Whitney Lee Geertsen
Image: In my picture I am hugging a tree. I have short golden brown hair wrapped up in a pink bandanna. I am wearing sunglasses and a pink shirt.
Contact Whitney: wlgeertsen at gmail.com
I am an autistic twenty-four-year-old woman. Two years ago, I pictured myself as wildlife educator. Then my goals unraveled along with my health. I grieved the path I lost. Embers of memory sparked within and I remembered as a child I always had another dream.
I dreamed of being a writer. I had two overriding passions as a child, science and literature. I was enthusiastic about animals. I used what I learned about animals and wilderness to create elaborate stories in my head. I would weave stories, poems, and put together booklets about animals. As school got harder I became increasingly frustrated with literature. The answers felt more like I was mindreading the teachers than making my own interpretations.
Ultimately, my love for the wilderness is what drove me to choose science over writing. I could taste graduation. I needed to finish up my capstone project to graduate from Weber State University in Ogden, UT. I majored in their interdisciplinary program. I chose to incorporate zoology, botany, and recreation.
At that point my body began to break inside. I had to abandon my capstone project due the slow suffocation of allergies. I was studying butterfly diversity. I became allergic to Arthropods (insects, crustaceans, arachnids, etc.). I dropped out of school to figure things out. Next came endless pain and chronic dizziness. I was later diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Chronic coughing and increased sensitivity to synthetic chemicals led to a diagnosis of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. All this on top of dealing with a myriad of mental health nightmares.
Navigating healthcare and getting close to aging out of my parent’s health insurance sparked the fire of change. I started my blog about how my health challenges influence the way I see the world. I started Autistic Observations to advocate for autism, mental illness, and chronic illness. I am working on attending school. I plan to change my recreation emphasis to communications. My goal is to intertwine my interests in autism advocacy and wildlife to share novel insights on autism and mental health. I joined this platform so that I can gain further opportunities as I change career paths from wildlife education to freelance journalism.
You can find Whitney at her website
Whitney is available as a source and for personal essays
Additional communication availability: Text, chat