Late Autistic Diagnosis.

A lot of people suspect they are autistic but don’t know whether to go for the formal diagnosis or not. Many are happy to remain undiagnosed whereas others, like me, need validation.

Am I Really Autistic?

Chances are you know you’re autistic.

I knew as soon as my son was assessed four years ago..

I went home and read as many female Asperger books as I could and then did the full tears/snot thing because within those pages were women JUST LIKE ME!

My oddities take up four pieces of A4 paper but the bottom line for me was the feeling that has plagued me ALL my life and that’s the feeling of not belonging to this planet. We’re not on the same wavelength, the planet and me. More so, I don’t understand most of it’s human inhabitants..

The Benefits of Diagnosis

  • It can help you and your family understand why you’re a weird sod.
  • You may get access to benefits and support services.
  • Your employer, should you choose to disclose, has to make reasonable adjustments.
  • You can grow old and not worry about being forced to play bingo in Shady Pines oldies home.
  • You can be part of a community that understands YOU.

How To Go About Getting A Diagnosis

The first step is to speak to your GP.

This didn’t happen with me because, well, I’m awkward.

I’d already made up my mind to go and see my GP to ask for a referral when my anxiety worsened considerably and getting myself better took priority over everything else. However, in July I ended up at A&E with a panic attack. The doctor (an angel in human form) suggested I saw the hospital psychiatrist who spoke to me for about an hour and the result was that she referred me for an autism assessment. It wasn’t the usual route to assessment but for me it was a case of right place, right time.

So, go see your GP.

  • Only talk about the autism, not the boil on your bum.
  • Take in some notes if it helps you.
  • Tell them why you think you are autistic.
  • Explain why a diagnosis would benefit you.
  • Give brief examples of your struggles.
  • Allow the mask to fall because this is one occasion where it’s beneficial to be yourself.

Do your homework before you go in and find out about your local services. Maybe phone up the National Autistic Society helpline and speak to an advisor or if, like me, you are a phone-phobe, you can ask somebody to do it on your behalf?

Some GPs don’t know autism from their armpit but don’t let that put you off. Go in there armed with your info and Guidance For GPs  and bamboozle them with your knowledge. Don’t be fobbed off and if necessary see another GP.

When I had my assessment my anxiety was MASSIVE which was explained to the psychologist. Anxiety amplifies the communication and sensory issues and when I went back for the diagnosis I could barely speak and my eye contact was abysmal. I had to remind myself to look in the psychologist’s direction every now and then. Hopefully when I go back for my follow up appointment the anxiety will have subsided enough for me to engage and get something out of the session other than staring at the carpet..

You have to decide what benefits there are to being diagnosed and if that’s really what you want because once you have been officially diagnosed there’s no going back.

Since being diagnosed I feel as if a weight has been lifted off me. All those years of trying to find an explanation for my issues is at an end. For however long I have left I can be me knowing that I’m not as alone as I thought I was..

I am relieved to understand why I’m the way I am. I struggle and always will do but there are positive aspects to my autism, like how I experience the arts. I don’t just hear music, I feel it. I don’t just read a book, I become the character and those feelings stay with me long after the music has ended or I’ve turned/swiped the last page. There are two extremes to me with no in-between but then if there was an in-between, I probably wouldn’t be autistic.

I’m not fussed about terminology. I refer to myself as ‘autistic’ rather than having autism but it doesn’t really matter as either is a massive improvement on ‘weird fucker’ or other such things I’ve been called in my time. The important thing for me is that people understand autism itself.

It’s a human thing to want to belong and be accepted. In a perfect world all differences would not only be accepted but embraced. We’re a long way from that but with awareness things are getting better. Diagnosis isn’t right for everyone and it’s something that requires a LOT of thought so don’t rush into it.

Take as much time as you need.

I took four years.

Finally..

Don’t let age stop you from going for a diagnosis. If a codger like me can get diagnosed at 46, anyone can. In fact, people in their 60s and 70s are being diagnosed.

It’s NEVER too late.

Thank you for reading.

Creative Commons Image

Shit Gifts NOT To Buy Your Middle-Aged Mum This Mother’s Day

“My Mum is about five foot with her hair done. Without it she’s four foot 10”

Children can get away with literally ANYTHING on Mother’s Day because they’re small and cute. If a mother fails to be moved by the sight of a wobbly written card and daffodils filched from the next doors garden then she has a swinging brick where her heart should be, yes?

However, once we reach mid-teens and adulthood, the Mother’s Day game changes. A well thought out gift is like putting a pound in the slot machine and getting thirty back. The wrong gift, or worse, NOTHING and your mother will systematically break you down over the next twelve months AND FOREVER MORE!

I’m middle-aged and menopausal. My own mother went full psycho during her menopause so I know my shit and I’m willing to impart my knowledge on you readers. So here are my tips on what NOT to buy your middle-aged mother this Mother’s Day.

Cleaning Products/Household Shizz

This is the one of two days a year (the other being her birthday) where she endeavors to do sod all in the way of cooking or cleaning so if you stroll in with a new set of saucepans asking if she fancies ‘christening’ them, you may just end up in A&E with a head injury.

Gift Vouchers

Nothing says ‘I can’t be arsed’ quite like a gift voucher.

Alcohol

Alcohol and hormone imbalance can quickly turn an amicable afternoon into plate hurling carnage. AVOID. AVOID. AVOID.

Perfume

A woman’s body chemistry changes during the menopause so it’s best to stick with what you know works for her now. Also, don’t buy cheap version from the local market. You know, those that cost £2.99 and claim to smell like Chanel but actually smell like fox piss? You gets what you pays for and you’ll be paying for it for the forseeable in mental anguish.

Keep Fit DVDs

You’re telling her she’s fat.

Bathroom Scales

You’re telling her she’s fat.

Chocolates

You’re making her fat.

Anti-Ageing Products

You’re telling her she has the complexion of a prune. Yes, she uses this stuff by the pallet load but nobody is supposed to know!

The Shits

By all means cook her a nice meal for Mother’s Day, just make sure it’s not Coq au Salmonella.

Candles

Candles intended to mask cat pee, fag smoke or last night’s haddock do not say ‘I love you, Mum’.

Slippers

Unless she’s slap-bang in the throes of a particularly nasty mid-life crisis.. tiger print slipper boots (with pom-poms) are a NO. The other end of the scale are those royal blue/burgundy floral slippers favoured by the elderly and you may find yourself being assaulted with a size 4 slip-on if you’re not careful.

Might one suggest a nice pair of velour mules?

Mother’s Day Compilation CDs

Complied by morons, these CDs usually end up being flogged for 50p in charity shops.

They usually come with the obligatory Gary Barlow song and the rest are obviously chosen at random, possibly under the influence of alcohol.

For research purposes, I looked at the track listings for one such CD and aside Keating et al was Freda Payne’s Band of Gold (a song about being dumped) and Bridge Over Troubled Water which is enough to have your poor old dear reaching for the gin..

Or a noose.

When you’re weary, feeling small. When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.

Then again, ANY mother who has spent the last eight hours fumigating her teenage son’s pit of a bedroom will probably be able to identify with these lyrics, so maybe there’s method in the madness?

Don’t buy it JUST because it says MUM on it. You’re not cute enough to get away with it anymore. Plus, you’re dealing with hormonal disturbance of MAJOR proportions, you know?

You HAVE been warned!

Of course, if your mother actually requests any of the above (aside salmonella) then yer off the ‘ook, as it were.

I’d still steer clear of alcohol though..

Even Lambrini.

A Word of Caution About Cards

Mother’s Day cards are on the shelves from February. There is NO excuse for not getting her a card. Even if you plead poverty for a gift, everybody can afford a card, even if it’s a Tesco Value one..

I will tell you the story of a teenage boy who came back from staying at his mates house one Sunday to see a beautiful Mother’s Day card displayed on the mantel piece and his younger brother mouthing “You’re dead, Bruv” to him.

“SHIT!” he exclaimed. Then shot out of the house and round to the local Co-op where to his surprise, ALL the Mother’s Day cards had sold out..

So he improvised.

I birthed this child!

Creative Commons Image

It’s Your Party And I’ll Die If I Want To

It was 1981.

It was the year of MTV music channel, Charles and Diana and Bucks Fizz.

It was also the year that we moved house. So for me, it was shit.

I was struggling before we moved and being in a strange house and having to start a new school where I knew NOBODY made matters one hundred times worse. One of the memories that stands out is having to stand in the middle of the classroom while the entire class were forced to introduce themselves to me one by one. This was the idea of my new class teacher, a frizzy haired man beast who quite frankly was a sadist. I stared at my trainers and turned a non-flattering shade of crimson..

I just wanted the ground to swallow me up.

Or for the fire bell to go off.

Neither happened because God apparently hates me.

Now, at school when it came to girls, there were Weirdos, Normals and Bitches. Weirdo’s sometimes mixed with Normals but NEVER with Bitches. Bitches would mix with Normals if there was anything in it for them, like copying homework.

One of the Normals invited me to her party. She lived just across from us. I didn’t want to go but Mum felt that I needed to make some friends so she practically frogmarched me across to the girl’s house.

The party was in the garage. Yep, I wondered about that too but in hindsight when faced with a load of pre-teen girls cart-wheeling perilously close to your Wedgwood collection you kind of see the brains behind the plan.

My heart sank when I saw some Bitches had also been invited. They were all wearing satin trousers because that was the fashion of the year. The girl who’s party it was, was also wearing satin trousers. In contrast Mum had picked out for me (her TOMBOY daughter) a hideous skirt teamed with yellow top and cardi combo. I felt about as comfortable as fly in it’s final death throes after being Nippon’d!

ALL the girls had long hair. There was a sameness about them. Like sheep. No originality, you know? I envied their hair though because Mum had yet to allow me to grow mine. My hair was short (ish) with one side that permanently stuck out.

It’s not that I wanted to look like they did because I don’t do fashion. I just wanted to wear what I felt comfortable in which were my brother’s tops and a pair of old jeans but Gestapo trained Mum was having none of my ‘crap’.

So skirt and cardigan it was.

The girl’s mum tried to get me to join in with dancing and stuff but I just stared at her vacantly while my brain short-circuited so she gave up sodded off back inside, no doubt to wonder what her daughter was doing inviting such a misfit to her party.

I was the life and soul that day. Not.

I couldn’t dance (not that I can anyway)

I couldn’t eat.

I don’t think I actually moved the entire time I was there.

I didn’t drink in order to avoid having to ask where the loo was.

I couldn’t even enjoy the music.. mainly because it was naff party type music, therefore shite.

So it wasn’t the best experience of my life..

Needless to say the Bitches threw some hostile looks my way whilst having a giggle over my clothes.

I secretly hoped one (or all) would choke to death on a sausage roll.

The thought that’s haunted me all these years is why I didn’t just go home? I could see my house. It was literally yards away from where I was standing. I could see my mum having a fag in the back garden. She was enjoying the sunshine oblivious to the fact that her daughter was in some kind of satin infused HELL.

All I had to do was propel myself forwards but I couldn’t move..

Thing is, I was brought up to be polite and by the age of 11 my manners were instilled and I think that’s why I couldn’t just walk off. Excusing myself would involve having to speak and I was struggling to breathe, let alone speak, so I just stood there like an idiot. When the first parent turned up, the girl’s mum took pity on me and told me I could go if I liked..

If I liked?

I was through that garage door quicker than a greyhound out of a trap!

Back to my home.

Back to my sanctuary.

To most little girls a party is the thing of dreams. A chance to dress up and be pretty. To me, it was something to endure. AN ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE!

Mum never knew the real me. Sadly, she died not knowing. She saw extreme shyness, a loner and a girl who was never fully present but had no idea of what was really happening because I struggled to verbalise it. I was one of MANY girls from my generation who were misunderstood and suffered as a consequence. Maybe that’s you too?

46 years later, I know who I am and I’m proud of little me for hanging in there that day and not puking all over the garage floor. GO ME!

As for the Bitches..

“SEE YOU IN THE AFTERLIFE, GALS!”

Creative Commons Image

Creative Commons Image

Do It Yourself Eyebrows On The Cheap

eyes-149670_1280

If you’re having girl problems I feel bad for you son
I got ninety nine problems but my brows aint one.

There is an epidemic going around which involves spending liberal amounts of money ‘perfecting’ those hairy tufts above the eyes more commonly known as eyebrows.

The Scientific Gubbins

The main function of the eyebrow is to stop sweat and debris falling into your eye socket but they are also key to facial expression. Your eyebrows tell people when you are surprised or angry, for instance and without them we look strange.

I hold my hands up here and hang my head in shame because I’ve plucked mine into submission. I’m an over-plucker, mother pluckers! In fact, part of my left eyebrow is missing due to a frenzied culling session in the late 90s while sozzled on home brew. Alas, I now have to fill in the gap with some eye shadow or pencil.

Years ago the only option was to pencil some in or to whack a bit of shadow in the sparse bits but nowadays you can have an eyebrow TATTOOED onto your skin. It’s not cheap and sometimes things go wrong so instead of looking like Kim Kardashian, you end up looking like a three year old has been let loose on your face with a crayon.

I’ll be honest. I’m an old fart who still remembers a time when it was fashionable to be hairy. The 70s were a full on fur-fest and I was there for the majority of it.. give or take a few months..

There was hair EVERYWHERE.

They even made a musical called HAIR!!

My dad’s mucky magazines (yep, I found em) were full of women with more bush than Kew Gardens but, hey, that was the norm back then. Nowadays, the hairy laydeh has become a niche market though some of us are doing our best to revive it, albeit unintentionally.

The 80s had it’s hairy moments as well. Remember Nena and her 99 Luftballons? The German lovely certainly wasn’t afraid to show off her furry pits and Madonna has been known to be a stranger to Ladyshave in her time as well..

Today’s woman is encouraged to shave (or wax) anything that resembles a hair or pube aside what’s on her head. I’ve seen mannequins with more hair on them than most young women these days!

One of the things about ageing is the speed which hair grows, especially places you don’t want it to, LIKE ON YOUR FACE!

I remember the day I discovered that my mum had a *whispers* moustache and vowed that it would NEVER happen to me!

EVER.

However…

IT HAPPENED.

So once a month I pluck them out with some tweezers because my hair seems to be immune to creams. I once spent six hours Veeting myself to no avail. I am, it seems, resistant to depilatory creams.

When it comes to eyebrows it’s no longer fashionable to have run-of-the-mill eyebrows. Now they have to be sculptured into sperm-like shapes in order to give that permanently ‘How bloody much?’ look.

Why would ANYBODY want to have sperms on their face?

image.php

Moving swiftly on…

Why pay all that money to look like that when you can do it yourself for about 50p?

In the spirit of goodwill and all that, I am willing to share my secret with you.

All you need is a sheet of felt and some sticky thingies you can pick up from any craft shop.

Firstly, pick yourself some felt to match your hair colour, or as close to it as you can. I dye my hair red (ish) but I’d look a bit of a chop with red eyebrows so I opted for brown, as is my au naturel shade.

DSC_0014 (552x640)

Get a biro (or borrow your little un’s chalks) and draw a set of eyebrows in the shape you desire.

Go wild or just stick to sperms.

BROWse the internet for inspiration.

See what I did there?

Now you are ready to cut those bad boys out.

*WARNING* Take care when using sharp scissors, especially if you’ve been at the Gin.

Actually, it might be a good idea to ask somebody (who isn’t pissed) to help you with this part?

DSC_0016 (640x257)

Next, you will need to fix some sticky thingies on. Or you can use velcro if you like pain. Wouldn’t advise Superglue..

DSC_0017 (640x289)

VOILA!

Here’s me rocking my new brows!

IMG_1566 (480x640)

Dead. Sexy.

The beauty of this is that you can get about 10 pairs out of one sheet of felt so if one gets lost on a night out, it’s no biggy. Keep some spares in your holdall of a handbag and when your mate leans over and says, ‘Oi, tit, your eyebrow has slipped into your Jalfrezi!’ All you have to do is whip out a spare, slap it on your face and you’re back in action!

Could it be any easier?

Play about with this. Create your own style and have fun with it. Maybe get a few mates round and have a brow-making session? Like a Tupperware party only not as shit!

Plus, it’s got to be better than blowing the housekeeping on a permanent pair which could make you look like a right berk, eh?

I (being socially challenged) prefer to make my brows on my own whilst listening to old 1970s records for inspiration.

That’s just how I roll.

Next time I will show you how to create some sexy stockings using Bovril and a Sharpie.

The old ways are still the best, eh?

People_at_work_in_Wartime-_Everyday_Life_in_Wartime_Britain,_1940_D1039

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

All other images, though crap, are mine.

Carry On Up The Colon

colonoscopy co·lon·os·co·py (kō’lə-nŏs’kə-pē) n. Examination of the inner surface of the colon by means of a colonoscope. Also called coloscopy.

In idiot terms, it’s a camera up the bum!

I nearly had one of these a few years ago but by the time I saw the consultant my symptoms had all but gone and I’d worked out that it was down to a menopause supplement I’d been taking which contained iron and I can’t take iron. This time however there’s no such reprieve because my bowels are giving me major gyp so I’m currently waiting for my appointment to flop onto the mat so that I can get some serious worrying in.

Now, I did my homework on the colonoscopy first time round so I already know that it’s the colon cleansing prep that they give you which is the hardest part because to all intents and purposes, it’s EVIL!

So, yeah, NOT looking forward to that..

Most people say that the procedure itself is painless and sedative helps and BOY AM I GOING TO BE SEDATED!

Not so much as a FINGERNAIL will be going up my backside without me being pissed as a fart but once I am riding the pink unicorn they can pretty much do what they like.

Speaking of fart..

Seemingly I will be farting for Britain after the C scope due to the amount of air they put in to inflate the old bagpipes.. safe to say I will be leaving my dignity at home!

But it’s the waiting that gets you isn’t it?

Fear of the unknown…

It’s the thinking that I will be one of the unlucky ones who’s colon gets punctured.

It’s the thought of violent poo action once the prep has sufficiently irritated the lining of my colon.

It’s the thought what if..

What if they find something?

What if it’s a nasty?

What if I look at the monitor and see a ginormous tumour clinging to my colon like a limpet?

What if the tube won’t go in?

What if the tube won’t come out?

What if I have a coronary and die with a length of tube up my arse?

What if.

What if.

What if.

Holy Shit!

Being a glass smashed all over the floor type of person, I immediately go for the terminal option. Straight from piles to palliative care, me.

THUMP THUMP CLUNK CLUNK THUMP THUMP KER DUNK KER DUNK THUMP THUMP

That’s my heart clanging in fear.

My poor old sphincter is permanently clenched at the thought of being violated in this manner and as for having to wear one of those stupid gowns? I have a phobia of those things due to having put one on the wrong way once and I was er flashing my lady bits instead of my bum. It’s those verbal instructions you see. All I heard was “put gown on”..

Anyhoo, I am bulk buying extra soft bog roll and have several books lined up on Kindle for when I’m shitting myself delirious. I’ve also invested in some Vaseline and Sudocrem to smear around my bum hole as apparently it will think it’s been set fire to?

Hopefully it won’t be as bad as I fear and I have nothing more sinister than a bad case of Farmer Giles.

Finally, it goes without saying that if you’re having bum probs like blood in your poo, unexplained weight loss or changes in bowel habits to go and get yourself checked out. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s nothing that your Doc hasn’t seen or heard of before. Bums is all in a days work, innit?

Wish me luck, folks.

‘Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?’ ~ Actual comment from bloke having a colonoscopy.

Creative Commons Images

Not Being Me

mask-1674106_640

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” Allen Ginsberg

Throughout my years of blogging I have always made it clear that I have life-long issues relating to social communication and sensory issues.

I was a misfit from the moment I started school at five years old. Why five? Well because it was just me until then – me, the Golden Labrador next door and my rather fabulous inner world. I had no reason to know I was different.

Since then life has been difficult at best. At worst, it’s made me ill.

I’m ill now having hit a crisis point with the general anxiety disorder I’ve had for the last three years.

I have always had anxiety right from as far back as I can remember. As a child I was generally THAT pale I looked as if I’d been exhumed and I had one ailment after another. I didn’t understand it was anxiety at the time and I feel sorry for that little girl because as bad as I feel now at least I know why I feel like I do. Little girl me didn’t have a clue and was very scared. I couldn’t tell anybody. How could I when I didn’t know how to?

I don’t know what it’s like NOT to have anxiety in some degree or other.

The things that most people do effortlessly are challenges for me. As soon as I go through the front door I have to pretend to be normal, whatever normal is. All I know that after 40 odd years of observation, on a good day I can pass for ‘normal’. On a bad day you’d be sending round the nutter van. This is because pretending to be normal takes effort and it’s exhausting. It exhausts body and mind and after all this time, well, I’m knackered.

Online I get to communicate without the problems I get when faced with actual human beings. The barrier between me and the outside world allows me to interact in a way that I’m unable to in life without making myself stand out. So what I am going to say may come as a surprise to people who interact with me online..

You see, for most of my life I have been aware that I am different but I’ve never known why. I must have spent hundreds of pounds trying to find myself within the pages of self-help books. Bouts of anxiety and depression over the years have led to therapy but therapy for what?

I never knew what was wrong with me and it REALLY bothered me.

My list of problems is ENORMOUSLY LONG but here are a few things.

Things like..

Avoiding answering the door or the phone.

Being unable to walk into a room full of people.

Certain materials make me feel so irritable and uncomfortable. (Nylon? *boak*)

Struggling with eye contact until I was in my 30s.

Having too much empathy.

Being constantly bullied as a child and teenager.

Not being able relate to most other girls.

People calling me weird including the local pisshead and it must be bad when the local swiller tells you you’re weird.

Shutting down when overwhelmed. (selective mutism)

Escapism being VITAL to my mental well-being.

Soaking up people’s moods up like a sponge. (You’re having a shit day? Then so am I)

My body reacting in the same way no matter how many times I do something.

Why I am obsessive in thoughts and interests.

Why my ‘imaginative’ play only ever involved imitating what I’d seen on TV programmes or films.

My mood going from euphoria to despair and everything in-between in any 24 period.

Having to observe and copy in order to fit in.

Why I have picked at my skin so much that I have scars.

Always feeling a sense of unease. (WE’RE DOOMED!)

Always feeling the odd one out.

Catastrophic thoughts about everything.

Questioning why I am here.

ALWAYS feeling that I was not meant for this world..

alien-2029727_640

Moi.

You get the picture?

So I had resigned myself to being a weird sod. One of life’s oddities. A misfit.

Then we took The Boy to be assessed for autism and from the questions they were asking I knew then that I was autistic.

LIGHT BULB MOMENT!

For almost four years I debated whether I needed a formal diagnosis. Many people are content to just know that they are autistic and trust me, most people know. For me, it wasn’t that simple because some of my issues have become worse as I’ve got older and one of my fears is being thrown into an old persons home where I would die within a day because of the social aspect.

Also, I needed validation.

So last year I was assessed and in February this year I was formally diagnosed as autistic and the relief is immeasurable. I’m not weird. It’s just that I perceive the world differently.

Last year I went to the autism show in Manchester and it was while I was there that I came across Peter Street. Peter is a national and international poet and was diagnosed late in life as autistic. Peter was one of the speakers on the day and spoke of his experiences at school and his diagnosis. Hearing his story helped me to make the decision to go for assessment because I could see how much it had helped him and he was older than me when he was diagnosed so I knew it wasn’t to late for me. So, thank you Peter.

Peter also passed round a poem which was written for everybody on the spectrum. I have this on my kitchen wall and read it every day..

Not Being Me by Peter Street

Childhood nights were dreams
of being a sheep
then up and out of a morning,
a quick check to see

if by any chance in the night
there had been a change
of being just like all my friends
and not the odd one out

like afternoon dance lessons
spent hidden
in the toilet
out the way because

I couldn’t dance the sheep steps
that’s why I dreamed
of being a sheep
so I could be like everyone else

I listened to this poem and cried because I understood EVERY word of it. How many times as a child had I prayed that I would wake up and be like everyone else? However, I wasn’t like everybody else and now I know why. All these years I’ve been fighting against my own brain so is it any wonder I feel so tired now?

So, as Mozzer from Manchester once said…what difference does it make?

Well, it just means that I have a formal explanation for why I struggle so much and hopefully I can get some support as I get older because I really am scared of having to live in Shady Pines and having to play bingo and shit. I would rather choke myself to death on my own false teeth!

I’m still me. It’s just that my reality differs from yours. That and I touch plugs waaaaay more than is healthy, y’know?

So there you are..

I’ve outed myself as the autistic human I am and have always been.

Thank you for reading.

Not Being Me poem used with kind permission from Peter Street.

Peter’s website

Listening To The Dark ~ A Selection Of Poetry ~ Peter Street

Images via Creative Commons

Spectrum Sunday

Let’s Prance!

Somehow ‘Prancercise’ has passed me by…

Not entirely sure what planet I’ve been living on but it’s 2017 and I’m only just discovering it thanks to nice bloke Spencer who guest blogs over at Zeit My Geist.

In case you’ve also been living on another planet for the past few years..

This is Prancercise.

First time I watched it I thought the moves were similar to the ones yer Nan makes on the dance floor when she wants to throw some shapes to Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual but her corns are giving her gyp and she has to be mindful of keeping her Tena pad in place.

Second time I watched it I thought she may be one HRT patch short of a full packet.

Third time I watched it I came to the conclusion that she’s a BLOODY LEGEND!

So, what’s it all about?

Basically…it’s horses.

My interpretation of what’s said on the website is that instead of standing in front of a huge gym window sweating your bag off you can go and gallop around the park like a horse. You know, like you did when you were a kid? I can see the appeal, sort of, only I’m more seaside donkey than graceful horse..

Unsurprisingly, Joanna (the creator) has copped for some stick.

Apparently it’s “goofy” and she showed ‘the toe’.

That’s camel toe if you were wondering and lets face it.. if you own leggings (and you’re female) you’ve probably shown the toe too.

So, I may have had a giggle but you know what? I LOVE the Joanna’s of this world because they make the world a better and more interesting place. Also, it’s made her famous. AS IF she gives a pig’s nip who’s laughing, eh?

I don’t think I’ll be prancing around our local park anytime soon because I live up North and they certify people for doing stuff like that round here. Prancing would definitely be frowned upon unless it involves lobbing black puddings about and then it’s absolutely fine.

How about a Strictly Come Prancing? Now THAT, I would watch!

However, I am having a nostalgic pang for the carefree days of childhood when I thought nothing of prancing because most children are natural prancers. Not that I was ever natural at anything aside being weird..but, yeah, I pranced – kind of.

What a shame that there comes a time when society decides it’s no longer appropriate to prance. 😦

Not that Joanna cares about what society thinks and I say good on her! The world needs more of this!

PRANCE ON, JOANNA, YOU UTTER LEGEND!

If you happen to fancy a prance you could create a playlist like this to inspire you.

  1. Prancing Queen
  2. You Should Be Prancing
  3. Private Prancer
  4. Flashprance
  5. Rhythm is a Prancer
  6. Prancing in the Street
  7. Tiny Prancer
  8. Prancing on a Saturday Night
  9. Prance Away
  10. No Good Start The Prance (personal fave)

“NOW LET’S STOP TALKIN AND DO SOME WALKIN’!”

This post is dedicated to my lovely friend, Sheerie on this her ’42nd birthday’. *cough* LOVE YOU LOTS!

A Few Tips To Ease Your Anxiety Symptoms

person-1627709_640

In the three years that I have had GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) I have trawled the internet and read countless books searching for ideas to ease my symptoms so I thought it would be a good idea to share what’s worked for me.

So, in no particular order..

Sugar

While diet doesn’t cause anxiety it’s fair to say that certain foods, like sugar, do aggravate the situation and making a few dietary changes can greatly improve symptoms.

When you have an anxiety disorder you can become hypersensitive to your body. Even small amounts of sugar can have a detrimental effect on the body because it’s absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. This causes an initial energy surge but once it wears off the body has to increase the production of insulin in order to remove the sugar from your blood stream leaving you feeling like a bag of shite. Cutting down or eliminating refined sugar from your diet will address the imbalances which trigger panic attacks and will improve your body’s ability to cope with stress.

It’s a good idea to learn bout how much sugar is in the foods you are eating. There is a smart phone app called Food Smart which allows you to scan the barcodes to see exactly how much sugar is in a product. It’s been quite the eyeopener!

0e2996601a59aa047e3ae89951b1e914

Mornings

Our bodies naturally release cortisol in the morning as we wake from a prolonged period of sleep. This is known as the ‘cortisol awakening response’. Non-anxious people wake gradually over a few hours whereas anxiety cases (like moi) get woken abruptly with the cortisol screaming “WAKE THE EFF UPPPPP ARRRGGHHH!!!”

Imagine having Slipknot waking you up at 5am with their screamiest song (plus scary masks) and you’re somewhere near.

Normally, cortisol is present throughout the day but at a decreasing level, the lowest being in the evening preparing us for sleep. It will spike during short term stressors like an argument or a near miss with the number 57 bus then subside again. The anxious person has consistently high levels of cortisol throughout the day which is unpleasant to say the least.

The best thing I’ve found on waking is to get up and move about – even if it’s 4am. I find that walking helps to burn some of that excess energy off. Lying there only makes me feel crap and if I try to doze off, I only end up having insane dreams of headless horses or toilets that don’t flush. Freud would have a field day with me, no?

I blog. I clean. I use the energy to my advantage and GIVE ANXIETY THE FINGER!

insult-145142_640

Dr Google Will See You Now

Not everybody who has anxiety will have health anxiety but a good number unfortunately do.

Me, for one.

The problem is that anxiety presents with such a plethora of symptoms that it’s hard to believe that you’re NOT dying of something particularly nasty but instead of making an appointment with a GP, the cyberchondriac makes an appointment with Dr Google whose diagnosis is usually terminal. The sufferer then curls up into fetal position and awaits certain death only moving as far as their PC in order to post on anxiety forums which are full of threads like..

‘Pain In My Toe. Cancer?’

And..

‘I’m dying’.

Occasionally some desperate sod will upload graphic pictures of his/her poo for reassurance that they are not dying but as much as I understand and empathise with health anxiety, I really don’t want to see someone’s toilet massacre on my PC at 6am!

Or ever.

My advice would be NOT to Google your symptoms but if you really must then type the word ANXIETY alongside whatever symptom it is.

Instead of trawling though pages about diseases you imagine you have.. spend a good few hours researching the condition you DO have? Learn about anxiety and why the body reacts the way it does. Educate yourself!  It will also remove a lot of the fear and once you’ve done that you’re on the road to recovery.

Google isn’t all bad though because you will find great anxiety websites and podcasts.

The Anxiety Guru and Anxiety Slayer  are two excellent podcasts which are informative and help to normalise anxiety symptoms. Well worth looking up.

Exercise

In my opinion, the WORST thing you can do with anxiety is sit on your backside and do nothing. That’s a sure way to keep you in the anxiety/fear loop forever and ever, Amen.

There is a link between being physically active and enjoying positive mental well-being. It causes chemical changes in the brain which positively alter your mood. Even a fifteen minute walk can make you feel better. ANY exercise is better than none.

I walk as much as I can and do yoga. I ALWAYS feel the benefit during and afterwards even if I might not feel like doing it to start with. It’s the knowledge that I WILL feel better that has me reaching for my coat or yoga mat no matter how crap I feel.

Your body WANTS to move. It NEEDS to move to keep all your bits functioning effectively.

You have all these stress hormones whirring away inside you and they need to be diffused so work with them and SHIFT YOUR ARSE OFF THAT SOFA! Go for a walk in the sunshine or a jog if that’s more your thing. Put some funky music on and flick the duster about. Whatever floats your boat. JUST DO IT!

Be well and think positive thoughts.

CC Image

CC Image

Bend It Like Barbara.

frogs-1644949_1280

“So, we have the results of your Dexa scan and ooh, you have Osteopenia”

I thought, ‘WHAT THE SHITTING HELL?!’

I said, “Oh!”

My GP went on to reassure me that it’s quite normal for post-menopausal women like me..

Rewind a few weeks to a conversation with a GP where I mentioned that I was creaking and cracking like an old barn door. This conversation concluded in me being sent for a Dexa scan to measure the density of my bones. The result being that I have Osteopenia.

What’s Osteopenia?

Osteopenia is the technical name for thinning bones and it’s the stage before Osteoporosis. Not to be confused with the film Quadrophenia, as can sometimes happen with the menopausal brain, eh ladies?

Brrrring on the mobilty scooter!

imagesscooter

Ok, it’s a bit shit. I’m only 46. However, there are far worse things in life to deal with AND the condition can be slowed down by exercise and taking calcium supplements – only one of the complications they don’t tell you about with Osteopenia is that you run the risk of choking to death on a calcium tablet because they are the size of Wales!

So I went to see a dietician who advised me to start doing weight bearing exercise like yoga to protect my bones. I already do the school run and walk the dog most days so walking isn’t a problem. I bought a yoga DVD (for the over 50s) and a mat.

The yoga DVD is aimed at menopausal ladies like moiself and has routines targeting Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and strength building in general to support knackered bones. There is even a routine called ‘Gentle Yoga on a Chair’. So you can basically work out while sitting on your arse!

WIN and WIN!

The DVD itself is relaxing to watch. It’s set outside on a lush green lawn with the Glacier National Park in the background and a beautiful water feature. Of course, you have the sound of running water all the way through which makes having a pre-workout wee ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL, unless you want to test your pelvic floor?

So the location is beautiful and instructor Barbara Benagh’s voice is calming. She’s also bendy as fook but she’s a yoga instructor so she’s meant to be. I mean, she’s bend down – straight legged – hands flat on the floor – bendy whereas I can only reach my knees but I can only improve from here, right?

When it comes to workout gear I opted for old leggings and my Breakfast Club tee shirt. I have some bingo-wing-age going on with my arms so much so that waving has become a health hazard so vest tops are out for the time being.

I did a few workouts in the living room then one day I decided to work out in the sun-room, sounds posh doesn’t it?

It’s not.

The sun-room (which overlooks the yard) is a small space but I can just about stretch my arms out without doing myself an injury. So, I’d set myself up and shoved the dog outside so I wouldn’t be disturbed..

I’d just got into the pose where you balance on one leg with arms outstretched (forget the technical term) when I caught sight of the lurcher in squatting position in the yard. Now, you have to hold the pose for a minute (closing eyes NOT an option if you want to stay upright) so I saw the entire performance of her dropping her load then doing the ski run across the hard flagstones to deal with her ‘cling on’s’.

OM. MY. GOD.

See what I did there?

Pretty much sums me up. Barbara gets tranquil sunlit mountain backdrop to work out to. I get the lurcher having a shit!

The problems with doing yoga at home are distractions of daily life (such as dogs ‘avin a poo) and the motivation that is required to do it regularly. The best way for most people would be to find a group and I have done this in the past but any benefit I got from the yoga was lost due to the stress of being in a group. I don’t do groups, you see. I prefer to go lone wolf and fortunately for me I can motivate myself well enough especially when I have a goal and my goal is to slow down the bone thinning process.

Bone thinning is a natural part of the menopause but many women are unaware of it until they have a Dexa scan or break a bone. There is much that can be done to prevent this condition and having Osteopenia doesn’t mean you will go onto have Osteoporosis. Every post-menopausal woman will have some thinning of the bones. Taking Calcium supplements and doing weight bearing exercise will help to protect your bones. If you are post menopausal, you REALLY need to start addressing it now. My GP told me that all post menopausal women should be taking a calcium supplement as we need around 1200 mgs a day along with Vit D3 which helps with absorption.

One thing about calcium supplements is that GPs prescribe them in carbonate form basically because it’s the cheapest. A lot of people (me included) have issues with constipation when taking it in that form so citrate is the better option.

Don’t take supplements without discussing it with your GP, especially if you take medication as some supplements can interact with certain drugs.

Finally, the BEST thing for bone health is sunshine. Lack of sunlight causes Vitamin D deficiency which affects the bones and the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Menopausal women generally need 800-1,000 IU daily and you can get that through a mixture of sunlight, diet and supplements. Get your calcium and Vit D levels checked about every six months via a blood test and you’ll know if you’ve got the balance right.

The effort you put in now will pay off in years to come keeping you active for longer and off that mobility scooter!

Creative Commons Image

 

 

 

 

 

Autism and The Boy – Four Years On

unique-2032274_640

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost four years since The Boy was diagnosed as autistic. The time has flown by and it’s been quite the journey so far..

The Boy’s problems were obvious from the age of two but the childcare ‘professionals’ where we lived were oblivious to the fact that he was still crawling LONG after all the children his age (and younger) had started to walk. His inability to cope with the slightest change and his meltdowns also gave them no cause for concern despite me voicing my concerns..

We moved from Cheshire to Lancashire just before his third birthday. We hadn’t had anywhere specific in mind except that it had to be commutable for OH’s work. We drove through many places but only one stood out and I still have the piece of paper where I treble underlined the name of the town with a side note. “HERE!”.

‘Here’ is an old Victorian mill town with bags of character nestled at the foot of the Pennines. It’s quaint but it rains a lot. Oh well, can’t have it all eh?

We’d only lived here for a few months when came time to look for nurseries. I looked at three in total, two of which were rated highly by Ofsted. They were clean and bright with new toys but they didn’t feel right to me. The third one was in need of a lick of paint and the toys were well loved but it felt right as soon as I walked in. The manager (L) was cradling a child on her lap and several others were hanging off her arms. All the children looked happy and I could tell that L was more about the children than the business. That sold it for me and he started that September.

Within two weeks, L took me to one side and said there was a problem. We’d made no mention of The Boy’s issues because we needed to see if they were picked up without our influence. She used the word ‘autism’ because she had experience with autistic children so she asked if we’d agree to the child psychiatrist seeing him. It was such a relief to know that it wasn’t just us being overly dramatic.

The child psychiatrist assessed him in the nursery over a few sessions and referred him for a multi disciplinary assessment in the local hospital. He was assessed over a twelve month period and by the time he started school a statement already was in place. He was diagnosed with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder aged four.

We had a choice of three schools but only one had a good reputation with special needs. If there was ever any doubt that we’d chosen correctly it disappeared the day the headmaster lay down on the playground floor (in his suit) next to my son who was starting to go into meltdown. How many headteachers do you know who would do that?

Our journey of assessment to diagnosis was smooth though I know this isn’t the case for so many parents. The Boy was assigned a special teaching assistant who worked with him for 3 hours at first then all day when it became obvious that he required full support.

There have been occasions where we have been called to school either to calm him down or take him home. This is also at our request. When your child displays such severe challenging behaviour in a mainstream school the headteacher has to tread a fine line between meeting that child’s needs and maintaining the safety of the other children and the staff. The good thing is that none of these episodes have come and gone without a meeting taking place to see what can be improved on. The staff are always using new techniques and strategies to help him and anybody involved with him, including playtime staff, are educated about challenging behaviour and how to deal with it. We work as a team and the relationship between us and the school is brilliant and we know that he’s loved there.

The Boy has worked with his one to one for almost four years now and they have a special bond. Also, she totally puts up with his shit and does it with a smile. For him she a familiar face who not only guides him but comforts him. She knows him as we know him and she comes to see him during the long summer holiday so that he doesn’t go too long without seeing her. She doesn’t have to do that. It’s not part of her job but I know that The Boy isn’t just a job to her and so when I see him rush up to her and hug her as tightly as he does me, I know he is exactly where he is meant to be.

The other week we had to go in and calm him down as he’d trashed the classroom. There was toilet roll all over the place, upturned chairs and tables at funny angles and me laddo was refusing to come out of the toilet. When I went into him he was stood on the toilet seat growling which is always a bad sign when he becomes non verbal. The school have been told to contact us in these situations if he won’t respond to them because he will respond to us, me in particular. It took 45 minutes to get through to him but we got there in the end..

The difficult part of my son’s autism is that he often loses control and can become disruptive but they never give up on him.

The Boy has gone through a few different obsessions over the years..numbers, Lego, owls, Ninjago, Minecraft and his latest..Pokemon. Anybody who has autistic children (or is autistic themselves) will understand obsession and the need for it in order to cope with a world which overwhelms. The school understand this and accommodate his needs incorporating those obsessions into as much of his school work as is possible to get him to engage.

The Boy will be 8 this year. He is one of the youngest in his class  and the differences are becoming more and more marked as I knew the would. He’s always stood out but there is much that autistic children can get away with in those first few years of school that they can’t as they head towards puberty. Hormones turn children into little shits and autism doesn’t exclude children from said shittery. It’s just a different kind of shit.

Aside some blips and attitudes from a few narrow minded parents at school, he has been a happy little boy who enjoys life and certainly brightens up the lives of others. My late friend may not have fully understood his autism but she accepted and loved him for who he is. If only every parent at the school was like her life would be so much easier.

As he gets older I become more wary. Not of him. Never of him.. but how the world will perceive him. Perhaps this is because I was constantly on the receiving end of bullying as a child and teenager but the point is that I know how cruel children can be especially to those who are different from themselves. The thought I cling to is that a big difference between The Boy and myself is that more things go over his head whereas someone only has to look at me in a certain way and I feel as if I’ve been GBH’d. In fact, one of the MANY things that I love about him how he is happy to be himself and be unaffected by how people see him and long may that continue..

All in all it’s been a positive four years despite my concerns for the future. In a perfect world people would embrace him as the unique individual he is but the most important thing is that he doesn’t try to hide who he is in order to fit a mould that was never designed for him.

For anybody who differs from the ‘norm’ – this quote is for you.

I’m not weird, my reality is just different from yours.

Creative Commons Image

Spectrum Sunday