On Jillian Michaels

You think I would not have anything to say about Jillian Michaels? After she slammed Lizzo’s size? You don’t know me.

Dear Jillian Michaels:

Am I less of a person because of my weight?

Because that’s what I hear you say about Lizzo.

You think Lizzo is worth hating because of her size.

As well as me, I assume.

Sincerely,

Cambria Jenkins.

Thanksgiving: A Prickly Subject Now

In case you haven’t noticed, I was raised in a traditional white, Christian, Republican, American household. That means holding on to a lot of conservative traditions, including Thanksgiving. I was told that the local Native Americans helped the stranger Englishmen (Europeans) how to live, grow and eat in their territory, and Thanksgiving was a celebration for a particularly prosperous harvest. We are traditional white people in every known way. 

That being said, there are still good reasons for the Native Americans not to celebrate. I have heard some versions of the Thanksgiving story involving the massacre of neighboring tribes, even after they taught us how to live in the new (to us) lands.  

Even holding on to the traditional story I was told as a child, there is still a ridiculously large amount of guilt on the European side of the Thanksgiving equation. I mean, how else did we repay the ultimately kind Native Americans, except completely take over their lands and kill thousands of them? That is the big divide I have to straddle every day.  

After my ancestors steamrolled the lands of the Native Americans, I want to help them recoup some losses. The question remains this: What do I do now?  

New Jersey Kids and So-Called “High-Functioning” Struggles

TW: Talk of Functioning Labels and Their Fallacies 

I’ve got two special things to talk about: New Jersey autism rates and the struggles of autistic adults.  

Let’s get into the autism rates of New Jersey. I hear they’re the highest in the nation. Other high autism states are Oregon, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, in that order. Google the rest. So, what are we, the autistic people, supposed to do with this information? I don’t know, maybe offer our practical and empirical help to the parents and medical community there? It would be their fault if they don’t take the help.  

There is also the so-called surprising data finding that the autistic adult labeled “high-functioning” struggles as an adult. Why is it so much of a surprise? I don’t know. Have you asked the autistic adults themselves? I don’t think so. Then it would not have been so much of a surprise! The fallacy of the labels such as “high functioning” lies in this fact: Autism is the only condition whose affects are decided by people who are NOT affected by it! How wrong is that?  

Gird Your Loins

Well well well, here comes another Autism Awareness Month. Gird your loins, fellow autistics. Those so-called “autism moms” and “warrior moms” will begin to compare autism to cancer (in that it causes suffering to them, as if the mother is the autistic one) and the autistic child to a demon.  

Just to be sure, I AM NOT COMPARING AUTISM TO CANCER. CANCER IS A DISEASE; AUTISM IS SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY – A PROCESSING CONDITION. I am also NOT COMPARING THE AUTISTIC CHILD TO A DEMON. THE PARENTS ARE DOING THAT.  

As you can plainly see, this type of awareness is harmful. If I were to have an autistic child, I would simply try to ease their suffering, while girding their loins for the battle-scarred future that awaits them, thanks to Awareness and Warrior Moms.  

For those who are curious, my mother was never a Warrior Mom – or should I say Martyr Mom? – Sure, she was a warrior and a mom, but not a Warrior Mom in the self-righteous sense.  You know, you are not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

Selma Blair: More Gracious than Me

I’m noticing something on Twitter concerning Selma Blair and her fabulous Vanity Fair Oscar Party appearance. Many people tend to use certain words describing her and her MS revelation: Courageous. Brave. Tragic. Inspiring. All words which are highlights of ableism.  

She seems to be handling it better than I would.  

Unfortunately, I am often a ball of outrage and anger, especially when it comes to ableism. That’s all I’m saying about me.  

Let’s get back to Ms. Blair, shall we? I heard her say to another (cameras caught this), “It took a lot to get here.” So, she has limited spoons and probably used them all up in those days? Well, I appreciate her efforts, especially when she came out looking like she did. Personally, I think the whole ensemble, including the cane, made her look regal.  

And I would like to applaud her for her interview with Robin Roberts. It is rare that people give an interview when they have trouble speaking. It is a possible effect of the MS. (I learned a little of the symptoms some years ago when Montel WIlliams revealed his own diagnosis.) Her vulnerability showed her strength. It’s hard for me not to describe this in an ableist manner, for that’s what I’ve absorbed from society. What I mean is, when you have a disability, you live with the disability, and it’s a part of you. You will most likely be fine with it, as I have learned among us fellow disabled.  

Most people cannot find an example of living with a disability or condition, of a world that will not adapt to you, but I have. I remember, back in California, a small section of Santa Ana where everything is in Spanish. (Spanish speakers are here. Get over it.) I have had trouble learning Spanish, so spending time there was strange and uncomfortable, but it opened my mind. It made me realize that for many people, middle America is a strange and uncomfortable place. For the autistic, for those with chronic conditions, for those with skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism for the uninitiated), for those who speak a different language, for persons of color…even for women. Maybe even for you, middle America is a strange and uncomfortable place.  

I just wish that people would try and see the whole person, and not just fixate on the cane. It’s kind of like focusing on one little hand or arm when there is a whole person to look at. That is what creates the stigma surrounding disabilities. That is what makes the disabled feel unseen and marginalized.  

So, I’m pretty sure Selma Blair is resting now, as much as a mother can. I think she deserves it. Take care of yourself, Ms. Blair. You’ve done a lot for your causes recently.

#TimeToTalk Day 2019

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.” -Chinese Proverb  

Well, they are using this hashtag on Twitter right now to talk about mental illness.  

So, what do tree planting and talking about mental health have to do with each other? Well, for starters, there is a lot in common, as stated by the old proverb. Can you go back in time? Not that I know of. But can you start talking about mental health, plant that proverbial tree, now? Of course. 

Let’s talk about some myths: 

  1. “Mental illness has some rational beginning, and is reactive.”  Sometimes it does, but most of the time it does not. As I have stated before, even people on top of the world have mental illness to deal with. Robin Williams, for instance.  
  2. “Mental Illness only affects the people who act or look a certain way.” Would you be shocked if, and I am only saying if, Guy Fieri had depression? I would not. The losses of the once-strong Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain should have shaken that out of your mind.  
  3. “Mental Illness is character weakness.” This comes from the belief that you earn health and wealth through finding favor with your chosen deity – known in some circles as The Prosperity Gospel. But what happens if, say, you get a mental illness? Does that mean you are not good enough?  This false notion about mental illness believes you are not good enough… 
  4. “Mental Illness can be cured with willpower, vitamins and exercise.” Sorry, Tom Cruise, but this is simply not true in many cases. Denying the sufferer the medicine, the very thing that provides relief, is cruelty.  
  5. “Mental illness prevents you from holding down a job.” I HELD DOWN A JOB AT IN-N-OUT FOR SIX YEARS! Sorry for the shouting. This is simply not true. It is a corollary of the “character weakness” myth.  
  6. “Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why not just take a pill?” Because much of the time, “taking a pill” is only a start. Many of us need a support system.  
  7. “I can’t help.” Many, many people need your support. Just being there for them makes a big difference. It did with me.  
  8. “Prevention is impossible.” Ever heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? The core of it is TRAUMA. That is one of my own mental illnesses, thanks to people in my family.  

Mental health is coming out of the woodwork with or without you. It is connected to physical health as well. People are tired of losing their loved ones to suicide.   

Don’t Blame Me For That Measles Outbreak!

My mother gave me all the available vaccines. And no, that’s not why I am autistic. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk reason. Now there are outbreaks all over Europe and the United States thanks to people not vaccinating their children. And I wonder if they are blaming the autistic people like me for it. I mean, after all, most of the people not vaccinating their children blame their children’s autism on it. So, even if I am not blamed outright, I wonder if I am blamed in secret.  

I guess I wonder if I am paranoid, because so many people want to see me “Cured,” aka essentially destroyed.