Black holes

When I was around 20 I had possibly my worst autistic melt down on record. I have had meltdowns last longer, but in severity, we have a clear winner! Only at the time I didn’t know I was autistic, so, well that made it worse. And a few minutes ago I remembered it, and thought it might be time for a little processing.

I had planned to go to do some role play with a friend, and his friends. I hadn’t been in a few months, so was a bit nervous, but all geared up for the Saturday all day session. The day before I spoke to my friend, and I said what character I would be playing and he told me I couldn’t play that sort of character. I said I would find another, and I guess the phone call ended amicably enough, however, looking back with the knowledge I have now, that was the beginning of the meltdown.

I was in my family home alone, and I guess I started to cry almost immediately after the phone call ended, and I began to pace. Logical things no longer seemed logical, I was losing my ability to process. I pride myself on being an academic intelligent sort, and not being able to think clearly, with intense panic and anxiety spiking high, I was not in any sort of good place. This lasted for around two hours. I thought it would last forever.

I can honestly say that although I can forgive myself for the actions I then took, I will likely never fully forgive myself for taking them. In a spiral of grief, devastation, sobbing, in a space of absence of thought, I took some sleeping tablets. Some would be a quantity between 12 and 20. They were likely prescribed for me, it was a time of much medication.

This was the only thing I could irrationally do to remove myself from the head space. I had utterly no desire to die, I just needed not to feel so wretched.

As soon as I took them, practicality kicked in. I phoned a friend, she came over, ambulance was called, processes external to me were all in motion. Curiously the tablets did utterly nothing to me, the only issue was they were out of date, so the poisons unit had to be called. My boyfriend arrived, the hospital wanted to keep me in over night, but I declined, saying I was fine. As I was, utterly fine.

I couldn’t explain the devastating drop, but knew that it was over. I spoke to psychiatrists after who said I seemed perfectly happy. I was happy, barring low grade anxiety. I started taking antidepressants which didn’t seem to have any effect, and life continued much the same as before. But every so often, these inexplicable crashes would happen, and although I didn’t take any more extreme actions to change the flow of them, I had utterly no idea why.

I have had times where I have violently sobbed for days. Times when I have become uncharacteristically shouty for no logical reason. And even now, when it happens, never if, it is terrifying. However now I have a plan! When it begins I can recognise it. I usually cry, but now I know to phone someone stat. I use the code word ‘chicken nuggets’ with my best friend and he knows this is the code red. The reason this word was decided on I have no idea, but as am vegan, am guessing large amounts of irony was involved. I then issue instructions of ‘talk at me’ and he yabs on about his day. My mum, brother and one other friend are all amazing at this too. I need to reconnect with the world outside my head, and listening to someone describing the crackers they were currently eating, the issues at their work, or anything that is not remotely to do work me is a godsend. It let’s the cogs in my head wind down, reset. These people will always have my unending gratitude.

I have always felt that being friends with me must be really hard work. My anxiety is harder than bear average (not bear arms, they belong to bears) and sometimes a texture of material, a smell or a place will cause an unexpected reaction (also hyper sensory.. but that is a whole other thing!). And sometimes I won’t be able to process this. Then I need the help of others and this can be problematic.

I try to live a quiet life for the most part, but I also want to do things and see people. And new ups anxiety. Interestingly I was diagnosed with adhd last year, and the convergence of the two conditions I find sort of funny. Adhd leaves me incredibly unmotivated unless something is urgent, exciting or new, and asd trips anxiety hard on all these things. More irony.

Today I had a meltdown much like this one, but within minutes of recognising that it was happening, I was on the phone listening to my brother talk about his lunch time crackers. I am still exhausted after, and the exhaustion will last into tomorrow. My focus is shot, and my eyes will still leak, but the intensity of that terrible feeling has passed.

Sometimes I know exactly what has caused it. Other times, like today, I don’t. There was no specific trigger. Diagnosis has likely been one of the most important moments of my adult life.

Map Point: Can I accept that there are sometimes no reasons?



I have written quite a bit about my relationship with food. The emotional weight sticks heavy. The one aspect that I have only vaguely touched on is binge eating. And until very recently, I have not really acknowledged it as a problem.

I know there have been many days where I have absorbed packets of biscuits, but they were treats, or because I didn’t have time to cook and needed to eat quickly. I was hungry and needed the energy, the sugar rush, I know that once I start eating a packet, it would be hard to stop eating, but this was just something that I sometimes too. A quirk, and certainly not a problem for me.

Last week, after having not really eaten any biscuits for a while, I bought a packet of coconut macaroon type things. I think that there were six in a packet. I ate one with a cup of tea, and although I didn’t really want anymore, they were suddenly all gone. I felt sort of horrified at my lack of control and that has been the first time I have fully acknowledged that this might be an issue. Rather than just one of my many amusing foibles.

So in the spirit of research (am dedicated to my craft!) this morning I purchased a packet of biscuits to actually try and analyse what the kick actually is for me. I think it starts even before the purchase. As soon as I have intended to eat something sugary in quantity, I do start to feel a little bit excited. Then there is the buying bit. This feels like some massive stab of independence, I can buy whatever I like (hear me roar!). Now I am actually eating the biscuits I am not feeling very much at all. The packet is almost empty (they are pink wafer biscuits, they disappear fast!). Slightly sick would be the closest thing I have going on to an emotion right now. It’s simply a process to get to the end.

Two things occur to me. Firstly this feels very similar to my smoking experience. I love the creation of a cigarette, the collection of filters, paper and tobacco. Then I ensure that the tobacco is laid out right before committing to the roll. The for me is definitely the best part, I enjoy the dextrous skill involved. The second thing that occurs to me is that a food binge for me is nothing to do with food. It is about allowing myself permission to do what I want. I don’t feel in a place of particular stress right now, but as with most things, although I know I feel good, I still have my old habits which did not come from being in a place of happy. Food binges are an old coping mechanism. Eating every last biscuit completes the task, and then the anxiety is over. Now I just feel sort of urg. It also occurs to me that the time process involved in this has been quite substantive too.

Am not really sure where to end with this one. Anxiety is harsh.

Map Point. Where am I placing my power?



Best of times, worst of times

This is my hundredth post. I have been a little sketchy over the last couple of weeks but am now feeling in a place of creation. This feels most me.

My daughter left her junior school and is due to start secondary in September. It was strange walking into the junior school, knowing it would be the last time that I would see my daughter emerge from her classroom. It would also be the last time I would see the familiar faces of people that I have come to regard as friends, all the amazing parents that I have passed the time in idle chatter with whilst waiting for our children to find their ways out of the building. It won’t be my last time in the school, as I run a science club there, but all my volunteer commitments are over now. No more school discos to run, flowers to order, cash and carry’s to visit or any of the other things that have kept me occupied during the past few years. On my final week there I was given some flowers which felt heart fuzzy.

I have stopped and started other sorts of work, resolved some headspace bits, made several piles of things to leave the house (they are in phase one, thus in no actual danger of leaving the house currently, but the process has begun!) and am about to embark on my post grad studies. Everything is changing. Tomorrow I am planning on playing ‘Musical House’ (as opposed to chairs), and am looking forward to seeing where all the furniture will end up! It is a time of transition.

This has also been a period of anxiety for me. My sleep has been gloriously unaffected but it has been a phase of apathy. When I get really anxious, sometimes I find it easier to close down a little, not to engage so much. Seeing people is hard when I feel like this. It isn’t that I doubt the love my friends have for me and I know they would support me, but I also know it’s only me that can truly lift me up. Other people can provide a temporary distraction, but only I can make this permanent. Tonight, after a very slow afternoon, I had a sudden boon of energy. I feel energised, new and smiley all over again. I try not to wear anxious for too long.

In so many classic stories, the duality of best and worst are often expressed. This is likely something we all experience at different points. As the extremes of my life present themselves in tandem, it makes me realise how truly blessed I am for the highs that empower me and the lows that give me guidance for reflection.

Thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged, commented and critiqued, liked, shared and said the most beautiful things about my writing. Next milestone, two hundred! Much love and shiny.xx

Map Point. What am I completely proud of?

Fourth letter

Dear Spidey,

I can’t remember how old you were when I first met you, but think you were possibly fourteen. You are eighteen now, and the transformation that I have seen in you has been nothing short of miraculous. In some ways, your journey felt comparable to my own.

When I started tutoring you as you were unable to get to school because of anxiety, you were nervous, hesitant, but had a massive passion for learning which radiated through you. It was remarkable to be able to see the such massive leaps forward that despite everything else, you tackled astonishingly.

I left school a few months before my A Level exams as my anxiety became crushing, I was simply happier not to be there, and for me too, it was never about the work that I had to complete. I love learning too. I remember saying to you once that if you turned up or not to tutoring did not affect me, it would only affect you. You countered this by saying that I would miss out on what I loved doing, and you were utterly right.

Reading ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and ‘The Merchant of Venice’ with you was an experience that will stay with me for a long time. Seeing you grasp new ideas, evolve within the language and develop your own style utterly inspired me. From someone who was coping with a great deal, and learning so much about yourself at the time, the leaps that you made educationally is something that can never be taken away from you. And you shone.

So this is a thank you for the privilege of being able to watch you grow as a student (and also in height.. I sense that the day will come pretty soon when you will overtake me.. bleak times!) and for how much you prompted me to take my own learning further than I could have imagined. You taught me too.

Love always


P.S. ‘The Vegetarian’ is still waiting!




Inner peace

Anger. Out of all the emotions, this is one that I really struggle to express. I have got to be at the utter end of my tether before this one is ever likely to emerge, so far in my life, I have done this maybe five times. But clearly I am not a ball of rage rivalling the Hulk (though I have much mad love for the man of green), but the anger that I do feel has to go somewhere, and when I consider this, I can see massive areas of myself that I need to work on.

My lack of anger really only became apparent to me as a teenager, when I was small, I remember having full blown tantrums. As a teenager, this anger turned inwards and became anxiety and depression. I think at the time I knew I wasn’t feeling down, I was just not able to express the anger I felt. And during the gloriousness of being a teenager, there were very few things that didn’t inspire rage. I just never learnt to adequately convey my needs or boundaries. Maybe.

As a teenager, many of the arguments in my house were based around

1) The back of my bedroom chair was apparently not a place for dirty laundry.

2) Collecting cups in my room and waiting ’til things grow is not acceptable. Apparently.

3) Both Nirvana (Bleach) and Kate Bush (Anything) will sufficiently wind up the parental when played early in the morning. Actually at any time, but most specifically in the morning.

4) Touching the water immersion heating button. Utterly essential for a good afternoon spent reading in a continually hot bath. Utter hell if I forgot to turn it off after and the parental found it still on.

5) Fighting, or even pretending to fight, with my brother. We still do this. We still get shouted at. It is deliciously funny.

I have noticed how arguments develop with people over time, and rarely is what I am angry about anything to do with the words coming out of my mouth. I realised recently after feeling quite cross with someone, that what I was really expressing was not anger, but frustration, and this came from a place of love. And when this person is cross with me, it comes from the same place, a desire to help someone to achieve what they seem to be saying they want. If either of us could figure this out before the getting angry part, then that would be awesome.

I guess the reality is that no one can change anyone but themselves. It is easier to project onto others, to find fault with them, than it is to address the issues that we are clearly experiencing on a personal level. The problems of others only bother us if we can see the same issue in ourselves.

Map Point. How can I resolve what I am angry about?


A new perspective (I no longer need this heavy suitcase)

When I was becoming so well practiced with my five amazing memories, other thoughts started to occur to me, firstly although I knew that I was no longer flooding my mind with unhappy (and replacing it with happy), I still wasn’t actually ‘happy’. This led me to consider what had triggered such a negative mindset to begin with. Now I guess this is different for everyone, but essentially could likely be summed up with ‘sad stories that we couldn’t get past’. So I thought about my sad stories and tried to rationalise them, see them objectively, and for all intents and purposes, this is a really hard task!

If I have been holding onto to an unhappy memory for many years, then that sad story has become a familiarity, and mostly, we don’t like losing what we consider to be ‘ours’. Even applying fresh eyes to a situation can feel somehow traitorous to our sense of self. But at the same time, I recognised that feeling this level of sadness over something that I cannot change does not lead to happy! Events, I reasoned, can’t be changed, but maybe my thoughts about them can. So I proceeded. Cautiously.

Throughout my teenage years, I experienced anxiety, manifesting into the form of panic attacks. At the time these were scary, isolating and I felt that nothing, not even my own body, could be trusted. I lived in this state for a long time, and went through the usual channels of medication and therapy, but never seemed to make any genuine progress. This I can relay as a sad story. However looking at this as an adult, I can apply a whole new set of parameters. I experienced the anxiety because of the environment I was in, and I didn’t have the confidence or vocabulary to be able to express my needs. It wasn’t anxiety I was suffering from, it was repressed anger, rage at the situations that I was unable to control. And then perhaps the hardest bit of looking back on these memories. What have I gained from these experiences?

I am compassionate with those around me, and I understand that what a person is trying to express is not always the words that they say. Language can become muddy sometimes. I have also learned that to confidently express my needs is a truly empowering thing and I am utterly allowed to do that.

Sometimes it feels that a situation will just keep reoccurring until I work out what I can gain from it. Which feels quite frustrating for the most part, but if I can learn from things that have hurt me, maybe I can let them go. And that feels enlightening.

Do I experience anxiety as an adult? On occasion, absolutely, but as a weekly or monthly feature, absolutely not. For me, recognising and understanding the causes of my anxiety was the first stage, but then learning to let go of the memories that I held so dearly was quite another, a much more difficult challenge. We choose the weight that we want to carry with us.

Map Point. What am I carrying that is no longer serving me?