Wretched beauty

This scene from Good Will Hunting never fails to make me cry. I remembered 2o years old, watching this in the cinema, quietly shedding a few tears. Sometimes, we carry more than we could bear and we need that someone in life to tell us that it’s not our fault.

The heartbroken and depressed, the lost and abandoned

the hurt and weary, bleeding and wounded

suffering in silence

The pain behind the smile, the fear beneath the mask

invisible to all but the most sensitive of soul

Your guilty conscience screaming loud, takes the blame

the despair only a depressed soul would understand

Black clouds hovering over my head

I wish they stay forever so I’d remember what it feels like to be broken

and to remind myself to be kind and compassionate

This world I wasn’t meant for, the wretched beauty

don’t cry my dear, it’s not your fault

Black Cloud, Playwrite

Oh no it’s not your fault,
There’s nothing you can do.
If I were you, I’d start walking
You could make thirty miles a day.
It don’t seem like much,
But you’d be thirty miles away.

Oh no it’s not your fault,
No way you could have known.
But now it’s gone, you’ve got the choice
Do you stay or go?
There is a black cloud spewing from the earth.
It takes a while to work,
But you know just what it does.
Yea, you know just what it does…

I wish that there’ something I could do.
I wish that there’ something I could do.

Oh no there’s nothing left,
Nowhere that you can go.
Your life is all but underwater.
Way up in the air,
You see it on the floor, it doesn’t seem fair.
And this cloud has a curse, and you know just what it does.
It comes down from above, and settles on the earth…


Saving Walden

In a few day’s time, I would be travelling to Australia and embarrass myself to attend a mental health conference. Not only will I be attending, I am actually going to embarrass myself make a presentation. My first ever public presentation! I can’t believe this is really happening. This could be the longest 30 minutes of my life and I’ve been thinking if I should pull myself out from the event and save myself from public humiliation while there’s still time! But first of all, allow me to explain how this actually happen. Your comments are greatly appreciated at the end.

For the past few months, I have submitted abstracts to a few mental health related conferences that will be taking place in Australia. There were two reasons that prompted this idea. First, although I’ve only worked in the field of mental health related research for less than a year, it was long enough to spark me to challenge and rethink the way we deal with mental health issues in the community, specifically, the way in which diverse needs are addressed (or not addressed) and how the medical model of mental health increases the stigma of autism. Second, I’m on the point of giving up and this could be the breakthrough I need to keep my dream alive. I don’t know exactly how giving a public presentation is going to help, all I know is I need a breakthrough, move out of my comfort zone, do something audacious, even silly. I need help, save myself, save Walden. As the saying goes, desperate circumstances call for desperate measures.

The topic of my abstract and presentation is reducing the stigma associated with autism, in particular, I wish to highlight the role of mental health professionals and researchers in reducing the stigma surrounding autism. My concerns stem from my interactions with colleagues at work, the projects I’m working on (eg. this 1 and this 2) and the academic papers I’ve read on autism and sue-side-the-li-ty (you guess what I mean, I’m purposely spelling it this way to increase the challenges of the machine learning process should anyone be thinking of using AI to detect relevant words). The incident involving the university’s misleading article was another precursor. Studies have found a higher rate of sue-side amongst the autistic populations. Researchers claimed to be ‘concerned’ and they are asking why. This is something statistics are not going to explain, so they did what quantitative researchers do and speculate, but why aren’t they asking the autistic people themselves, why don’t they listen to us and see what we write? So much for being ‘concerned’. This triggered my social justice instincts, we really need to raise the awareness of diversity.

The first abstract I sent out was to a sue-side peevention conference. My original idea was to do a qualitative research but I would need ethics approval for that before I could engage with human participants, which is not possible given that I’m using my personal time to do this as I don’t have the support of my employer. After that, I revised my abstract to put more focus on my lived experience, but I’d still need to engage with the academic literature, and it is here that I worry I won’t be able to prepare and cover all the materials. I have yet to think about the points I’d like to cover and I’ve got only just a week left. In the meantime, I have other deadlines to meet for my work. This is what I lament about when I write that I don’t have other capacity left to work on my personal stuff after work. Is it my excuse for being lazy? I don’t know. I do know however the struggle with fatigue is real, as well as the struggle with executive functioning.

So what do you think? Should I drop out of the program now? The only thing with that is I’ll be back to square one. Yes, I fear I would embarrass myself. I worry I won’t deliver a good presentation. I’m getting butterflies in my stomach as I’m writing this. But let me tell you what I fear even more right now. I fear that things have remained unchanged for so long, it will always remain unchanged. I fear putting life on hold. I fear a life with no purpose. I dread the feeling of waking up each morning, just to go to work and survive. If I’m dying, I want to face my execution now, not later. I feel unsettled by the unexpected but right now, I fear the expected more than anything else. I suppose from the way I just described, dropping out is not an option, in which case, is it too much to ask for your blessing? I’m aware I don’t deserve one for my laziness but in my defence, I’m doing all of this on my own, without a support. I often wish to have a mentor who can offer me advice and guide me through, but since I don’t have one, I’m finding my own way, doing it my way. I don’t know how this is going to help, since the conference is organized by a university, maybe I can get some feedback from interested parties on whether or not I have a promising research proposal, or maybe after all I’ve done, I’ll still be back to square one, but I guess in life, we don’t always do things knowing how it would turn out. Should I mention and publicise my blog (assuming anonymity is not a concern)? I’ll be interested to hear your suggestions, or if there’s anything you would like to share about your experiences as an autistic dealing with stigma and the mental health profession (including crisis services), you’re welcome to leave a note.

(On a separate note, here’s a little more about the first abstract I sent to another conference, which is not the one I’m attending next week. It was not accepted for oral presentation but was accepted for a 3-minute thesis presentation contest. I am dropping this out, partly because this might exceed my budget as I’m paying for everything out of my own pocket. It is also probably a good idea to drop out of this because I just got an email yesterday, notifying that the original keynote speaker they have invited for this conference is now unable to attend and they have now invited someone else…who erm…is my employer! Actually, this might be a great opportunity to have a face-to-face dialogue with my employer on an important issue but I don’t think I’m up for this challenge yet, it could become a scandal.)

Do I know what I’m doing? Hell no. I don’t have any answers. Wish me luck.

We don’t know, The Strumbellas
Well I know it gets harder every single day
And I know my darkness might never go away
It’s hard when you’re living and you don’t feel much
And you’re down and you’re hoping that things are gonna change
Oh we don’t know the roads that we’re heading down
We don’t know if we’re lost, that we’ll find a way
We don’t know if we leave, will we make it home
We don’t know, there’s hope, then we’ll be okay
And some say it gets brighter
We just have to wait
Mother mother, I can feel your heart break
Burning through me every single day
It’s hard when you’re living and you don’t feel much
And you’re down and you’re hurting ’cause you don’t feel loved
It’s hard when you’re living and you don’t feel much
And you’re down and you’re hoping that things are gonna change
Oh we don’t know the roads that we’re heading down
We don’t know if we’re lost, that we’ll find a way
We don’t know if we leave, will we make it home
We don’t know, there’s hope, then we’ll be okay
Oh there’s something in my mind that’s killing me
There’s something that this life’s not giving me
Would you say
Oh we don’t know the roads that we’re heading down
We don’t know if we’re lost, that we’ll find a way
We don’t know if we leave, will we make it home
We don’t know, there’s hope, then we’ll be okay

Featured image of a lizard (not sure of what kind) taken at the Jenolan Caves in Australia, NSW. I choose this image to symbolise facing my fear because I fear lizards.

A beautiful lie

You told me to be patient and kind
Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. 
You see the world can be unkind
But you tell me it’s a beautiful life
It’s a beautiful lie


Inspired by Harry Pane’s Beautiful Life

My mind speaks…

The lyrics speak of a dream
The pictures speak of a love
A mind that speaks I miss you

“Never Come Back Again” by Austin Plaine

I wanna see the world, I wanna sail the ocean
I wanna know what it feels like to never come back again

Manly Scenic Walkway, NSW 2010

I wanna feel the waves, crushin’ down on heartache

Port Stephens, NSW 2014

I wanna find the key to the sky and never come back again

Kamay Botany Bay National Park, NSW 2014

I wanna wake my soul, climb the highest mountain

Blue Mountains, NSW 2016

I wanna write my name in the clouds and never come back again

Sydney, NSW 2010

I wanna find my love, lose myself in passion
I wanna love her in my heart and never come back again

Sydney, NSW 2013

I wanna see the end, of a world that’s rounded
I wanna know what it feels like to never come back again

Newcastle, NSW 2010

I wanna ease my mind, of all the doubt that haunts it
I wanna run out in the light and never come back again

Melbourne, VIC 2011

I wanna see those stars, shinin’ down from heaven

Melbourne, VIC 2011

I wanna know what it feels like to never come back again

My heart says…

My heart says solitude
My dream says Walden
My cat says meow
I say Australia 

“Follow your heart” by Scorpions

Have you ever climbed the mountain?

Blue Mountains, NSW 2013

Have you ever crossed the sea?

Cronulla, NSW 2014

Take a look around the corner and listen to your heartbeat

Kyneton, VIC 2017

Have you ever touched the rainbow

Newcastle, NSW 2010

Take a ride in the ferris wheel

Sydney, NSW 2009

It takes one step to start a journey. It’s up to you, to make it real

Cronulla, NSW 2014

This is the time for yourself to be free. You gotta follow your heart

Kyneton, VIC 2017

This is the time in your life and it’s never too late to see the light in the dark.

You gotta follow your heart ❤

Sydney, NSW 2015

Thanks for reading 🙂