The idea of having children…

I often think about what my children if I ever have any will be like. For as long as I can remember I have told people that I want to be a lady with a baby. Honestly I had given up on the idea of having children of my own. Am I even equipped to be a mother really? With everything I battle every day between the autism and the mental health issues. I also didn’t have very good role models in this department so what gives me any right to bring a child into this world? I used to worry heavily about what I am going to pass on to my child. It’s not that I have any problem at all with my child being autistic, I am aware that there is a high probability that my child will fall on the spectrum, but given the additional mental health I just do not ever want a child to feel that same way that I have. Its an odd sensation, wanting something more than you have ever wanted anything else in your life and yet knowing having it may be the worst thing you could do.

I know I am very good with children, I always have been and now it is my job and the one thing in life I thrive at but that doesn’t mean I would make a good parent. Would my autism get in the way? What If I felt a meltdown coming on? Whatever happens my child has to come first so how will I manage this? How do I balance my obsessions and obsessive nature as well as being a mum? I would like to think that these things would not be an issue but I cannot just brush them off. I work in facts and logic. I don’t have any here. I have nothing to draw on other than my desire to be the best mum I could possibly be. But I know as well as everyone that wanting something doesn’t make you good at it. I would love to be a singer but I can’t sing so therefore I cannot do that job. Just because I want to be a good mum doesn’t mean that I would be.

For a long time I wasn’t even sure I would physically be able to have children, struggling with an intimate relationship and everything, but now I am able to think beyond that side and everything about it petrifies me. Will my body even cope with pregnancy? The hormone change especially. I struggle enough before I am due on because of hormones to keep myself on top of everything let alone dealing with the changes that occur during a pregnancy.

Everyday I battle for the idea of a normal life, where I can do the things everyone else does and be accepted for the things which are me. I want to pursue the idea of having children in the future, and I know I will do whatever in my power to make myself a good mum. I accept that I am afraid and I may face more challenges than some others but I will make things work.

I had a dream last night, but before I delve into this I need to discuss my sister. She is very similar to me in many ways, the way she responds and reacts to situations and the way her brain seems to process things. When she was little I was worried that this was due to her mimicking and learning behaviour from me but over the years she has continued to see the world in a similar way to me, suggesting she too is on the spectrum. I am proud of how well she is doing with her life, and has a very supportive family (her mum, sisters, step dad, brother and myself to start). This makes me hopeful that she won’t suffer the way that I have with the mental health side of things and knowing that she will always have me to talk to, and maybe one day this blog may even help her understand certain things she thinks or feels. Anyways, back to my dream. I cannot remember much of it but I was at some centre discussing and observing a child with a specialist. We were communicating about the idea of this child being on the spectrum and how we could support moving forward, the women turned to me and for some reason I told her that I am on the spectrum and I suspect that my sister is also. She looked at me and smiled, then responded that I should have a child of my own because if they were anything like my sister and I then they would be an asset to this world. I know its only a silly dream but this made me feel better about the idea of children. Maybe my subconscious is trying to support me.

This links to another dream which I had a little while ago, I had a daughter who must have been about 5 or 6 years old. She knew that I was autistic and said she wanted to know how he was like Mummy. I was explaining to her that as I said to her before everyone sees the world and everything we do and see differently so not everyone thinks the same things or feels the same things that we do and that for mummy my brain is always working overtime, always really busy and processes some things differently which means that it makes me really good at some things which others find difficult but that some things I find more difficult than others. Just like how she could twirl a baton but some of her friends couldn’t. I then went on to talk about how something this child might find tricky was how to make friends or how to play the same way as the other children. Their brain was really busy doing other things that it might be that they preferred playing on their own or that they couldn’t work out how to play the games they were playing or what other people were feeling. I also said that some people don’t use any or many words. I can’t remember anything else that happened within the dream but it did get me thinking about if I do have children how I will explain this. Chances are my own children will at least have some autistic traits, if not from actually being on the spectrum themselves but because of any learnt behaviours they might pick up from me. I know that this wasn’t a complete description and like children I work with it would take time and support to teach children about what autism is like, especially as for everyone it is so different and isn’t as visual as something such as a broken leg. There are many things to support this now and I hope many more in the future.

Short piece about food and sleep…

Today I would like to talk a little about two functions that we all deal with, eating and sleeping. For me I rarely feel actual hunger, I fancy foods occasionally and then cant get the idea of eating them out of my head often but its rare for me to say that I am hungry and mean I really feel hunger. I eat because I am supposed to eat most of the time. I could quite happily go through the whole day and not real even notice I haven’t eaten anything. When I was university this was often the case, I would binge one day, just because I felt like it and then wouldn’t eat for a couple of days and feel perfectly okay with it. I have worked on adjusting this to be healthier for my own sake but there are times where I still forget. If it wasn’t for having a designated lunch break whilst at work then I would happily go all day. When my depression and anxiety is at its worst this is a lot harder and I will really have to work hard to remember to eat.

There are certain foods that I struggle to eat, mainly due to their texture. These include popcorn and Maltesers. Maltesers have a way of slipping on your teeth and you never know when it is going to happen and it makes me feel all shivery and cringy. I can however eat the new teaser range as its smaller Maltesers parts so this makes me happy! Another food thing which really makes me squeamish is spreads and spreads. Ill explain, this relates to sandwiches and mainly means I can’t handle butter mixed with any other kind of spread such as marmite, cheese, jam etc. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. In fact I could forgo butter with any other sandwich filler to be exact even cheese and ham. I will happily have a thin layer of butter on toast or bread but with nothing else added. If it’s a sandwich I would rather leave the butter altogether.

Fizzy drinks are another thing that I cannot handle. I hate the taste and sensation in my mouth. Even as a child I couldn’t drink them, always used to feel really left out when I was a child at birthday parties and things. Its also really upsetting when its only refillable ‘soft’ drinks which are always fizzy or water in restaurants. I know its only something small and silly but it always makes me feel left out. Now in my 30’s I’m actually pretty glad that I don’t drink them, means one less thing I have to try and be healthy with or cut out of my diet! So that’s always helpful. This same theory applies with mint tastes, although I have had to learn to live with this as adult toothpastes are all mint in flavour and I have to brush my teeth! There are some that I am more tolerant of than others so this helps. I do miss the strawberry and bubble gum toothpastes from my childhood though!

Now lets move on to sleep, now I don’t know how everyone else feels about sleep so this may be a common thing but this is my outlook. Falling asleep can be difficult for me, getting my brain to shut down and not keep thinking about things I want to look up, or check or make for work. Watching programmes I have seen lots of times helps with this as they distract me but also don’t engage my brain too much. I used to use music, but the playlist has to be played in a certain order otherwise I spend too much time waiting to hear what the next song will be and then keeps my brain engaged in what is happening. Like many people with depression and anxiety this makes my sleep pattern much worse, falling asleep is even trickier and  my amount of sleep will often drop down to about 4 hours per night, which to be honest I can function on pretty well considering. I tend to even now have a good few days where my sleep is much less, about 6 hours and then randomly have a night where I sleep much better again.

Even when I am asleep it isn’t easy. I have really intense dreams which are made worse by the medication I am on, or by forgetting to make my medication but even before the meds the intense level of my dreams is something I have struggled with, it isn’t even that they are ‘bad’ dreams or nightmares, they are just very realistic (even if the theme isn’t realistic at all…once I was a superhero!) which means I often wake in the night and can feel completely unrested after a night when these are particularly bad. Also once I am awake that’s normally it, I can rarely fall back to sleep again after. Of course I need sleep and the more stable my emotions are as I get older the better nights sleep I can have, but I wouldn’t say I enjoy sleeping. I just never know what I am going to get. Whether its going to be a night plagued by dreams and restlessness or whether I may actually sleep most of the way through and feel refreshed. Honestly by body has got used to it mainly and it doesn’t normally affect my energy or concentration too much throughout the day if sleep hasn’t been great but if I have a few continuous rough nights then it does start to get to me like everyone else. As I said I don’t know that this is any different from other people and I wish I could explain it better so that people could really understand how sleep is for me but I feel this only touches on the surface. elp.ch

When the things I am immersed with ‘change’ or ‘go wrong’

This is one of the hardest aspects of my autism for people to understand. When I am immersed and obsessed with something everything is effected by it. I have much more control over this now I am older but the fallout when things don’t go to plan can still be pretty significant.

The problem is most of my obsessions are tv show related or film character related. These can be unpredictable. I don’t have a say over events that happen or how and when series end. As discussed previously I tend to fixate on a strong female character within the sho w and then invest myself in their happiness and their happy ending as it were. Now happy endings aren’t always achievable in television and drama is a huge aspect of what gets people watching. Logically I know this. I know I cannot predict or have any control over these events, it is silly for me in invest so much of myself in them and becomes so immersed. I know this. But I cannot control or help it. Its not something I can just shut off or stop it is a very real and needed part of myself. Obsessions helps me to feel safe and gives me a focus when everything else is too much so its not something that I can just step away from.

Examples of things within shows which disrupt my balance are couples breaking up, characters leaving a show or characters dying, even shows coming to their ends. Sara, from CSI was a huge obsession of mine, including her relationship with another character Grissom. It took years for them to get together which I managed to deal with well considering. However not long after they got together the character ‘left’ her job with the CSI and Grissom. Yes, many fans were upset and of course there are people who were committed to the show and were upset by things like this however to me this was a catastrophe, and that isn’t an exaggeration. I went into a complete meltdown, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I was severely depressed and suffering anxiety at the time. I didn’t know how to cope or what to do. I felt it all over, my heart ached, my body felt overwhelmed and my brain couldn’t process that this had happened, even though I knew it was coming. It got so bad that I cut myself, I cut an SS onto my forearm (her initials) and literally cried constantly. I was jumpy and anxious about everything, sensory overload was extreme and functioning was very difficult. It took everything in me to process and deal with something that most people would have moved on from rather quickly. Thankfully this situation sorted itself out and eventually did end up happily, but that isn’t always the case. Eventually I do end up finding a new obsession which takes the edge off but I cant say I ever truly get over these things. When I was younger I watched a programme called peak practice, this ended with two characters falling off a cliff. They never did a new series. I was only a young teen when this happened, and most people can not even remember this programme now but I still think about it. I can still picture the moment.

I wish I could put it into better words what it feels like when I have to go through this. It can absolutely feel like the end of the world to me even though logically I know it isn’t. I know I can survive and will come through it, even if I never move on, but at the time and for a good period of time after it really feels like it. It is completely draining for me coming through the process and dealing with the aftermath. My brain is buzzing, even more than normal. I go exceptionally quiet, but that is just me trying to deal with everything, I’m not purposely shutting myself away I just need time for my brain to readjust to create a reason why this is okay and why I do not have to fall apart.

People often tell me I am being overly dramatic or emotional within these times and that I should just get over it because it isn’t real. The show isn’t real and the characters aren’t real. How can I explain to them what these mean to me? How much if myself becomes invested, how to me its not ‘real’ but it is. How much it helps me having a connection to the characters. How much I have learnt and how I learn socially from these people too. How I put my faith in the idea that if these people can be happy then so can I? Loosing something this close to me or having to deal with the change and adaption that it throws at me is a big thing. Its loosing part of myself. Its what makes me feel different and isolated when everyone else can adjust so easily.

Note to people whom know me- this is currently something I am going through…again…

Love, 3000, Always x

Tammy

A bit about what writing means to me…and everyday life!

I want to take a moment to consider how much writing this blog has helped me personally. I started out writing it because I was angry. Angry that some people didn’t accept I was autistic or that I was always having to explain myself, now I enjoy sharing all my experiences with people and talking about what autism is like with me. It has helped me to process everything about myself, my traits, my coping mechanisms, my past and actually develop acceptance of myself and who I am, every little part of me even the bits that frustrate the hell out of me at times. I know its okay to have a rough day and a down day. I can’t stop them and of course there will still be times where everything feels too much and I feel like I would be better off being ‘normal’ (my perception of normal that is). But you know what, I like being me. I love that I invest myself so fully into things like my job and I get enjoyment from all my obsessions and immersions. I am quirky and actually that makes me interesting and I’ve found that people actually like some of these parts of me. Of course there will be people who don’t, and yeah that hurts when sometimes its for things you can’t control, but I am happy being me. This is me.

These past couple of weeks I have spent some time thinking about ‘autism’. My aim when I began was to educate people close to me about how autism presents in me but now it feels bigger than that. I want to help educate the world on how autism can present in high functioning girls. I want people to be aware of the signs and how to spot these earlier. I want autism to be celebrated for the amazingness it allows people to be. A whole different perspective of the world that is just waiting to be tapped into. I’m not sure yet how to go about achieving this goal but writing this blog is as good of a start as any. Even if one more person in the world is educated and understanding of autism in a different way then I have achieved something.

Learning to control and minimise my reactions to my obsessions is something I struggle the most with. They give me joy, make me excited and its something I am actually good at being able to communicate about, however this can become very annoying to people and I know I can be too much and go on wwwaayyyy too much! For example, I was having a conversation with a friend at work the other day and she began talking about the lego games for ps4. I love these games, especially the marvel superhero ones! (obviously) and we were discussing them and I could feel myself wanting to just talk and talk, it bubbles inside me, excitement rushing through me like I’m going to explode, pop the cork like champagne. I knew I was going to start talking about little details within the game that would be too much, little details she wouldn’t even care about like how I love that it has the rescue version of pepper Potts or start going into detail about different missions and parts that chances are she wouldn’t be able to remember. When someone starts talking about one of the things I am interested in then I get a bit carried away. I get too excited and want to just talk and talk and talk. I don’t see the problem with it at first because someone is actually communicating about something I love and isn’t that a good thing? Its great to share interests but then I go too far and I end up loosing them, or going completely overboard and then when this happens and I loose their interest or they start not knowing what I am talking about then I feel the fear and melancholy coming on because I know I’ve over done it and messed up socially. Yes people are normally really polite about this and don’t act like ive done anything wrong within me I know that they aren’t like me and don’t really care as much as I do. I move on from this pretty quickly thankfully, often immersing myself in some fan fiction or watching clips to make myself feel better. I can’t change this fact about myself but I do apologise to anyone who falls into conversation about one of my obsessions with me, it really won’t be easy to get me to shut up, but it could be worse at least im excited to talk to you!

This week at work we have begun completing some assessments which we do regularly throughout the year, anyways, as it isn’t something we do daily like some of the other jobs I wanted to double check a detail that I was sure we included but wanted to confirm. Well I checked the policy which confirmed my theory but I noticed that none of the completed ones had it included. Well this made me begin questioning myself. I asked the others who said they had never added it in before and one of my managers wasn’t 100% sure either but said as I’ve worked for the company for so long I was probably right and to let the others know to add it. I started going round talking to the team when one of the others whom has recently transferred across to our setting said she couldn’t remember doing them either. Okay so maybe I was wrong, that didn’t matter right as it meant less work right? Well not for me, being wrong is a horrible feeling even over something so small and silly as this. I began to feel anxious, nervous energy inside me and the possibility of a melt down edging in. I know my job, and I know it very well. It’s the one thing I am confident about and am often referred to with questions similar to this concern so being wrong about it is a big thing, it makes me doubt myself completely. I feel like a failure. Well I went back to my manager and suggested calling across to one of our other nurseries. Anyways turns out thankfully I was right, but it took a while for the uneasy feeling to pass. I know this sounds like I am being big headed but it isn’t meant in that way at all. When it comes to my job I strive for that perfection, to know what I need to know, everything I can so I do the best I can do. I know that no one likes the idea of being wrong about something but I believe that for me, and as part of my autism this is magnified further and the negative feelings are a lot harder to control resulting in a possible sensory meltdown. Thankfully this time it was averted but each time does make me aware and make me want to strive to be better at my job.

Finally I would like to end this weeks blog by discussing the emotion and understanding of empathy. People will often comment and perceive people who are on the spectrum as lacking or having no empathy. The real issue isn’t that of empathy at all, I may not always know when someone is upset with me or not, read the cues that others might as well but when I know that someone is upset with me of course I feel empathic. If anything I think I feel more empathy than others when I realise as I worry enough about upsetting people or messing up socially that when I have done something wrong I feel terrible for it. Also drawing back to something I discussed in a previous blog post I tend to ‘feel’ rather than ‘think’ so it actually breaks me to realise that I have done something to cause hurt to someone else. This will often lead to me over thinking and asking people regularly if they are upset or annoyed at me, reading too much into comments or silences and assuming that this must mean I have done something to annoy the person. I feel anxiety regularly over the idea that I have inadvertently done something to someone. An anxiety bubble sits inside of me until I cannot think of anything other than checking with the person. I’ve learnt I am mostly better to ask, but that this too can then annoy people.

Thank you all for reading once again, if anyone has any ideas on how else to promote and develop understanding of autism in girls I would love to hear your ideas.

Love, always

Tammy xx fff

When I get used to new things I come to rely on them…

Feeling poorly this morning which I hate. I don’t do very well with being ill, I see it as a weakness and I don’t like showing any sign of weakness because I feel like I am going to be judged for it. I know that’s silly. Everyone gets ill and that cannot be helped. Sometimes I really do need to be less hard on myself and have realistic expectations…not something I find easy!

Anyways on with todays update. I wanted to begin by thanking everyone who read my last post and commented or sent me messages regarding the aspects that they like about my autism, and how they make me well me. I thought to begin I would look into some of these in a little more detail. (staying positive whilst battling feeling poorly). One common message that came from the messages is that my passion is infectious, and my nature makes me a peacemaker. This relates mainly to my job. As I have said before I absolutely adore the job I do, and I am very passionate about it. I do think that this positivity helps to support my team and me being this way allows them to access their passion and remind them why they enjoy doing the job too. It takes a lot for me to feel overwhelmed whilst doing my job as its my safe place and I think this helps to support my team and keep them from becoming too stressed out too.

One of my favourite comments and one which I keep revisiting to read again was “Your different way to approach things makes people stop and re-think, you have an understanding that is on a different level, you ‘feel’ things rather than think them perhaps?” This comment really hit home to me, it made me think about how I feel about the children in my care, my relationships and everything and I think this absolutely sums up the way everything is processed. I do feel rather than think. This explains the additional sensory output and overload that I feel, especially when dealing with trickier situations. Everything within me is more intense because of this. I wish I could articulate better what I am trying to put across but basically being autistic to me, is about how it isn’t just my brain that reacts to everything, I feel it in every part of me. This is a positive because it allows me to be empathic, it makes me fight for the children so they get the best from nursery they can, it gives me an understanding and love, especially for any children whom have additional needs, and makes me the practitioner that I am at work. It may be exhausting feeling rather than thinking and in my personal life especially, but I wouldn’t change this aspect of myself if it meant it would change the type of person I was with the children.

My wonderful partner has decided that everyone with autism has what he refers to as superpowers (which makes me tremendously happy given my avengers/iron man obsession!) which, yes may make us seem different but actually are amazing features within us. One of the main ones for me is he thinks I am very intuitive when we watch tv programmes, I often comment about what’s going to happen, it drives him crazy just as much as he thinks its cool though I’m sure. I’m not sure if this is really a superpower or just that he doesn’t pay enough attention but the point he is trying to make is the most important. I do agree, everyone I have ever come across with autism has their own superpower. It may not be obvious at first, especially in nonverbal situations but we do. Whether that be being amazing in subjects such as maths, able to retain bucket loads of information about things we are interested in, feeling rather than thinking, whatever they are give us a unique way of viewing the world. A unique way of handling situations or addressing a problem. Yes, sometimes these are the things that make it most difficult for us to function in ‘normal’ situations but when people take the time to see beyond the difficulties they may find a way to see things differently and actually benefit from our approach.

I have recently started watching a programme of Netflix called Atypical. The programme is about a teenage boy of 18 who is autistic. He is high functioning and it has been such an interest to watch. Although I am what people would classify as higher functioning than Sam, the boy in the programme, so much of what he says and feels and does is what my brain is dealing with all the time. I am just able to deal with it and not show it as much. Of course, there are differences, no person with autism is the same just like no person is the same, but it is even helping me to deal with and address some of the things I deal with daily. Whilst watching an episode last night one line that really stuck with me was “When I get used to new things I come to rely on them.” Here Sam is discussing how new situations are so difficult but yet once he becomes used to the new, he relies on these. This is something I feel strongly. I hate new, breaks in routine, meeting new people, changing rooms at work or nurseries etc but once I get used to the change, I heavily rely on it. Therefore, my relationships can become so obsessive to begin with. It takes a while for me to build relationships but once I do, I cling to this. This statement sums up my life.

Well I feel like I have blabbered on enough for this week but thank you again for taking the time to read, please share away, until next time…

Broken and Beautiful…

Firstly, I am by no means stating that people who are on the autistic spectrum are in anyways broken. I didn’t have the greatest parents, suffer from depression and anxiety and have had to have therapy to help come to terms with some of this. Being broken refers more to that aspect and also broken in the sense of feeling different than others, knowing you see the world in a way that is different from others.

The title and reason for writing this blog comes from Kelly Clarkson’s amazing new single broken and beautiful. It has got me thinking a lot about everything I have been through and how I don’t want to be changed I want to be accepted for me, and that I am just as important, and that people won’t try to change me.

The point of this blog is to highlight the parts of me that are beautiful, that are amazing and how my autism isn’t a negative it makes me who I am and brings the positive aspects of my personality to life. For example I am fiercely loyal. This is in every aspect of my life, friendships, relationships and work. Work is a big one for me. I throw myself into work with everything I have, I use it to help support and take away my bad days. Committing to my job each day stops me from thinking about and worrying about other things, it gives me a purpose. I give everything I have and more to my work, often going above and beyond to do jobs, attend meetings etc. I don’t do this to make me look good, I do it because it is good for me. It makes me feel good and honestly once an idea is in my head its very difficult to get it out so I may as well start work on a task as soon as the idea strikes. Rules are something I like, they give reason and control. I can’t go wrong when I follow rules. Work has rules so again it’s a safe place for me. Mostly I enjoy it. It gives me pleasure doing all the little things I do, all the extras I am not expected to do. Yes, sometimes this means people will say I am being used but honestly, I know when things are too much and I have to say I can’t do it. Doesn’t mean I won’t have tried everything possible beforehand but I know where the line is. I retain information about my job amazingly well and often can be called on to remember policies etc. Again I don’t do this to a know it all, I just like having all the information I can have and knowing I can then do my job to the very best of my ability. People say I am crazy sometimes with how committed I am, getting to work early and doing all the extra things I do but I absolutely love my job. It isn’t just a job to me. It is a passion, my life, my heart. It makes me the person I am.

This loyalty translates through to my relationships with people too. If I hold you close to me then I will do anything for you. I will stand up for you always. I will protect your secrets like my own and it takes an awful lot for me to loose this loyalty I have for someone. Again sometimes in the past this has resulted in me being played, or used by people and I have to listen to other people close to me to know when a situation isn’t necessarily right. But overall I think this is a positive aspect of my autism. It means I do my very best to be a good friend, I am trustworthy and love to an unconditional level.

Another aspect that I love about my autism is my ability to remember scenes and moments from tv shows and films that I love almost perfectly. Yes this is because of complete immersion in to them but I love being able to remember facts and information from them, some of this information even comes in handy within other topics and if not it still gives me something that I can have full blown conversations with, without the social worries that come from general chit chat. This skills gives me a good attention to detail (about things I am paying attention to, don’t ask me a question about the person that just walked by I didn’t even notice them) which can be handy when recalling an event of remembering where something was as I can picture the scene or experience in my head to recall things.

I have very little danger. Yes this can be a very dangerous aspect of being autistic but for me, so far, it has always served me fine. I am not afraid of spiders, so often become the person rescuing them, using my bare hands to pick them up and deposit them somewhere safer and away from everyone else. I will climb up or over to retrieve things if needed, fences, ladders, bin stores, through windows, onto sides whatever is needed really with very little thought or worry over the consequences of me falling. This is also helped by the fact that I seem to bounce, I am very accident prone (probably due to undiagnosed dyspraxia when I was younger) but I never seem to seriously hurt myself (fingers cross, touch wood and whatever). I always manage to just bounce back and carry on, normally covered in bruises but what’s a few bruises hey? I also have a high pain fresh hold, takes quite a bit to actually hurt me. This is probably due to how much I have hurt myself over the years to be fair but I am taking it as a positive.

These are only a few things but I have been really been working on trying to see myself within a positive light more, see the positive sides to my autism. It would really help with me this if anyone who reads that knows me would comment or message me with any other things that they like it would be nice to hear them. This isn’t a way of gaining attention its about raising awareness of the fact that autism isn’t bad, it doesn’t make you less, it makes you unique and I would love to know the things people think make me unique. This will also give me ideas for the types of things to write about and go into more detail about ‘why’ in the future.

Thank you again to everyone who does take the time to read these, I hope they continue to be informative and also give you a little bit of an understanding from inside my mind.