serenity

in a stationary sanctuary of serenity

she hides her deepest sorrows

for they will be her undoing

she sleeps with her heart

out of her chest

in someone else’s clutches,

to return to the true bliss

she has faked for so long

she must find her heart

and stitch it back

so she feels love, support, empathy

instead of this numb calmness

that has ruptured her empty bones

A Socially-distanced Wedding

It was my cousin’s wedding on Saturday and I was her bridesmaid, along with her sister. They didn’t even know if the wedding was going to go ahead because of current circumstances so, the fact that it was able to, made it even more magical. She was only allowed to have a limited number of guests so I felt quite honoured that she wanted me there.

On the day, I put on a t-shirt and leggings whilst my mum put on my make-up and did my hair. The hair was slightly clipped by some fake pearl hair-clips and we used some curling tongs to make it have a few curls. We went in the car for about an hour and forty-five minutes and stopped off at the house of someone we vaguely knew who was good friends with the bride’s mother. I then got dressed, with the help of my mum, into my pink bridesmaid dress that I’d be wearing alongside the other bridesmaid. I also had to put on some pink heels (jokingly I noticed later on that the bride herself was wearing trainers!). The bride had sent me several accessories, including the hairclips I’d put on earlier. I put on a fake pearl necklace and fake pearl clip-on earrings that she had sent me. I don’t have my ears pierced. She would have gotten me real pearls if I wasn’t vegan but she was very considerate of my lifestyle.

Arriving at the venue, I saw that the church wasn’t very big anyway. It usually would have about 50 people inside but had about 15 due to the social distancing. It was nice though. We had all been allocated a seat so I sat on my bench with my parents, waiting for the bride to arrive. She was quite a bit late but everyone knew that was just how she was! I noticed the groom getting a bit nervous but he was wearing a well-coordinated suit with a pink tie. Several of the men were wearing pink ties. I don’t think my dad received the message! The vicar didn’t seem too worried about the bride arriving late, as he didn’t have too many weddings because of the virus, so it wasn’t like he had a strict schedule.

I was called outside of the church when the bride finally arrived, in a gorgeous white dress that we thought made her look like a fairy princess. She was with her dad and sister and I was instructed that the bride would go in first, with her dad. Then her sister would go in and go to her bench. Then, finally, I would go in and go to my bench — which wasn’t very far to travel as it was near the door. There was a zoom call happening the entire time — to India as the groom and his family were all Indian. I felt amazed that they managed to get it to India, considering the church was in a bit of a remote location and I didn’t think that the signal would be very good!

There was a photographer wearing a face mask and regularly taking photographs of the event. At some points in the ceremony, we all had to put on face masks. Mine was pink with white polka dots so matched my dress. I got to hold this lovely bouquet of flowers and then I brought it home with me afterwards. A picture of it is below. The main colours are purple and white and there are several wildflowers.

The wedding was lovely. Even though it poured bricks of rain outside, it was overall a great day. Seeing the bride get married and looking so happy and in love was really special. Several people got a bit tearful! There was only one picture taken outside, due to the rain. The picture that was taken outside was the bride and groom getting rose petals thrown at them by the rest of the guests, including me. It was fun. I remember during the photograph taken of me next to the bride and other bridesmaid, I was feeling very anxious as I hate having my picture taken. The bride’s mother, my aunt, in an effort to make me smile, loudly exclaimed “vegan cheese” and we all burst out laughing.

After the wedding, I was very tired, but we still had to go back to my aunt’s house for food! There were speeches said, people cried, and the bride started unwrapping her gifts before deciding that the rest should be unwrapped once she moves house. She was moving house a couple of days after the wedding, which means that she’s probably moving house right about now.

My aunt always caters well to my vegan requirements and gave me a starter of falafels followed by a very spicy meatless pizza, which I needed a lot of water for! She forgot to give me the pancakes she had promised me for desert, but I didn’t really mind as she gave me some lovely vegan millionaire’s shortbread.

Overall, it was such a lovely day and I’m glad I got to celebrate with my cousin. She was also going to have a wedding in Mumbai which has been postponed. I don’t know when it will happen. She is also having a large reception next year, where she will invite everyone who wasn’t able to come to the wedding. I may have to get dressed up once more for that. It was so great seeing the couple so happy and they immediately went to a lovely hotel afterwards for a short honeymoon! I think it’s wonderful when you see someone that you’ve known your entire life find someone that they care about so deeply and that cares about them so deeply. It’s quite beautiful.

Also, trying to dodge the rain in a long dress with heels was very tricky, even with an umbrella. I had to hold my dress up as well so it didn’t get wet but it still managed to get wet and I got many pebbles in my heels!

Thank you for reading,

Lia

My DNA

On May 29th I took an ancestry DNA test to find out more about myself. I have always been quite interested in my heritage because there are parts of my family I don’t know a lot about. I was under the impression that I had German ancestry because my Grandma told us we did, but today I found out that is not the case. I do not have any German in my DNA. However, I was still happy to find out that I am 12% Scottish, which comes from my mum’s father. He is Scottish. I am 88% Northwestern European (including Belgium but not other countries outside UK) and English, which makes my DNA a little boring. Basically I’m pretty much completely from this small island I call home and, even more interesting, is the fact that it told me where my ancestry is derived from. Surrey and Sussex. I have lived in Sussex for my entire life but I did not know that so many of my ancestors also lived in Sussex. It’s like I don’t ever want to leave Sussex now — because it’s where I’m meant to be.

It also tells me about other people who have taken the test who are related to me. I found out I have a 2nd cousin, some 3rd cousins, and a lot of 4th cousins. I have contacted a few of them but no one has come back to me yet. I am interested to know more about my family, particularly my mum’s father’s side of it because he left her as a baby, so we don’t know a lot about him. All we know is he was Scottish.

Another thing I did, once getting my DNA results back, was upload it to this site called Promethease which can give you a health report based on my DNA. It is very interesting and tells me about whether I’m more likely or less likely to get certain health conditions. For instance, I have a 1.42x increased chance of getting autism. As you might know, I am autistic. I also have a 99% chance of having blue eyes. I have blue eyes. It also told me I have an increased risk for certain cancers based on higher meat consumption; I am vegan so this actually made me feel better about myself. It also told me, in so many words, that I am more likely to be sad. Genetically I have lower levels of serotonin and dopamine. Another example is a higher risk of breast cancer. My mum had breast cancer so this makes sense for me. I was also made aware of other things that I already had issues with, so it’s nice to know that it’s because of my genetics and that I haven’t done anything wrong.

Overall, I was really intrigued by my DNA results and the fact that I am so unvaried. I don’t even know how it’s possible to be this British. Like, I thought we were all from everywhere so how can I be basically entirely from the UK? I don’t know but it’s interesting. I would also love to find out more about my ancestors but it’s hard to find out, especially when I know so little about some members of my family.

Thanks for reading,

Lia

21st Birthday

It was my 21st birthday last week. I had plans for my 21st. I hadn’t planned a party, because I’m not a party person, but I had planned a meal out with my family. It was going to be a chance to see my aunt, uncle and cousins, who I don’t regularly get to see. It would have been really nice.

It didn’t happen. As you know, a lot of the world has been isolating recently due to Covid-19. I have been worried about my family, too, so have not been out at all for quite a while. Obviously, the plans that I had were not going to go ahead. Instead, I had a takeaway with the family that I do live with. My mum managed to order all kinds of accessories online for my birthday; balloons, bunting, napkins. It might not have been the birthday I had planned, but it was nonetheless an amazing birthday.

I still got gifts. A large Lush parcel arrived from my cousins, which was lovely. I had lots of money to spend as I wished (I bought a humidifier and diffuser for my room). I got a birthday cake, which was decorated as a panda’s face. My birthday was good, and I’m so thankful to have had a wonderful family to spend it with. I might still celebrate with extended family, but it might not be for a while. In fact, there’s a lot of stuff that we will eventually catch up on with them. I had a phone call from my aunt which made me smile.

I have included a picture of the panda cake below. This birthday will be one to remember, even if not for the reasons I expected.

– Lia

Covid-19: Mental Health

I know most people have probably already done a blog post on this pandemic but I haven’t yet, so here goes.

Before Covid-19, I left my house maybe once or twice a week; I napped daily, due to a combination of factors, and I didn’t have a lot going for me. It’s not as hard for me to cope with this change as it would be for someone regularly going to a job or uni — simply because I didn’t have a lot going on. I don’t think I’ll have a lot going on for a long time. I am depressed, anxious, and autistic. This is how my life has been, since a young age. I could never concentrate at school when it got into the afternoon, so I’m glad I am now able to take this time for myself.

Simply put, this gives me a reason to stay in my house, a reason to not leave, a reason to continue being depressed. Whilst on the front, because I didn’t leave the house a lot anyway, it looks like there isn’t much change, there is. I now have an excuse to stay inside for weeks at a time and get out of the routine of leaving the house. This is affecting my mental health, and it’s probably affecting other people’s mental health too.

I’m here to tell you that, even if you don’t feel like it, have a bath or shower. Brush your hair. At least have the motivation to do that, because if you don’t — you might end up forgetting how to look after yourself. I’ve been trying my best to have baths when I can’t be bothered because it’s the one thing I can do right now. Also, even introverts need friends. Reach out to people; even those that you haven’t talked to for a while. You might find you relate to them more because of this crisis. Try, when it’s sunny, to go out into the garden for a few minutes each day. These past few days, the weather has been great so I’ve gone into the garden and enjoyed it. Even if I don’t have any plans, even if I can’t see the future, I can see today and I can accept it, whatever happens.

This year was going to be a good year. I literally wrote a tweet in January about all the plans I was looking forward to; my cousin’s wedding, my 21st, etc. Now, it’s going to be a bit different. It won’t be how I envisioned it but it will still happen and, to be frank, changes happen all the time. When I was going to college, I’d get freaked out if there were changes to the train times. Now, there’s a massive change that is going to affect everybody, and somehow, I feel more calm than I did then. I am worried about the financial future of my family, I am worried about the health of everybody, but I have accepted that whatever is going to happen will happen and I can’t change it. However, I can help myself and others by washing my hands regularly and not going outside, so I’m going to do that. I did get sick a few weeks ago but I have no way of knowing if that was Covid-19 or not, so I’m going to say that I haven’t had it and continue washing my hands regularly because it’s better to be safe, even if you think you’ve had it. Yes, there’s a chance you’ll be immune, but you don’t know for certain, and unless you had a test done, you won’t know for certain that you had it. So keep washing your hands and keeping yourself mentally-prepared.

I also wanted to add a note at the end of my mid-night ramblings. A good friend of mine, MyMindSpeaksAloud has started a weekly well-being challenge which you can sign up to here. She’s amazing and it really has helped me focus on something. Even if some weeks I haven’t managed to complete the challenges, just reading the emails from her made me smile and think of something in my mind. When it started, I was unwell so wasn’t able to complete it, but now I’m in a better mindset and enjoying reading her emails and hopefully completing the challenges. It really does help if you need a little boost. Thank you a lot, Alice.

i exist

I wish someone said to me
existing is enough.
You do not need to become
anything more than an atom,
because when you’re down,
to know you can be who you are
without becoming anything
is worth your life.
To tell someone that existing
isn’t what we should achieve,
perhaps, I am of such doubt
that I cannot believe
I will become anyone,
so just let me know
that I can exist
and that’s okay too.

How To Be A Person (Not)

It’s hard living with autism on top of mental health problems. They all work against you in every possible way. My autism leaves me without a filter on what I say, so I often blurt out exactly what I’m thinking. My anxiety then comes in and tells me that, because of this lack of filter, everyone must hate me because I say all the wrong things. Then, depression calls out and tells me that I should stop leaving the house because nothing works out. It’s really hard to get the motivation to leave the house because I have the trio of anxiety, depression and autism that want me to stay inside forever. It takes all of my energy to leave the house.

After I leave the house, I am put out into the unpredictable world. Things happen that can affect my autism because it wasn’t as I expected my day to go. I’m put into social situations that make me question why I can’t just be more like non-autistic people, because I will say stupid things over and over again. It’s really hard to not say stupid things, or at least things I think are stupid. I guess this is why I’ve always struggled with friendship. Most people don’t like me. I maybe have one or two friends but, then again, anxiety will tell me that they don’t really like me. How could anyone like me?

It’s easy to tell if a dog or cat likes me. They’re very easy to read. People, however, are more difficult as they aren’t always honest and I can’t tell if they truly like me or not. Also, being around people exhausts me. I tend to nap in the afternoons to deal with this. I am not like other people. The name of my blog is derived from the fact that I relate more to pandas than people. I struggle to relate to most people. I guess I think life would be easier if I weren’t a person.

I also find it hard to think about my future. I can see other people’s futures; I get quite happy when I think about their plans, but when I think about my own future, I can’t see a lot happening. I don’t feel like much is going to happen in my life. Being autistic, it’s hard to see a lot happening because I struggle with communication. I’m too awkward for life.

Expressing myself is quite easy when I’m writing it down. A poem or a blog post, either way, I am able to express how I feel about my mental health and my autism. That’s why I do it. It’s easier to be me if I have an outlet for my emotions. It’s still quite tricky though, figuring out how to be a person.

Lia

First Post of Year, I Guess

I think I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately which was why I haven’t posted yet this year. I’ve been sad and anxious and also ill physically so I didn’t really have a chance to, though I have posted one or two poems on my Instagram (@bamboochewer) and some pet and food photos during that time.

I guess I would say that I feel a bit like an alien. I do have friends but I don’t feel like I relate to humans, as such, because I’m so odd. I feel like I’d probably relate better to someone who doesn’t live on this planet but has recently come across it. Everyone there is a stranger to them and they look different and they act different. That’s how I’d describe how I feel.

I recently met up with a friend I’ve known since birth; however we haven’t seen each other for several years, since we were at school really. It was nice seeing her but I’m terrible at social interaction and immediately felt overwhelmed when she wanted to see me the second week. I like her a lot and I think she’s awesome but I always worry that I say the wrong things. I think I have said many wrong things across the years. I just blurt out things and most people end up hating me, which is why I don’t like meeting up with people regularly. I feel like… the more I see someone, the more they’ll realise that I’m a weirdo and the less they’ll want to see of me.

Also, most people don’t think about the world as I think of it, and I struggle to relate to people because of that. I think I have maybe one friend that has the exact same mindset as me; everyone else doesn’t understand, truly, how painful life is for me. I’d consider myself to be pretty empathetic and this empathy goes for all living beings, but it comes with great sadness. I see animals suffering and I want to help them so bad but I can’t. My autism prevents me from doing what I’ve always wanted to do; help animals! I love writing but I think, spiritually, I am that girl who talks to a butterfly and asks how it’s doing but then realises it will be dead soon and has a little funeral inside my head. I don’t talk to most people about these thoughts I have because they wouldn’t get it but I do feel like an alien for having them.

I think I’m going to do some things in my life, but I won’t do them until I’m a lot older. At least, that’s what my numerology says (I’ve become interested in it recently and my friend told me what it means for me). So maybe I’ll be like Greta Thunberg, just a granny version of her.

I like people a lot but there’s certain traits of people that I don’t understand. I think because I’m autistic, I like to see things in two ways. You either are something or you’re not, so when people say they’re in the middle of a way of thinking, I get a little confused.

We all have a purpose and I think I’m discovering my purpose as I move along in life. Your purpose can change over time too. Existing is a worthwhile purpose, if you can’t think of anything else. Existing is hard enough, so don’t worry about needing a greater purpose. Just being here is a challenge enough, sometimes.

And that concludes today’s random depressed and anxious musings.

Lia

Small Change, Big Emotions

As an autistic person, routines are highly important to me. If a routine changes, I get stressed and it kind of sets my mood for the rest of the day. Even if the change is small, it still makes me distressed. I can be having a wonderful day but then one thing can happen to change that.

The worst changes are unpredictable ones, changes that I haven’t been warned about. These changes cause high levels of stress to me and I feel pretty depressed. If I’m told about the change, at least I can prepare myself, but when the change comes out of nowhere, I feel like crying.

I thought my day would go a certain way today; I had a picture in my head of what would happen — but that isn’t how it went. A small change caused me to basically feel like the world was ending. I know that sounds dramatic but that’s autism. We love routine and, when our routine is altered, we panic.

There are a few ways you can help someone with autism deal with change, but sometimes that doesn’t work either. The most important way to help an autistic person deal with change is to warn them about it long before it happens; this way we can digest the change and adjust to it. Of course, unpredictable events will still happen. Let us have a meltdown, if this occurs, because holding in our emotions is far worst. I had a meltdown today but I tried to hide it from public view; I had to sleep as soon as I came home because I was so damn tired. I’m often tired but I was even more tired than usual, having immediately had an anxiety attack as soon as I got away from the public. My mum got the wrath of it. I told her everyone hates me, that I’m stupid, that I don’t want to do this anymore; I was so anxious and it was all because of one change.

I just wanted the day to go smoothly but it didn’t and that’s to be expected, when living in a world with unpredictability. I wish I was a robot, sometimes, programmed to behave in a certain manner; that way I would not feel so unsettled. The thing that upset me the most was that I was never told this change would happen; it just did. It was sprung upon me and I felt defeated.

I’d really like to thank my mum for dealing with me when I’m so anxious. She is always there and it’s useful to have someone on your side who really knows you. That way, you can meltdown in front of them and they’ll still love you.

Lia