When I Stayed Residential at School

The school that I went to was not only a specialist, but it was also residential. There were alot of students that would stay over during the week. This was never a thing for me until my final year being there.

There would be three major reasons why the kids would stay over. One, some kids lived quite far as this school was in the middle of nowhere. I guess it was was easier for some to do this. Two, some of the kids had behavior issues to the point where tough decisions would have been made for them to give them the space from the home. Three, it gave students a chance to try out living away from home comforts. In my case it was the third reason. I was in my final year and it was decided that I was to try this out before I would do this full time at my next school. I’m not going to lie, I was really hesitant about do this, but I knew this was something that I needed to do as I was so desperate to move on to the next step. My last two years being there I just had enough and I think the staff could sense this. So I guess they tried to make it as easy as possible for me. See for me, I was used to a certain pattern at home and the idea of sharing that with people at school really scared me. I need space and I can only get that at home. Yet, my overall experience wasn’t too bad. I stayed twice a week which was ok, I think if were a whole week I wouldn’t have agreed to it. See in that environment, it is rare that people let you have a chance to prove that you can be an adult. You mess up once and they have this picture of you where they can’t trust you. I can understand how frustrating that can be and it can effect you for the rest of your life. With me, because of my empathy I didn’t want to be seen as a burden. They took a chance on my by involving me in some of their activities that they would set up for the kids and I did always enjoy being part of that.

The school was pretty massive and has two sections. You have the main school and then there’s sixth form section behind. I ended up staying in the same building that I was getting my education from. I mean, that’s kinda hard to go from school mode to home mode in the same area. Most of my friends went home and I would be with people that I wouldn’t associate myself with. I had a couple of friends so I would socialize with them unless I was tasked with something. I think if I didn’t have any friends to hang with then maybe I would have struggled. I will say though the evening staff that did the shift were actually alot nicer then the day staff. Well, they were nice to me anyway. You first go to your room to place your bags and set up your bed sheets. Thank goodness I had my own room. I know some people had to share which is my worst nightmare. You go downstairs where you got a timetable of how the evenings gonna go until you went to bed. With my eating issues, if there was something for dinner I didn’t like, they let me make my own tea as long as I sat with everyone else. Although some nights they took us out for pub grub to which I rather preferred. The only thing that I did feel uncomftable about was how the nighttime worked. From nine o’clock onwards, you’re sent straight to our rooms to go to sleep. The overnight staff comes and checks that we’re in a rooms asleep, every hour. Usually I like to stay up a little bit longer then most, mainly because I like to watch I’m a Celeb which is was on weekdays, knowing that I would get told off for staying up. I did have a telly in my room, which I imagine would have been taken away if they had figured it out. I had to be sneaky you see. So I kept the volume down and when it came round to ten, I turned it off like three minutes before, get myself positioned like I was sleeping waiting for the staff member to open up my door to check up. As soon as they went I turned the telly back on, worked every time. I did always enjoy waking up to the sound of a fellow student that would knock on everyone’s bedroom doors and say ‘good morning’ as we’re waking up. Cute!

Do I recommend living in a residential setup? It really depends on your situation and what is agreed from yourself and your providers. Nothing has changed in terms how I lived my life in terms having that backup just in case. Now that I’m an adult, they take the instructions from me which has been so different compared to what I did have to put up with in school and at college. It was certainly an experience that I am grateful for, I always say I wouldn’t have the mindset that I have if I didn’t.

Just be you, Sarah x

Talking too much or too little?

One of the most difficult things that we learn as human beings is how to converse like society tells us to do, but no one really knows why for some of us it’s often exhausting for some of us. I’m not quite if I have the right balance for this. Kinda ironic really to have this topic when the majority of the world would rather avoid it for a while.

For a long time, people would see me as the most social out of most people. I do like to have conversations with people, it is one of the few times when I enjoy social activity. It’s pretty much how I’ve been able to learn to have the mindset that I have. But I have to have that same enthusiasm back from one or multiple people depending on who I just so happen to be with. I’m not good at starting conversations depending on my mood, and I do tend to worry if I say the wrong thing as a starter. With the environment I grew up in, not everyone was very good at that or weren’t particularly interested. Many times, especially at dinner time, we would be told where we had to sit. Meaning that we would have to sit with people that you wouldn’t want to. It’s so funny because in your mainstream setting you were able to sit with your friends and catch up with them whilst eating your dinner. In our case, the only time we were really allowed to be with our friends was at break time, and those are usually between fifteen to thirty minutes. So the last thing you want to do is sit with people you wouldn’t hang out with in your own time. Now I understand what they were going with this. The idea is that if you, the more social one, gives time for those that aren’t, then maybe there would be improvement for that other person’s social skills. Generally that can make you feel good that you’ve helped that other person contribute to whatever they like. But sometimes, they can often rely on you too much and I’ve had too many experiences with that. It’s alot of pressure, especially when that someone else doesn’t understand boundaries. Because I didn’t know what mine were, I honestly had this thought that it was important for others to have what they wanted. It wasn’t until I became an adult someone did actually say to me ‘you know you don’t have to be friends with everyone’. Here’s the thing, I don’t regret being nice to people, it would be better off. But I also have to look after myself, and I did have people that took advantage of my kindness. I think many women and girls will generally be the ones that experiences this more because we are seen as the ‘nicer’ sex. Ew! Everybody knows that I am a deep thinker and I like to talk about those things. Yeah they find it weird but that’s just me. I mean I couldn’t watch It’s A Sin without any source of feeling just to give an example.

Something that I do notice with some people is if something that is taught to them, to a huge extent, you can instantly see it. For instance, I have friends who have this panic where they have keep on talking otherwise they worry that they’re not being social if they suddenly stop talking. To the point where there isn’t really a break. I honestly don’t know where that kind of energy comes from, sure I like to talk but even I need a break. There is a thing of not liking silence, to which I totally get. The amount of times where we would get told off if we let the conversation die down. You do feel like shouting at them ‘give us a minute!’. There are also people that I know where they usually get out what they want to say out of the bat, and then eventually they zone out when they’re finished. I can feel that because do I that too, especially when I get too excited. There are also times where I do feel like a legitimately can’t feel like I can contribute to conversations. So I tend to have moments where I will zone out when I need to. Family gatherings are the worst for me, not that I go to many. But when I do, those are the times where I do feel socially isolated. I certainly understand that can be seen as a bad attitude and you are right. I tend to avoid those that I don’t know and certainly know that I’m never going to see those people again. Those that know me well know that if I do go quiet, it isn’t because I don’t want to socialize. I mean I wouldn’t go if I didn’t want to. I do believe that this is something that needs to be taught better. Yes it’s important to learn how to have conversations. But it’s also to learn where a person’s boundaries and working around that so that they too can feel comftable.

If you’re someone who is not sure where the right balance is if you need to talk alot or not at all, that’s ok. We’re still figuring it out still. I mean giving how things are still, no one’s feeling the pressure to find things to talk about yet. But it will be something to talk about within the next ten years or so!

Just be you, Sarah x

And I’m 30!

So…it’s happened…it’s actually happened! The day that I have been dreading. The day that I think most people feel. And yet, four days into being thirty years old.

This is actually a real weird turn of events. Last year, it wasn’t considered that we would end up in where we are right now. I initially had a year to plan this day of what I wanted to do to celebrate. A massive party with all my friends and a possible holiday. Alas, that hasn’t happened. With the world where it is, the chance of even having plan was looking pretty slim. So many special occasions have been missed because of this time. In one way, it has been quite sad that I haven’t been able to do what I would do. At the same time, it took the pressure of trying to plan something unique because I have certain taste and so does everyone else, so it was hard to come up with something that could accommodate everyone is bloody hard. I made the decision not to plan anything given the time of year, everything is shut and no one is allowed to go to each others homes besides bubbles. It sucks balls, but it’s something I have to look forward to when it’s safe to do so. It’s one of the few little hopes that I have to keep thinking about just to get through this. Because I’ve been trying to focus to try and stay optimistic, turning this new age hasn’t been on my mind at all. I have been noticing recently that I am starting to look my age, even though everyone else doesn’t think that I am. It’s so funny, for years I have been wanting to look my age. I’ve looked the same since my late teens and I always get people asking me my age with surprise when I tell them. I try and see it as a compliment, but it only seems to be the only compliment I get!

Last year’s blogs concerning this topic, I made a little list of the things that would like to do before I get here. First was buying new sofas. So here’s the story. I bought some new ones on Valentine’s Day last year, somewhat of a birthday/V-day treat for myself. Was expecting them for another six weeks…then old Boris announces the first lockdown and my delivery was frozen. When everything was starting to ease, it was suggested in the email of redelivery that they have to leave them at the door. Not one to put down my own sex, but I am a woman living by themselves expecting to take two sofas up the stairs to the top floor. Ok, safety wise given how things were still uncertain, safety first. In the end, they were kind enough to take them up and given drill in the feet as I gave them space. We even had a conversation about Sheffield as the guy had came from there, and me living there for five years. Second on the list was a trip to Belfast…yeah that didn’t happen. We had worked out what we would have liked to have done when we went, as we would with any other trip. But it wasn’t meant to be for now. The third thing was to put my time into this blog. I always say that this every year that this blog is something I want to improve on. Writing has been difficult for me, usually it’s what helps me. But because we weren’t doing much, it seemed pointless to write. At one point I had to break because I just wasn’t in the mindset and also I struggled to find things to talk about, to the point of talking about things that I don’t many were prepared for. To which I do apologise if at any point I caused any stress. I am frustrated that it got to that and it was frustrating that I couldn’t bring some optimism during this time. Because I couldn’t find anything to talk about, there has been some distance on my part. Eventually when I did come back, I went back to do weekly blogs once I came back to make up for lost time. I haven’t done too bad I don’t think, even though my mindset has been all over the place. I certainly have alot more goals that I do want to achieve by the time I reach the next number. I definitely want to go to Belfast and I want to improve my home as I don’t think I’ll be moving anywhere else any time soon. I also want to make sure that I spend my thirties in a better place then I did in the previous decade. For years I hated myself, the way I looked, talked, how slow I am, and the worst of all I hated the fact that I am Autistic. There are times where I do have a right go at myself but I’ve gotten better at giving myself a break.

The day was actually pretty nice. Woke up quite early, excitement and all and had a watch of 90s X-Men, being a girl born in the 90s, this felt most appropriate. Mum picks me up, got ourselves a Maccies breakfast and she took me back to hers. She put up balloons and banners the night before and set up my presents. My heart pretty much melted. It was something I’d like to think Influencers would be jealous of! Opened up the presents, binged on Celebs Go Dating, had some birthday phone calls then takeaway for tea. It’s actually been the best that we could have ever made it. I will be having a proper celebration when it’s safe to do so but this was a nice starter. It was the best day of 2021 so far. I’m somewhat almost out of my seasonal depression that kicked in pretty much from New Years, and this certainly helped with my general mood. I really don’t know what my future is going to hold. What I will say is that I am much more comfortable with where I am then I was in my twenties. I suppose most people have felt like that anyway, this is somewhat of a real feeling for me. Here’s to the next decade!

Just be you, Sarah x

I miss snow!

This is pretty much a random post yet there’s something that I absolutely love is random moments of weather. Everyone knows about my excitement when I hear thunderstorms, and I find the sound of rain on the rooftops relaxing. But not everyone knows about my love for snow.

I live in a beach town so it is unlikely that we get snow, and when we do, it’s very minimal and it disappears towards the end of the day. I know most people would have good memories from when they were children is when they used to play in the snow. I don’t really recall having those memories given where I live. Probably more so when I went to my dads but again, snow was rare. I admit that snow is pretty annoying because it seems to effect almost every aspect on how our daily lives work. Especially when it freezes overnight. Trains stop running as the tracks are frozen, cars are slipping because the roads our frozen and unless we’re wearing the right shoes, we easily fall over. Those I don’t like. There was one time when it snowed at my school and all the kids had to get picked up. My mum had to get the train from Liverpool to where my school was. What she didn’t realise was how far the school was from the station. She had to walk up a steep hill which of course, the snow was up to her knees…so yeah pretty heavy. Eventually she got me but we then had walk down the hill again so I somewhat understood her struggle. I could have ended up staying in the school overnight by myself, and it seems even in an emergency, no staff was keen to do that shift. Can you imagine?! However, there is something so pleasingly stunning it actually look. I love how it sounds when you step into it, that crunch. Sensory wise it’s the most fascinating sound that it could make, because it’s essentially water so it doesn’t make sense. I can’t touch it though because I can’t stand touching anything that’s cold. So I have to put my gloves on to the full whenever there is ever a snowball fight.

Just talking to people recently has brought back some memories that do make me smile. When I lived in Sheffield, it would snow almost throughout January and then that’s about it. It was really cold there…and I mean COLD! My first year, we were living in a three floor house in Nether Edge and there was one week where it snowed pretty heavy. Because we lived on a hill, buses couldn’t there and no one could get into the college in the city centre. So me and my roommates were stuck in the house for almost a week. Some would say it’s the best week because not only was it a week off college, but we had a massive garden and had a blast building a snowman and making snow angels. Then one day, the house manager comes to me and my close friend and said ‘right, get yourselves out!’. She pretty much ordered us out of the house. I wish I was joking! We couldn’t get the bus down to the city, so we had to walk downhill. I’m pretty sure it took us about forty-five minutes just to get down there. We then decide to go to Meadowhall as the trams were still working, because we needed something to do. I think we pretty much went to our usual shops like HMV, Game, I may have even forced him to tag along Primarni with me! After I’d say about two/three hours, we decided to get ourselves knowing that it might take longer to get back. Once we got into the city again, it started snowing again and of course we’re walking uphill. I was so tired from trekking for most of the day my poor friend had to push to get through the hurdle of getting to the top at least. What made me laugh when we got back, a staff member asked us what we ate, to which we had KFC. He then says that we’re having southern chicken takeaway for tea, meaning that we had the same thing twice to which the staff member kinda teased us about. My mate just went ‘well how were we supposed to know?!’ It was very funny. That is one of the things I do miss about living in Sheffield, when I go pass the peaks on the train it does look to pretty. I am so tempted to stay for like a month just to see snow again. Not that I can afford to do that really but part of me would like to do that, it would certainly make somewhat of a change of scenery for abit.

The weather has been a strange one already. One week it rains every day then the next week it’s really nice. The other day my mum woke up and said to me ‘oh it snowed last night’ to which I was like ‘no it was hail stone’, she didn’t hear it. It certainly stops me from going as much as I want to. I don’t like hot weather either so I’ll be glad when we get to spring where we seem to have a happy medium these days. But I do absolutely miss snow so much. Perhaps a trip to Norway perhaps?

Just be you, Sarah x

What Media gets wrong about Autism?

You may have seen a few months back the trailer for Sia’s new album and film Music that’s set to be released this year and it has had a ton of backlash already. Whilst I cannot judge the film itself, it certainly raises the same problem that most media do when they use Autism in any related project and why I cannot feel comfortable about seeing it.

Most films and TV that I have seen, the spectrum is always used as a narrative. It’s rare to find stories about the person themselves, but it’s seems to be more about the other characters that are within that world. Whilst it is important to get an understanding in how it can be for those around it, it is so vital that we can at least the right representation for a character that is on the spectrum and their journey with it. For me personally, I don’t find myself in any source of media that does this. I realise that part of the issue is because it’s a spectrum, not everyone is the same. You want to find something or someone that you can fully relate to. We don’t always have the best people to look up to and I feel like that is part of not only our own growth, but also for them too. I found my heroes in women wrestlers, Amy Dumas aka Lita being the main person that I looked up to. She had that tomboy look, I was a tomboy and she was one of the few that made me feel ok to be who I am. Of course having someone to relate to in regards of someone being on the spectrum, there wasn’t anyone. I understand that production is only given so much time and research to make sure that it’s feels right. It’s not easy to find something or someone that you can identify with. But it’s always the time of the research and getting the right information which I find to be biased. If you have a targeted audience, you do have to take this so seriously and broaden your mindset, especially if you want to learn something from it. You could question that even I haven’t broaden my mindset enough to give these shows and films a chance. Perhaps you’re right. I suppose because I am one of a kind in a way which is why I don’t relate too much. Wow, big-headed much? I have watched documentaries sometimes which have served the right purpose, even sometimes they know how to fuel the drama so do speak. I can’t stand The Underdatables, because that show really milks their vulnerability in the dating world. Any reality based show I often cringe at because I know what’s coming. Like Love On The Spectrum on Netflix, I can’t bring myself to watch it. There are the odd documentaries that I will sometimes watch, even if somewhat biased.

I am very disappointed yet not surprised by Sia’s response in regards to the criticisms that this trailer has. I mean if you’re going to suggest that some Autistic actors are ‘bad actors’, you have certainly alienated your audience. In the world that we live in right now, there is an in-balance of what is constructive criticism and what is just plain right insults. I mean people might say that my blog isn’t for them because they can’t relate to it, that I get. Whereas if someone were to say that my blog was shit and didn’t give a reason why, to me that’s not acceptable. Of course you want to try and defend your project/work in the best light. With her, it was like she felt attacked. In this topic, it is such a grey area I do admit. On the one hand, you have to ask yourself ‘should non-Autistic actors play Autistic characters?’ But then the other question you should ask yourself ‘should Autistic actors play non-Autistic characters?’ You cannot take these questions lightly, and given how much time these projects get, they don’t make time to really ask themselves these questions. It’s really messy to mess around with our hope like these projects do. In this case, she pretty much insulted this because the idea of choosing an Autistic actor wasn’t considered, so yeah people are pissed. The one thing that is lacking in media is actors that are on the spectrum. Well, certainly ones that we don’t know about. There certainly weren’t anyone that I could look up to when I was growing up. People rightly just simply wanted asked her why she didn’t have an actor play the role. What was even more insulting is she went down the route of getting advice from Autism Speaks who aren’t true representatives for the community. I made the mistake of following them years ago not really knowing their background, honestly it’s scary. In regards to her, it’s such a real shame for me because I loved her music, but now I feel like I can’t listen to her because of her reaction. Listen, you can’t please everyone, but once you lose our trust, that is it. Trust me, I’ve been let down so many times in my life. This is another unfortunate let down for me personally.

I think that need more time and proper research to make any Autism related project right. I’m someone that likes to give the benefit of the doubt, in this case I’m not so sure. So here’s what I would propose. I would like to see more projects where all elements of creation is done by people on the spectrum. That’s what would be a real step forward and would be really authentic. I accept that might not happen for a long time, certainly in my lifetime but I am hopeful.

Just be you, Sarah x

My Experience in Mainstream Schools!

So I write about my time in specialist education but I have some experience in being in a mainstream environments, and if I were honest, I would rather forget.

Going to school is scary enough as it is. I’ve have previously expressed that I had come to the realization that I was better off being in a specialist environment for the majority of my life then I would have been otherwise. Whilst I do have a love/hate for it, I know I could have been in worse positions. One thing that is absolutely clear when being in a ‘normal’ environment, you feel do out of place. People will notice how different you are in how you work and how you behave. So there would be people that will use what they consider your weakness as a way to attack you. Mainstream schools, I believe, whilst they can try their best, they can never offer the support that we Autistics need. With some schools, it’s gives them a badge of honour for their reputation.

When I was about nine, I was sent to a nearby primary school once a week as I guess what you may consider a programme for someone like myself to experience what a normal school is like. It’s so funny, I don’t recall being told that I was even going, it probably happened but my memory is absolutely shocking as of late. I was just sent there along with a staff member, if that cannot make you feel alienated enough, although I liked her alot so it wasn’t so bad. I get the odd memory of being in a class of thirty children. I don’t know how anyone can even survive being in a room with so many people. It was always Maths aswell, which everyone knows is my worst subject! There were moments where some kids would be kind enough to help you out during session or they would let me join in games. I often underrate kids of that age sometimes. They can either be really nice or they can be just awful. I don’t remember if there was anyone that made fun of me or anything like that. I suppose that is a good thing, and it really shows how kinder children are then what they could potentially become. One thing that I did used to hate doing whilst I was there was the assemblies. Now given that it was a Christian school so you kinda had to respect their rules. But because I never went to church, I never learnt any of the traditional prayers. It was always the ‘oh heavenly father, lord be thy name’ that was the ending prayer. I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know it so I had to try and copy what everyone said as much as possible. Kids are very suspicious at that age, so I was terrified if I got it wrong, well…I’d be sent to hell. The worries of a child eh?

I was there until I was eleven. After that, the programme extended into a local secondary school. But this time I wasn’t going to go alone. That’s what was only thing that made me less anxious I think. It’s almost like having your own buddy to back you up whenever you need in case you were so out of place. In this world of secondary, it’s a place where you are trying to figure out who you are as a person. In some cases, you do end up potentially become someone that you might not even like, I know that from my own experience. So you end up dealing with people that were very easily curious about you. That could often feel intimidating. People knew who were, I mean we would only sit together and not with the other kids. Them lunches though. Our school is dead healthy whereas this place it was chips, pizza, pies, it’s no wonder Jamie Oliver was fighting to get healthy school meals. The only time I kinda enjoyed myself there was when we used to do Science. They had proper equipment which we could never have at our school. We would get paired up with their students and do little experiments. Now again, my knowledge of Science is basic, but it was fun to use stuff that not everyone at our school gets to use.

So what did this experiment prove? Well, that fact that I got to experience what it’s like to be in those environments. I often wonder if it’s why I am able to sympathize with most human beings. School is the roughest part of growing up. In my world, it’s literally like another world. So when entering ‘the real world’, it’s make or break. It’s not for everyone. When I ask friends that have experienced growing up in the normal environments, most of them would say it wasn’t a great experience. Given that this was a once a week thing for me, it was enough to know that I would have hated it if I went in full time. I guess that why when I was in mainstream college, I was so exhausted all the time. Can’t imagine how zonked every kid must feel everyday. Well, not at the moment anyway.

Just be you, Sarah x

My Zone Outs!

We have our own names when we have those moments when one’s registration and attention span just leaves the brain for a while. Sometimes we don’t always know why, but they happen. I’ve been having alot more recently, it’s my best friend but also my worst enemy.

Storytime. I’m at the gym this week, as always I’m in my gear. Sports bra, swimming costume, t-shirt and workout leggings, pretty standard. Each time I’m there I do the same thing, treadmill fast walking, cycle, cross-trainer and swim afterwards. Now here’s the thing, I know that I’ve had a good workout when I go in and out. The happy hormones kick in about half way which is a good sign, by the time I get towards the cardio I’m already tired, therefore my registration flies away and my attention span is non existent. So swimming usually helps me relax aswell as not falling asleep. One this day, the tiredness kicked in earlier then usual, my fault of course as I took a week off because…you know…Christmas! I get my towel out and I’m ready for my swim. I get in the pool and as I’m swimming along, I noticed that my top half was feeling quite snug. It was that moment that my registration and attention span came back into the room and I had realised that I had left my sports bra on. Now, I have to make the decision, do I go out and take it off and go back in, or just carry on. In the end, my saving grace was that I was wearing a costume that looked like what professional swimmers wear…in other words no chevage. So, I carried on. No one was going to notice, I’m in water so it’s not like they would. Internally I was going from killing myself with laughter to calling myself an idiot because this is so typical of me. It’s a good thing I’ve got a good sense of humor to find the funny side of it eh?

I have two names for these moments. Zone outs and brain farts. Zoning out is just the generalized reaction when I can feel my anxiety coming through or if I have a moment to myself just to breathe for a minute or two. The brain farts are where I am in mid-conversation and my brain just stops forming the next sentence, or I can’t figure out the right word to use for something. It’s certainly a moment where you would feel weak. The one pressure that has haunted me when I was at school is when you are told that you are being anti-social by not conversing properly. It does seem unfair to me to place that pressure on someone, that person might not want to talk. I can see why this was the motive, no one wants to be left out of what is an normal act of human communication. Something that I know alot of us is missing at the moment. But I find that there are days where I just don’t feel like talking. It’s so funny because when I see people I am talkative and will have something to say, but they get shocked when I’m at home, I am exhausted. Home is my safe space and my time to recover, so there are plenty of zone outs to have. But sometimes even I have learnt that too much time on my own, is not healthy for anyone.

I am my own worst critic. My brain likes to play games with me just like anybody else’s would. Because I zone out quite regularly, probably at least once a day the thought of ‘what are you doing with yourself?’ will pop up. I’ve gotten to the point where I will let that thought process happen, and as soon as I have a moment, I get myself onto something else, whether that would be a simple task or just by going to the gym, that thought is gone…well for short time at least. When I’m in company that isn’t used to my zone outs, they often panic because to them it looks as if something’s wrong. That can be annoying, I hate being asked ‘am I ok’ too many times, because I will get pissed off. I do have a resting bitch face so to them it looks like I’m not ok when I actually am. I do feel like I have to physically and emotionally relaxed at most times in order to get by, and zoning out is part of that. I suppose there is also that worry that I am offending somebody if I do zone out. At least I have people that know me too well to know that there’s no intension of being rude obviously. I know in the past I was always instructed to find different conversation starters, and once again that’s alot of pressure. Since this country has had many different versions of lockdown, zone outs have been frequent. I suppose this has been a way of coping, doesn’t sound great I admit. Especially since this has been going for so long, I’ve been in and out of moods. It’s kinda hard to talk about because I know there are many people around the world that are feeling the same. I am content with having these zone outs because I really need them in order to survive. It sounds really drastic, and probably not ideal. But I fully know that’s how I work.

I hope you all had a good new years. I can already feeling my seasonal affective depression kicking in some days at the moment but Ive been trying to keep myself distracted. We’ve still got a few stages to go but let’s attempt to make this year somewhat a little bit better.

Just be you, Sarah x

My 2020 Review & 200th Blog!

What can be said about this year alone that hasn’t already been said? Well, just like the year itself I am running out of original ideas.

Ever since I was born, I have been brought into a world that has forever adapted to almost anything. There’s the occasional setbacks of course, just like these lockdowns themselves. But I was always hopeful that because we are always adapting, it would come for the better. Honestly, I’m not sure that we’re even going to get there yet, if not ever now. I can’t speak for everywhere else, but certainly in the UK, because of the pandemic, it will take a long time for the country to recover. Some are luckier then others, I know I am in some respect. But I do feel for those that has lost more this year alone then ever. Families, jobs, income, food, the vital things have become so quick to lose. You wouldn’t think in the modern age this would still be a problem. Pandemic aside, again I was hopeful that the world would have been a little bit nicer for us Autistics. I have been noticing that there is a self-entitlement that is thrown around. Like ‘oh I should get this first because of this, this and this’. I hate that attitude so much. So it’s made me weary about how this would have been for those that need just a little more help. The government tried to make things easier, but it didn’t stop others to police each other. I mean we should be better then this. One thing for sure is that generally, it’s too late for my generation to be offered opportunities that we have a right to. That’s quite a bold statement, but even I have to be honest so that at least there can be people that will hopefully understand. Which is why for my generation, now is the time to make the most of it whilst we still can.

2020 was the biggest wake up call that I think the world has ever faced. The question now as we head into a new year, will this be acknowledged. This year has been a time of questioning where we stand on anything and everything that our minds and our hearts desire. I have always believed in happiness and love as the most important element that every human being needs. The harsh reality of that is that not every one will have this. It breaks my heart. What I’ve hated more then anything is when people say ‘well, what can we actually do?’. That was a battle that really got me down at one point. I felt so useless and angry. That was the reason why I have been trying to distance myself from social media and from blogging for a while. I was just so sad all the time and I didn’t really know how to do the blogs without expressing this in some way. Because the last thing I want to do is make the reader feel bad with my words. It wasn’t a breakdown, but it was certainly an element of being stuck. I guess that’s what this lockdown has done to alot of us, because we were somewhat instructed to stay home for so long it’s made us feel stuck. So the main task throughout this time is to get distracted as much as possible. For me in that regard, it’s mainly been binging on telly. There has been some great shows to keep us occupied. I May Destroy You, The Queen’s Gambit, Drag Race, Ratched, The Crown, and Normal People just to name a few have been the highlights for me personally. Although I’ve mainly been rewatching some of my favourites just to make me feel happy now and again. I know my mum was sick of hearing the theme of the Simpsons as I gave myself the challenge of watching all thirty seasons in a sitting. I mean it certainly took at least three months! I’ve only just now gotten to the point of missing being with people, not being able to make the usual plans. Having said that, because we’ve not been doing much, conversations will become minimal once we get back for sure.

There is one thing I am certainly proud of this year is to have reached my 200th blog. I mean, I could have done this sooner but I did take a break so I couldn’t reach it until now. Whilst not much has changed since the previous 100th, it’s certainly been a journey still. I guess it’s true when they say life is journey, and it doesn’t stop until you do. The one thing that I had made a decision on is to at least live a little more. I’m tired of trying to become the person that society wants me to be and to give myself a real chance of finding that happiness that I feel I deserve for me. I am becoming more comfortable with the person that I am, so much more then I was young. I was a dickhead when I was young, it took me a long time figure out who I should be. There have been plenty of versions of myself, some I never wish to go back to. I am frightened about where the next stage of my life is going to lead and what’s next for me. But it’s certainly something to write about at some point! I know this year has been slightly lacklustre in terms of the topics I’ve written this year alone. But we all know why that is.

Thank goodness we are out of 2020 and heading into 2021. Yes there’s still the last leg to go before we get back into a new form of reality. Now I’ve got to prepare myself for thirty, wish me luck!

Just be you, Sarah x

Christmas Memories!

We’re only days away from Christmas Day, this will feel different for most of us this year for the most obvious of reasons.

Christmas is always a weird time for me. One minute everything’s somewhat calm and collected, then coming closer to the festive days it gets very hectic. It shouldn’t be really because it’s always me and my sister, but even the slightest of stresses will always come along with the general excitement. For as long as I can remember, as a child of course it’s exciting. It’s only twice a year where you can get a huge amount of gifts, a birthday and Christmas to be exact. I never grasped the whole Santa Claus deal, I don’t think anyway. It is kinda of creepy to learn about a old man climbing down people’s chimneys only just to leave presents…but only if we were good during the year. Otherwise we get a sack of coal. You’d think that it’s something you see in a psychological horror. I think for most kids all the day was about was to get the presents anyway. I find it fascinating now that the world has been introduced to the story in a way that are alot more interactive. Those Elves on the Shelfs, Facetime with Santa, thousands of laplands, anything that makes Christmas more expensive some might say. I guess if I was still a kid, it would be something that I could never forget. I don’t think I ever really had that.

At school they would get us to do the usual activities to get us into the holiday mood. Drawing Santa and making up our own reindeers, that sort of thing. The earliest thing I can really remember was being Mary for the Nativity. It’s weird because there used to be a time where the Nativity was the only Christmas story that was only presented. Then schools had to clever because…I mean everyone knows the story. I do often wonder in the mind of someone else is this something that was ever acknowledged. I mean, we do these traditions, but I don’t think we ever really knew why. It’s just part of the growing up kid. I guess because why I never really grew up with it too much was because I didn’t come from a traditional family or a standard life like a previous generation would have. Am I being lazy? Maybe. But I think now because I am adult and have made the life decisions in regards to what I believe in, it’s never been something I was ever really concern. I’m definitely not religious, but I totally see how it helps people. We were never church goers or certainly had any religious input towards our usual Christmas day. December is always expensive for me, I guess that’s why I don’t get enthused by it anymore. It’s my sister’s and mum’s birthday a few days before and I always have a difficult time in finding something that they might like.

I technically had two sets of presents that get given to me. One from my mum and one from my dad. People would always say that I was lucky to get two sets of presents. Although I guess others might say that I was spoilt. I can’t really decide on where I feel like I should be. I would say I have spoilt this year, a weight blanket from John Lewis along with the new Crash Bandicoot game from mum and two hundred quid worth of vouchers from dad…ok I admit it I am spoilt! I haven’t been able to see him since February and I’m usually useless when it comes to figuring out what I want. Because usually if I want something I just get it myself. The day usually starts off opening presents as soon as everyone’s awake. Nowadays people just sleep in and we don’t have breakfast till like eleven. I do remember once when I was child, I just wanted to sleep. But my sister rushes in and shouts ‘come on Sarah, we need to open presents’. Needless to say, it took me a while. I do usually feel frustrated when waiting around, bloody hell I was so terrible when it comes to patience. In my mind it’s like ‘opening presents shouldn’t take so long!’ But of course I don’t want to come across as rude. I guess I haven’t quite adulted yet. Food is always an issue for me. I don’t like alot of meat so I always have turkey whilst others might have lamb. Plus days before the event I’m somewhat on a schedule so I like to stick to it, so I tend to eat on my own time with my own food just not to have the anxiety of working around everyone else. It’s very selfish of me I know, otherwise I would be miserable…and no one wants that. But generally it’s a good day, honest. Because I’m with people that know me best, and there’s always a conversation or two that keeps the vibe going. I suppose that’s the real tradition of this holiday, kinda like most holidays. It’s a way to get the people that hold the most together. I feel awful for those that are spending it apart this year. I can’t imagine what that must feel like.

I hope you have a good Christmas whatever you’re doing. I know this year has been a difficult one and this Christmas will certainly be a difficult one too. Maybe the next one will be better. Let’s get into 2021 already!

Just be you, Sarah x

Me & Exercise!

I’m so thankful that where I live is in Tier 2 right now as I am back in the gym. Although as we’re heading into Christmas, I’ll probably slack, eat food, only to motivate me to get back in hopefully. Unless the government decides to lockdown again! But exercise and I haven’t always been the best of friends!

For the longest time I was rarely enthused about doing any exercise outside of school. I suppose because of the fact that the journey and the days themselves were so long, all you want to at then end of the day is just crash on the sofa. I guess that’s why PE had to be introduced into the curriculum because when are you ever going to make the time, unless you are super fit. I used to enjoy playing football and cricket, we had teams at school and we went to the tournaments. Those were always the best days out, mainly because we’s usually win! I know, very big headed! I don’t think I could have done that outside of school. Mainly because there weren’t girls teams in my area at the time, I’m not sure if there is one still. Plus I actually hate watching football, mainly because of the taunting that the players use with one another and the majority of it is disgusting. I think I would be terrified to go against anyone that uses this. With cricket, as much I again loved playing it, I did play it because I wanted to please my dad. Otherwise I never really involved myself in any other club outside of school. I wasn’t really interested, I would rather get home and watch the Simpsons.

So once you’re out of school, you kind of had to make your own routine to make sure that you are at least some source of exercise. I find motivation very difficult to handle, specifically with this subject. I get zonked pretty easily and to find the right energy is not so simple. When I first lived in Sheffield, I started walking from where I was staying to college each morning as the days got warmer. That was the beginning of what I at first considered the exercise that I needed during the week. It is true what the say when you go for a walk, you do feel somewhat better. It really did for me, I mean it’s stressful enough as it is living somewhere new and sharing environments with people that have challenging behaviors. So not only was my form of exercise, but it was also a way to walk off my anxiety. I realise that doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, it’s what can work for you. Even though every year I was living in different areas, Sheffield has so many steep hilly type streets so this was something that I thought I’d get used to. Going to the doctors takes a hill to get to! That slowly but surely changed unfortunately. The stress of being in my final year of the specialist college I was in, going to mainstream college and living on my own in the city, I didn’t take proper care of myself. I did try going to the gym that was round the corner from me, but I was eating more. I’ve always been an emotional eater, this period of time was when I was at my worst physically. I was so ashamed that I got myself to that point, I genuinely didn’t know what to do. Eventually, my anger and exhaustion got the better of me for a while, so I quit the gym. I probably shouldn’t have done, but at college, almost everyday were 9-5 days, it just put me off.

Over a year ago I made a decision to go back to the gym. I have previously tried doing workouts at home but I cannot find the motivation within my own home. Given that I had more time since I had decided to depart from the theatre world, it gives me focusing for my mental wellbeing aswell as something to do to break the week. So the routine is to walk to the gym, treadmill, cycle, cross trainer and swim with the goal of completing within two hours, three times a week. I could never do it everyday, depending on your workout, I don’t think it works to exercise everyday. My body needs a rest before I can even consider going back too soon. I haven’t found the confidence to ask about doing some strength training yet, it is something I know I will need eventually but I am too shy to ask.

Just be you, Sarah x