As you may or may not know, I among millions of other people have a mental illness. Technically, I have mental illnesses and a disability. I ‘suffer’ with quite bad generalized/social/attachment anxiety. I also have mild depression (although it doesn’t feel mild!), and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I was diagnosed with ASD when I was eleven and transferred to an autism specialized school/mainstream school, although you are born with it. I was diagnosed with anxiety around the same time, and depression was a diagnosis I have not actually received as most of my problems surrounding mental health are shrugged off and put down to autism – another post for another time.
I have not spoken about this yet on this blog, of course, as this blog is fairly new. However, last year, I tackled anxiety as well as I could. I started college in 2015 and my attendance dropped due to bad anxiety/depression but, throughout 2016, I managed to make friends in my class and actually start to go in almost everyday. I must praise the little things, like doing a presentation to a full group of people without the option of performing in front of my tutor only like I do now. Going to a town forty minutes away just to do some shopping, eat a meal by myself and actually order food by myself (God, that is always nerve wracking and makes me want to throw up!). Asking people for help.
My biggest achievement that year, though, was going to visit a friend (who I am no longer friends with after a personal fall out, I’ll write a post about the connection between autism and not being able to maintain friendship groups at a later date) in Cornwall. This required booking tickets for a fourteen hour journey and changing at stations several times. Sometimes, I would have to stay at a coach station for more than two hours. I got several things wrong, like getting on the wrong coach or almost missing the coach altogether and having to call them (if you have social anxiety, you’ll know exactly how draining and horrible that feeling is especially when everyone stares at you), but I did it and I’m proud of it. Not to mention I was meeting this friend for the first time ever. I actually saw this friend three times last year – once in February, and twice in June/July.
Now, this year may have only been a month long, but it hasn’t looked amazing. I’ve somehow lacked capabilities of how to do things on my own has my anxiety slowly got worse. I can no longer order food. Instead, I have to write down on a piece of paper what I want. Luckily, the staff very rarely ever find this a weird thing to do so I’m not looked at strangely, thank goodness. I can’t order train tickets on my own, although I think I can do that train journey on my own still, but I haven’t tried. I recently had to do a presentation and almost cried, I just froze up and was so frightened no words came out. Luckily, I have a boyfriend who is supportive of me and tries to raise me up when I feel low, and I feel encouraged to try and be better for both my sake and his.
So, I have a CBT book that I intend just to read a chapter from here and there and I also have one for anxiety after that. I have heard nothing but great things about CBT so I’m excited to finally get started.
There’s a lot of things I have neglected to do, too, and especially since I lost the friends I had last year it’s even harder to find myself getting out the house for any other reason than college and seeing my boyfriend. Isolating myself from the things that scare me like this can make me feel worse.
I was trying to learn how to play keyboard. I used to read at least more than one book a week. I loved to just sit and listen to music. I liked to learn how to draw and to scrapbook. I liked to creative write and journal, as well as decorate that journal. I liked to blog and I don’t do that as much as I’d like to. I used to be quite an active user of Pokemon Go throughout the summer and some of the early winter last year, because it helped get me out the house even if it was at midnight, but I have since been too much of a wreck to get out of the house. I’d like to pick up all of these things next month and see if I improve.
I was also seeing a counselor since mid-December, but she wasn’t working for me and she admits that I was a different case that she hadn’t done before so her lack of experience might have tainted our meetings. I hope to find more people out there who can support me as a woman with autism, yes, but also a woman as herself without the autism with her own problems and needs too.
I’ll let you know how next month goes. Until then, see you soon. Lorna.