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

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

Dealing With Anxiety

A lot of people with mental health issues struggle with loneliness, me included. We struggle with feeling lonely but also with reaching out to existing friends. We don’t want them to deal with our mental health issues, so we feel guilty whenever we go out with them, so sometimes we choose not to go out with people anymore. We don’t want to be the burden.

One friend of mine, who I have only been out with just us two once, has a tactic which makes me feel a lot better. She basically said that if I helped her with her issues, she’d help me with mine. She told me about her phobias and I told her about mine and we both went out together. It felt like a trade, rather than me being a burden, and that really helped me get through it.

I hate the idea of being the piece of gum stuck to someone’s shoe. I want to be able to express my problems without being seen as a problem, if that makes sense. Most of the time I’m just terrified that they won’t be able to have as much fun with me there.

I really like the tactic that one friend used and if, in the future, I ever have a friend that feels like more of a burden than I do, I might use it again. It’s a good way of conquering something without realising that you are. For instance, her phobia wasn’t even around, whilst mine was, but I still felt more comfortable knowing that, if her phobia ever did crop up, I could help her like she helped me.

Anxiety is affecting so many people, and it stops lots of people from doing what they want. Make sure they know they aren’t a burden and that you want them there. Even if, after telling them this, they still feel doubtful, express your own difficulties and how they could help with them. Perhaps, like me, they might feel willing to go out. It’s just an idea that worked for me and I’m so glad it did because a couple of weeks ago, I had an amazing time out with a friend and my anxiety didn’t interfere with it that much. There were still moments of anxiety, but overall I felt calm. It was a change from what I normally know. I felt more in control.

Thank you for reading,

Lia

Thursday & Friday

I went out two days in a row – Thursday & Friday, and it was pretty draining because, to me, going out two days in a row is daunting. I just get exhausted easily. I was actually going to go out three days in a row, but the guy that was supposed to be viewing our house cancelled last minute because he didn’t like the location. We’d already cleaning it and got ready and he cancelled. It was kinda annoying because I’d prepared myself for going out.

On Thursday, my mum surprised me with some Sylvanian Families — more precisely, babies!! They were adorable so I went out with her to get some more. I haven’t had any in so many years and it was really nice to rekindle that interest. The toy shop we went to was awesome too, will definitely be visiting again. We had dinner at Pizza Express because it was open and other places we would’ve gone to weren’t. I had a nice vegan pizza and my mum had a non-vegan one. I saw a girl that I recognised from the group I was going to later there, but I didn’t say anything at the time because I didn’t want to bother her/didn’t have the confidence.

So, I went to the group after Pizza Express and it was quite good because A DOG WAS THERE AND SHE WAS THE SWEETEST! It’s a once a month group, I think I mentioned my first meeting in a previous lot, but this was the second time I’ve attended. It’s for autistic women and I’m the youngest member, being only 18, whilst most of the others are quite a bit older. They seem nice though; I don’t mind the age gap. The idea is to talk about what happened that month for the first half and then discuss a topic in the second half. I guess I didn’t mind talking in the first half because I had the dog on my lap and she was adorable. She was kinda big for my lap but it really helped with my confidence. She’s supposedly a trained therapy dog, though when someone acted out crying she didn’t go help. Maybe she sensed they were acting? Later some people did actually cry and she didn’t go help either, I think she was too busy being cute. I won’t hold it against her, because she’s lovely.

In the second half, I got really anxious because I wanted to say something but, as it wasn’t in turns like the first half, didn’t feel I could speak up. I didn’t want to interrupt anyone. So I kinda just huddled into myself and stayed quiet.

Friday was a good day because I saw three cats outside of my home. Firstly, I went to MyMindSpeaksAloud’s house to play games! That was really fun. We played Monopoly Deal, Exploding Kittens (app version), Meow Meow/Mauns Mauns (fave game), Monopoly (Stranger Things version), and Bananagrams. I also had soup there, which was very nice. It was so great hanging out with her, as I don’t get to go out much or hang with people my age so it was really lovely. She also returned the DVD I lent her ages ago that she had only just watched the night before. I also saw her cats — Jasper and Monty!! Jasper is kinda timid but he was more approachable than he had been last time I saw him. Monty was so sweet and loving and just awesome. He’s adorable, ahh.

I left and went to my aunt and uncle’s house for dinner. I had vegan shepherd’s pie and they had chilli. This is where I got to see the third cat of the day — Haku! He has such soft fur. He’s also really sweet. I don’t normally get to see him when I come as we usually bring Pablo and he hides, so it was really nice to see him. He was very cute. It was nice to see them as well as I don’t see them that much usually.

It was a long car journey home, but worth it because I got to see three awesome… cats. Yeah, you thought I was gonna say humans, but nope. The cats. The only reason I went there. The people were OK.

Also, my dad set fire to a shelf on Saturday (yesterday). Good job, father.

Thanks for reading,

Lia