Without question, this blog missive is not the first to be written regarding advocacy, mental illness and how out any of us are.  However, I’m going to bring it up again, based upon it happening to me (again.)

We wrote an exam in class today–which I totally forgot about, as I was too panicky in reading a new chapter last night.  I was even more panicky this morning, as public transit was royally screwed.  Like many of us, Aspie/AD(H)D spazzes, sticking to our rituals schedules, is extremely important!!! Not that I have control over things like public transit, but still!

So, we wrote the exam and I was talking to one of the other girls in the class.  We were comparing marks.  She scored a big-bang 100%! Yay, her! W00t! Wee PA? Despite her panicky, forgetful, winginess? 93%.  Now, I’m not looking for kudos, here.  I don’t care.  What this leads up to, is our discussion of just exactly why I need to be so, very careful regarding our exams.

I told her that I have Dysgraphia. I have mentioned this many times on my blog, but for those of you who don’t know what it is, I’ve tossed the Wiki link up again. She asked me what it was. Here we go!!!

I explained it to her (short and sweet, I can’t write well, messy, screw up my letters and numbers, reverse them, miss letters and then misspell things…)  Therefore, that is why I need to really pay attention with our tests, and why I still get things wrong when I damn well know the right answer! I told her that it is very common with people who are on the Autistic Spectrum and who have AD(H)D.  I then told her I have Asperger’s and ADD!

The girl said that she thought she had Dysgraphia too! The Instructor is a Nurse and blurted out: “What do you know about the Autistic Spectrum? Have you been diagnosed by a Doctor?” I just about killed myself laughing.

Some more questions ensued, and then I made my standard joke about my Medic-Alert Bracelet–that it’s amazing they could engrave everything that’s “wrong” with me on it.  She wanted to see it.  I said I have Bipolar as well, and Epilepsy.  I stopped there.  I mean, really.  Why keep going? However, you can obviously see that I am quite the “advocate” and quite “out?” I always have been, but I “advocate” in my own way.

I’m not one for soapboxes.  I don’t even think I am on my blog, but I may have to rely upon my readers to give me some insight on that one.  In terms of a “not-so-soapy-box,” like public speaking for an Advocacy Group? No.  I’ve never done that, but I could.  I just haven’t chosen that route.  I advocate in a more simple manner.  Basically how I did today.  I speak to people individually, or in a pair, a group of a few.  I just talk to them, “as me.”

And you know what? I’ve found it unbelievably powerful.  So many times, the people on the other end are wonderfully receptive.  They ask probing questions, they may have someone they know with mental health issues, and the ones that really make me happy? They’re the folks that actually have mental health issues themselves!

As soon as I open up, they slowly start to do the: “…well…eh…uh…I…erm…”  Do you know how awesome that is? I don’t probe.  I just sit and listen.  Who knows if these people have told anyone else before but me?! The last thing I would want to do is freak them out!

So.  Anyone else? Want to talk about how you “advocate?” How “out” you are?


  1. I take a similar approach to advocacy. I talk to people as the topic comes up but I’ve never made a big show of things. I find there’s a balance between being honest with people/challenging them to accept the reality of mental illness and just unloading my problems on them without any reciprocation. That’s tough.


  2. RealJIMMY

    Same here, anyone who knows me knows that I am incredibly open about the state of my mental health and my history. Why should we be ashamed? It would only propogate mental health stigma if we hide things like they were “bad”.
    For instance, I was recently at a dinner party with a friend and a bunch of his friends that I didn’t know. One guy asked about my history (starting with “where did you grow up” then “why did you move” and so one), so I told him my entire history – schitzophrenic mother, fucked up father, the lot. If we are open and frank about things then hopefully people will start to understand that mental health issues are nothing shameful. And if this can reduce the negative stigma, or help more people speak out about their own internal suffering, then that can only be a good thing!!


  3. Hi Matthew Isaacson. Thanks for your input. I find what you say about your feelings of “unloading your problems” on people, interesting.

    I don’t want to place too much, if any, interpretative value on that. I’m not you! I am just thinking (or wondering?) if others feel something along those lines. Like they are “unloading” by speaking openly about themselves. Feel free to correct me if I’ve got that all wrong!

    Hi RealJIMMY. All I can say to you, is that I couldn’t agree more!


  4. I guess what I was thinking when I made the comment about “unloading my problems” is more about my heart than the other person’s experience. It’s very easy to take advantage of someone else’s willingness to listen without reciprocating. For me, there are appropriate places to spill one’s guts (blog, therapy, close friends), places to be cautiously open (family, less close friends, a couple of trusted colleagues and classmates), and places to put a positive spin on everything (facebook, most of my colleagues and classmates, my professors, and especially with the ex-wife). I don’t claim that this is universally applicable to everybody; it’s just the guidelines I’ve adopted with myself. Each of us has different challenges, tendencies, and in some cases, diagnoses, so our approaches to social interaction have to take all that into account. Does that make sense?


  5. Hey Matthew Isaacson. Thanks for coming back and taking the time to explain things in further detail. That makes perfect sense. Absolutely.


  6. No problem. Thank you for understanding, and for your great blog.


  7. Hi Matthew Isaacson. Oh, you! *blushing* You are most welcome.

    PA (who is still working on taking compliments well.)


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