[Featured image: pictured is a slice of toasted white bread on a white background. Credit to Adobe Stockphotos]

Here’s to never giving up 🥂

Cw: mental and physical health (mentions su*c*de)

I was such a ham as a kid 😂

Pictured above: a tiny Jaesic plays in the Autumn leaves while wearing a bright red coat, they pose in front of carved pumpkins with their brother, they pose in a yellow coat and red hat with a huge grin (and some missing front teeth), and again in the yellow coat with their dog Rocket.

I look at these photos and truly see a happy kid. Well, maybe not in my dedication photo (ain’t that foreshadowing or what 🥲😂). But yes, a happy kid. But as I got older, something changed. You can kind of see it in the solo dancer photo, or me with a toy horse on a stick, at the end of this little gallery. The light started to dim from behind my eyes. Chronic pain, misunderstanding, and conformity really took a toll on me.

I’ve been sick with unexplainable physical symptoms since I was 4 years old, compounded by regular colds and flus. I’ve had mono BADLY twice, the worst of it as a freshman in college. When you are not physically well most days of your life, you are not mentally well either. That shit adds up, and depression/anxiety settles in. And this is only a fraction of what changed.

I was bullied, left out, and abandoned for being different more times than I can remember. Not knowing how I was neurodivergent significantly impacted how I developed self-esteem, efficacy, and relationships. I often invested my time in the wrong people (hell, I’m just learning how to not do that now). And I often failed the good relationships I did have because I didn’t have the tools to properly self-regulate and effectively communicate. I learned to people please and spread myself so thin in order to attempt at measuring up to the rest. The result? Repeat burnout, illness, suicidality, and years of abusive relationships. I’ve been trying to define myself by others’ standards and desires instead of looking inward to my core and shedding anything that isn’t ME.

Pictured above: Jaesic is in a dance troupe wearing a tie-dye blue and gold leotard, below they are in a red dress and tights, and to the right they are in a cowboy get-up with a toy horse on a stick named Oreo (it is black and white with a red bridle).

Well, no more. Finally, I see myself for who I am: a being of overflowing love, joy, and light. I no longer am ashamed of my joy or love and how I express it (or, at least most of the time; I’m getting better). I no longer waste my energy on things and people who do not symbiotically impact my life. I pursue my passions and care so deeply for the world, and I have power to make a difference.

My parents raised a little girl. That little girl grew into a severely repressed, depressed, scared young woman who let life and the people in it take advantage of her. Today I know that little girl is still a part of me, and that young woman helped me find how I am so much more now. I get to love her and carry her through to see just how expansive we can be as a fluid creature who never gave up on learning and loving. I know she is looking at me in awe, and maybe a little fear (lol). But how beautiful it is to be able to coalesce all parts of myself after working hard at healing my trauma, so that I can live a truly purposefully authentic life! I am so lucky. I almost didn’t make it. And now I know my life’s purpose is to support others to find themselves and heal too. We all possess the power to make a difference. Each time we realize that, the world has that much a better chance to become even more compassionate and inclusive for us all.

Thank you for being a part of my journey here 💜✨️🌈


Because my brain won’t let go of paranoia:

If you read things like this that I write and take offense because you considered us good friends growing up, these writings are NOT about you. I speak in generalizations about my life because it is easiest when describing the effect OTHER people had on me. I know I’ve had good relationships amongst the bad. But again, those relationships were few and far between, and it’s taken a lot of inner work to find people who will continuously choose me without taking advantage of me. So, know that you are loved, and I very much value whatever kind of relationship we’ve had over the years 🙌💜

Featured Image Description: the Disability Pride Flag, featuring a lightning bolt shape of blue, yellow, white, red, and green lines combined overlaying a black background. You can find its symbolism here.

It’s been Disability Pride Month all July and I have something I’d love to share, finally! (My demand-avoidance does not like having to write themed posts within the correct time period, go figure.)

Bella, the Goldendoodle. She has light golden hair with a white chest and white around the tip of her brown nose and atop her paws. Her eyes are hazel green and she’s wearing a very large open-mouthed grin. A happy pup.

This is Bella, my mom’s dog. Mom kind of acquired Bella by accident. Granted, Mom was looking for a puppy, but the litter that she was hoping to get one from had already all been claimed. However, just before Christmas, the breeder called my mom up and told her that someone had returned a puppy, and wondered if Mom would be interested in purchasing her. Naturally, Mom said yes.

A picture of Bella in front of a white door where she looks like Simone from Disney’s “The Lion King”, who is pictured to her right for comparison.

Now, while I don’t agree with the existence of breeders per-se, and I think Mom should have gotten an older dog from a shelter, period, I am very grateful for Bella in my life. She’s a lot to handle, as Goldendoodles aren’t exactly even keeled, especially this one as she’s more Golden than Poodle—she’s a doozy. Even so, she’s more than not a delight and brings a lot of joy to our lives.

Pictured above: To the left, Bella and I sitting outdoors in frame, looking off to the distance. I have short, bleach-blond hair, and lines of black eyeliner across the bottoms of my eyes and on the bridge of my nose in a unique design. I am wearing a blue tie-dye shirt on. Bella has a purple collar and bright golden fur. To the right, Bella is looking over her shoulder at the camera, her tail curled up toward her face. She has a open grinning mouth and brown nose, happy as can be.

You might be wondering why I am writing about her for Disability Pride Month though. Well, I’ll tell you: it’s because we share the same connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobile type III, or hEDS). Granted, Bella has never been diagnosed officially, but I know what my disease looks like, and dogs can and do have autoimmune/connective tissue disorders. 

Here’s a list of some symptoms, just so you can see it too:

  • Incredibly lax and stretchy skin (it’s absurd how far I can pull her fur away from her body)
  • Hypermobility (like SUPER hypermobile, she can turn herself into a ball where her head is far overlapping her rear end; I swear she could be an owl with how far she can turn her head too)
  • She’s ridiculously clumsy (like, no proprioception—the body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location—at all)
  • Chronic illness of others sorts such as bad allergies, upset stomach, and UTIs
  • Beyond sensitive skin (we think she’s allergic to metal or something, but she’s constantly needing medication)
  • She braces herself when she sits (has to do with hypermobility, where one must find external support, move around a lot, or hold oneself awkwardly, as the joints do not hold themselves together properly)
  • She can’t play for more than 5 minutes at a time; she stops to either eat grass because of her stomach or to catch her breath (I’m assuming she’s usually in some kind of pain)
  • Her gums are super sensitive and it takes next to nothing to cause them to bleed

SO yeah, Bella has been incredibly expensive to take care of due to illness and I’m glad she’s my mom’s dog and not mine. That being said, I love the ever living crap out of her. It’s been a wild time reliving some of my medical and social trauma through loving and taking care of Bella, but it’s also been healing. 

Pictured above is 3 photos of Bella sitting oddly, where she’s bracing herself by relying on her front paws for support, her hips sprawled out.

There was one time where I came home to find Bella unable to move well at all. She had overexerted herself playing with some new doggy friends at the park earlier that day, and when I came into the room, she tried her best to hobble over to me, but it was a tragic attempt. Seeing her like that shocked my system. It was in that moment that I knew without a doubt we shared the same connective tissue disorder. I crumpled to the ground, with sobs racking my body as I hugged her close. I knew the pain she was in, and the strength that it took her to want to move at all towards me. I saw how pure her love was at that moment too—to want to be close to me and still feel excitement through the pain. Quite the trooper.

Pictured above, Bella and I are sitting outside, and I am wearing a red, blue, and white flannel atop a green shirt with Grogu on it. To the left, Bella and I are gazing out past the camera. To the right, Bella and I are looking towards each other. I am smiling and she has a little “blep” tongue out.

Seeing that shared lived experience in an entity that’s other than human just…I don’t quite know how to describe what it’s done for me. Like of course it’s great to relate to other humans and learn from their experiences and heal together in our sharing, or sometimes just commiserate without healing, but I don’t know…there’s just something about relating wordlessly with an animal. I honestly attribute the phenomenon to my autism, as it’s an indescribable experience. My words truly fail me here. (One stereotypical trait of autistic individuals is to relate better/be more comfortable with animals than people.)

Photographed above: On the left, Bella sits as an 8 week old puppy, posed in a Christmas landscape to the left with a stuffed snowman, Christmas tree, a red present, lots of red tree ornaments, and golden bells with a golden bow. Bella has a tiny green ribbon bow atop her head. To the right, Bella is lying down atop some fake felt snow, with a stuffed candy-cane under her right ear. She has a red starred bow on her head and is wearing a sweater that looks like a green-wrapped present with a red bow.

As beautiful as that experience was, it is, however, hard to deal with Bella’s health on and off. It makes me confront the not-so-far-off past of not having answers for most of my life about why I am the way I am. (I frequently have to disengage as memories flood my mind about how much I’ve been dismissed and discriminated against for the symptoms I’ve endured.) The vet keeps treating her symptoms, but it appears there’s a lack of understanding of why she is the way she is. I’m grateful they keep trying to find better food for her though, and they have meds for her allergies too. 

Picture above is Bella wearing a sparkly blue and silver Happy New Year top hat that matches her blue protective collar (used the same purpose as a cone of shame lol).

The good of our relationship though? She teaches me how to rest, how to be proud of my strength and love, how to stay and live in the present moment. She grounds me to the earth and to my body. She is my friend.   

Here we see Bella assisting (read: distracting) me from writing this very article. And you can see how she uses my as a backrest because it’s hard for her to sit up right, just as I have a hard time holding myself up because of hEDS. Kindred spirits, her and I. I consider myself very lucky.

So, all this to say: Happy Disability Pride Month. It’s things like this relationship I have with Bella that I seek, to bring me joy and peace amidst the chaos and pain of chronic illness. Thanks for reading!