Anniversary of Harambe

Today is apparently the fourth anniversary of the death of Harambe, the gorilla who was shot by a zookeeper after a three-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at a zoo in Cincinnati.

Of course, the fact that the gorilla died during the incident was very tragic. It should also make you very sad to realize that at this point, animals are generally safer in captivity than out in the wild due to deforestation or hunting.

However, I also want to bring awareness to the fact that in this particular situation, the zoo honestly had no other choice under the circumstances. Harambe was becoming increasingly agitated and disoriented by the screams of onlookers, and then he started dragging the child through the water. It also only would’ve irritated him even more if the zoo shot him with a tranquilizer dart. The zookeepers were merely scared for the boy’s life, and unfortunately, that meant that they had to kill the gorilla.

And as for why the three-year-old boy managed to fall into the gorilla enclosure in the first place, I will point out that accidents do happen. Kids are diabolically clever, in that if you take your eyes off of them for even a second, they can escape or get themselves into tricky or scary situations. All of the internet shaming directed towards the mother (particularly the ones calling for criminal charges or the ones that are racially motivated) simply needs to stop.

If I were to devote any facet of my time to bring awareness to the death of Harambe, there shouldn’t be any doubt that I will mourn the loss of a beautiful creature. Animals deserve the very best treatment from us. But I would also demonstrate compassion for the parents of that little boy who had to experience a scary situation and are grateful that their son is safe. No parent is perfect.

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Yikes. I think I definitely might have a crush on someone, although I can never exactly know for sure. For an autistic person like me, any form of love can be anxiety-inducing. My mind immediately tends to spiral out of control: I end up not being able to stop thinking about this person, and everything I do leads to self-criticism.

I always keep wondering whether this person I love will approve of the things I like, do, or say. I’ve repeatedly gotten myself into traumatic situations from being too trusting with other people, and my general feelings of loneliness and depression seem to exacerbate my over-the-top emotional reactions.

Plus, since I’ve never dated anyone and I’ve never even had my first kiss, how will I even know how to appropriately initiate or respond to romantic or platonic feelings of love? Do I even want to start dating or seeking for any form of emotional connection?

Maybe I’m primarily just tired of never really knowing exactly how I feel. I’ll admit that this is indeed one particular trait of autism I wish I could improve. What I do know is that I truly admire this person I have a crush on, and that I also like him enough to want to get to know more about him and really talk with him.

Well, whatever. It’s not like I can really consider attempting to connect with other people right now due to the current circumstances of the global pandemic. I’ll know when I’m ready, I guess.

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Today I registered for two classes at my local community college: English 112 and Drawing I. I am especially grateful and excited for the opportunity to continue to learn about two subjects I am passionate about. I am also particularly glad to have the advantage of being flexible with my classes.

However, as is always the case with me, with every instance of triumph and accomplishment comes a distinct sense of worry and dread. My academic advisor encouraged me to never feel overwhelmed whilst registering for classes, but to an autistic person like me, there is no such thing as silence or calmness. We’re always stressed about something, yet we’re also so exceptionally resilient compared to our neurotypical peers.

One primary reason for our stress may be the never-ending urge to mask our quirks and fit ourselves into a box to attempt to impress others who may not even be worth it. This world was never meant for autistic people.

School can often exacerbate our anxieties: constantly being under florescent light, having no choice but to listen to people with no indoor voices, and also having little to no opportunities to move around or take breaks can take a drastic toll on autistic people.

I’m just glad that many more people are becoming aware of what autistic people truly need or desire: however, when my counselor told me that she believed it is now a good time for autistic people, she frankly couldn’t be more wrong. We still deal with numerous instances of discrimination, harassment, and even assault. To put it mildly, things could be better.

But anyway, I will now come to the main point of this entry. One particular source of my stress this time is the awareness that I frequently need pictures as a source of reference for when I’m drawing. Am I truly immersing myself in art if I am repeatedly using technology?

What I hope is that my future art professor will be understanding once he realizes I have applied to the disability services of my community college. I also hope that my fellow classmates treat me with the same amount of respect that I serve.

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Oh, man. Things have been incredibly hectic and stressful, what with the coronavirus spreading so rapidly and it ultimately leading to a complete lockdown in multiple cities and towns across the USA.

In this particular moment, I am especially lucky to live in a state where our governor is a Democrat. Roy Cooper, the governor of North Carolina, has done great work and has been very considerate of the citizens of North Carolina. If our governor was a Republican, however, I highly doubt that the virus would be treated with the same amount of seriousness and caution. For this reason, I am deeply worried about disabled and elderly people in states such as Texas or Florida.

Also, I am legitimately frustrated that the U.S. seems to be thriving more on capitalism than socialism: while multiple countries such as Spain and even China have done their utmost to actually help people, some corporations and people in America are simply exploiting our fears. It doesn’t make it any better to know that our current political situation makes it even more difficult to get tested and seek medical care.

I also think it’s funny that we’re just now calling grocery store workers, doctors, and nurses “essential workers” during a pandemic when we can’t even pay them a fucking living wage. Capitalism without laws (not guaranteeing paid family leave or paid sick leave to employees) kills.

But there have also been stories of incredible kindness, strength, and ingenuity during this pandemic. For example, I believe almost everyone had their spirits lifted by a video of Italians singing together on their balconies. Many people in various countries are also continuously finding new ways to connect with others during quarantine: my Wake Tech classmates and instructors are now meeting through Zoom. It is especially important to take care of yourself and others during times of crisis.

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Last night, I couldn’t really sleep because I was too worried about future commutes and whether I’ll be able to effectively obtain a job that is close to home. I was also stressed about future travels to Wake Tech: will my dad be able to drive me, or should I figure out a way to commute on my own?

Well, the good news is that I have officially discovered a way to get to Wake Tech by bus! I’m proud of myself for simultaneously accomplishing independent living and time management skills. Now, we’ll simply have to know for certain whether my dad will have his schedule shifted so that he can drive me, or if I will have to start commuting to Wake Tech next week.

All of this doesn’t mean I feel any less of a burden on my parents, but I also don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that disabled people are burdens. I used to feel ashamed for the accommodations I needed, not realizing how necessary they are for me to thrive in school at work. Nondisabled people have ableism so deeply rooted in their brains and culture that oftentimes they are unknowingly condescending when mentioning us in conversations.

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When I see old photos of myself, I see a bright, imaginative child who also had no idea what the future had in store for her.

If I could go back and tell my five to ten year old self anything, I would tell her that she will inevitably have to overcome many struggles as she grows up. People will always try to put you down and overpower you, but somehow, you will always find the strength to get right back up on your feet with that incredible mind of yours. You have more resilience than you think.

I would also tell her that #ActuallyAutistic people are too often expected to conform or are simply viewed as less than capable. No matter what they say, you should never let them stifle your creativity and intelligence. (Also, please make sure to add more variety to your diet every once in a while!)

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I spotted period blood when I went to the bathroom this morning: I immediately get an odd mixture of relief and dread. I felt relieved because it has been a couple years since I’ve had my last period, and menstruation is almost always a sign that a woman’s reproductive health is working as it should be.

I also felt a sense of dread, because I am more than aware of the symptoms prior to and during menstruation: cramps, bloating, irritability, fatigue, and mood swings. I’ve nearly forgotten how awful periods truly are for any woman to experience. I’m just thankful that I now know how to take care of myself in order to make it more tolerable as the days progress.

However, it can also make me sad to hear that other girls in developing countries such as Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, and Somalia have a lack of access to menstrual products that makes them miss school. Poor menstrual management is also the leading cause of reproductive tract infection in women globally. Plus, due to the constant taboo and stigma associated with menstruation, many cultures in the world have harmful and even destructive ideas and beliefs about menstruation that isolate and sham women during their monthly cycles.

In general, there shouldn’t be any negative attitudes towards menstruation: it should merely be considered an (unfortunate and painful) part of life for women and girls everywhere.

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Alright, I’m going to be honest with you all for a moment: I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had my period. I believe it has been two or three years.

A general absence of menstrual bleeding is called amenorrhea, and the two main types are called primary amenorrhea (when a girl over the age of 15 has never had her period), and secondary amenorrhea (when a woman who has had regular periods stops having her period for six months or longer). There are many potential causes and risk factors for amenorrhea, and sometimes the cause is unknown. Causes and risk factors include:

. Obesity

. Having very low body fat (less than 15 to 17 percent)

. Deficiency of leptin, the hormone that regulates appetite

. Overactive thyroid gland

. Extreme exercise or emotional stress

. Use of some contraceptives or certain medications, including some antidepressants, which can increase levels of a hormone that prevents ovulation

I have previously suggested to my parents that they take me to the doctor to find a potential cause for my headaches; well unfortunately, this may in fact be another valid reason to schedule an appointment.

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I have shared so many of my thoughts on my Instagram stories and in my journal, but I have also repeatedly considered the possibility that my blog might be best. I’ve sort of dreaded the idea of blogging lately, because I may not feel comfortable sharing my thoughts on this platform.

Plus, I bet if I were less burned out and more able to write and read books, I wouldn’t appear so incoherent at times. Oh well. I have to remind myself that this is merely a phase of my life that I can gradually overcome with determination.

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I just practiced a yoga sequence intended to increase focus and concentration, and I also meditated for a bit. I must say, it’s been a very long time since I’ve felt this relaxed.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if I may have some symptoms of SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. When the weather gets colder, my mood gets lower. I begin to show signs of increased anxiety, loneliness, sadness, insomnia, lack of concentration, and social isolation. In general, I start to feel better as the weather gets warmer.

It is estimated that seasonal affective disorder impacts ten million Americans; with daylight savings time ending, we set back our clocks, and daylight ends earlier.

But fortunately, in my case, I have many hobbies like art, yoga, reading, writing, and anime that can help me manage my anxiety and depression. You can treat seasonal affective disorder like typical depression, because a lot of things that have been shown to be effective for depression are also effective for SAD.

Unfortunately, however —- according to this one graduate student who actually wrote about seasonal affective disorder on her blog —– doctors and scientists are still trying to fully research SAD and the impact of light on mood and cognition. What are the genetics of it? How can you predict who is at a greater risk than others? Does the light intensity of light therapy vary from person to person on whether it is effective?