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.

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

Opportunities and Anxiety

I was so terrified, when I got told of this opportunity, that it wouldn’t happen because not many opportunities have ever amounted to anything. However, last week I met up with a woman who told me she wanted to write for her.

Today, I wrote for them for the first time. I have bad anxiety so every time anything good happens, I always question a lot of things afterwards. Was I annoying? Did my writing suck? Do they hate me? My mind always goes to the negative side of things, rather than admitting that I managed to do a few tasks today that were out of my comfort zone.

For one, I ordered lunch, which is something my mum told me to do. I was so terrified of doing it; I never order for myself because of my anxiety. My mum also wants me to go on public transport alone soon.

I also wrote from prompts that weren’t my usual writing, but I enjoyed it. I love it when I’m given a prompt that makes me write something unexpected. However, I still worry that perhaps it was not good. Perhaps, they will wonder why they wanted me to write for them in the first place. This is my anxiety.

I get so excited about opportunities, yet I also get so anxious. I think this opportunity is good though and that I might become a better writer by doing it. I just have to let myself win, not the anxiety. Before, the anxiety has won, and I have given up trying. But I am going to try my best to let myself have a chance.

Lia, you can do this!

Dyspraxia and Mental Health

It is dyspraxia awareness week. Many of you might not know this as dyspraxia isn’t as widely known about as other conditions like dyslexia, but it is pretty common. When dyspraxia is no longer underlined red when I type it, I will be happy.  It is also mental health awareness day, so I decided to do a joint post.

Many people think of dyspraxia as being clumsy, but it is so much more than that, and often it can affect our mental health. I know that my self-esteem was pretty low as a child because I couldn’t do things that other kids could do. I often compared myself to my older brother and saw ways that I lacked in comparison to him. However, he probably had his own challenges too, but I didn’t see that. I saw what he was good at and I saw what I wasn’t good at which led to my low-self esteem. It also didn’t help that I was quite badly bullied at school. These bullies fed into that self-doubt and I still have trouble, years later, finding my self worth.

I was diagnosed with dyspraxia when I was 10, shortly after my mum had been diagnosed, in her 40s! An educational psychologist would take me out of lessons to work on skills. I remember she made me cut up a sandwich and it was the hardest task I had ever been assigned. Cutting up a sandwich! She then let me eat it, which I found cool, as I got to eat during lesson time. She also made me navigate around the school library. This was when I first learned about the trick to help with directions. If you can form your thumb and finger into an ‘L’ shape then that is left.

Although I had some help with my dyspraxia at school, it wasn’t enough to make my struggles easier. To this day, I cannot ride a bike, tie up shoelaces, or do other tasks that others find easy. We recently bought some shoes for me and we thought I wouldn’t have to tie up the laces as they come with a zip but I do, so my parents have the fun job of doing that when I want to wear those shoes.

I felt like a failure for my entire childhood. I was at a time in my life when I really didn’t see the point of exams because I would fail anyway, my mind told me, so why even bother? An incident happened during one exam. It was a practical science exam so talking was allowed. The exam was easy for me, actually. The exam was not the hard part. Putting my hair into a bun was! As it was science, I had to tie my hair into a bun. I had only just figured out how to put it into a ponytail, let alone a bun. I started crying as the teacher pressured me. How could I explain that I didn’t know how? By some miracle, I managed to put my hair into a bun by twisting my hands around in a way I had never done before, but my mental state had deteriorated for the exam. I could only think about how much of a failure I was for the rest of the exam and didn’t do as well as I had done the previous year because of that. I still did quite well though.

A lot of people with dyspraxia have average or above average IQs, but they don’t feel like they do, simply because they struggle with the most simple of tasks. It’s important, if you know someone dyspraxic, to let them know their strengths. They will be thinking and thinking about how they can’t make a bed or dress properly; remind them that they have great qualities. My mum, with dyspraxia, is an artist. She makes amazing paintings — but she often trips up. You can be successful if you’re dyspraxic. You just have to navigate life a slightly different route to everyone else, and that’s okay. You might be slow to learn life skills, but you have other qualities. For instance, I struggle so much with every day tasks. I still, at 20 years old, cannot figure out how to make my body not trip up over itself daily. I guarantee I will trip up at least once a day. When I was 12, I tripped up and broke my toe! I’m too dyspraxic for many jobs. I cannot be an athlete, nor can I be an artist like my mum (fine motor skills are more of a challenge for me) but one thing I’ve always loved doing is writing. So I will write. I won’t write for very long because my hands get tired easily, but I will continue writing for as long as I can. I am a writer and I love it.

Dyspraxia complicates things, but I can now (badly) cut up food. I will probably never learn some skills but others might come to me over time. Dyspraxia makes things hard but focus on what you love and what you’re good at. We think in different ways, but that isn’t necessarily a bad things. In fact, some times, my dyspraxia can help me rather than hinder me. Dyspraxia can cause bluntness, which some can see as a bad thing, but I see it as a positive. There’s no secrets with me or my mum; we say what’s on our mind! Dyspraxia is part of neurodiversity and I embrace it now. I needed a little help at school with my handwriting and other skills but that doesn’t hold me back anymore because I use a computer to write everything. All these traits make me who I am so I accept dyspraxia as a part of me.

If you want to go check out a dyspraxic blog, to find out how one awesome person manages to adult with dyspraxia, try Dyspraxia Diaries 101

I often talk about autism and mental health because they affect me a lot too, but Dyspraxia Diaries 101 focuses on how Dyspraxia affects her and it’s one of my favourite blogs because I can relate to it a lot. Some of you might have dyspraxia and not know it; it’s under-diagnosed. If you relate to my story, or hers, you might have dyspraxia! You’re not alone in your struggles and a dyspraxia diagnosis can lead to a lot of realisations and help. You are not a failure.

Thanks for reading,

Lia

 

Why I Love Writing Poetry

Poetry is the main thing in life that keeps me going. I’ve been through hard times and just getting it out onto paper helps. I can’t tell people about the hardest of times because they won’t understand but I can write about it. I can write about all the things that keep me up at night. Sometimes I lock away the poems, for my eyes only, and other times I share them with the world.

My mum is an artist. I always found that to be such an awesome job (even if you don’t get paid much mostly) because you can express who you are in art. I tried to do art but it just wasn’t for me. At one point, when I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress. I loved acting! But then I lost my confidence due to events and gave up on that. At one stage, I wanted to be vet. I’ve always been writing, since I was young, but never thought it was something that could become more meaningful than just a hobby. I started out writing picture books and soon turned to short stories. Now poetry is my domain.

Writing has saved me a lot, I’d say. It has helped with my depression and anxiety. It hasn’t cured them but getting words out onto paper has really helped me. I do wish I could tell people my true feelings but I fear loneliness. Once you place your burdens on people, they might leave you. It’s happened before. So I place my burdens on writing now. The paper absorbs my soul and breathes my air.

Poetry is art too; it’s just a different form of art. No one sees the world the way I see it. Especially due to me being autistic. I often find myself holding back thorns in my mouth because I want to tell people how I see the world. But they will not approve because it’s not how you’re supposed to see the world. At least poetry will always be my friend, and it will always accept me, even though I’m different. Poetry doesn’t give me bad advice or tell me things I don’t need to know; it just listens and that’s why I love it.

Thank you poetry.

Resolutions? I Don’t Think So!

Every year, we have resolutions and a lot of us break them. I’ve decided not to have any resolutions this year because they’re really bad for my mental health and they make me want to better myself, rather than accepting myself the way I am. I think it’s okay for people to have resolutions, as long as they don’t push themselves beyond their limit. When you’re like me, resolutions can mean serious emotional torment. I usually fail them anyway.

There’s so much that I could do, but I don’t want to get unhealthy habits by obsessing over things I could improve about myself.

I’ve got a lot of flaws so there are a lot of things I could say about what I want to improve. But I don’t want to. I’ve stopped wanting to better myself. I’ve learned that if others don’t love you for how you are now, then they aren’t worth it. And everything has always been about other people for me. What will they think? That’s such an unhealthy thought process and, due to anxiety, I don’t think I can ever fully eliminate that thought from my mind — but I can start caring about my life again.

Obviously, if I happen to change when doing other things, then that will happen, but I won’t focus my entire being on trying to change myself. I’ve always wanted to change myself and I’m just done with that now.

So here’s to 2019 and another year of being me.

Lia 🙂

Christmas!

This year, for Christmas, I got my brother an anime t-shirt. He loved it as the anime is his favourite. I got my mum the soundtrack to ‘A Star is Born’ and I also got her a Frida Kahlo Barbie doll. She’s so excited about the doll especially. I got my dad a massager for his back. I got my brother’s girlfriend a mousepad. I also got my cousins’ a few things each (me and my brother bought them together). I’m so happy everyone liked what I got them.

For my roast, I had a Tofurkey, stuffing, cabbage, brussel sprouts, parsnips, roast potatoes, mash, and gravy! It was such an amazing vegan roast and was very filling. My mum had the same as me but without the brussel sprouts (she hates them) and with Yorkshire puddings as she’s not vegan. My dad, being the only meat eater around the table, had some turkey instead of Tofurkey. My brother was at his girlfriend’s for Christmas, for the first time.

For boxing day, we went to my aunt’s and had an amazing buffet! I was so happy with all the vegan food she provided! She always puts in 110%. She even had some vegan cream cheese for crackers.

I got some nice presents myself. I don’t have a particularly big family, especially considering we don’t see most of my mum’s side of the family, but I still got quite a few presents which I’m excited about. My aunt got me a lava lamp! One of my cousins’ got me a unicorn pencil case full of nice things, including some cute miniature notebooks. My parents got me a really nice pen which I am going to use a lot! I got this thing called a Squeezamal which is basically half squishie and half stuffed animal! It’s amazing! I also got a microwavable panda bear which will be great for the winter! My mum is obsessed with crystals at the moment so got me a rose quartz bracelet. Apparently it helps with anxiety and stress. I also got quite a few books I’m excited to read!

I love Christmas because it is a time for family. I get to see my aunt and her family who I don’t see that often. They live quite far away. I also get to watch Christmas films (The Muppet’s Christmas Carol is the best) and play games! It’s such a fun time of year and I’m sad it’s over. I’m looking forward to it for next year.

What do you like most about Christmas?

Lia

Invalidated Feelings

Someone recently invalidated my feelings and it really hurt. I’ve been feeling like rubbish ever since because it was someone close to me. I just feel like I can’t talk to them about anything I might feel in the future. I’m depressed and I’ve been depressed for a long time. So, to get my feelings completely disregarded, by someone who knows my mental health and knows me very well, isn’t nice. Ever since they did it, I’ve been down more than usual. I feel like we would argue if I brought it up with them so I’m just going to have to keep my feelings to myself around them, I guess? Even though they’re someone I shouldn’t have trouble expressing myself to. I’m in a really low place right now and it hurts. It hurts that I can’t talk to them. It hurts that they’re such an important person in my life. It just hurts.

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