When I was a garden writer, the industry’s biggest priority was getting young adults to garden. Nobody could figure out why they weren’t gardening as much as older generations!

Now, as a homeowner, I understand.

Here’s a thread.
First of all, many of us young adults can’t afford to own a home.

Those of us who can afford it are prioritizing by spending money on repairs:

Either we’ve inherited bottom-of-the-barrel and neglected older houses, or bought new houses that were built quickly and cheaply.
Those of us young adults who live in condos and apartments often do end up gardening, because it requires less time and money.

But the gardening industry doesn’t stand to make much money from them.
When I was in the garden writing industry, there was a LOT of pressure on us to promote ‘green’ practices such as replacing lawns with landscaping, using only native plants, never using chemicals of any kind, etc.

I am ALL about those practices. However...
Replacing a lawn with landscaping is touted as low-maintenance, but it requires up-front costs and knowledge of the local conditions and appropriate plants...

So you either need to know your stuff or hire a landscape architect.
Landscaping a house takes a lot of time and effort. It’s great if you’re passionate enough to pull it off, but most of the time we millennials (and younger) don’t have the time.
Many of us young homeowners are working full time while our partner also works full time and then... wait, now there’s a kid, someone gets laid off...

The gardening industry was woefully unaware of why millennials weren’t buying their products.
It isn’t that Millennials don’t *want* to be homeowners and spend money on lawns and gardens.

We really do want to. We just can’t.
The only reason I put so much time and money into a garden was because I was a garden writer at the time and horticulture was my special interest.

I also had a regular income at the time.
So the reason I stopped being a garden writer is simple.

It made me recognize that the lifestyle blogging/writing industry absolutely REEKS of entitlement and privilege.

I didn’t want to be a part of it.
I knew that gardening made me happy, so I wanted to share that joy.

Now I realize that it brought me joy because I’m autistic and it’s my special interest.

Now I want to help people in more meaningful ways.
I didn’t want to peddle garbage about ‘curating your life’ and perfecting your home and garden.

I hated the fact that I was writing about things that not everyone could afford.
When I started out as a garden writer, I was fresh out of college.

I learned to garden, started a blog, wrote a book, for sponsorships and wrote for big brands.

Within eight years, I earned enough to quit my day job. But I was miserable.
So I started pursuing a career in children’s books.

As I struggled balancing that with garden writing, home ownership and fatherhood, I crashed.

I hit Autistic burnout.
My autistic burnout was this bad:

Within a year, I was hospitalized with optic neuritis, shingles, pneumonia and shutdowns so bad that I couldn’t move a muscle.

My muscles were so rigid that I struggled to walk. I had temporary muteness.

I couldn’t function and lost work.
During my autistic burnout, the yard and garden were abandoned. My wife and child likely felt abandoned as well.

I could no longer piece together the thoughts it took to write, so I quit social media and eventually lost all my writing jobs.

But then I learned about autism.
When all the tests came back negative for MS, I started noticing similarities between myself and autistic people I’ve met.

Then I read up on autism, took some screening tests and re-evaluated my life in a whole new light.

Could I be autistic too?
TW: Trichotillomania and dermatillomania

By that point I was covered in bleeding sores from picking, and had missing patches of hair from pulling.

My son’s classmates always reminded me of this whenever I dropped him off.

I only did it because it comforted me.
My therapist told me that picking and pulling were OCD behaviors, but I wondered if I was really stimming.

So I tested a theory. Next time I wanted to pick, I would flap and flicker my fingers instead.

I flapped my hands in the mirror and saw my face light up. Pure joy.
As I flapped for the first time since childhood, something felt familiar and calm.

I fluttered my fingers and felt my muscles relax.

The face in the mirror was that of a beaming child. Tears streamed down my face as I laughed and sputtered the words ‘I’m autistic!’
I started watching YouTube videos of children and adults stimming, and instantly felt at ease. The next thing I knew, I was flapping and swaying along with them, clicking my fingers and laughing at how silly I must have looked.
The more I stimmed, the more I could remember my childhood and reconcile the feelings of being broken and unworthy of love.

I realized that as long as I could stim, I could be me. And if I could accept myself as autistic, I could love myself and stop living in fear.
My therapist told me I didn’t look autistic enough and couldn’t be because I managed to struggle through college and hold down a job. He kept discouraging me from seeking a diagnosis.

So I got an official diagnosis to show him on my last appointment.
I wanted to share the joy that I felt upon seeing other people stim. So by the time I was diagnosed, I started drawing illustrations of children stimming and sharing them in Reddit.

They made an impact on people’s lives, so I became #OpenlyAutistic on Twitter as well.
This is why I am so faithful and optimistic.

My burnout was the lowest point of my entire life. It affected my physical health and made me question everything.

But it led to self-discovery, an autism diagnosis, and pure #AutisticJoy.
So to sum it up:

I put everything into a career,
Had an identity crisis,
Could no longer cope with demands,
Hit Autistic burnout,
Got very sick,
Realized I was autistic,
Started stimming,
Accepted myself,
Got an autism diagnosis
And am now happier than ever before.
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