am overwhelmed with cinnamon-flavored or pumpkin-flavored sadness in regards to Beth. When I tried Pepsi Fire? My first thought was “Whoa, Beth would LOVE this” because she loved cinnamon. (It was good, just, uh, don’t chug it. It’s how I imagine the cinnamon challenge to be. Just say no.).

Those who mourn…

I was once told that grief is the price of love. Is it? To love someone so deeply, it continues after they’re gone? To love someone so intently, that your world crashes when they’re gone?

I know logic and intellect. I know that by two years out, logically I should be more recovered. But my heart isn’t ready. I don’t WANT there to be a day where I don’t reach for the phone, you know? I don’t want there to be a day where I don’t think “I wish I could tell Nick this” or “I wish I could tell Beth this.” Six years, two years…no matter how long it’s been, I don’t want things to change. I don’t want to no longer think of them. Because that hurts even more than them not being here.

Moving on is hard. But grief is the cost of love, right? My grief is my final gift. The tears, the agony, the heartbreak… they’re my final gifts to them. And they come from the deepest part of my soul. I can’t think of a better final gift than loving them more fiercely than ever.

Those who mourn…

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NF Awareness Day 2017

My name is Nora. I am twenty-nine years old. And I have NF type one.

NF, or neurofibromatosis, is a genetic disorder. I was born with it, and I will die with it. The way it affects people is different – it’s what’s known as a snowflake disorder as no two people with it are alike. I only know how it affects me.

I have cold intolerance.

I have heat intolerance.

I get migraines.

I had a tumor….but I am incredibly lucky (or unlucky?) in that my one tumor actually wasn’t NF related. Yeah. I would have had it anyway. Luck. Skills. Or something. I have it.

I can’t regulate my weight.

I live with pain.

My immune system is shit (well, okay, this actually isn’t completely related. One of my doctors once told me my body doesn’t read the textbook…)

I am autistic.

I have ADHD.

I have a balance disorder.

I could go on and on.

There is no cure, no treatment.It’s just how I am. It’s just how I always will be.

I am low vision.

There’s so much of me that is who I am because I have NF.

All I want is treatment.

All I want is relief.

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Growing Up Disabled

I have always been disabled. Some people acquire disability, some people are born with it, some people are born with it and don’t realize they’re disabled until adulthood.

In my case, I was born disabled and I’ve always known I’m disabled. It’s very much of fact of life, the same way I have blue eyes and pale skin. It’s just the way I’ve always been and always will be. There’s no changing it, no looking around it.

Growing up disabled and knowing it means that people always  belittle you, because you’re disabled. You’e often talked to like you’re not there. You’re talked around. You’re handled with kid gloves. You’re treated as lesser than. Why?

Because you’re disabled.

I have been told, to my face, that I’m an inspiration just for doing things like getting a soda out of the drink cooler at Walgreens (I wish I was joking…). I have been told, to my face, that people would kill themselves if they had be disabilities. I’m told I should be grateful to be objectified and turned into inspiration porn, because it touches other people. I’ve been told so many bullcrap things.

Because I’m disabled.

I’ve been told I don’t deserve health insurance. That I should die, because I am expensive to keep alive. I have been told that because I cannot get a job, I don’t deserve to live. I have also been told I have to get a job, that there are “jobs for everyone”. This simply isn’t true in today’s world and climate. I was actually kicked OUT of vocational rehab for being too disabled (which at the time, was frustrating. Now I think it’s hysterical).

Because I’m disabled.

I’ve been told not to let my disability define me, that I can do anything despite being disabled, that I can’t do things because I’m disabled. I’ve been told both extremes.

Because I’m disabled.

I’m told that “my mind is fine”, even though the rest of my body isn’t. Which is ableism, because my mind isn’t fine. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve been told that I need therapy, I need meds, I need this diet, I need that diet.

Because I’m disabled.

Somehow, being disabled, means it’s open season. It’s somehow okay for strangers to comment on my health, on my very existence. It’s okay, when it really shouldn’t be.

Because I was born disabled, I’ve lived with this every day of my life. I’m sure I would if I had acquired disability, but I’ve never known what it’s like to live without this. What it’s like to live without people commenting on my very existence, in ways that would be rude if I wasn’t disabled.

Why? Why is this acceptable just because I’m disabled? I was born disabled, just like some people aren’t born disabled.

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Burnout, burnout

Ah, burnout. I’ve written about it before, and I’m writing about it again.

It’s an exhausting place. it really is.

It makes just existing utterly exhausting.

Years of passing, years of existing take a toll.

I am tired.

I am worn out.

I am weary.

Years of passing wear me down.

No more, I say, no more.

For I am burned out.

For I am broken.

For I am lost.

For I am struggling with basic self care.

Because of years of passing.

Because of years of trying.

It’s not a good thing.