Autism – Analysing conversations and Social Situations

Autism and Mental Health

Social situations can be a problem for many different reasons, from emotional noise, misreading facial expressions, to misreading what was said. Or just because of the fact that social skills don’t come naturally to us. Also, if there is a lot of background noise it can make social situations difficult, meaning we must work extra hard at listening to the person speaking to us and put in extra work at responding to them.

I mean, there are only so many times that you can ask someone to repeat themselves isn’t there, especially if you don’t want to annoy them. I have been known to just agree and hope I’ve answered in the right context.

Now that I realise that I am probably autistic, it has made things a little easier; I have to assume that I may have misunderstood what someone has said or misunderstood their facial expression, so there…

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Photography and Mindfulness

I have been a bit rubbish on the blogging front in recent months, a combination of falling into a new routine, appointments and not knowing what to write are to blame, but hoping things will settle again soon.

During the summer my GP suggested that I set myself small goals to help with my mental health and getting out and about again. Photography has helped me to reach some of those goals, just going out for a walk with the camera, getting out in nature. Either alone or with someone else. It has really helped and it helps to keep me focused on the present instead of the past or worrying about the future.

I have loved capturing the changing seasons, bright greens changing to bold reds and yellows. The flowers in the garden have pretty much finished, apart from the marigolds which seem to still be flowering at present. Blackberries, hawthorn berries, Holly berries and toadstools are in abundance now and the leaves are starting to fall.

The Budleia, or Butterfly Bush as it is also known, has finished flowering now. There are still a few Butterflies about, but not as many as there was a few weeks ago; it amazes me at just how fast things change. Often it goes unnoticed by us, especially in the rush rush rush of our daily lives. Photography slows that rush down somewhat.

On a walk with my Partner yesterday we spotted some Deer in the fields, they watched every move we made but didn’t seem bothered by us being there, they carried on with what they were doing.

I have applied for another online course, which I will possibly be starting this week, once the system is up and running. This one is a level 2 course called Caring for Children and Young People. A little out of my comfort zone as it covers areas such as safeguarding, nutrition and development.

Anyway, I will end this blog here, I hope things are going well for you x x

“Mum, I feel awkward”

We have made a good start to the new school year; getting back into the normal routine, at the moment things have been calm and less pressured. I promised myself I would just take each day as it comes, not to try as hard and go with the flow.

This morning, while we were waiting for my daughter’s class to be allowed in the school gate by their teacher, two of my daughter’s classmates came over to us to show my daughter a puppy. My daughter did speak, but she seemed to struggle and when her friends moved on to show the puppy to others my she looked at me and said “mum, I felt awkward”. I tried to go into it further, I asked her why she thought she felt awkward, but she said that she didn’t know how to explain.

I really felt for her, because I know from experience that that awkwardness never truly goes away. I am not certain, but I have a feeling that she may be Autistic too (I don’t have a diagnosis myself, but it has been suggested that I am Autistic and I am waiting for an assessment). She has started to notice that the things she is interested in and likes to talk about make her different from her friends. I doubt she will be put forward for an assessment or diagnosis, because, and I hate this term, she appears to be highly functioning. Without that diagnosis or learning about it, it causes a lifetime of feeling broken or inadequate.

Autism isn’t what I once thought it was and what a lot of others still think it is, there are so many misconceptions about what being Autistic means. We don’t all follow the stereotypes.

It’s at this age that friendships become more complex, especially with the girls, the friendships between girls becomes much more difficult to navigate. My daughters friends are mainly boys; she mainly plays with the boys at breaktimes, I asked her a while back whether she would like to play with the girls more often and she said no, the boys are easier. The girls argue and fallout to much and there are to many rules, one day they will play with you and the next they will leave you out.

Although she is much better at talking and understanding what it is she is feeling than I was at her age, she doesn’t always know why she is feeling the way she does or struggles to put it into words. She feels emotions deeply, she feels others pain. At school they have been learning about World War 2 this week and she told me that it had made her cry. It led to a long discussion at bedtime one night, she couldn’t sleep until she had talked it through. Its not the first time either, there have been other topics which have been met with the same reaction, she is aware of how scared people must have felt when faced with tragedy and loss, she says it makes her feel sad. She is so much like me.

I really don’t want her to struggle the way I did growing up, always feeling “awkward” and as though I didn’t fit. I don’t want that for her. I want her to feel comfortable with who she is.

The one thing she has that I didn’t have, someone that gets it! Someone who understands what it is like, and someone that can tell her that its ok to be different and that she is perfect just the way she is.

Content

This summer has been amazing; I feel content, calm and relaxed. I planned ahead, planned a couple of days out each week, allowing for days at home in between. I arranged which days we would have friends over, which days were spent just the three of us, I decided I wasn’t going to feel guilty for not being able to take my daughter out every single day, I stopped comparing myself to what others are able to do. I reduced the amount of pressure I put myself through each school holiday. I made allowances, I know my limits now and my triggers, as long as I don’t plan to much into a day or week and allow for recovery days inbetween things are calmer.

It was more laid back and both of us were so much happier, my daughter takes after me, she loves quiet days at home.

I have been focusing on my photography as well over the summer, spending time practicing and getting out for walks on my own as well as with others.

And, I have had fun, I know -crazy, right!

I wish it could always be like this, but we will be back to normal routine and reality soon.

I have kind of neglected my blog over the summer though, but once school resumes I will spend more time on it. Even redesigning it perhaps.

Anyway, I hope you are all well. Thought I would stop by so you don’t think I had fallen off the planet.

Health Scare

Sorry for the silence on here; I have not been feeling 100 per cent lately, but at least I now have the answers for it.

We blame a lot on our mental health don’t we, I know I certainly do, or my age. Some of the symptoms I have been experiencing like the tiredness, pins and needles, and pain I blamed on my mental health. The weight gain I blamed on doing less due to the lockdowns. But, when I started falling asleep during the day and no one could wake me I thought it was time to mention it to my GP. She booked me in for a blood test, just incase, and I half expected the results to come back normal and that it was just a new symptom for my mental health.

This turned out not to be the case, there is a physical reason for the symptoms I have been experiencing and I now have to take medication for the rest of my life. Not what I was expecting, I wasn’t sure what I felt about it to begin with, but I realise there is nothing I can do about it and I just have to get on with it.

I feel less tired today and everything is less of an effort, I am also worrying less, which is an added bonus.

I really wish I had said something sooner, but in the past most things have been blamed on my mental health, but mental health isn’t responsible for everything. This has proved to me how important it is to speak up and to get checked out.

In my case it wasn’t serious and it can be easily treated with medication.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Well, last nights storm did very little to clear the air; the heat this week has been unbearable. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun and warm days, but it has been far to hot for me. I feel uncomfortable when it gets to hot, also, I find my tolerance levels decrease a little.

I have now completed the course I was doing. I submitted the last unit on the 5th of July, I have had feedback on four of the units and waiting to hear back on the 5th. Although it became a little muddled, I have had unit 5 back before unit 4. I didn’t have any changes to make to unit 5, so I am happy with that. Time will tell as to whether I need to make amendments to unit 4.

It’s funny, I was surprised each time I received feedback from my tutor, and it was all positive. Time and again it has been proved to me that I am quite capable and have the intelligence to complete course like this, but there is still that little bit of doubt at the back of my mind, that voice which tells me I can’t do it or that I am thick. The long held belief I have held on to since i left school is proving difficult to fully let go of despite all the evidence to the contrary.

They have asked if I would like to do another course with them. I really do want too, but at the moment I am not sure which one.

An online course takes some different skill set to attending a course in person, I have had to be organised and plan how I spent my time studying and keeping to deadlines. I know my tutor was only an email away if there was anything I struggled with or didn’t understand, which I only needed to do a couple of times.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

I have really enjoyed the course and I am glad I went through with it. It has been interesting and I have taken a lot away from it. There is a level 3 course in mental health, but it is rather expensive and I have never attempted a level 3 course before, its a huge amount of money to waste if I am unable to cope with it. I have some big decisions to make.

The other thing that I am considering is whether to do a counselling course, basic counselling skills would be a bonus for looking for employment. To be honest, I am not really sure what route to take at the moment. I enjoy learning, especially about Mental Health and Psychology.

We have reached the summer holidays here in the UK, so I plan to spend as much time with my daughter and having fun as I can. A much needed break for the two of us. I am one very proud mum, her end of year report was amazing, she has done so well despite all the lockdowns and home learning. A new school year and a new teacher is ahead of her, although she likes the teacher she is going to have so that is a bonus.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

We went to the beach on Wednesday with my sister, I am not normally one for sitting in the sun but, it was enjoyable. We got there early and although there were a few people already there it wasn’t busy. Bought my daughter a large rubber ring inflatable and off she went into the sea with my sister. I was content sitting on the beach watching and listening to the waves.

Now, we just have to decide what we are going to do with our time this week.

Deleting a Blog?

For some time now I have been pondering over whether to close down the blogs I have been writing on. The reason I started writing is no longer a part of my life.

I have had so many changes over the last year, with different diagnosis and suspected Autism, the things I was once certain about have changed and I realise I know very little.

I love writing though, but have struggled to put ‘pen to paper’ over the last few weeks. Reading back through old posts feels like a lot of it happened so long ago, but in reality it was only a matter of months. Some even make me cringe.

I have no idea where to go from here.

Taking Stock

A trip to hospital was not what I had planned for today, but my partner persuaded me that I needed to go; A couple of weeks ago I fell and hurt my arm, the bruising and swelling has finally started to go down, but I have been left with a painful, hard lump under the skin. My partner thought that I may have damaged the bone, so convinced me to go and get it checked out.

To get to the hospital it meant taking the Bus, baring in mind I have not been on a bus since March the 19th 2020, just before the first Lockdown. Fear has prevented me from doing a lot of things this last year, as I am sure it has for many many people, since covid-19 I have avoided using public transport. But, today I had no choice, I had push myself far out of my comfort zone. It’s funny because I would use the Bus quite frequently to places I knew well, and then I just stopped, getting back to normality has been very difficult.

I don’t know what I was expecting really, other than having to wear a mask and use hand gel regularly, nothing had changed, it actually felt good to get out of the area I live in even if it was just for a trip to hospital. I realised just how small Anxiety had made my world, I had allowed it to restrict my life beyond recognition, how bad is it that I have only left the area I live in a maximum of 5 times since the beginning of the first lockdown.

It takes about an hour to get to the hospital by bus, 20 minutes by car lol, the bus goes around the houses, literally. I think I spent 3 hours at the hospital, before catching the bus home. I am shattered, it completely drained all of my energy, I new fell to sleep on the way home. My partner came with me, although he could stay with me for the booking in, he had to wait outside for the other part of it all, due to lack of space. I ended up needing an x-ray, so had to go from Minors to A and E, and then back to Minors to get the results. Although it wasn’t overly busy, well not compared to normal terms, it was the most people I have seen and had to deal with for a long while. August last year in fact, when my daughter had her appointment, although we had a lift for that one.

Turns out I have tissue damage and that’s what has caused the lump, they think it will take 4-6 weeks to heal properly.

Today has made me realise that things really do need to change, it is time to get my life back on track, one step at a time. I not only need to get out of the house more, I need to start venturing out of the town I live in, I have become trapped and my world has shrunk considerably due to Anxiety and Covid-19 and it isn’t good for me. It is not good for my Mental Health.

Rambling Thoughts

The air was cool and fresh on the walk to school this morning, although I feel a very muggy day is looming; my daughter was very chatty, and it was good to hear her laugh.  As of late there has not been enough laughter in our lives.

I am worried about her if I am honest, she has been very tearful and neither of us have been sleeping very well, on her part, I feel it is the transition that is on the cards that is her main concern.  As of September, it will be another new teacher and the work will be harder as she goes into Key Stage 2.  I remember what it was like changing teachers each year, although it was not too bad at the first school, it was much more difficult in the second school.  I really struggled with that change, it took me a while to get used to the change and the new routine.  Luckily, at my daughters’ school all the teachers are lovely, so I am hoping that it will be less ‘traumatic’ for her.

Time is going far to fast for my liking, before I know it, my daughter will be changing school. I am certainly not ready for that transition yet, even if she is lol.  It is not until you have children and plan your life term to term that you realise just how fast time goes.  I remember when I was her age, the school day seemed to go on forever, and as for the holidays, it felt like an eternity before they rolled around. 

It is funny, I thought my memory was awful and I had forgotten a lot of my childhood.  But now I believe it was Anxiety and trauma which prevented me from recalling a lot of the memories.  I use worrying as a distraction from traumatic memories, if I am constantly worrying then there is little space for the traumatic memories. It appears that it had the same impact on the good childhood memories, I just struggled to recall them.

The last two weeks it feels as though there has been a shift in the atmosphere, I have certainly worried less about what people think; perhaps it is the change in medication, which has reduced some of the Anxiety symptoms and in turn it has reduced some of the anxiety.  But, I also feel something has shifted within me, something is different and I can not quite put my finger on what that is.  Acceptance?  Defeat?  Self-worth? Determination?  I am not really sure!

I want change, I want change so badly, things certainly can’t go on the way they were.  I believe my worry about what people think is due to having such a low opinion of myself, but that seems to have shifted too.  A friend of mine pointed out to me last week just how strong I am, with everything that I have had to deal with from my childhood and battling through Anxiety and PTSD everyday and surviving, that takes a lot of strength. 

Not only that, if it does turn out that I am actually autistic, I have lived my life not knowing.  Not knowing why I struggled socially, not knowing what half of my triggers are, not knowing about the Sensory Sensitivity, yet I still found my way through.  Ok, so there have been times when I haven’t managed so well, especially recently.  But, I am still here to tell the tale, I am still here living my life.

This post is not turning out the way I had expected, it was meant to be one of those where I shared strategies and ideas, but my thoughts seem to have taken over.  Its more like a journal entry than a post.

A Different Perspective – does what others think really matter

Winter Dragonflies on Mental Health and Wellbeing

I attended a meeting a couple of weeks ago and I noticed something; after speaking to someone about the meeting and reading the meeting minutes I wondered if we had even attended the same meeting.

What they had taken away from it was vastly different to what I had taken away from it. The minutes felt a bit alien if im honest, because they felt different to what I had felt and experienced during that meeting. I was describing it to a friend yesterday and she explained it to me.

Two different people have different values, beliefs and life experiences; what is important to one can be different to the other, so you take from the situation the things that support your values, beliefs and experiences. Basically, when you are in an environment or situation you take from it what is important to you, you filter out the information that…

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