Writing Through the Fog

I want to write more but the mental fog, the burnout. It hurts knowing how much I love to write, how much writing means to me, and being too exhausted, in pain, and foggy to focus on it much at all. 

I know what my writing could be and maybe that’s part of what holds me back from writing the little bit I can. I fear my words and thoughts will come out jumbled. The thoughts get stuck and sometimes lost altogether before making it to the page. 

But I’ll try writing even though it may be jumbled, messy, and incoherent at times; at least I’m writing and that’s something. I’ll write in short jumbled snippets if I have to. So here it goes. You can follow along if you wish my writing may be messy but it’s me, doing what I can.

The Nature of Healing

“As I sit in the humid air, exposing my wounds, nature meets me, exposing her own wounds.”

An essay very personal and close to my heart had the honor of being published recently in the first issue of Mental Rhythm Magazine. They are a literary magazine that seeks to end the stigma around mental health, an issue I also care deeply about. So here is my very honest essay about some of my own experiences with depression and anxiety.

How Nature Helps Me as an Autistic Person

Being autistic means I am often overstimulated by my environment. Sounds that are tolerable to neurotypical people are disruptive, distracting, anxiety-inducing, and even painful for me. A few conversations happening in a room at once, music that’s too loud, or sudden noises are some sounds that are triggering. 

Other senses are also heightened for me. Flashing lights are disorienting, bright lights are painful, fast-moving images are disruptive. My senses of taste and smell are heightened and I notice things most people don’t and get easily overloaded by multiple or intense flavors or scents. Certain textures are very disruptive as well. For example, I can’t handle anything soggy. 

Normal life can be overwhelming when all these stimuli add together often causing me to be so overwhelmed that I have a meltdown or shutdown. I can’t focus, communicate, or function and pretty much freeze. 

Many autistic people have similar experiences with varying sensory sensitivities. 

I often get most overwhelmed being indoors because this environment is full of technology, people, and other stimuli that I am sensitive to, which all add up.

Because of that, nature has often been a relief for me from the constant sensory overload found indoors. Being outside, in nature, has brought calm and helped me out of meltdowns and shutdowns throughout my life. And I think that’s why nature has become so meaningful to me.

When I’m outside with plants and animals, I do not have to speak to anyone. I am free to rest and enjoy. Trying to verbally communicate my thoughts and feelings has always been a struggle. It uses most of my energy to verbally communicate, often leaving me overwhelmed. Then there are misunderstandings which is again exhausting when I spent so much of my energy trying to communicate. 

Plants and animals communicate in different ways. They communicate through body language and other nonverbal forms of communication, which makes it easier for me to relate to them because I don’t have to worry about trying to communicate verbally. 

In nature, I can just be. Plants and animals aren’t all talking at me, demanding things of me, they are also simply living and being. 

In nature, things are quieter. Yes, there are still sounds, but most of these are quiet and rather calming and peaceful, like the songs of birds or rustle of wind. Often they are simpler sounds just a few notes, compared to our indoor sounds that cover a whole range and can often be harsh frequencies or very complex and busy, becoming easily overwhelming.

In nature, life moves slower. Everyday life in a neurotypical society is often very fast-paced, we are expected to always be busy. Because of our sensitivities, autistic people can struggle to keep up with the demands of everyday life, which can lead to burnout if we keep pushing to keep up. We were meant to live life at a slower pace. Many animals and plants move at a much slower pace, spending most of their time resting, compared to their human counterparts. When I’m in nature, I slow down too, with all the plants and animals around me. I walk slow, I stop and watch, I sit and take it all in. 

These are a few of the reasons I find relief in nature as an autistic person. Being with nature helps me calm down and take a break from the many overwhelming sensory, social, and mental demands of everyday life. 

Introducing our Web Content Editor

I am honored and excited for this opportunity to help Deep Wild Journal share their message of writing from the backcountry, appreciating and caring for wild places.

Deep Wild Journal

We are thrilled to announce the addition of Corrinne Brumby to the Deep Wild staff. Corrinne is coming aboard as the Web Content Editor, providing much-needed assistance in our permanent efforts to help Deep Wild Journal find its true audience. But she’s got lots of skills and enthusiasm and will no doubt contribute in lots of ways.

A naturalist and nature writer, Corrinne spends much of her time exploring the wetlands and woods in Florida. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing–Nature Writing from Western Colorado University.

Corrinne’s essays, fiction, and poetry have appeared in Western’s Pathfinder MagazineThe Great Isolation: Colorado Creativity in the Time of the Pandemic, Magical Women Magazine, and Odyssey Online among others.

Welcome aboard, Corrinne!

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A Different Normal

What? No there’s no way you’re autistic!

You say it as if it’s a disease

But you seem normal to me!

Normal?

What’s normal to you is intolerable, painful

your bright lights

your loud noises

and conversations

and parties

make my head spin

my otherwise intelligent brain freezes

makes me panic

shutdown

curl in a ball

cover my head

hit my head

What is normal for you

requires coping strategies for me

quiet space

support for basic adulting

. . .

The complete poem appears in Magical Women Magazine Vol. 1 you can purchase it here and support this amazing group that gives voice to neurodivergent artists. https://www.magicalwomen.co.uk/

The Anhinga’s Evening Routine

It sat in the shallow algae covered waters of the lake. Its long black neck snaked out of the water. With its knife-like beak, it flipped its catch in the air, turned it around, and swallowed the fish whole. In a flash, it was below the water again. Not even a ripple stirred on the water. It was completely submerged, searching for its next catch.

Anhinga fishing in the water Corrinne Brumby

These birds always amazed me with their masterful swimming and fishing skills. Most waterfowl like ducks, coots, and herons, all stay above the water. Ducks partially submerge sticking their beaks in the water, leaving their bottoms sticking in the air and their webbed feet kicking. But anhingas dive completely into the water.

In a quick motion, leading with their head, they go completely under coming up 30 seconds later with a fish that it swallows whole. Many other fishing birds don’t even dive for their fish. Herons, egrets, spoonbills, and storks all wade in the water and submerge only the end of their long beaks to catch their prey.

The anhinga is agile. I watched this one anhinga hunt. Within a few minutes it had caught more than four fish in the same manner, diving for no more than a minute at a time, and each time it came up with a fish and took a moment to wriggle it around in its beak and swallow it before diving back under the water.

It’s common to see anhingas perched on the water’s edge at any of the lakes in Florida. They sit there with their wings outstretched, drying their feathers, and soaking in the sun. But this time I got to see one in the water, fishing for its evening meal.

The anhinga continued to inch its way up the branch and shake its feathers vigorously. Droplets of water flew off in all directions. Then it spread its wings stretching them out and letting them dry in the setting sun. But just letting them sit there wasn’t enough.

The anhinga began beating its wings in a steady rhythm and moving its long neck. Unlike other birds, however, this bird’s dance wasn’t for show, it was more practical; it was the drying off dance. The dance seemed effective; its shiny black feathers fluffed on all sides. The anhinga had a successful evening eating its fill, and now it was winding down on its cozy tree as the sun set across the lake.

Originally published on https://www.theodysseyonline.com/anhinga-fishing