Clarity to Volunteer:
It could be Life or Death...
Disclaimer: I am not an Autistic Spectrums Disorder expert, nor am I a Therapy Professional. Any advice I give is for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be considered professional advice. Professionals, such as teachers, doctors and therapist should be consulted before any life style changes are made, This website, and my services, should not be seen as a replacement for professional diagnosis, medication, or therapy. I refer to myself as a professional; however this is due to my experiences as an individual with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and not due to my qualifications. Everything on this website is written from experiences and my own personal opinions. I hope to educate and inspire others with my knowledge. I can not guarantee any personal success or results, and will no be held responsible for any lack of success.
My moment of clarity to volunteer came to me before life saving surgery; I was lying in a hospital bed in utter agony; undergoing countless examinations and it suddenly dawned on me the reasons I am inspired to volunteer and give back.
With my hand attached to a drip, on a heavy dose of morphine and drifting in and out of consciousness, I realised that I owe a life time of happy memories to the support of others. What could I possibly do to show my gratitude to my family? To the stars that supported me through my Autism disability and the darkness that comes with it? Pain ripped through me as fearful anxiety ate into the depths of my mind... What if I don’t get a chance to show I am thankful?
What if I die here?
There is no bigger motivator than thinking that you may die; when Doctors found my (as it turns out) insignificant Tumour, I knew it then. It was actually my high calcium levels putting my life in danger! Yet, what I realised, is that life can change direction at a moment’s notice; we should never take advantage of it. I thought to myself; “How can I achieve my dreams of helping others, if I can’t help myself get better?” So I threw myself into volunteering. To help me gain the skills necessary so that I could help my community, to give me some peace of mind while PTSD was creating havoc upon my life, to create a swell of understanding; and so, my voluntary adventures began. Shining light onto my path at the moment when I was wading through darkness; giving me hope, light, at the end of the tunnel of agony and despair. I was already a volunteer and it had already changed my life, but it was then when my journey truly began. When I truly realised just how wonderful volunteering was.
From that moment; I realised just how much volunteering had changed me as a person, and moulded me into a new and improved Joely; someone who could do speeches in front of hundreds of people about my life with Asperger’s Syndrome and PTSD, manage events, design and deliver training workshops and advise those in need. That was me. I still find myself amazed that I, little old terrified me, achieved all those things, when once upon a time the darkness was so thick with PTSD and Meltdowns that I really didn’t think it was possible.
The truth is, I am a survivor of many things; terrible bullying through school, discrimination, isolation, and abuse. Abuse and bullying from those I trusted has given me my diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I used to suffer with hourly Flashbacks; the terror would grip at my soul as the memories intoxicated my dreams, depression would corrode any self belief, and fear would crush my lust for life.
I wasn’t human; I was a zombie, drifting in a post apocalyptic world, terrified and alone... emotionally numb, desperate; waiting for the pain to end.
Finally, after years of fighting it, I have broken free from my chains of PTSD that were holding me back, and I can now safely say the pain from the past is mostly over. I am no longer faced with multiple flashbacks and self doubt or insecurities every day. I get easily managed flashbacks, and minor panic attacks, at most. My recovery started with family support, counselling, and volunteering my time and creative energy to many different projects with my youth disability group (The Chatterboxes) the local council and the government to help others like me. Volunteering soon became a passion to make a difference, and truly, that passion is the drive of my life!
Whilst recovering from surgery, and PTSD, I volunteered all of my spare time; reaching up to 25 hours voluntary work a week. Within that year I had won 2 National Awards and my journey spiralled from there; I have been on National and American TV and National Radio, nearly published my book and achieved my dreams through the ability to create disability and Autism understanding training workshops and speeches. I love life as an Autism Activist, Motivational Speaker and Volunteer!
People gratefully tell me how I have improved their understanding of Autism and challenged any negative perceptions; that I have shown some hope in what seemed to be a dark situation. That I have changed their life and given them a fresh outlook.... and that is the most incredible, magical feeling I could ever imagine, as much as it still shocks me that I even make an impact. It was breath taking; it was beautiful. The zombie exterior fell away; years of anguish, fear and agonising memories evaporated, and suddenly I felt human; I felt happy again...
It was worth it.
These experiences; the abuse, bullying, diseases, agony of memories and PTSD all taught me valuable lessons in life. They inspired me to do more to help, to appreciate the wondrous quirks within my disability and strive to make a difference to others facing similar challenges. Lying in that hospital bed is the moment of clarity when I truly realised what I had to do; volunteer my way to a brighter future, create new projects, throw myself in the deep end, while I still could.
I know now that everything I have been through was worth it; I truly have achieved my dream of helping others through volunteering; and I feel like the luckiest women alive!
Despite how horrendous those years of darkness and diseases really were, they motivate me every day; setting my heart on fire. The passion blows hot throughout me; because I could have died with those diseases and I couldn’t look back on my life with regret.
Truly; I know I never will.
Volunteering has taught me many priceless lessons; I learnt then that you should never underestimate the power of people. Yes, the sad truth is that people can tear you down, they can be cruel and bully. But most importantly, the good people can build you up and make you achieve feelings and things that you never thought was possible before. I have learnt that the best place to find those amazing, kind, caring generous and selfless people is through volunteering!
Never forget that the power of people can change the world; and an individual can change their lives and the lives of others around them. No matter what challenges you face, no matter the adversity or the emotions that settle with raw tears within your eyes; let that person be you. Change lives, to change your life.
x <3 x