Introducing... Ashleigh Mills!

Monday, 30 July 2018

Hello all,

Each week, I will be introducing you all to a contributor to Stim. If you're on Twitter, you can tune in on Saturday evenings around 6pm where each person will talk a little about themselves and answer any Qs you have; else you can pop over here to read all about it in condensed form.

This week I have the pleasure of introducing you to Ashleigh Mills. Ashleigh is a poet, psychologist, and actor. They are an autistic BSL user whose piece for Stim will be exploring the relationship between mental health, sex and identity - particularly the intersection of trauma, autism, and the inclination to BDSM.

Ashleigh Mills

"Hi friends! Happy Saturday!  I'm gunna be talking a little bit about myself, my creative work, and my stim contribution - a personal essay about BDSM, autism, trauma and vulnerability!

My creative work portfolio can be described as a disjointed: My photography decorates the walls of a Leeds College; my essay on the disruptive force of Shakespearean women’s sexuality has been published. My mum has some paintings of mine being ‘kept safe’ ...in the attic. My main creative focus and outlet has been poetry. While I've performed spoken word before, most of my poetry is about the vulnerable, the traumatic. I’ve always been drawn to the radically soft, the tender, about strength born from resilience. Stuff best read with tea and blankets!

Which brings us to my work for the Stim Anthology! I'm writing an essay exploring the crossover of autism, trauma, and sexuality. Namely, about the inclination towards kink or BDSM because of the safety it affords when practised healthily. Does that seem like an oxymoron?

...Guess you'll have to read the book to see how it Very Much Isn't!

As a personal essay, it opens with me, in therapy, and how a surprising comment from my therapist led me to reassess what I thought I knew. It speaks of fragmentation and confusion, and of the journey for unity. It efficiently sidesteps the overblown narrative of autistic people only being interested in planes, trains and automobiles. While they can be fun pursuits of the autistic people interested, I prefer kink, poetry and personal politics!

So why an essay? Why not poetry? Well, because of the needed detail; subtext is important here. Particularly as I will be
dealing with trauma and sexuality - two things incredibly personal! It requires a logical narrative and the freedom of words that poetry may not afford.

My creative process is pretty basic: it mostly starts with word association, perhaps an A-Z acrostic of words I associate with
the meeting with my old therapist, or a list of Very Important Things I must include! Then I practise free writing: sitting down and letting the words flow. Then revisit and rewrite!

I thiiiiiink that's really all I've got to say about my contribution to Stim! If there is anything you'd like to ask about me or my piece, feel free to tweet me! If you like the sound of my contribution, please consider pledging and finally, if you want to see more of my work, please visit my website or check out my instagram. (Please note, my website definitely needs
updating! Unfortunately, it's on my post-dissertation to-do list! Please bear with me!)"

Another update coming this week as I introduce you to wonderful Reese Piper, our next contributor, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all. We have gone up 5% in one month, which doesn't seem like a lot, but it really, really is. Please keep talking about the project, sending it to your pals and we will absolutely get there. Let's keep up the trend and hit 50% by the end of August!

All the best,

Lizzie

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