Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

Scotland – Edinburgh & Loch Lomond

For my 27th birthday this year we went away to Scotland for 4 nights. On the day of arrival we checked out the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and Will planned a trip to The Royal Observatory of Edinburgh which I thoroughly enjoyed. We were able to see the impressively huge telescope and the rotating dome (pictured below). After an insightful talk about astronomy we walked up to the top of the dome to star gaze and check out the beautiful night sky. Luckily the sky was clear as we had the opportunity to look at the moon closely through telescopes and to top it off we held some rocks from space!

The second day we got the tram into the city and took a tour of the underground vaults. It was surreal being under the city and learning the history behind them. Once we left the vaults we went to The Surgeons Hall Museum. We spent a good few hours there as there was so much to see. We learnt about research into diseases, dentistry and walked among hundreds of body parts preserved in jars! Very fascinating and worth a visit.

On our third day we made our way to our little log cabin near Loch Lomond. I absolutely adore driving through Loch Lomond and exploring it’s beautiful surroundings. I felt quite drained from the last few days so we took it easy and walked for most of the day before retiring and winding down for our last day.

Our final day in Scotland was a fun one. We visited the aquarium and took a walk around Balloch Castle in the afternoon then headed to Inveraray to visit the old jail. To finish the evening we went back to The Drovers Inn, one of my favourite pubs, for a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties (of course, when in Scotland).

I had a lovely relaxed and insightful time in Scotland again and can’t wait to visit sometime soon. I’ve realised that my phone camera is rubbish so I’ve just bought my first DSLR camera so I’m hoping to take some nice clear photos in the future! I’ll be posting again soon with more updates on my never ending madness but for now it’s goodbye ūüôā

New Year, New You, Same Me

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Every year it’s the same. A new year dawns on me and I sit there wondering what should¬†I change and focus on, mainly because society feeds us with this idea of change and spending money on a gym membership. I can¬†no longer stand the sight of a TV, it’s only a matter of minutes before an advert raving about a new fitness book/DVD is announced!

It was different this year. I had a rough couple of months leading up to Christmas with my gran passing away and my foster dog getting adopted. I couldn’t handle the change very well and went into a deep shutdown period for months. I’m balancing out again now and able to feel ecstatic that he’s gone to a forever home and slowly grieving with my gran. In fact I’ll be meeting my new Senior Staffy foster on the 18th Jan and I cannot wait! I’m also in the middle of planning a sponsored hike in the summer to raise money for the rescue I foster for so I’ll keep you updated when I have set up my GoFundme page!

When New Years Eve approached I didn’t set myself any physical goals. Instead I’ve been considering cancelling my gym membership because I feel lonely going alone and no longer find it fun or worthy of my time. To be honest with you, I’ve been feeling quite fearful of leaving the house alone lately. I’m sure it’s probably related to the grief I’ve felt lately and will discuss with therapist tomorrow. I’ve also been strengthening my mind over the last few years and will continue to do so. I will no longer force myself to take part in anything that I feel will cause unnecessary stress and will not be taken advantage of from anyone.

I’ve learnt that the length of time really is precious and has so many qualities. Nothing great can be rushed. Sometimes you have to put the work in to reap rewards but it’s worth waiting for. Time also heals and gives us the space to heal ourselves and grow as a person. Over the years I’ve also noticed that time just seems to whiz past and I often worry that I’ll waste/regret my time here so make sure you embrace it and find the greatness and achievement in each day.

Which leads me to this quote by The Dalia Lama taken from my little book of Buddhism:

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Some of us will find great achievement by managing a day consisting of a few chores or facing the outside world when anxiety encourages otherwise and others will find great achievement by persisting in a job and progressing with their career or finally buying a house. I love how this quote expresses that we are all equal and every little achievement can be very different from one another but is something we should all feel proud of no matter how big or small..

Resting In Peace – 31/10/2016

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It’s been a while since I’ve used the computer. I haven’t been able to touch it since last Monday. My mother came to stay at my place a few weeks ago and after a phone call to my father explaining that my gran was in hospital, I decided to drive back with her to my parents 4 hours away, and visit my gran in hospital. I was dreading it. I didn’t know what to expect and I thought I was prepared for the worst but she was far worse than that.

When we arrived at the hospital I had crazy butterflies and already felt shaky like I could cry any minute. I have trouble controlling my emotions and the uncertainty of the situation made me lose all control. All I knew was that I had to say my goodbyes now. We managed to find my Aunt and Uncle with Gran D in the terminal ward. I didn’t even know she was terminal.

Seeing my gran laying there will stay with me forever. I was traumatised. I’ve never experienced someone dying with cancer before and I hope this is the last time I ever do. I walked into the room and broke down as soon as I saw her. She was lying there completely unresponsive. I tried to look into her eyes for some recognition but she stared through me. I couldn’t take it and cried the whole time we were there. My mother was talking to her and brushing her hair but I couldn’t even find the words. Even my father couldn’t speak. I think we both struggled to speak to someone unresponsive. Once the room was empty I was able to speak to my gran and tell her my last goodbyes, tell her how much we all love her and that she still looked beautiful.

If anyone knew my gran, they’d know she was a very stubborn woman who wouldn’t accept help from anyone, she would be the one helping them. She refused a carer. She refused all help from her kids. She was cooking, cleaning and busy until her dying days. I couldn’t stand to see her laying there like that. She didn’t even look the same. Her skin was pale, her face had drooped, her eyes had lost their shine, her hair straight (she always had a perm) and her skinny frame under her flowery nightie made me tear up. It killed me to see her having to rely on others knowing she was hating every second of it.

Once I left the hospital I would cry at any opportunity. I was heartbroken, something I’ve never felt before in relation to dying. I couldn’t and still can’t stop the pictures of her lying there forcing themselves into my mind. I cried a lot that weekend.

I got the call on Halloween…

My gran¬†didn’t want to die in hospital. Sadly she past away two days after I saw her. She died in the early hours of Halloween. My mind and body has been in limbo since. I have found some relief in her passing. We all hated seeing her laying in that bed like a vegetable and we all knew that she absolutely hated it too. I have found some peace knowing she’s not suffering anymore. The thoughts don’t stop of her suffering in hospital, I’m not sure if they ever will but I hope I can learn from this experience.

It’s been over a week now and I still find myself crying a lot but I don’t stop myself. I know I need to mourn and let my body do what it wants. I’m going to say my last goodbye at her chapel of rest next weekend and see her off with grace. It’s going to be a very emotional time but I really want to see her one last time. Christmas will never be the same. I’ll always miss her presence and the little things. We had a bond like no other. She always had time for me and always did an excellent job being a grand and great grandmother. I’ll miss her stern approach with love and I’ll miss her amazing cooking skills. She taught me a lot in life and the lesson that stuck: don’t take life too seriously.

She’ll always be loved deeply and forever stay¬†in our¬†thoughts.

Sensory Hiding and Seeking

Living with Asperger’s Syndrome can be extremely stressful at times, it’s not just socialising that affects us. There are many obstacles¬†that can crop up at any time of the day/week unexpectedly causing instantaneous meltdowns/shutdowns.

Sensory overload is a term I often hear when discussing Autism. After doing a little research I realised that it had affected me personally and my whole life consisted of sensory disturbances that caused absolute misery. I noted how my migraines would appear when exposed to certain lights, the materials I couldn’t tolerate on my skin and how sounds could send me into full blown anxiety attack (worst case).

With each problem there are different circumstances. The worst being a full blown anxiety attack or meltdown and the least feeling irritable. If I come across a sensation I dislike I tend to feel uncomfortable or intense rage. I tend to avoid fireworks and balloons which petrify me but some just can’t be avoided unfortunately.

Now that I’m aware of these issues and how much of an impact they can have on my life, I’ve found ways to avoid sensory overload by¬†wearing earplugs when I sleep and in general if finding ears more sensitive than normal; standing right at the back or corner of a concert; wearing sunglasses¬†at all times when it’s bright outside/driving in the sun and have quiet breaks when in crowded places.

I have made a list of likes and dislikes below and would love to know what affects your senses most?

Likes

Visual

  • Christmas lights, dim lamps, lit candles, the natural moon light, city lights from afar and watching videos of people knead slime.

Sounds

  • Rainfall, quieter storms, crickets at night, pram tyres rolling over a pavement, music (when in the mood) and silence.

Touch

  • Squidgy objects, fresh bed sheets on my bare feet and legs, body massage especially when focused on my head, skin being stroked/rubbed, swimming in water, steering wheels and long soft hair.

Smells

  • Cakes in the oven, certain scented candles, floral perfumes, clothes fresh from the tumble dryer, that wet pavement smell (petrichor) and bonfires.

Taste

  • Foods: snacks that ‘crunch’ and need biting into, soft chewy sweets, cold ice cream and chewing gum.
  • Flavours: vanilla, coconut, peanut butter and anything spicy but tasty and sweet but not too sugary.

 

Dislikes

Visual

  • Car headlights, jumpy lights, flashing lights, flickering lights, bright lights and natural sunlight.
  • Crowded places (processing moving people), flashing images on a TV screen, neon coloured objects and fixing on moving objects.

Sounds

  • Certain songs, dogs barking, heavy traffic¬†(sleep with windows open), car horns, loud conversations close by, footsteps behind me as I walk,¬†power drills and hammers.
  • High pitched noises: sirens, babies crying, screeching of tyres and alarms.
  • Low pitched noises: continuous¬†barely noticeable noises and plane in flight.
  • Sharp noises: fireworks, gunfire and balloons popping – my worst nightmare!

Touch

  • Denim, silk, satin, warm materials, tight clothing¬†and¬†jewellery (rarely worn).
  • Anything wet/damp touching my skin (other than bathing and swimming), handling raw meat, very cold objects, hair being brushed, mud, walking barefoot and contact with public toilets (seats and floor).

Smells

  • Strong perfume, lavender, dandelions, bleach and any lingering scent.

Taste

  • Foods: slimy textures, ridiculously chewy food and certain lumpy foods.
  • Flavours: anything bland, fishy and extreme spices.

Shutting Down For The Week

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Sorry¬†I haven’t posted in a while but I have good reason. Last week I went into shutdown mode. My mood dropped, I felt tired every second of the day, I couldn’t concentrate on anything and couldn’t connect with people. In these phases I distance myself from socialising online and in person. I let down a friend I was supposed to meet with because I had no energy what so ever to talk. Yet the week before I was at an incredible high.

The week before…

I felt better than I had felt in years. I took on board everything my therapist K had taught me. My anger was barely making an appearance and replacing it was a soothing calmness. Now, I’ve never been a relaxed person, ever. I always had a very short fuse and every little thing would irritate me, more so than others. So I obviously became aware of the change in myself. Other than mentally healing I was pushing myself to the limit. Starting new paintings, looking into piano lessons and thinking ahead for my future.

On the Monday I went to see my therapist. It was 7 weeks since I last session and I was so excited to tell her all about everything I had accomplished. She was very proud of my achievements but I had felt very exhausted all of a sudden like it was a build up of all things good that I had released and there was nothing left. At the end of our session K had set me more homework than usual consisting of socialising with friends, attending my piano lesson and looking up fitness classes to discuss in next session. I left feeling really run down and empty.

The week didn’t get off to a great start. I didn’t attend my piano lesson. The drive would’ve taken too long¬†(well, that was my excuse anyway) and decided to look for a teacher closer to avoid this from happening again. I didn’t socialise with my friend. She text me a few times but I kept apologising and rearranging and I didn’t look up fitness classes. It was all too much. I knew K had put so much hope¬†in me succeeding but I had no will for it. I stayed in bed late each day, only rising to make food and read. My drive had completely gone out of the window and my motivation was nowhere to be seen. The washing up was piling up and became more of a chore. I felt like a failure.

This week…

I arrived at therapy carrying my mood with me. I didn’t want to go. I was so ashamed that I had failed at my set tasks. I was led in bed that morning thinking of all the possible excuses to avoid seeing K but in the end I decided it was best to go. It was too late to cancel and I had to be honest.

I’m pretty sure K sensed that I wasn’t feeling so good. The friendly smile I forced was probably obvious. I explained that I had failed at everything and that I was losing it and going back to my old ways. I told her that I was doing so bloody well yet I still managed to mess¬†everything up. I almost expected a telling off (always expecting the worst) but she remained calm and listened to me ramble on about my week. She noted that although I lacked motivation and went into shutdown mode I still maintained my new best behaviour.

At the end of my meeting with K she told me that everyone will have a bad day. When you’re depressed, you can’t just suddenly heal, it takes time. When¬†changing our behaviour and thinking process it¬†requires¬†practice¬†to stick in the mind and having aspergers syndrome can make it harder to adapt to. She told me to stop putting myself down over a bad week and focus on a new week. Start a fresh…

For my homework this week I have to write in a planner all of the things I aim to achieve for the week and to push myself into waking up at a reasonable hour. She recommended I tackle the chores and get back on top of my usual routine reassuring me it would get easier with time and all fit together again.

Present day…

It’s Wednesday¬†and I’ve managed to stay on top of all of my chores. I started a new painting. I looked up a local teacher nearby that I will in touch with tomorrow to arrange my introduction session. I have looked into a new course subject that I have a fond interest for and have arranged to meet my friend tomorrow.

Looking back at last week I noticed that it was so easy for me to go into a shutdown. In fact, it took me five days to even register it was there. I can’t remember much from that week because whilst shutting down, it doesn’t even feel like I’m alive. I disconnect from everything around me and the inner me. It’s actually quite scary to lose yourself for a period of time. In the moment its safe and the mind is so fragile it can’t be disturbed. My senses are heightened so¬†I can’t handle bright lights or¬†certain sounds. It’s like wrapping up in a cocoon away from danger and completely shutting away from the world, which explains why the term shutdown is so fitting.