The Mind of Anxiety

Leave the house or everyone will forget you exist.
Return home or they will remember how awful you are.
Speak up or people will think you have no tongue.
Be silent or you will offend the world.
Do what they ask or you won’t be respected.
Disobey them or you won’t be respected.
Listen to something else other than your mind, for once.
How can you listen to something else when your mind won’t ever leave?
It’s that music the neighbours are playing too loud, it’s your heartbeat that you just remembered is right there, it’s the alarm clock reminding you that you are alive.
Talk to people or you’ll suffocate.
Don’t talk or their advice will make you regret it.
No one can help you except yourself, they say.
Try being me. Then give me that advice. I can’t help myself. I’m a block of ice. Helping myself would mean melting away.

Dyspraxia To Me

It’s dyspraxia awareness week, so I thought I’d do a post on it. Some of you might have watched the recent ‘Doctor Who’ episode and noticed that a new main character – Ryan – has the condition. I was extremely impressed by this stance as dyspraxia is almost never portrayed in fictional characters. You often have clumsy characters, but it is never said that they have dyspraxia. However, it was made very clear that Ryan does have it. His struggle with learning to ride a bike was something all too real for me as I too suffer with dyspraxia and have never learned to ride a bike. I tried, but I could never get off the stabilisers. This is a problem for many dyspraxic people – though not all. My mum is dyspraxic and can ride a bike. Each person has their own weaknesses and strengths.

People often think that dyspraxia is just a medical term for being clumsy but it is more than just physically bumping into things a lot. It can sometimes give problems with speaking. For me, I get words muddled up and I end up saying the completely wrong word or phrase or pronouncing it wrong. People always correct me and it makes me really angry sometimes because it’s not that I’m stupid. It’s not that I don’t know how to say it. It’s that my mouth doesn’t work with my brain. It can also affect handwriting, making it hard to read. At school, I had terrible handwriting, so they tried to make me join it up — this, however, just made it impossible to read. Thanks school.

I don’t know how to do up a bra. A simple task that lots of girls my age can do is impossible for me. I remember, for years, I’d get my mum to do it up. Now I wear sports bras. I also used to have to wear ties at school, which I could not tie. PE was a nightmare. I can’t tie my hair into a bun. I remember, once, for science (and this was our practical exam so it was important) I had to tie my hair up into a bun. I knew how to do it into a ponytail, so I did. The teacher, in a very angry voice, told me to do it into a bun. I didn’t. I couldn’t. Remember, I’m also autistic, so I couldn’t exactly express this to her. I felt embarrassed and ashamed because every other girl could. She repeated herself, even more angry. I kept fiddling with my hair until finally – as if by a miracle – it became something that resembled a bun. I then burst into tears. Luckily, goggles were covering my eyes so my teacher didn’t notice. She called me over to check my bun. It was fine. I was safe. I could continue with the practical exam. I think, if I hadn’t have done my bun up in that moment, I might have walked out of the classroom and jeopardised my grade. I still can’t do up a bun; that was just a moment of madness where my hands managed to do it. I haven’t been able to repeat it since.

I’m terrible with organisation, and time management, and directions. Don’t ask me to read a map for you. I also can’t do up shoelaces. There’s a lot of things that dyspraxia stops me from doing. It is a disability, yet it is in the shadow of other conditions, and I just don’t know why. For instance, if I were to tell someone I was autistic and dyspraxic, they would immediately start thinking about my autism and how that must affect me. My autism is what everyone talks about, but my dyspraxia is also very challenging to deal with, and it really isn’t recognised that much. Most kids are told they’re clumsy or stupid when they might have dyspraxia. I think it’s seriously under-diagnosed.

That’s what awareness is about. Getting people to recognise the symptoms so they wonder whether they have it or someone they know has it. Remember: it plays out differently in everyone.

A lot of dyspraxic people struggle with sports; catching and throwing a ball can be a real challenge. I’ve struggled with sports and was often told that I just wasn’t good at anything. I have terrible posture, also a result of my dyspraxia. This posture issue causes me pain when I stand up for too long but I can’t say to people that, because I’m disabled, I deserve to sit in that disabled seat on the train. They’d look at me and think I was a liar. I don’t look like I have a disability. The ignorance is astounding.

I have autism and dyspraxia, which are actually quite often found together. Dyspraxia can be found alone, as with my mum, but is usually accompanied by something else. It is also said to be much more common in men than women but you don’t really know how many people truly have it, due to the fact it is under-diagnosed, and whether the statistics are as true as they seem.

Dyspraxia isn’t just clumsiness. It’s much more than that. I hope this post helped you understand some of the difficulties we face and begin to recognise the signs that someone has dyspraxia. Remember that we are all different and this is just my story of dyspraxia. Somebody else’s story might be very different.

Lia

Dear Eve: Secrets

Dear Eve,

I have a secret. It’s a secret I can’t even tell you, Eve, because I know you would disapprove. I don’t think anyone would approve but my secret involves a decision I made. I am sick of other people making decisions for me so I made my own decision for once. I want to be my own person. I didn’t want to do this but I felt like I was backed into a corner, Eve, and now the decision is done. The decision I will not tell anyone about. We all have secrets, skeletons; mine doesn’t affect anyone else, just me, and that’s why it should be my decision and my decision alone. How many secrets do you have, Eve?

My family think they know what’s best for me. Sometimes they do but sometimes they don’t and sometimes I need to decide what’s best for me myself. I just want to be able to be myself again. I haven’t been myself for a while because I haven’t been able to write whatever I wanted. My mind has been riddled with nothing and that’s the scary thing. I’m a writer, so when my mind is empty, where does that put me? Without a purpose, or a goal, or anything to pass the time.

I feel scared of the future. I can’t talk to many people about my worries but I can talk to you because you’re imaginary. When I talk to real people, the vast majority of them give me the advice that I really don’t need. They try to help but they don’t and it’s always been that way… so eventually you stop going to them. Eventually you close yourself off and don’t tell them, because you know they’ll say “if you try, it will work” or “you can do it!” — and that’s people who actually try to help. Sometimes, I’m pushed to the side because people (particularly my family) aren’t in the mood. They’re never in the mood to just talk to me and they’re the people that I want to talk to the most. They’re who I really want to talk to about my problems.

When you can’t talk to people, or when they tell you to wait, eventually you want to take matters into your own hands. I am sick of people telling me happiness is a choice. Not for me, it isn’t. It has never been a choice for me. For people with depression, that’s going to make them feel worse. It’s going to make them think: “if happiness is a choice, why can’t I make myself happy?”

I have decided a lot of things recently, personal things, and I have told no one about them. They’re my secrets. If I told a single soul about them, I know that I wouldn’t get what I’m after. The point of telling people used to be just to get it off my chest, to have someone know; it was a relief. Now I feel like there is no point. No matter how close I am to the person, however much they mean to me, I am worried about their response. That’s why I’m silent.

Thank you for reading, Eve. I know this letter might seem confusing or strange, but it meant that I could at least get something off my chest, even if I couldn’t tell you the full story.

Love,

Lia

C [Poem]

Sometimes it’s A or B,
Other times there’s only C.
They say you have a choice,
but that isn’t always true.
Often, you have to resort
to doing what’s best for you.
It might make them upset
but you’re not their puppet.
A or B might lead you astray,
so give C a try,
before it’s taken away.

An A – Z Of What Makes Us Happy

This is a collaboration post with ANewChapter so be sure to check her out. If you don’t, you’ll never get to find out what we said for the other letters of the alphabet! Basically, we took alternate turns saying what makes us happy from each letter of the alphabet. Half of the alphabet will be posted here and half on her blog, so be sure to check her out for N – Z.

Me: A – Animals. I’ve always been a massive animal lover and seeing animals and being around them just makes me happy.

ANewChapter: B – BTS, listening to their music always make me happy and watching videos of their quirky personalities always lifts up my mood.

Me: C – Cats. I know they’re technically an animal, but they deserve their own letter because they’re so awesome! Their purr is soothing and calm, they’re so loving, and they are always in my heart.

ANC: D – Discounts: pretty self-explanatory.

Me: E – the Earth. Everything about nature and the world makes me smile. I love observing nature and learning new things about it. It’s wonderful to watch.

ANC: F – Ferrero Rocher (not sponsored): I love chocolate and my all-time favourite chocolates are Ferrero Rocher.

Me: G – Green. This isn’t my favourite colour but I find it the most calming colour, as it symbolises nature. Whenever I see it, I imagine forests and grass; that’s why it makes me happy.

ANC: H – Honesty: I always appreciate honest people. It means that they’re not scared of being vulnerable and uses that as their strength.

Me: I – Ink. I love to write so ink is a must. To be able to write everything down in a notebook is just wonderful.

ANC: J – Jewellery. I’ve always loved wearing pretty jewellery, I think that it adds a nice finishing touch to any outfit.

Me: K – Korean dramas. I quite enjoy watching these and they’re usually really good.

ANC: L – Languages: I love learning new languages, even if it’s just a few words. Currently, I can speak 3 languages fluently and can vaguely speak another.

Me: M – Music. This is an obvious one, but music always lifts my mood. I don’t listen to it as much as I should but, when I do listen to it, it makes me happy.

That’s it! That’s all of the alphabet you get from me, so you’ll have to check out ANewChapter’s post for the other half of the alphabet!

What makes you happy?

Lia

Dear Eve: Meltdowns

Dear Eve,

Thank you for reading my first letter. It means a lot that someone, however fictitious you are, is reading these. So, my fictitious friend, here is my second letter.

I have meltdowns a lot. When I have a meltdown, it’s because everything gets too much for me. These show in various ways, depending on who I’m with. If I’m with my family, I generally have more active signs. I’ll start talking loads at first, basically saying why something’s not how it’s supposed to be, and eventually I’ll cry if it isn’t resolved immediately.

My meltdowns with other people aren’t so obvious, however. People won’t really notice that I’m having a meltdown. I go subdued and quiet, and I kind of try to think about nothing at all because if I think about something, I’m worried my meltdown will become visible. On occasion, I do have more visible signs, but I try to postpone them for as long as possible. I’ll go on my phone a lot if I’m feeling really worried and I will probably text my mum. My mum usually answers quickly and she always distracts me with updates on the pets. I find talking about my pets calms me down instantly.

I’m terrified that someone will notice I’m having a meltdown and think that I’m being ridiculous or that I’m a bad person. I heard a story of someone buying all the apple pies in McDonalds because they heard a kid ‘being bratty about wanting one and having a tantrum’. It made me think: this person judged this kid without even knowing the kid. Perhaps the kid, like me, was autistic or had another problem? How do you know? You don’t. So I always worry that people will think terribly of me because I look so ordinary. I don’t want to be thought of like that.

I wonder if you’ve ever had meltdowns, Eve. A lot of people have them; it’s just that they’re more common in autistic people. My mum has them herself quite often but she isn’t autistic. She is dyspraxic however, so isn’t exactly ‘neurotypical’.

It’s nice discussing these things with you because I know you’ll never reply with advice on how to fix my problems. The truth is, Eve, I can’t fix my problems. I will live with them for my entire life. I can figure out ways of dealing with them, but that isn’t fixing them. I don’t like it when people, especially people without autism, tell me ways I can improve myself. They don’t know how tough it is for me and how terrible that advice makes me feel, Eve. I feel constantly like everyone is trying to see me as a person with potential, someone who can become something. That pressure to be what they want me to be sits inside me always. My IQ means nothing. It’s not about how clever you are, it’s about how suited you are to the world, and I’m a cat in a dog food factory. Basically, the world is wrong for me. I try to fit in but I never will.

I’ve accepted that I won’t fit in, but some people still try to see me as someone who needs to fit in with society. I need to work hard to get somewhere (where am I going? I don’t know), I need to not have meltdowns, and I need to respond when people talk to me. I like how you don’t expect these things of me, Eve.

People think these things are simple, but there are a million reasons why, for me, they’re not simple. I could go over the list but I don’t think you would finish this letter, Eve. So I’m just going to say one thing: this isn’t me. I’m not steady, I’m not calm, I’m not social. None of that is me. I sometimes feel like no one really knows me but I guess you’ll know me, Eve. These letters will help you know me. Thank you, again, for reading.

Love,

Lia

Dear Eve: A New Idea

Before I start, I want to say thank you to Kel for inspiring me and allowing me to do this. He recently started a letter series addressed to someone called Joe, whom is made up, and I thought it was a really good idea. It helps you to get your thoughts out there. I’ve done a few letters in the past, but never directed towards a fictitious person, so I think it’s a really great idea. You can say exactly what’s on your mind, but also feel like you’re expressing it to someone, even if they’re imaginary. I hope this series works out for me too, and please go check out his blog!

Dear Eve,

I know you don’t know me yet but you will know me. You aren’t real and yet I feel like I’m talking to someone. This is my first letter to you and I hope there will be many more.

Do you like cats, Eve? Back in August I visited a cat cafe for the first time in my life, in London. My anxiety was high about going to London as it’s such a big city but it turned out okay I think. The cats were cute anyway. I wonder, would you be a cat person or a dog person? I have both cats and a dog but I’d consider myself a cat person. I do the ‘would I have one if I lived by myself?’ test. As I live with my family, it is easier for me to have a dog, but I don’t think I would be able to deal with one if I lived by myself. The training and walkies would be too much for me, I think. Cats, however, would definitely be there. That’s why I’m a cat person. Cats also don’t bark whenever the bell rings, unlike a certain pomchi.

I guess you could call me an anxious person, Eve. I think a lot. Too much. Even when I know a solid plan, I think about the many, many ways in which it could go wrong. For instance, I am going to a board game club (yay social life) and I am going to take a game that I quite like — Catopoly (I told you I’m a cat person) which is basically cat monopoly. However, I am extremely worried that no one else will like the game and it will be boring for them. I know some of them for sure like cats but I don’t know if they’ll like this game.

About the social life thing: I might go to a couple of clubs, but I’m not a very social person. Outside of that, there isn’t much I do. I do sometimes have a social life outside of these clubs but it is infrequent. The reason I started going to these clubs was because I wasn’t going out at all. I just didn’t want you to get the wrong impression of me, Eve. I wouldn’t want to lie to you about being a high-flying social butterfly.

Our house has been on the market for over a year and it still hasn’t sold. It did sell for a bit but then the buyer decided she actually couldn’t afford it so it’s been back on for a while now. It’s stressing me out, the viewings. Often, there is little warning of them and I love notice. So when there’s hardly any notice that I have to leave the house for the viewing, it stresses me out. I’m stressed a lot lately. There’s another viewing soon but I was given an acceptable amount of warning for it. It’s still stressful but less so than if I had been given less warning. We always have to take the dog out as he isn’t the friendliest to ‘intruders of our house’ (basically people he deems to be in his territory). We have a good guard dog. If someone ever attempts to break in, we will know before they get in the door.

I’m feeling quite tired now, Eve. Did you like my first letter? I hope it was okay for you. I really want to talk to you more in future letters. I write this in my bed, at half-past midnight, because I always find my thoughts most cluttered in the night. Thanks for helping me decluttering them, Eve, by letting me write you this letter.

Love,

Lia

People Tell Me

People tell me I’m sensitive. What this means is that my heart is unlocked and you just need to climb inside it to see that I’m crying. People tell me I’m insensitive. What this means is that I picked up a pebble and threw it into the wind, but then it fell back down and was bigger than I first noticed. People tell me I’m beautiful. What this means is that my mind is a socket and people are plugging in a charger for my feelings. People tell me I’m ugly. What this means is that everyone else sat in a field of grass whilst I played in the mud. People tell me I’m smart. What this means is that I listened to thousands of other voices regurgitating the same spit. People tell me I’m dumb. What this means is that my life is an essay that I have yet to complete. People tell me a lot of things. What this means is that their lips keep determining, their eyes keep deducting, and their ears keep ignoring. I tell myself that I’m here. What this means is that I can focus on the snakes or the mice but, either way, I’m going to get bitten. Instead, I should focus on the most conflicting voice of all: my own.

I’m Autistic

I’m autistic.

I don’t like maths or science. I’m not a massive fan of trains either.

Music is good, but I don’t listen to it on big headphones constantly, putting the same song on repeat for years.

I’m not a boy and I didn’t attend a special school either.

I don’t rock constantly and I actually enjoy social interaction. Not all the time, but sometimes it’s nice.

I do indeed have empathy, in fact I am more sensitive than most people.

My name is Lia. I’m 19 years old and I was diagnosed with autism when I was 15. I had been struggling with school for many years before that, especially with bullying (which was most severe when I was 12). I didn’t know how to make friends, or how to keep friends. Most friends I made have drifted from me. They were temporary and I tried to keep in contact with a few but I don’t think they wanted to keep in contact with me, as their replies were very short and hard for me to respond to. It’s okay; we make temporary friends and long term friends.

As an autistic person, I have interests that are more deep than most people, but perhaps not as deep as other autistic people. I say this because I’ve suffered with mental health issues which have interfered with my interests at times. A particular interest of mine is animals, something that I have been crazy about for years. I love animals and love learning about them. If you have any interesting animal facts, be sure to let me go.

I was always an English person at school. I preferred essays to maths equations. It was always easier for me to write an opinion than solid fact. I just never understood or connected with maths, whereas English taught me that, to get good grades, you had to have your own opinion.

I know of autistic people that fit the criteria I listed above, and that’s okay. But we really aren’t all the same. I love sensory toys as I have trouble with my senses getting overwhelmed. I find they calm me a lot. I love to feel textures in my hands, but not in my mouth. Food that is too textured isn’t for me. I like it smooth and consistent.

I struggle with independence, one of the most suggestive traits of my autism. If I were more independent, perhaps people would think that I didn’t have autism. I also struggle with getting words out and might say things that are inappropriate because I want to fill a gap but I don’t know what else to say. People think I’m strange because of this, or sometimes they don’t notice at all. I prefer it when they don’t notice, or pretend not to notice, that I said something inappropriate. When they look at me strange, I become embarrassed.

The worst thing in the world for me is noise. It’s something I can never escape. It’s always there, somewhere, trying to climb into your ears. It drives me insane and I feel so sad when it is loud. Some people might be annoyed at too much noise, but for me it ruins my life. There are a few people that are insensitive when it comes to noise and that makes me upset.

Anxiety is a very real problem for me. It is the voice that never goes away. It cripples my mind and my heart. It isn’t something you can just get over. It works out every single possibility of everything then it combines them into one overwhelming feeling of destruction. That’s what anxiety is, for me.

Autism isn’t a stereotype, it’s a sphere of differences and I know very independent autistic people. I know people who love maths and people who hate it. I know people who love to rock and people who prefer other methods of stimming. I know more autistic females than I do males. In fact, I don’t know autistic people at all. I just know individuals.

Thank you for reading,

Lia

‘And The Ocean Was Our Sky’ by Patrick Ness [Spoiler-free Book Review]

“For who needs devils when you have men?”

And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness was very much inspired by Moby Dick, though you definitely do not need to have read the book or seen the movie to understand ATOWOS because it is a book in its own right.

The protagonist of the book, Bathsheba, is a whale. She is also a hunter; hunting humans, whilst they hunt whales. It has been this way for a while. This book follows her journey on the Alexandra (appropriately named after their captain) towards a goal that no whale or human has ever achieved before: defeating Toby Wick (yes, Toby Wick, great name, right?) despite the fact that they have no clue what or who Toby Wick is.

This book is also illustrated throughout — beautifully, I may add. The illustrations definitely add to the book and make the hard to imagine story just a little easier to envision.

ATOWOS is a very quick read, in my opinion. You should be done in a few days, if you don’t read it all in one go. Even though I finished it quickly, there is a lot of description that makes the world more real. I found myself trying harder to imagine a story than I ever have before (because how can you imagine whales going hunting?) but I liked the extra challenge. It made it all the more special when I did imagine it.

It’s a story not about friendship but about loyalty. The apprentices on the Alexandra will stick with the captain until the end. It’s pretty amazing what lengths they are willing to go to for the captain and I find myself envying such eternal loyalty. I’m not sure that many of us would be able to do what these whales did and not because we’re not whales but because of how much courage and determination it takes. Knowing that there’s a good chance you will fail, but doing it anyway because you believe in your captain.

If you read this book, I am sure that you will be mesmerised. It’s such an enthralling concept that you will not want to stop reading! Throughout the entire book, suspense will be at the forefront, as you race through the book to try and see whether they accomplish their goal or whether they fail. The hook will not leave until the last page.

I loved this book, and am an avid fan of Patrick Ness. Although it is not officially released yet, I really recommend you buy it when it is released in early September! You will not be disappointed.