From Hurt to Hope
Mair Elliott reflects on the path to hopefulness, her role as a mental health advocate, and her inspiring new book ‘From Hurt to Hope: Stories of Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Being Autistic.‘
I will be honest with you; I am a big ball of nerves. So much so, my executive functioning has abandoned me. I was supposed to write this blog post several weeks ago, yet here I am a day before my book is due to be published, trying to write a blog post about why you should buy it. I guess when one has poured their heart and soul into a piece of work, releasing said work to the eyes and judgement of the masses is daunting.
When asked to write a book, without hesitation I immediately thought of creating a collection of stories from autistic people. It seemed natural to me to include as many autistic voices as I could in a book about autism. How else was I supposed to convey the diversity and complexity of the autistic experience? The autism community has helped me in my darkest times and has celebrated with me in my happiest times. The community helped me piece together my true autistic self, for which I am eternally grateful. I also am very aware that being offered a publishing deal gives me a certain level of power in this world, I have tried to include voices from different walks of life, not just people who look like me. I will be the first to say that not all groups of people are represented, but I hope it is an improvement on the history of autism representation in the media.
It was also an instantaneous decision to build the book around the topic of hope. Hopefulness seems like such an abstract thing. Particularly to me, an autistic person that cherishes the cold hard facts. But in my life so far, all the things I have been through, both good and bad, have taught me that hope is no less crucial to our survival than the very oxygen we breathe. Whether in the darkest of times or the brightest, hope is what keeps us moving forward one step at a time. It quietly insists we are worth a better future.
Most people know me as an advocate for mental health and mental health care. As I am sure you are aware mental health is a complex thing, but if you were to ask me what I thought mental health was at its constitutional level, I would say ‘hope’. Many express the lack of hopefulness when in the pits of despair, I myself have been in that position, and so it seems logical to express mental health as hopefulness. Despite how it feels when shrouded in despair, there is a path to hopefulness. The stories in this book show a handful of ways in which different autistic people have made that journey from hopelessness to hopefulness (at least I hope they do – wink wink).
“This book is for those who need to read a story and feel recognized. This book is for those who want to hear what other autistic people have found helpful when facing mental health challenges. This book is for autistic people who want to know how others have found hope. This book is for carers, professionals and others to learn and understand what autism is like and what mental health challenges we face. This book is for non-autistic people to see we are human…
I hope you find an essay that you identify with. I hope that you can learn something about yourself, and I hope you can challenge yourself to listen to someone you may not normally hear.”
‘From Hurt to Hope: Stories of Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Being Autistic’ is available now.
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