Lockdown and Mental Health

As we all know, the world is in crisis. There’s a new virus doing the rounds. SARS-COV-2. Better known as coronavirus or Covid-19.

Because of this, the government suggested we isolate ourselves if we had symptoms, and to socially distance ourselves from others. But of course people didn’t listen. So now we are in official lockdown. We must not leave the house unless absolutely necessary.

Now, I’m well aware that this could cause people to have significant mental health problems. We will be dealing with the effects of this for years to come.

But it’s vitally important that people adhere to these new rules, as strict and as Draconian as they seem. For yourselves and for others. People think that because they are fit and healthy, they won’t be affected. But you will be if you pass it onto granny, or your child with asthma. Imagine your child being rushed to hospital in an ambulance, but you can’t be there with them because of the risk of spreading this virus, knowing your baby is in hospital, possibly dying, alone and afraid. I’m sure no one wants that.

And I’m certain that losing people close to us will also have a massive impact on our mental health. It will be difficult for everyone.

But what about those of us already struggling? How do we cope? How do we manage our mental health without support?

As it stands my care coordinator will not be seeing me for the next three months. She will phone me every couple of weeks just to check in, but it isn’t the same as a face to face appointment.

That’s three months on my own, with just my children and my voices. Luckily for me, my voices have so far been only interested in me and hurting me. But as with anything, I never know if this will change.

My anxiety is through the roof. What if the voices get fed up of my children? What if my children get ill? My oldest has a heart condition. It could kill him. What if my mum gets it? I can’t cope without her. She is literally holding me together as I fall apart. What if I can’t feed my children because people have been panic buying? I’m in tears just writing this because I am terrified.

I’m terrified of losing my support network and my mental health deteriorating. I’m terrified of losing my loved ones. I’m terrified that people will continue to be selfish and that this will last months, if not years.

I’m barely eating because I’m so scared of running out of food. I’m trying very hard to use a range of mindfulness techniques to ease the effect of the voices, but I’m autistic and what works for neurotypicals doesn’t work for me. I try to colour and it makes me ragey. I try to meditate and my mind starts whirring. I try to distract myself, reading, watching TV, listening to music. None of it works.

And on top of all that, I’m trying to make sure my children don’t fall behind academically and that I’m meeting their emotional needs. I’m not too worried about Alex. He is extremely intelligent. He was meant to be doing his SATs this year though, and we have no idea what will happen with those, and he is fairly open with me about his feelings.

Nathan, my youngest, academically is ok. But getting him to do anything, or not to kick off is a job in itself. He is emotional, explosive, and downright rude at times. I’m sure he has more going on than just a naughty child. The school told me just before all of this that as he wasn’t growing out of these behaviours they were starting to consider the possibility of SEN. (I’ve been saying this for years) but now he won’t receive that support as we are at home.

Then there’s Bernadette. She is selectively mute. She can’t speak when she is anxious or scared, or in new situations. She is behind in school because of this. She didn’t meet her early learning goals at the end of reception, so she is permanently playing catch up, and can’t express her emotions. I am so scared that I will fail her.

I don’t know how I will cope with all of this. I don’t understand how some people are thinking this isn’t a big deal.

The world is a scary and confusing place right now, and for those of us with mental health difficulties, it is even more so. We were already struggling. Now this has happened, we are unable to access support. And I am afraid. Of the world, and of myself, my mind.

So for me. For everyone struggling with their mental health. I beg you to please stay indoors. Please listen to the government advice on lockdown. Because the longer you ignore it, the longer we have to stay in, and the longer we go without support and I’m not sure I can survive without it long term.

Realising the abuse

I was with my ex partner, the father of my children, for 12 years. That’s an awful long time. Some people would say we had a successful relationship. From the outside we did. 12 years, 3 amazing children, we seemed the perfect family.

Only things weren’t so perfect. They never were. It was all a façade. Story time now, so sit back, relax and get ready for the rollercoaster that was my only real relationship.

I was 16, in college, hanging out with my friends as you do. My friend brought her boyfriend and his friend round to my dad’s flat were we were spending the night. When the lads left, they continued speaking to us in the phone. That’s when Michael asked me out.

We met up the following day. Things were a normal teenage relationship. Drinking, smoking (cigarettes, not drugs) having a laugh. Then 3 days later he told me he loved me. I should have run away, I should have said “hang on a minute, we barely know each other” but I was 16. And I was autistic, not that I knew that at the time. I was troubled. I’d dealt with a lot up until that point in my life and I was so desperate to feel wanted that I clung to it.

At that point in my life, me and my mum didn’t have the best relationship. It was strained to say the least. She wasn’t pleased about my choice in partner, but she supported me, hoping it would fizzle out after a few weeks.

It didn’t. And the conversation of sex and contraception came up. As I said, I was troubled, desperate to feel loved. 16 year old me thought it would be a great idea to get pregnant. I told him that I wanted a baby. He agreed.

3 months after our relationship started, my mum asked me if I had come on my period yet. We were in sync and like clockwork, and my mum would keep an eye on sanpro stocks. I hadn’t.

She bought a test and made me take it when I came home from college. The solid lines were instant. I was pregnant. And I was determined to keep my baby. My mum, although disappointed that I was to be a teen mum, supported me.

I remember going round to Mick’s house and telling him I needed to tell him something. He was led in bed playing his computer games and ignored me, so I threw the pregnancy test at him. He asked what it meant so I told him. He broke the news to his family and that started a whole load of problems.

His mum kicked off, saying I had trapped her boy, that I had stolen him from her. He stayed silent and let his mum kick off at me. For the 20 week scan, his mum went mad because he missed part of his nieces party. And when I mentioned that his child came first, he fell out with me.

Soon after I discovered he had taken cocaine. I ended the relationship and told him if he wanted anything to do with our baby he had to sort his life out. At 16 I was still strong and feisty and gave no fucks.

I continued the pregnancy alone, just my family for support. I went into labour and spent 38 hours in hell. He was back to back, face first, his shoulders got stuck. I freaked out at the fact I was actually having a baby. I don’t really know what I expected, but it wasn’t that, that’s for sure. I’m just glad my mum was there to help me through it. Then he was born. This beautiful, bundle of joy. And it was worth every second of pain.

When we finally came home.

I spent 3 days in hospital with him as I was at risk of infection as my waters had broken so long before I’d given birth. I spent the time bonding with my son, and didn’t think about Mick at all.

It was only once we were home that my mum said I should tell him. I refused, but it wasn’t long before he phoned. He told me he had come off the drugs and had a job interview lined up. I told him to come to my mum’s where I was still living, to see Alex. He met Alex when he was a week old. He spent the first few months coming round to my house to see him and spend time with him.

When Alex was 7 months old, things seemed to have been going well. He asked me to give him another chance. I foolishly thought that it would be a good idea. Then I got my own house. I moved in. Without his help. And it was just me and Alex. It was strange, but I soon got used to it. Mick would come round after work, barely seeing Alex. Or he would come around on weekends and I would do everything with Alex.

By this point I was 18 and I became fed up of his laziness. I ended the relationship again. I allowed him to take Alex to his home (with his mum) for contact. This went well. Until Alex came back with a handprint bruised on his bum. When I asked what had happened, Mick said his mum had done it. I was furious. I wanted to hurt her. But I knew that if I did, she would phone the police.

Instead I told Mick that if he wanted to see Alex he would have to do so at my house. He refused. He took me to court.

It took almost three years but the court eventually decided that Mick could have contact with Alex in the community as his family was not safe for him to be around. Throughout this time, I had been stalked, had Mick’s brothers try and kick my door in, had threatening messages, been told that they’d kidnap my son etc. Cafcass were involved and decided that I was absolutely right to do what I did.

The judge sided with me. Said Mick could see Alex for a few hours each week, in the community. This went well for a few months. Alex came to be comfortable around his dad again and I was pleased that Alex was happy.

One day it was pouring with rain. I stupidly invited Mick in when he dropped Alex off home. One thing led to another and we had sex. It was stupid of me. I was lonely. I hadn’t had another relationship at all during that time. Alex was now 4 and a half.

A few weeks later I realised my period was late. Yep. That was me pregnant again. I phoned him up to ask him to come round once he’d finished work (at his third or fourth job as he never lasted long in each job he had) as I needed to speak to him. When he turned up, I again threw a pee stick at him.

This time he came through. Ish. He bought the things we would need for a baby. My family had provided everything for Alex, and I had gotten rid as he was 4 and I had no need of it. We found out we were having a girl, and we decided to name her after my mum as my mum had been there for us all. That was when we decided to give things one last try. That is when the abuse started.

I didn’t see it at the time. I was so worn down by his antics that it seemed normal to me. We carried on with the pregnancy and I was diagnosed with symphisis pubis dysfunction. I was in agony.

Again, I had a difficult labour. My waters broke on the first of December. I went to hospital and was told I was only 2cm dilated and to go home and wait it out. So I did. The tests had confirmed it was amniotic fluid leaking from me, so I fully expected full blown labour to happen any hour.

But it didn’t. I went back to the hospital a few days later with reduced movements and bleeding, only to be told everything was fine and to continue going to my regular midwife appointments. So I did. That’s where we realised bump wasn’t growing. At all. Still no one would listen to me. I was leaking fluid, bleeding on and off, my baby wasn’t growing and I wasn’t feeling her move.

Finally on the 18th of December, Bernadette was born. I had spent 18 days in slow labour. The midwife read my notes and was furious. Bernadette could have died. She was distressed. She had pooed inside of me, and she was only 50cm long. Despite being 7lb 10oz, she could fit in tiny baby clothes.

Poor girl was all bruised and swollen as she came out face first.

But I felt different to when I had Alex. I loved her, I knew that, but I didn’t feel the overwhelming joy. I felt… Empty.

Her baby days were tough. I loved her so much, and would never have wished any harm on her, but I just didn’t want to do anything with her. I was depressed. And Mick’s behaviour gradually got worse. He’d shout and scream when Alex was in bed, leaving me in tears, looking after a baby when all I wanted to do was pretend she didn’t exist. I know that’s taboo, and not something a mother is meant to say about their child, but that’s how I felt.

The depression grew worse. I eventually became convinced that evil was after my baby. I was putting salt in the doorways, praying over her despite not being overly religious, and I grew to believe she had been sent by the devil, and it was my job to care for her. Very Omen-y vibes going on. I told Mick all of this. Instead of getting me help, he allowed me to continue believing this.

The shouting and stamping carried on. We still weren’t living together (his decision) so he would storm out of the house if I asked him to even wash the pots. And because I was so scared of being alone with Bernadette, I did everything I could to keep him happy. Eventually the depression lifted, but the delusion that she was somehow demonic stayed. Despite this delusion I loved her. I loved my little demon.

When she was 10 months old I fell pregnant again. This time I was on the pill. By now I was 24, had given up smoking and still struggling with my mental health. The pregnancy was the worst. By the time I was 6 weeks pregnant the lollipop lady had guessed I was. At 14 weeks I was struggling to get about. At 17 weeks I was on crutches. Everyone joked asking if I was sure it wasn’t twins.

My 14 week bump

By 24 weeks I couldn’t move at all without help. I couldn’t even make it ten steps to the downstairs toilet on my own. Still Mick refused to help. My mum came around and basically moved in with me. My lack of movement, paired with my constant grazing to stave off the nausea, meant I gained 7 stone during the pregnancy. I was huge. I had gone from a size 10, to a size 20 in a matter of months.

luckily this time the labour was much easier. 4 hours start to finish, three pushes and he was out. There was my huge 10lb 10.5oz beast of a baby. He looked like Phil Mitchell from EastEnders. But he was perfect. And he was healthy. That’s all that mattered.

Beefy baby.

But now I was on my own with 3 kids, 2 of them babies. I could still hardly move, and still needed the crutches to get about. Slowly, the behaviour started creeping in again. The shouting, the pushing past me and “accidentally” knocking me. I grew used to this.

Then December 2015 came. Christmas was fantastic. We all had a brilliant day. Then on boxing Day Mick had to rush up to the hospital. His brother had hanged himself. He was on life support. Mick spent the next few days at the hospital, moody, not wanting to speak. I gave him space. Then the family had to make the decision to turn off the life support. It was difficult for all of them, and I understood that.

Mick was clearly depressed from this, but refused to seek help, instead preferring to shout and rant at me, and ignore the children. The day of the funeral came. I had offered to go with him but he said no as he didn’t want to cause his mum any unnecessary stress with me being there (she still hated my guts). So I didn’t go. Only for him then to go mental at me because I didn’t go with him. I couldn’t win. No matter what I did I was wrong.

I eventually managed to get him to see the doctor and get antidepressants. But I was still wrong. Everything I did annoyed him. Especially my volunteering. He would often refuse to have the children while I was there, trying my best to better myself and get qualifications so that I could get a job doing something I enjoyed. He would demand I go home at lunch time and prepare the children’s and his meals. I was always on edge.

Eventually I found work. In a nursery, exactly what I had wanted. Mick was only working part time, whereas I was full time. A few months after I started he quit work and finally moved in with us. He became a stay at home dad.

I thought I finally had everything. And from the outside I did. I had a job I loved, a partner at home with the children. The reality was very very different.

I was working almost 50 hours a week. For an autistic person that is extremely difficult. Then I would come home, often after 7 at night and straight away I was doing reading books, homework, bedtime routine with the children. Then I’d have to make myself something to eat and clean the house. I was exhausted. Mick would suggest takeaway more often than not. And if I didn’t eat the food he’d ordered then there would be shouting and anger. If I told him we couldn’t afford it he would demand to see my online banking.

That was it. I was trapped. I had no childcare for my children and my mum’s mother in law had taken ill, so she was caring for her. I couldn’t afford to leave as leaving would trigger the change from tax credits to universal credit and the 5 week wait for money.

I was being financially and mentally abused. I believed I must be doing something wrong for him to behave like that. I thought it was my fault and that I had to try harder. I thought I wasn’t good enough. That if I had just been a better partner he would be different.

Then came the twins. I fell pregnant again. This time on the implant. We talked. A lot. I was still struggling with my health from Nathan, and doctors had told me already that another pregnancy would put me in a wheelchair. When I found out it was twins, I knew I had to terminate the pregnancy. If I didn’t I would have ended up a single mum of 5, because he would have left me. He told me that.

Having to do that left me heartbroken. Although I knew it was the best thing for me and for my children, I hated every second of it. And Mick used it as yet another stick to beat me with. Insisting on naming them, wanting to buy baubles for the Christmas tree to commemorate them. I get it. People grieve in different ways. And we felt it very much as a loss, because if I had been healthy, I’d have continued the pregnancy.

But it became a cause of resentment. He would mention the twins almost nightly, telling me how he hated that I was ill. How he despised that doctors for telling me what would happen. He blamed me and my body for it. And so did I. So of course, the abuse continued, and I felt I deserved it.

I deserved to hurt because my shitty body had hurt him so much. I deserved to suffer. I carried on doing everything myself. Working myself to death, doing all the housework, making sure the kids brushed their teeth and doing Bernadette’s hair each morning before school, doing homework and reading books while Mick sat on the Xbox day in day out.

Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and I ended up signed off from work for 5 weeks with depression. But those 5 weeks I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t concentrate on making myself better because I had Mick on my case. I was still doing everything around the house and now he was moaning that we had no money. I felt forced to go back to work before I was ready, albeit in reduced hours, just so that he had money.

But going back made no difference. Things were still the same. I was still as stressed out, I was still depressed and I was still hearing a voice. I hadn’t told anyone about the voice because I was terrified my children would be taken from me. Mick would tell me that I was a shit mum, that the kids deserved better than me. And I believed him. I was so worn down by this point that I believed everything he said. The shouting and stamping was escalating to throwing things and threatening physical violence. I cried so much.

Then I got signed off again. I was too ill to continue working. My physical health was deteriorating, as well as my mental health, and I couldn’t cope any longer.

That’s when Mick decided he was done. When my care coordinator told him that I would not be going back to work for the next few months. When he realised the money had dried up. He left. Just decided to move back in with his mum and be done with us.

Shockingly, I just accepted it. I haven’t cried once over him. And looking back I realise it’s because he destroyed any feelings I had for him with his selfishness and abuse.

He keeps trying to tell me he loves me now and then in the same breath calls me a twat because I won’t pay for his Amazon prime or now TV.

I see what he’s doing. He’s trying to pull me back in. Trying to start the cycle all over again. But this time I have a secret weapon. I have you guys. You reading this. You keep me strong, knowing there are people out there who want me to get better and to do better. And I will. He may have ended it, but he gave me a new beginning. A new chapter in my life. One where I finally accept my disabilities, and where I make myself happy again. I don’t need him to be happy, despite what he always told me. I’m better off just me and my children.

We are so much happier now we aren’t walking on eggshells constantly.

I have crippling depression

I know, I shouldn’t joke about it, but it’s how I deal with it.

It’s true. My depression really is crippling. It leaves me unable to leave my house. Some days I can’t even get out of bed. Those are the days I want to curl up and end it all. I want to run away from this life and never come back, start afresh somewhere new with a whole different life (one which magically doesn’t have any of the issues this one has and also has a whole bucket load of money!)

I know this is a bit taboo. I have 3 amazing children. Why would I want to leave them behind? How can I contemplate leaving them without a mother? The truth is depression is selfish. It doesn’t care that my children would be without me. It is all self centred and so absorbed in hating me, that it doesn’t take into consideration the people around me and the effect it has on them.

Especially my type of depression. I never do anything by halves, so of course I had to go and get psychotic depression. What that means is that I hear a voice. It isn’t in my head. It sounds as if it is in the room with me and the only reason I know it isn’t real is because I hear it when I’m alone.

The voice always seems to be over my shoulder. It’s like I’m never alone.

This voice of mine despises me. It wants me dead. And it takes an awful lot of energy to fight against that day in and day out. It is exhausting. I’ve taken to calling the voice Gollum. As in the Lord of the rings, Gollum is the corrupt, selfish and abhorrent side of Smeagol. My voice is the corrupt, selfish, abhorrent side of me. The side that doesn’t care how much my family loves me. The side that really really wants me hurt. The side that believes I deserve pain and suffering.

My precious is my sanity. Gollum is desperate to take control and I have to fight against it.

I once wrote everything Gollum said to me within a three hour period. I wrote seven (yes 7) pages full. That kind of constant negativity has a huge impact on your quality of life. I am so unwell right now that I feel my life isn’t even worth living. But I know I have to keep going and that I have to make it worth living. That’s why I started this blog. So that I have a reason to keep going, because if this helps even one person feel like they’re not alone, I’ve achieved something.

I never get a break from Gollum. She is there all of the time. I don’t sleep more than 4 hours a night. I don’t like to be alone because I can’t ignore her as easily when I am. She is horrible. I wouldn’t wish this on even my worst enemy.

Because of my depression I work closely with the early intervention service. They’re a specialist service who deal with psychosis. I have a care coordinator and a support worker at my disposal whenever I need them. I’m also on a boat load of medication. Some for my physical disabilities, others for my psychotic symptoms. I take 23 tablets a day. These tablets are keeping me stable. They seem to stop the voice from getting any worse, although as yet I’ve not seen any improvement. And the temptation sometimes is overwhelming. I’m incredibly lucky to have an amazing support network around me to help me get better.

And that is the next step isn’t it? Improvement. To lift my mood and to either minimise the voice, or be in a better place mentally to fight it. All I can do for now is go along with the strategies the team have put in place for me and take my medicine. And hope.

Right now things seem pretty bleak. But I have hope. Which is something I didn’t have a month ago. So here’s to hope. Here’s to mental health. Here’s to telling Gollum to take a leap.

Discovering Autism

A lot of people ask me about my autism. They want to know how I found out I was autistic, how it affects me and how I cope with it daily.

Others tell me “it must be mild” or that I must be “high functioning.” The reality is that it only seems mild because I’m able to mask so well. A skill learnt and built up through years of watching, learning, and copying others.

Baby me. I was so chubby!

I discovered that I might be autistic when I was researching autism to help a little boy I was working with. As I got more in depth in my research I discovered that girls present differently to boys. This piqued my interest and off down the rabbit hole I went.

I found a list of symptoms and as I read I realised that I was reading about myself. It explained so much. Why I always felt different, why I didn’t have that innate knowledge of how to socialise with others, of why I had to try so hard to fit in and I still stuck out like a sore thumb.

Talking to my mum about this was difficult. At first she told me that I was being ridiculous. That I couldn’t possibly be autistic. But I managed to convince her to read more into it. She did and eventually admitted that I had a lot of traits.

I found an AQ50 online and completed that. My score was 49. I told my mum that I was going to look for a diagnosis as I needed closure. I needed to understand, and I felt that if I knew for certain what was going on with me, I could finally feel able to just be me without hiding.

This prompted me to see my GP. Originally he referred me to minds matter. A mental health service. They told me that they couldn’t help me and sent me back to my GP. The GP then referred me to a place called brief therapy support services. They were fantastic. I can’t fault them.

I took my mum with me to my assessment, from what I had read online and from speaking to other autistic women, I was expecting it to take a while and to possibly have more than one assessment. I remember sitting nervously in the waiting room and saying to my mum “do you think this used to be an office?” She asked why I’d say that and I told her because there were 12 plug sockets in the walls, which made me think they needed to plug in a lot of things.

When we went through, it was difficult recalling my childhood and how I’d always felt “other” and different. My mum explained how I’d notice little details that people would miss, such as my aunties rings. I’d know if she had swapped them around or put them in a different order. We spoke about my difficulty sleeping, we spoke about my stims (the things I do which help me to stay calm), such as leg bouncing, stroking my face with my hair, banging my head off things. She asked about my friends and I had to tell her that I don’t have many real life friends. She asked me why and I said I didn’t people well. She laughed and said she would steal that phrase.

Within an hour she said categorically that I was autistic. She told me that I have what used to be called Asperger’s, but that they are phasing that term out due to the not so nice things Hans Asperger did during WW2. I felt a huge sense of relief. I finally understood. It wasn’t that I was rubbish at being a person. It was that I was different. I was a penguin in a world full of sparrows.

“Imagine that you’re a sparrow, living in a family of sparrows in a town of sparrows in a world of sparrows.

But you’re kind of a shitty sparrow. Kind of the worst sparrow, actually.

You can’t fly. You’ve been to doctors who have prescribed medicine to help with flying. But you still can’t. You try every day, and every day you fail and this thing which all the other sparrows tell you is critical.

For a while, you stop trying. Failing every day just wore you down and you couldn’t do it anymore, so you stopped trying to fly. It was nice in some ways, but you felt guilty because you weren’t raised to give up. It made a rift with your family. Flying is an important activity that sparrow families do together. Isn’t your family important to you? Don’t they deserve for you to at least make the effort?

So since it’s nothing medically wrong with you, you go to a therapist, who diagnoses you with a phobia of flying. You work on overcoming your fear. You’re lucky, your family is very accepting of mental illness (other sparrows are not so lucky, and it hurts your heart to think about that). They appreciate and admire how hard you’re working. They try to include you, so instead of getting together and flying, sometimes they get together and all sit in their nests. That sort of sucks too, but it’s a definite improvement.

You continue to try, and fail, to fly. You try harder. You try as hard as you can. Sometimes you can’t even make yourself flap your wings, it’s just such pointless bullshit and you feel like you’ll never succeed. Sometimes you go up on a chair and jump off and flap real hard and go splat anyway.

Sometimes mean birds make fun of you because you’re a terrible screw-up.

For 26 years, this is what your life is.

One day, almost out of nowhere, as an afterthought, an aside, something barely worth mentioning because it is so obvious, a doctor says, “by the way, you’re a penguin.”

Holy shit. You’re not a failure. You’re a penguin. You’re not lazy or stupid or weak. You don’t have messed up values. You’re a penguin. You have always been a penguin.

There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re a beautiful penguin. The most perfect penguin. But it’s just a fact, penguins can’t fly.

Now when you’re with you’re sparrow friends and they’re all sitting in nests, you sit in a bucket of ice. Mostly you bring your own. Some bird restaurants are really accommodating and will bring you a bucket of ice to sit in. Sometimes mean birds give you shit about your bucket, but it doesn’t hurt as much as it did before, because you know you’re a penguin and you’re just exactly what a penguin is meant to be.

You give yourself permission to stop trying to fly. Not failing all the time improves your mood and overall function. You finally feel confident declining when invited to flying outings. You don’t waste the energy feeling guilty about it.

You love your family of sparrows, but you also find a whole community of penguins to love too. Things you thought were just you, like preferring fish to bird seed, things you thought you were totally alone in and wrong for, are common and accepted. Some are even admired. Your new penguin friends think your flippers and chubby penguin belly are lovely. You bond over how and when you discovered you loved swimming.

Knowing you’re a penguin means knowing where you fit in a world you never felt like you fit into. It means all the things penguins can’t do, it’s not a personal failing when you can’t do them. You’re not supposed to be able to. You can do other things instead. Sparrows are actually quite poor swimmers. You feel good about the things you excel at.” – Sparrows and Penguins by J. Murray

This pretty much sums up what it meant for me to discover I had autism. I was officially diagnosed 31/01/2018

As for how my autism affects me now, and how I cope. Well, over the years I’ve developed a lot of coping strategies. Some aren’t all that healthy though. Actually, I don’t think any of them are particularly healthy!

I can’t socialise without becoming exhausted. I am face blind, meaning I don’t recognise people out of context unless I’m very close to them. Take my GP as an example. He has been my GP for 24 years. I would t have a clue who he was if I was to see him in the street. I struggle to manage my emotions and I have some odd sensory needs. These are just some of my traits.

I cope with these now by allowing myself time to recover after I’ve socialised, letting myself stim and flap and receive the sensory input I need such as deep pressure, without thinking I’m doing something wrong. Just having the ability to say “this is what I need right now” has made a huge difference to my life.

I must also point out that I would not cope as well as I do if not for my mum, who even now holds my hand through this minefield of being a grown up! She reminds me to do basic things (thanks to my rubbish executive functioning, another trait of mine) and she is the only person able to calm me from a meltdown in less than 3 hours.

I love my mum.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

I am starting out on this Journey as I’m currently rather unwell.

Within the last few weeks, I have been diagnosed with psychotic depression, my partner of 12 years left me and I had to resign from a job I loved as my mental and physical health is too bad.

I also have autism and I have 3 amazing children.

I hope you will join me on this journey of rediscovery, and share my small victories, mourn my losses and be involved with my path to a happier me.