My experience with imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome has been talked about quite a lot over the last year. Having learnt about it, and listened to many others talk about their experiences through it via YouTube I thought it was about time that I discuss my experience with imposter syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome is characterized by the conviction that you don’t deserve your success. It is the feeling that you’re not as intelligent, creative or talented as other people seem to believe you are. It is the suspicion that your achievements are down to luck, good timing or just being in the right place at the right time. And it is accompanied by the fear that, one day, you’ll be exposed as a fraud.

I definitely relate to this. I have incredibly low self esteem and when things go right, I feel as though a mistake has been made. I feel like it was just luck, good timing or that it was in reality something incredibly easy and any idiot could have done it. I am not good at seeing my own achievements as a success and I’m scared that one day everyone will realise how useless I really am, or that they already know that. Understandably, this can make life incredibly difficult to deal with.

In some cases imposter syndrome can be debilitating. Although it’s not a formal clinical diagnosis.

Personally, if I get good grades I think they’re wrong. If I win academic awards I think a mistake has been made. If I get a job, I question whether I’m really good enough and whether the employer has made a mistake.

I check my final year grades every single day because I still can’t believe it’s true…

For my first two years at university imposter syndrome really effected me. Not to the point that it was debilitating but enough to be something weighing my mental state down. I got into my admittedly not great uni (In terms of league tables but I couldn’t imagine having gone anywhere else) with BBB at A level and a further BC at AS. With a couple of resits thrown into that mix too. The offer I received was ABB. Yes I know I was only one grade off but I just had that feeling that I didn’t deserve to be there, that everyone else had it all together and was so much better than me. This was especially true when compounded by low grades in my first year. (I got 2:2s in all my coursework).

I still felt the same in second year, even though my grades had improved. Like I just wasn’t enough. Like everyone else was so much better than me.

It’s difficult, it’s reality.

To my understanding many people go to through this, so people do understand. It is also possible to overcome.

If anyone else reading this feels the same or similar then please comment! And any tips for overcoming imposter syndrome would be much appreciated.

Not Autistic Enough…

Well 2021 has been one wild ride of tears, physical illness, staring at my fingerboard, the resistance bands hung over it thinking about ending it. A masters that is not going well because mental health, lockdowns. My mum threatening to call the police on me (not the first time..). Pursuing an autism diagnosis and ultimately not getting it and now being down £1200. Maybe I should’t be sharing so much on the internet. Maybe it makes me unemployable but here we are.

And yes when I say 2021 has been a wild ride I know it has been two months and three days. Not like there’s another nearly 10 months left. (I can’t math).

Anyway. The Autism diagnosis or lack therof. Writing helps get my thoughts out. The overwhelming mass of tears. The fear that people think I’m lying, want to be special, manipulative or whatever other negative word people want to insert. The fear for the future. The where do I go next?

I struggled at school. Hung out with people because I had to. I didn’t want to be seen as a loner. And not that I didn’t like some of the people I hung out with. I did. I just never felt like I fit in. That trend has continued throughout my life. I’ve been pushed down staircases, hit over the head with a tennis racket, called a retard, been told my mums a prostitute (she’s not) and many other hurtful things. I’ve been excluded from birthday parties, friendship group cinema or shopping trips, reunions. I’ve been in trouble at school for taking games too far, for violently lashing out or verbally lashing out at people who anyone else would have called my friends. My parents have threatened to call the police on me more times than I can count. I’ve struggled to get a job. I’ve struggled to keep a job. Warned for my personal hygiene (realistically just me not wearing make up and my hair maybe being a but too on the unkempt side. It’s a frizzy mess I can’t help it. Trichtillomania doesn’t help). I’ve had difficulty communicating effectively with my team and manager, interpreting the intentions of what they say. The hotdesking situation caused major anxiety. And yes, I do struggle with personal hygiene although less so if I have to go anywhere. No lockdown has not helped me. I’m a hoarder, get attached to certain clothing items. I had to throw away a pair of jeans the other day that I’ve had since I was 15. Yes it was a sad day and yes according to my mum I should have thrown them ou t years ago. I’ve had difficulty dealing with changes in my bedroom. My dad got rid of the starry wallpaper I had whilst I moved away because it would never have happened whilst I lived in the house. I’ve had that wallpaper since moving into this room. (12 or 13, I’m now 23). I have various food related repetitive issues. Stim. Have to stroke the dog at night until the goodnight feels right or I can’t go to bed. Am a chaotic mess but also have to complete everything on my to do list or I feel like a failure. Even if it’s not completed well or I’m too sick to do it or something comes up. I have major issues with rejection and negative feedback and am awful at maintaining relationships.

I’m saying all this. And this isn’t even all of it to say that I am struggling with something and so you can understand why I feel hella lost and gaslit and like a made a mistake and life sucks.

So start of autism assessment. I believe your autistic and we will reach that outcome today. All goes okay for a while. I meet all of the social criteria. That was no surprise.

And then onto repetitive behaviour. This is a surprisingly restrictive section. What happened. Nothing that fits that neat box and they can’t use food because eating disorder history. Unless there’s concrete evidence of food stuff before. I came off the call and realised I didn’t say everything. Brain fog is a bitch.

The assessor thought my parents filled out the early developmental questionnaire even though when sending it, I made clear that I did. Instead of correcting her I kept up the lie because I cannot communicate effectively (what a shock). I do this. Once a teacher thought I was called Ruth so I spent the whole lesson being called Ruth instead of correcting her. I was 17. It wasn’t intentional. I was honest until the assessor made a mistake and I couldn’t rectify it because I can’t communicate. Lol. God forbid I say someone else is wrong.

And then it got slightly heated cause you know Hannah can’t understand questions or communicate effectively. And basically. Not repetitive enough for ASD. She said other hurtful things after me going into my childhood trauma but I don’t feel able to put them in the written form.

So maybe that avenue is closed. Which just makes everything feel worse to be honest. My parents have drilled into me that I am autistic and they’ve suffered hardships because they didn’t get me diagnosed to protect me and they could have just put me into care. All words that have been said by my dad. My mum, treating me like I am different, like something is wrong, like she needs to fix me and mold me into what she wants.

I’ve had a mentor say to my mum I probably have aspergers (I literally am so fucking paranoid that I used to hack into my mums emails to see what was being said about me). I’ve had friends suggest I’, autistic. Out of kindness. It’s not somthing I’ve made up to be special and I am struggling with something or a lot of things. Who knows what.

I just feel awful after the whole saga. And a week after the left of the list situation when I would be in group 6 if I lived in a different part of the UK is not ideal. I’m not sure what to do now. Or where to go. I know I am very depressed right now and asides from autism traits have many ADHD traits, which I have had for many years. So maybe that’s it? But we’ll have to NHS it because I don’t have money to spare now if I want a break after finishing my masters. Which my mental and physical health needs right now because I am not okay. Maybe I have BPD, maybe I’m bipolar. Maybe I’m just an awful person in every area of life and completely unemployable.

I’m not a professional so I don’t know. My A level psychology doesn’t qualify me to fix myself. Right now. A 6 week building resillience course to cope with the impacts of being chronically ill. If that doesn’t help alleviate the depression then I’ll beg for anti depressents of my GP. Maybe a referral to adult mental health services to try and get to the bottom of my life.

I need to finish my masters this year. But I also need to try and take care of my mental health. To some degree they seem like two contradictory goals because ME is a bitch. Roller skating brings me so much joy but managing it with these exams, appointments, coursework, events applications drains my body. I’ve been running off of caffiene pills and still been feeling very physically unwell. But we will get there and in July I cam have a break and try and not give into my parents pressure to get a job. Of course I’ll need one eventually but I need to take time. I need to stop. I need to sort myself out.

How it Feels to be Left off The List

I have ME/CFS. A poorly understood neuroimmune condition that is often triggered by and exacerbated by a virus. With ME we are entitled to a flu vaccine. We have known we are vulnerable but not extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 since the start of this pandemic. Yet many people with ME are not being put in group six or are having to contact MPs, CCG’s and Journalists to get it done because despite letter templates from the ME Association and Action for ME. Despite other ME charities saying we are vulnerable and should be in group six we are an awkward grey area.

In Wales I’d be in group six. In Scotland I’d be in group six. But England. It’s up to our GP’s. ME unaware GP’s. GP’s under a lot of pressure because there are many people enquring about the vaccine and probably rightfully. A multitude of people have been left off the list.

I am one of those people. Despite ME/CFS, EDS,Fibromialga, Chronic Migraines, Occipital Neuralgia, suspected Endometriosis and suspected POTS (largely controlled by migraine meds) my surgery won’t put me into group six. This is despite a bad reaction to potentially having the virus in March. Going from being able to work and climb. Yes I was barely holding it together but I was there. In the office. On the wall. Climbing multiple V3s-4s a session and climbing 6C on a rope, often ticking off multiple 6Bs and 6B+’s.

I went from that. to being unable to walk around my flat without crutches until I started d-ribose. To barely being eyes open and pretending to be functional, pretending to hold it together for 8 hours a day. In a dark room. Horizontal. Suddenly sleeping till midday without an alarm (which I have never done). Increased nausea, my diet has changed drastically and although initially caused weight loss has since caused weight gain since I’ve figured out how to keep my digestive system as happy as possible. Fatigue, head pressure, migraines, brain fog. Muscle weakness. Increased numbness and tingling. More issues with balance and co-ordination. Forgetting how to walk more often. Spilling coffee because god forbid could I ever carry a cup straight. Missing my mouth when I drink. I started developing seemingly random allergies. KT tape, adhesive heat pads, plasters, make up wipes. Some currently unidentified allergies. Anti-histimines have become a staple. My skin manifestations of EDS have worsened. Healing slower, marking more. My hands currently look like I’ve had a reaction to the pavement. A pavement that not much weight went onto.

I’m still no where near where I was this time last year and have a neurology appointment in may to deal with neuro stuff that started getting worse after the virus. The GP who referred me thinks it could me MS but right now no one knows. Is it EDS related, is it MS or am I just going to end up with being told it’s ME or Functional Neurological Disorder?

My chronically sick body reacted badly. This is standard for viruses with ME. I got freshers flu in my second year of uni and was on a downhill trend from there. Even colds can make us worse for a few weeks.

Yet when I sent an email using the ME Association template asking to be put in group six, I was asked to call to book a GP appointment. At which point I was dismissed. And not nicely either. It was made out as if the setback from ME wasn’t actually that bad, that if they said yes to me they would have to say yes to people with depression. (Severe mental health issues are in fact a reason to put someone into group six). Told people with asthma aren’t in group six so I definitely shouldn’t be (again people with asthma shouldn’t be left out but here we are). I was made to feel like a burden. Like a waste of time. Like I was making it all up.

I came off of the phone in tears. I should be offered the vaccine by the end of July but what if that’s too late. With the world opening up again and people going in and out more. I live with four other people. My healthy parents will be vaccinated before me and hopefully that’ll protect me a little but my brothers are children and so won’t be. It’s the knowledge that I either miss out or put myself at risk. The knowledge that once we don’t have to social distance at the climbing wall it may not be safe for me. The theatre tickets in July that are already bought so I have to go. But if masks are no longer needed in July will I be safe in central london?

The fear of another serious set back when yes I’m lucky to be as functional as I am but I’m here pushing through extreme symptoms because I feel some external pressure too. It can’t get much worse otherwise I’ll be unable to finish my masters.

It worryingly seems like the younger of us are the ones having this issue. It makes no sense why even if not group six we can’t just be put somewhere higher than group 12. We are at risk. We know we are. But when things are at the doctors discretion and you meet a bad egg or an egg that doesn’t understand your conditions there’s not much you can do other than find an egg who understands. Most of us don’t have that energy. Or go to our MP’s and CCG’s. Again most of us have lives we’re desperately trying to hold together. I definitely don’t have that energy right now. Physically or emotionally.

I feel hurt. I feel scared. I feel forgotten. I feel alone in this and like no one will understand because the media isn’t shouting about it. Instead we have government propaganda suggesting all vulnerable people will be vaccinated by April.

That’s not true. So many are left off the list.

I am one of them.

LIGHT – The Documentary Film Review

CW: Talk of eating disorders.

As someone whose eating disorder got very tangled up with climbing I thought I’d do a little review of this documentary film because it’s important and needs speaking about.

Light is a documentary about eating disorders in climbing by Caroline Treadway.

It starts very relatably, atleast to my experience of eating disorders as a climber. The inner monologue of the guilt of eating too much and the thinking people are jealous when they say you should gain weight. That delusional monologue the disorder tells you to keep you holding on to it.

I honestly couldn’t find any negatives, I personally didn’t find it triggering (although as always be careful). I also think it was an accurate look at eating disorders and it wasn’t your average rich white girls documentary’s and did highlight on eating disorders among men.

So here are the highly relatable moments I found.

  • Feeling like water over the rock
  • Your mind being fixated on when am I going to climb, what am I going to eat
  • Wanting to be the best
  • The success feeling good
  • Not liking climbing – My eating disorder turned climbing into a source of stress for me for a few years. I ended up stopping climbing due to my physical health and it was a 4 year break (I was climbing 2-4 times a year) and meeting some amazing women that allowed me to fall in love with it.

And the positive educational moments

  • The most common thing for a person with an eating fisorder to say is I’m fine – this honestly goes to people with many conditions. The standard I’m fine when actually the world is falling apart. If your friend or family member starts saying this often and your concerned don’t be too probing but be gentle, be kind and make them feel like they can open up to you without judgement when ready.
  • The comparison – people with eating disorders or often perfectionist and often compare themselves to others in their eating disorder and life. Even when not an elite athlete. We are constantly measuring our self worth against the success of other people.
  • Diet culture – It’s hard these days to know is it an eating disorder or is it just normal. Even more so in any sports! The film highlighted this point very well.
  • Talked about male eating disorders and how these are likely to me missed because of stigma
  • Talks about the effect on the body and mind
  • Recognition of the fact that no matter how recovered you are the eating disorder will always be there in the back of your mind and you always have to keep check on it and know your limits to avoid relapse.

And finally, I really liked how it ended positively. Positive messages of recovery but awareness of the difficulty and how many have to go it alone.

If you haven’t watched it already it is available on youtube and definitely worth a watch!

A week in my life in Lockdown (ft mental health and chronic illness)

Monday

I focused down on trying to get my mandatory uni work done for the week so I could focus in on revision and getting ahead on prep for the rest of the week. I tried to ground myself with worship music. Anything that takes the edge off the depression is good. I had stage one of my autism assessment, which I got really anxious about but came out positively. Confirming I am likely autistic and having arranged a full assessment. My bank account isn’t happy but it’s a matter I need closure on. I skipped my physio exercises which I was going to do whilst running a bath because I was too depressed. Sometimes that depression paralysis just gets you and takes you. I had a bath, watched spinning out, planned my week and then stayed up a little too late doing a little research for my Case Study project on a subject I’m really passionate about.

Tuesday

I got up early as I had a meeting and the dog has taken to being particularly needy in the mornings. I came out of the meeting positive and glad that I have a resource to go to for any career related questions. Sometimes you forget how important social interaction is and maybe that’s because I’m probably autistic and some social interaction is very draining. But I was actually energised and positive coming out of it until the high crashed and the depression swarmed over me again. My pain was bad and muscles tight from skipping physio and productivity was difficult. Sometimes I just feel like I’m drowning and there’s no way out. More worship music to ground. Helped but still no focus.

Wednesday

No wifi, no laptop. Tried to study without and didn’t get as far as I would have liked. I went for a walk/run and embaressed myself by failing to traverse a kids traverse wall but the slippy muddy trainers and holds + the dog in one arm made it a challenge. It gave me so much serotonin though so watch me embarrass myself in a kids playpark with a secondhand pair of climbing shoes. Muddy trainers+muddy holds are hard! And then more tears the feeling of having another barrier stacked up against you when you already face so many is hard!

Thursday

More tears. Family being insensitive and not realising how much I hurt. We do love it. I stupidy went on another walk and wasted time. Yeah it’s good to help keep my muscles loose and not sore but already feeling so behind that two hours from driving time and tesco + the walk felt unjustified. This is why I don’t go out with my family. I had a therapy assessment and told my depression is moderately severe. It was hard but hopefully I’ll be able to get some support soon and start feeling better.

Friday

Payback but having to push through. Unable to see properly, feel legs, pressure headache worse than usual. Went from despairingly low to hyper. Spent a few hours doubled up on the floor with ovulation pain. Had a dance round my room in a hyper moment. Pain came back, had a bath to ease it a little because even co-codomal wouldn’t touch it and did some volunteering.

Saturday

Endo is a bitch ft more payback and lots of drop attacks. I started some negotiation prep after revising and practicing my assessment.

Sunday

Bladder flares, endo flares idk what but it felt like something was pressing down on my pelvis and everything hurt. My bod is not a fun bod sometimes. I did more revision and practice for my assessment. I started spinning out all over again because Justin and Kat’s love gives me serotonin, Dasha is queen and Carol is a bitch but her workwear is goals and her comments sometimes make me laugh. I actually felt pretty good mentally on Sunday, which was refreshing.

Let’s talk autism, meltdowns and mental health.

Okay I know an employer doesn’t want to read this but I think it’s important to share and writing helps me get my thoughts out.

I’m probably autistic. I say probably because my parents think I am. It’s the word they’ve used against me when I’ve acted really not very mentally well. The word they’ve used to guilt trip me and the word they’ve used to make me feel like I’m a burden on them.

It’s not just my parents though, people with some sort of knowlege of autism have also recognised it. I just don’t have an official diagnosis because my parents wanted to “protect me.” All they’ve done is exclude me even more. All they’ve done is give me more challenges. I’ve not been provided with sensory items to cope with my autism, therapy to help me come to terms with it or been able to access accommodations and awareness in workplaces. This made my last job especially much harder than it already was.

Along with this I have mental health issues. I don’t know what exactly and I definitely think I need further investigations. A lot of the time if I’m up, I’m on top of the world. If I’m down, I’m down to the point it hurts. If I’m up I can be very impulsive and have to stop myself from spending too much. I may make reckless decisions safety wise and have got myself into my overdraft before when I really hadn’t needed to. If I’m up I’ll stay up until 1am, want to stay up more. Make the most of having some sort of energy that’s putting some sort of mask on the ME induced fatigue. I’ll be creative. Start new projects. I’ll be more ambitious, put myself forward more and apply for things. I’ll climb when maybe that’s not the most sensible decision at the time. I’ll not be able to concentrate. 101 things wizzing round my mind at a time. The me who can go out, drink until 4am not sleep at all and climb the next day. The one who is very energised doing so! I’ll feel like superwoman.

And when I’m low, I can’t stop crying. Staring at a screen, with nothing getting done. I may self harm. I get increasingly frustrated at little things. I honestly just want to cease to exist and sometimes I fantasize over the possibility of completing the unliving. I’m so depressed it’s paralysing. Wanting nothing but to curl up in a ball but the your going to fail anxiety wins. Not that I’m productive or able to think straight.

And then there’s the paranoid me, the horrible me. The yeeting phones into walls me. The me who wants to escape so much and is hurting so much that she leaves the house in the dark with nothing but a thin bouse when it’s -3 degrees outside. The me who loses friends and frays relationships with family. I don’t know if that’s an autism meltdown or a sign of another mental illness. But that me is never the one. It’s always distressing and always a blur. I never remember exactly what happened.

Right now I’m low. Low after something my dad said to me when I was acting not at all mentally well. It’s a deep low. A hole I feel just gets deeper the more I try to climb my way out.

2021 GOALS

I always like goal setting at the beginning of each year so here are my goals for 2021

  1. Get a distinction in my masters
  2. Film one second a day
  3. Start Ballet (Okay COVID will have to calm for this because I don’t really have space in my bedroom but I can do what I can!)
  4. Learn keyboard and continue writing a musical about ME/CFS (This will be a goal for the 2nd part of the year because LPC life but i definitely want to get it done even if it never sees the light of day!
  5. Climb v3/4 regularly again (COVID dependent but I’m sure we can make it happen!)
  6. Continue challenging myself on overhangs and roofs
  7. Become a better advocate for my health
  8. Be nicer to my family even when they’re not nice to me and saying things I really don’t agree with
  9. Get a job or find another income stream post masters
  10. Reach 250 followers on this blog
  11. Do physio daily (the back needs fixing)
  12. Eat healthier
  13. Keep up with and improve commercial awareness
  14. Climb outdoors (I do have a trip planned to hoping it goes ahead!)
  15. Get my splits back
  16. Take up every opportunity and stop hiding behind the fear of rejection
  17. Continue reading/listening to audio-books for pleasure
  18. Less procrastination and more engaged study time.

What are your goals in 2021!

The big 2020 reflection post

Okay 2020 has been chaotic for everyone and a very weird year so this post will be a reflection of that.

2020 started as a relatively normal year. For me, on the one hand, I was loving life, having found climbing again and really progressing well. On the other hand, starting to become unhappy in my job. I have recently accepted that I probably have autism and ADHD (but can’t afford a diagnosis) so the environment and tasks weren’t right for me. Combining that with my physical symptoms and some toxic team members, including my line manager, I was getting increasingly unhappy.

I can’t count how many mental breakdowns working for said government department caused me, and they just got more intense the longer I was in the job. The nights I was terrified of failing probation, of being fired and then never being employable again. The false nice conversations and clear ableism. Me being terrified and unable to fight for the support I needed. The gaslighting and other things that I don’t really feel comfortable talking about right now.

Working that job has definitely taken a huge toll on my confidence. The presenteeism pressure, combined with self-medicating my feelings through climbing on injury after injury whilst having an ME flare and then probably getting COVID caused the worst ME flares of my life. Fortunately, I’m doing a lot better now.

Lockdown happened. Other than with my health the two months I wasn’t working were blissful. I don’t normally like having nothing to do, but I really learnt that it is okay to rest and to do things we enjoy.

I’ve struggled with moving back in with an incredibly ableist family and having the walls and my health decide to both stop me climbing has been frustrating. Just as I’ve started to get well enough they’ve closed again and again.

I’m spending Christmas in tier 4 which is basically lockdown.

Not that 2020 has been all bad. Nor has it been the worst year of my life. I got to compete before COVID, I did a few virtual internships and have been to a whole host of law events. I’ve reached subscriber/follower goals on here and on youtube, despite not really doing youtube anymore and not having been as active of a blogger as I’d like since starting the LPC. I climbed a v5 (I can’t climb that anymore but I did it, which I really wanted climbing wise in 2020). I think I have also reached my book goal of 30 books over the course of the year. We definitely won’t be having time for that in 2021! I did well in my mocks and got 90% in my first real assessment.

It may have been a dark year at times but there definitely was some light.

Lets talk disability classification in para sports

The IFSC (international federation for sport climbing) has recently stated they are moving to IPC classifications from 2021.

This separates athletes into the following 10 eligible impairments:

  • Impaired Muscle Power – Athletes with Impaired Muscle Power have a Health Condition that either reduces or eliminates their ability to voluntarily contract their muscles in order to move or to generate force. Examples of eligible impairments are paraplegia, a spinal cord injury, post – polio syndrome and spina bifida
  • Impaired Passive Range of Movement – Athletes with Impaired Passive Range of Movement have a restriction or a lack of passive movement in one or more joints. This may result from contracture resulting from chronic joint immobilisation or trauma 
  • Limb Deficiency – Athletes with Limb Deficiency have total or partial absence of bones or joints as a consequence oftrauma (for example traumatic amputation), illness (for example amputation due to bone cancer) or congenital limb deficiency (for example dysmelia).
  • Leg Length Difference – Athletes with Leg Length Difference have a difference in the length of their legs as a result of a disturbance of limb growth, or as a result of trauma.
  • Short Stature – Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that may lead to Short Stature include achondroplasia, growth hormone dysfunction, and osteogenesis imperfecta. 
  • Hypertonia – Athletes with Hypertonia have an increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch caused by damage to the central nervous system. This may be as a result of Cerebral Palsy, a Traumatic Brain Injury or a stroke.
  • Ataxia – Athletes with Ataxia have uncoordinated movements caused by damage to the central nervous system. This may be caused by the conditions/events listed in hypertonia or by MS.
  • Athetosis – Athletes with Athetosis have continual slow involuntary movements. The examples listed by IPC here are Cerebral Palsy, a traumatic brain injury and stroke.
  • Vision impairment – reduced or no vision caused by damage to the optic nerves or optical pathways or visual cortex of the brain.
  • Intellectual impairment – Athletes with an Intellectual Impairment have a restriction in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour in which affects conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills required for everyday life. This Impairment must be present before the age of 18. 

It then goes to list a number of categories of health conditions that are not underlying health conditions. These are as follows:

  1. Conditions that primarily cause pain (fibromyalgia, CRPS, Myofascial pain syndrome)
  2. Conditions that primarily cause fatigue (ME/CFS)
  3. Primarily cause hypermobility or hypotonia (EDS)
  4. Primarily psychological or psychosomatic in nature (Conversion disorders or PTSD)

So what are the problems with this?

a) Using the same basic criteria for a range of sports excludes people who can’t run due to pain/fatigue/joint instability can and has excluded people from wheelchair basketbal, tennis and other sports that rely on either being able to run or use a wheelchair.

b) It’s completely misunderstanding ME/CFS. Take me for example. I have reduced sensation in my legs, feet and left hand often. But unless I get scans and lumber punctures to see if it’s something brain/cci related and they come back with something I’d probably be excluded from para-sports purely because the IPC thinks my condition is primarily fatigue when fatigue is the tip of the iceberg. It’s unbearable pressure in the base of my skull, dizziness, difficulty with positional changes, reduced sensation, extreme muscle weakness and reduced power in my legs and I’ve always had poor proprioception and co-ordination. Although this isn’t an issue for me right now. I’m not well enough to compete in any sport and do my very intense masters course it would be nice to have the option and it hurts that yet another organisation is failing to properly understand ME/CFS.

c)Expressly excluding EDS (unless the athlete also has an eligible impairment + EDS) is wrong. Yes it fluctuates and athletes with EDS may need regular evaluations and some wouldn’t even fall within para categories if they were amended but EDS impairs ability to perform in a variety of ways. Our hyper-mobile joints means it takes more power to do what a non hyper-mobile person can, we often have issues with fatigue, brain fog and positional changes. We can have poor proprioception and get frequently injured.

d) It’s not considering everything else that can impair ability to perform that comes with a “Non-eligible” underlying health condition. The fatigue, brain fog, inability to concentrate, the pain, slow healing, dizzyness. These are all real issues and I know they can be hard to quanitify but nevertheless there should be an option for those who fall outside the 10 categories that doesn’t make the competition unfair for people within the 10 categories.

e) For an organisation that preaches accessibility and inclusivity in sports it just doesn’t feel right to have this list of non eligible impairments.

f) People who have worked for years to get to where they are, are now being exlcuded from competing. Their career ending prematurely due to some critieria.

So? What should change? I understand the need for strict measurable criteria to ensure the competition is fair for everyone. Especially in sports where it comes down to a tenth of a second or point. It’s definitely hard to find the balance. But I think there is a way to include everyone whose disability impacts their sport and wants to compete and is able to get to the required standard.

I think different sports should be able to have different criteria and still be able to make a bid to be a Paralympic sport if not already one. Honestly, all wheelchair sports should be accessible to anyone who can’t do the able bodied equivalent because they can’t run or stand for a long period of time. It may mean playing around with the categories to ensure it’s fair but the pay off is accessibility for all. Secondly, we need diverse teams making these decisions. We need people with a range of disabilities and from a range of ethnic, gender and socio-economic backgrounds in the room. This will mean any blindspots will be pointed out and considered, hopefully leading to less unfair exclusion. Assessors also need to have proper education about lesser known impairments that athletes may present with. To ensure a full, fair and non biased evalation.

As a climber. I really want all aspects of the sport to be accessible to all. Yes I may be climbing like a beginner right now because I’ve been so sick this year and I still love climbing regardless of my grade and limited ability. But I also enjoyed competing when I was younger and in the beginning part of this year. If our disability impacts our sport we should have the option for both. Regardless of the underlying health condition.

Bisexual or Just a Lesbian – Questioning Sexuality

I don’t normally post about sexuality and LGBTQ+ issues but here we are. Please correct me if I get anything wrong.

I’ve known I wasn’t straight for a while. I think I knew that’s what it was when I was 13. I was attracted to men. I had a boyfriend but I was also hella attracted to women.

Honestly, I would marry certain female fictional characters if I could.

But I’m also attracted to real women.

I’ve never had a relationship with women because when I got sick I simply didn’t have the energy for one.

But I crave that relationship.

Over time I’ve learnt that I’m not really attracted to men sexually, but I still remain attracted to men romantically.

But women, I’m attracted to sexually. If I watch porn to masterbate it’ll be same sex female porn.

On that note if anyone can recommend good porn for females! As i feel a lot of Lesbian porn is made from the male gaze and quite frankly I don’t want anything to do with a lot of it.

So am I just a lesbian? Or does only being romantically attracted to men count as being bi?

I feel like being bisexual there is a lot of bi-erasure, a lot of pressure to just be gay.

I’ve had it so many times – oh your just a lesbian.

And that in itself creates a lot of self doubt over our identities.

It leaves you questioning. Who am I?

And to an extend that can make it hard for us to engage with the LGBTQ+ community. For bisexuals this community can often be the worst for us in terms of stigma, hate and bi erasure.

So who am I? People place so much importance of labels in society.

My take. It doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t eat ourselves up over our questioning. We should learn to be proud in the identity, the label that we feel most comfortable with. Even if we don’t match the stereotapes.

It’s okay to question. Questioning is natural and I believe that sexuality is fluid, it can change to some extent over time – especially for those of us who are bisexual. At times we may be more attracted to women or men and vise versa.

It’s okay. It’s okay to be you to be bisexual and proud and it’s okay to not know.

That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

My chronic illness is a monster

My chronic illness is a monster
It makes me less than
It makes me make mistakes
It makes me look lazy
Like I don’t care
Like I’m stupid

The pressure in my head so intense
The fog so thick
You say things that are incorrect
Communication incoherent
The fog so thick

You see words on the screen
The fog is so thick
You can’t read them
The words swirl around you
You can’t comprehend

The fog so thick
Fatigue so severe
Head pounding

You produce substandard work
Not because you don’t care
Not because your lazy
But because your sick.