* This post has been written by our previous Social Media Manager. *
Hi, I'm Cameron! As a sufferer of moderate-severe depression and GAD (generalised anxiety disorder), I’m very aware of how little support is offered to those with disabilities of the mind. This is because a mental illness isn’t typically seen as a ‘disability’. Yet depression and anxiety can be extremely debilitating conditions to live with, which massively impact your quality of life.
As a young guy living with Autism who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the world can already be a terrifying place. Sometimes understanding your own emotions is a challenge. Where or who do you turn to? Would anyone understand what I’m going through? Would a therapist even believe me? These are questions you ask yourself all the time. It consumes your mind.
My mental health issues arose from the conflict with my sexuality, and they remain with me to this day, despite making peace with who I am. However, I’m a firm believer that your disability does not define you. It’s just one small aspect of your identity, and nothing is impossible if you really put your mind to it.
Looking back on my childhood, unlike most children, I had no desire to ‘fit in’ when I was younger. I became fixated on things quite quickly, with Harry Potter taking up the bulk of my childhood obsession - to the point where I memorised trivia about the series inside and out. I was also prone to head butting walls as an infant. I would keep myself isolated and stay in my own little bubble, all whilst being perfectly content. Collectively these signs pointed to autistic spectrum disorder, but I wasn’t diagnosed until earlier this year.
Collectively these challenges motivated me to become an advocate for mental health and autism. I began openly sharing my experiences on social media to raise awareness, and highlight what it’s really like to live with my disorders. I also want to educate parents on the importance of getting their children tested and diagnosed with ASD as early as possible. Early intervention would’ve prevented me from waiting as long as I did to get answers. So, I want others to be able to get the support they need as soon as possible, regardless of their severity.
Throughout my struggles, I found solace in writing. It’s the only thing that distracts me from my issues and I’ve always had a love for words. It’s also one thing I’m genuinely good at, so it was inevitable that my passion eventually interloped with my career aspirations. I went on to successfully study degrees in Creative and Professional Writing and Multimedia Journalism. My other interests include music, gaming, travelling, and swimming. All these activities help me focus, as my attention span can often divert from one thing to another.
As mentioned above, I’m also very proactive on social media. Despite the highs and lows that come with using such platforms, it’s become a great coping mechanism. Especially Twitter, as I can vent about anything and everything without raising people’s eyebrows. Whether it’s for professional reasons, to chat with other people, look at funny memes, or watch videos - I’m on every single social network you can find! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat… and even TikTok! You name it - I’m probably on it.
It is because of my disability-related experiences, educational achievements, passion for helping others and abilities to navigate social media, that I was able to begin my next venture. So, I am pleased to announce that I have joined the AYL team as their new Social Media Administrator (now Social Media Manager as of December 2021). I’m really looking forward to helping make the world a more accessible, inclusive, and supportive place for people living with disabilities. But in the meantime, if you have any questions relating to my experiences, please get in touch via the links below!