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.

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.

Step into my shoes: Growing up with chronic illness

Imagine being eight, going through a phase of constantly spraining your ankles in PE, your teachers not believing your in pain when you ask to sit out half way through for the 3rd week in a row. That started it, the belief that no one believes you, everyone thinks your a fraud. There can’t be something that wrong because if there was people would believe you.

Being nine and spraining more ankles and a wrist. Being told you can’t go horse-riding because you have an injury, albeit minor. That started the feeling that you should hide the pain because you didn’t want to miss out on the fun. Horse-riding was a passion at the time and the pain wasn’t that bad. For pain that wasn’t always going to be there when you rode it was worth pushing through.

Imagine being 11, running around in the playground getting a pain in your lower right abdomen. A pain that unknown to you at the time would plague the rest of your life. You’re scared, but feel unable to open up to your parents about it. You reach 12 and it gets worse. Your dad somehow reads your texts and says your telling your friends you feel unwell for attention. You ask to sit out of PE because the pain is beyond excruciating your scared you’ll die. The teacher doesn’t believe you. You try to play basketball despite, standing out hand on your lower right abdomen, leaning against the wall whenever possible. Because that teacher didn’t believe you, you don’t go to the medical room in the next class. You think they to won’t believe you. You internalise it even more. Hide the symptoms from parents and teachers even more.

More and more goes wrong with your body. Dizziness. Going from once being fit to struggling to walk up the stairs to your English class without feeling like you’ll pass out. Your knees hurt and you stop horse-riding. Between the abdominal pain and the knee pain from having feet in the stirrups it’s just too much.

At 14 you take ibuprofen into school, taking it every three hours instead of every four. Even then the abdominal pain rarely eases up.

The teachers think you don’t try hard enough. You should be getting better grades. But how from the ages of 11-16 do you pay attention in class when you are scared for your health but feel you have no where to turn. When the nausea and abdominal pain is distracting at best and excruciating at worst. When you are depressed, self harming and develop anorexia because you feel like no one understands you. No one is there for you and no one listens to you.

Doing your best isn’t killing yourself. It’s not pushing yourself unreasonably. It’s simply doing your best.

Maybe I should have been getting straight A’s but my circumstances meant I didn’t.

At 16 you develop ME, but it comes on so subtly. You start getting worse at climbing, cycling two minutes down the road makes your legs feel heavy and weak when previously you could easily do the entire paper round. The sore throat comes on and it never leaves, you feel tired and start falling asleep at 2pm over the summer holidays or fall asleep at 8pm in the middle of watching criminal minds. You’ve been busy. It’s nothing. You start college, the nausea gets worse, you feel tired but everyone’s tired. It’s nothing. That is until the dizziness and heart palpitations start, the fatigue hitting you like a ton of bricks at the beginning of second year. (Although not as bad as I am now). The doctors don’t know what’s wrong. They record a sitting heart rate of 135bpm but say you are just underweight. Hilariously you then relapse into anorexia, fall into an exercise addiction and push through injuries. You feel the PEM (albeit mild compared to todays PEM it was significant at the time). The what is now known as ME gets better but your abdomen and all those organs decide not to be okay. You lose weight after gaining back to a healthy weight. In pain. Nauseous. Bloated The doctor says It’s just stress.

That’s just a snapshot of life with chronic illness. We really need to start believing our young people. Really making our young people aware that we are there to listen and help. Not just stick to the standard “faking it, growing pains, stress, weight” reasons for symptoms out of the ordinary. I know had I been believed and had I felt loved and able to speak about my symptoms from the outset I would be a more confident person now. I wouldn’t have spent so much time so scared, thinking about what could be wrong with me and maybe I then would have got better grades.

The month of both excitement and tears

June feels like it’s flown by. I think that’s because I just haven’t stopped and if I have stopped it’s been because I’ve been so unwell that I’ve been unable to even watch TV.

June started with me with my family and ended with me back up north due to flat stuff. Moving out is not fun. But we move (Literally in 4 weeks from the day this will be posted). I definitely miss being home. Although my chronic illnesses are a lot worse and my family just don’t get it I’m finding it’s too quiet working from home on my own. I’m bored, not because I don’t have enough to do but because I need that stimulation of people (and dogs around). But the health benefits are certainly worth it. Lots of exciting law things happened this month. I got a video interview for my dream law firm (and then got rejected but we move).

I also got an interview for a scholarship I need which is at the end of July. The pressure is on because I need it but I’m excited. I also took part in Legal Cheeks virtual vacation scheme which helped me massively in determining what I want for career and in providing me with a network.

I really hope my luck in terms of interviews continues and I get some more interviews for my outstanding applications. If I don’t that’s also fine as I’m aware many firms have paused recruitment and it’s a difficult year. There is always next year.

My stomach eased up after I moved back to my apartment as it’s meant I can eat more flexibly and in a way that works for my body. My bladder on the other hand. I’ve spent the last week on antibiotics for a UTI that may or may not be there. It’s helped reduce the spasms but it’s still causing significant problems, especially if I dare drink more than one cup of coffee a day. I am at the moment whilst I’m trying to pursue law, trying to work my full time job and trying to sort out a job for August (I’m resigning it will be official by the time this is published).

My mum and nan are putting an awful lot of pressure on me about my decision. I’m leaving because I’m simply not well enough. I need to get my health back so although I’m looking for an ideally part time role my interest in something full time is limited to something of the dream job category. It will only be 5 months come resigning until I start my LPC so I reason if nothing I’m well enough for is available I will manage living with my parents and worst comes to worst just doing general CV bolstering activities.

There’s only so long you can push yourself for and although I am getting out of this ME flare, I think, Maybe that’s the adrenaline speaking, I need to place myself in the best position to excel in my LPC and go on to have a long career in law. I also need to recondition and doing that whilst working isn’t going well right now.

Passing out when trying to sit up after a laying down workout isn’t fun!

So that was June! How was the month for you?

My experience on the Legal Cheek Virtual Vacation Scheme — handoeslaw

I spent the week participating in Legal Cheeks Virtual Vacation Scheme alongside 3000 other aspiring Lawyers in the UK and worldwide and as many of these schemes are going on this summer, in both law and other industries, I thought I would share my experience. The scheme was run on a platform called Hopin. I’ve […]

via My experience on the Legal Cheek Virtual Vacation Scheme — handoeslaw

The problem with “real recovery”

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And we’re back with an eating disorder recovery related post and that is the issue of real recovery. I’ve been in the community on YouTube and the gram for many many years now and yes as a young influential gen z I did #realrecovery in my posts. But now I’m older and wiser and believe the message of real recovery is slightly problematic.

Back in the day it was associated with a minnie maud style, 3000+ calories a day, no exercise recovery. Yes that is probably the most ideal recovery when it comes to putting weight on fast in recovery from anorexia and maybe even for your mental state. Now I find it associated with going “all in”.

But other than the fact that “going all in” isn’t appropriate for all eating disorders or all eating disorder patients as it may cause refeeding syndrome or increasing urges to binge the term real recovery is problematic as it insinuates to many eating disorder patients that there recovery is only worth it if they’re never giving into thoughts, eating to their cravings and hunger ques and not using compensatory behaviours. Considering how perfectionistic anorexia sufferers in particular are this is even more problematic as they are likely to want the perfect recovery and the eating disorder may convince them that it’s all or nothing.

If you give into a behaviour your a failure. Your recovery isn’t real and so why should you bother.

The reality is every recovery is real recovery. Even if you do slip, you do act on thoughts and use behaviours. It’s still recovery, as long as you recognise what your doing and make a real effort to try and change it.

Of course the ideal of recovery is to never use behaviours, but that’s not realistic.

Recovery has ups and downs and often a lifelong process. Often when you recover from an eating disorder the thoughts will become less and less but they’ll always be there in the back of your mind and you’ll always have to keep check on them.

Sometimes you’ll be doing great, sometimes you slip.

Slipping or not making as much progress as other people in the community doesn’t mean your recovery is less real!

Recovery is not linear, not the same for everyone and does not have to be all positive!

Dealing with rejection

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I don’t think I’ve already covered this, or if I have I’ve not dedicated an entire post to it. Which is strange considering just how much rejection I have faced.

At the end of April I was rejected from my dream job, although I was put on the reserve list so maybe if we keep our fingers and toes crossed it will come to me. Or not and something else will happen that was so meant to be.

And very unlike me, I dealt with it okay. Maybe I’ve experienced so much rejection that I’m immune to it.

I was able to appreciate that getting as far in the recruitment process as I did was an achievement in itself. Many people who get the job are a lot more qualified than me, or a lot more privileged and from better universities.

I was able to appreciate that rejection isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t mean I’m not enough or I didn’t try hard enough.

It’s just life.

Life makes no sense sometimes especially when your dreams seem to just not be coming together. But I truly believe that one day it will all make sense. l

God has a plan.

He just doesn’t make us aware of that plan.

You are sick enough for help: Mental Health Awareness week

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It’s the end of mental health awareness week and honestly we shouldn’t need one but there we go, we still do. Although we have come a long way there is still a significant amount of stigma out there.

Today I want to talk about, well write about how we all have mental health and there is never a point where you are not sick enough for help. Be that therapy, counselling or medication or even just that little bit of extra support from family, friends and collegues.

Mental health is just like physical health. Sometimes it can be good, sometimes it can be bad, sometimes it can be somewhere inbetween and just like physical health we shouldn’t ignore it if we start to feel it going because if we do ignore it, it will likely get worse and have a knock on effect on other aspects of our life. If it gets worse, it’s harder to then get back under control.

Just like physical pain, it’s better to take action when the pains a 3/10 because once it gets out of control more and more needs to be done.

Ignoring your mental health and sacrificing it above all else in life isn’t a badge of honour, it isn’t a way to show how brilliant you are or how hard you try. Your not being pathetic if you take time out, get therapy, take medication that’s okay. You are valid. You are worthy. You are not wasting the time of healthcare professionals. Even if you live in the UK and are reliant on the NHS. If you think you are having enough of an issue with your mental health that simple self care isn’t helping and only you know that you are worthy of help. See your GP, self refer to therapy.

I know living in the UK it can be hard, especially as a teenager because CAHMS often only help you in a timely manner if your on your death bed and even then…. I won’t waste words ranting about CAHMS though.

Many trusts now offer self referral to therapy, although limited in their use for people like me with currently mild/moderate anxiety and depression this can be really helpful  I have a lot more anxiety than depression though! I’ve been really quite anxious these past few days just because my family don’t understand ME but the second I try to explain they start spewing abelist language on me. That’s an anxiety that’s hard to overcome, when the people who are meant to support you most don’t see nor understand your illness but it’s kind of your fault because have you really tried but the issue is your too anxious to try.

That was a tangent…

Although there’s still waiting lists it’s not the 6 months to many years that can be found with other forms of mental health treatment on the NHS.

You are sick enough, you are worthy and you are deserving. Remember it’s better to prevent these issues arising at all, through rest, be selfish once in a while. Self care is important, you shouldn’t burn yourself out trying to be everything for everyone.