I am Jeanette Purkis. I am an Autism and mental health self-advocate, author, artist, poet and public speaker. I have been writing since I was a small child. I started with poetry and fiction - I have always had a great imagination. I have also loved visual art pretty much forever. I won an art competition when I was ten years old. Writing and painting are good ways of expressing things I can’t otherwise access - emotions mainly, as I struggle to consciously access my emotions. I studied painting at university and have a Masters degree in Fine art. I have exhibited in Australia and internationally. But while I love painting, my greatest passion is the written word.
I never thought of myself as a writer until I wrote my autobiography (‘Finding a Different Kind of Normal’, Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2006). Having a book published made me realise that maybe I should do more writing. I have a couple of additional books now and I also write articles for magazines and journals, mostly around living well with Autism. I have a regular blog-https://jeanettepurkis.wordpress.com- and have written guest blogs for all sorts of organisations. I have been writing a lot of poetry lately too. The first poems I had written in 15 years earned me first prize in a poetry competition in 2011. After that I took poetry a bit more seriously. I was a finalist in the Local Gems NaPoWriMo poetry competition this year (I wrote 30 poems for the month of April, all about Autism advocacy and acceptance). I had some poems published in a book in 2013 too (‘Perspectives Anthology II’, Local Gems Press). I just had a story about accepting my mental illness published on website ‘The Mighty’ - http://themighty.com/2015/08/why-i-lived-openly-with-autism-while-hiding-my-schizophrenia/
I think my Autism - and my need to communicate and express thoughts and feelings - contribute very strongly to my creativity and talent. When I was diagnosed in 1994 I was told people on the Autism spectrum are not creative but that is just silly. It is just another misunderstanding of Autistic reality. I consider myself a proud Autistic woman. I definitely think we are ‘different, not less’ and I love the fact that I can paint and write almost effortlessly.