What is one privilege you have that you often take for granted?

I am really not doing too well keeping up with these journalling posts but I was recently reminded that I have this blog and I do miss writing and getting my thoughts out of my head. So, in answer to the journal prompt above one privilege that comes to mind is getting prescriptions on the NHS.

Recently my ADHD medication has become out of stock across the whole of the UK – this is a real bummer because I tried 3 different stimulant medications and this was the 2nd non-stimulant I tried that didn’t actually make my symptoms worse. It was really worrying when my pharmacy told me they could only give me 12 tablets instead of my usual pack of 60 (which would last me a month). It is so scary when you rely on medication to keep your mental health stable and then are just told you should start weening yourself off them. It was coming up to the Christmas break and the weather was grey and depressing and the thought of my anxiety and RSD getting bad again was obviously not good for the mental health. Luckily after I rang around 20 different local pharmacies I was able to find a full box of 60 in a very small, independent pharmacy. So I am very privileged firstly in that I have time around doing my job where I was able to sit and just ring around and that when I found a box of meds I could just leave work early and go jump on my bike and go get them and it only cost me £9.35 (in England we pay but prescriptions are actually free in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Meanwhile, my GP had informed my psychiatrist (who is also paid for by the NHS) that my meds were no longer available and as soon as she received the email she contacted me to arrange a zoom call. I was able to speak to my psychiatrist that day and she has prescribed me some new non-stimulant medication. I do feel a bit apprehensive about these new meds – what if they don’t work as well as the one I am currently on ? But again I am very privileged that I have another call with her booked in for mid-January to check how I am feeling on these new meds.

Fingers crossed.

Choosing myself

Yes, these journal prompts are getting more and more cheesy. I am on day 15.

Well, one example of where I am choosing myself is that today I signed up to be part of a research project to help adults with ADHD with self compassion. It does sound rather cheesy I know, but I am willing to try anything in my efforts to stop giving myself such a hard time.

I have to do journal posts, meditation and other stuff as part of the study for 3 weeks and my data will be used by a PhD student. I feel it’s my duty to help them PhD students out because my gosh PhDs are hard!

All my previous attempts at doing meditation so far have failed, I can’t even do it for 10 consecutive days using the Headspace free trail thing… so we will see, and doing journal posts here hasn’t gone that well given I am on day 15 of the ‘daily’ journalling prompts after starting it during the first lockdown.

Anyway, I’ll keep you updated if I have any helpful experiences as part of this research project which help me to ‘choose myself’ 😛

Misjudged

well here it goes with another ‘journal prompt’ this one is supposed to be about a time someone has misjudged me. To be honest I can’t think of any examples, probably because I havent had much interaction with actual people for any extended period of time in the last 2 years, other than my parents of course.

I guess where I do feel misjudged is with dating…I know I am cynical now with regards to dating. I am almost so used to being on my own and hanging out with myself and having my own time it feels like trying to fit my life around someone else is almost not comprehend-able. Sure there are times I get lonely and download dating apps and have an optimistic view that the right person, the one who will add more to my life and challenge me and make me believe in love for me is out there, but honestly it’s just so much effort and requires so much energy and I just find it so hard to even get to the point where I want to go on a date with the person. I get bored so easily chatting on the apps and I know that’s the ADHD and I know I need to make more effort because no one is going to take the time for me while I am giving off these uninspired nonchalant vibes. But, I have no idea how to change up my thinking. It’s all or nothing. I am either hyper fixated on them and get totally carried away or I don’t even remember they exist…

Anyway I’ve gone off track; surprise surprise.

I guess where I feel misjudged is in the fact that if you are single or on dating sites people think you are desperate to be in a couple and this goes especially for the people that you are on the date with.

The reality for me is that this person would need to be absolutely amazing for me to consider a second date, I need instant chemistry. Now they are competing with the life I have now, the life where I don’t have to worry about what some one else wants and needs, I can do whatever the hell I like (within reason of course). So sure sometimes this ‘single life’ is a bit lonely but it’s also pretty amazing in the sense that I don’t need to rely on anyone else for my happiness.

Now I accept its very possible that previous relationships have messed me up in the sense that I now feel quite anxious about the idea of being in a relationship because I know because of my personality and my ADHD I am an easy target for being controlled and coerced. It’s happened before and I just cant have that happen again, life is too short for that shit.

So yes, I feel misjudged by what people assume.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope on some level the right person is out there, but just because I might be on a dating site it doesn’t mean I am desperate to be in a relationship. Most of the time I actually feel that I am desperate to not be in a relationship, I guess this is why I delete them so often; but yes generally the idea of being in a relationship makes me feel anxious because I now associate romantic relationships with the imagery of having a dementor sucking the joyful life out of me and leaving me as a shell.

My My that got dark and I don’t really want to end this blog post on such a negative image haha. I am aware how sad and cynical I have become with regards romantic relationships for myself but what I will say is even though I feel like that (and these feelings are based on my lived experience so I can’t really change them) I know lots of couples in amazing loving relationships so I know they can exist and there is hope.

But, if like me you don’t have the energy to chat to people on dating sites and just go on them because society makes you feel like you need to be in a couple then I hear you!

There is definitely something powerful in being in a relationship with yourself. It is cheesy and cliche but love yourself; take yourself out on dates and then at that point when you aren’t looking for them that special person will just appear (at least that is what ‘they’ say and I hope ‘they’ are right).

Taking it personally

Well it’s been a while since I have ‘blogged’ but here goes…

I think we are all suffering from the fatigue of this pandemic. I am just so tired and bored of it all and we’ve all gone through this shared trauma but hopefully the end is in sight, I know we have been here before but I am trying to stay positive here!

But yeah I guess I have missed writing this blog, just not been inspired/too tired cos 2021 was crap – lots of shit stuff happened in 2021 but there was some positives so I will try to reflect on both the bad and the good. By the way, I named this post ‘Taking it personally’ because of the day 13 journal prompt I started working through at the start of this pandemic…I haven’t really done very well given I am only on day 13 haha.

I do take everything personally, even when I know I shouldn’t – even when I know the thing I’m taking personally has nothing to do with me as a person. Nothing to do with anything I have done. I am incredibly quick to assume people hate me or don’t like me or think I am useless, it doesn’t take much to tip me over into crippling anxiety and over thinking. I’ve always thought I was just over sensitive, and I am over sensitive yes and over emotional etc but at least now I know this is to do with the ADHD and the rejection sensitivity disorder (RSD) that a lot of people with ADHD endure and there are positives to having lots of ‘feelings’; it means you feel the good stuff really deeply too and not just the bad stuff, so there’s that.

Anyway, yes, 2021 what a pile of pooh that was; I had 2 chest infections, a surgery to remove an ovarian cyst and endometriosis (the surgeon had to leave half of the endo even though she operated on me for 3 hours so it still gives me jip and there is no cure -yay). Also got a combined type ADHD diagnosis (took 4 different medication trials to find one that didn’t make my symptoms worse), then I got Covid ( I think I got the Delta variant – go team Delta!), then I injured myself and ended up with a gluteal tedinopathy (no idea how I did this – probably just being an awkward, clumsy, ADHD person who doesn’t look where they are going, but because of the ADHD I found doing the physio exercises incredibly boring so didn’t do them for as long as I should and therefore I haven’t been able to run on it in months) and then I had a sinus infection in December to finish the year off (I really don’t know how there can be so much snot in my head, but there was enough for me to get a sore on my face from blowing my nose so much and now I think that has scarred-nice).

So yes, all that was totally shit but I did get to spend loads of time with my parents again and my lovely doggie siblings and they are rather good company/hilarity often ensues.

I also made it to Iceland for 3 weeks in August and met some awesome solo travellers and made new friends for life. Iceland was absolutely amazing, stunning, spectacular, the scenery and the people I met were just splendid and I was soo so grateful to finally be adventuring again after 2 years in England/Wales feeling like I was being caged-literally unable to fly.

Hiking in the Highlands in Iceland got me thinking about what I think my dream job would be. It really inspired me and I think ‘the dream’ is basically to be a tour guide somewhere spectacular like Iceland or South America and take tourists on long, several day hikes and talk with them about astronomy/aurora in the evenings.

When I am hiking it’s when I feel most alive and free. I feel so blessed that I had those few weeks last year where I could feel like myself and be reminded about all the awesomeness of the world and things I had taken for granted like being able to hop on a plane and experience a new country and a new culture, be an adventurer on a solo mission and just have a conversation with a stranger.

I won’t lie it was really stressful at the beginning and end of my trip to Iceland doing the PCR tests in England 72 hours before hoping they would be negative so I wouldn’t lose thousands of pounds, and then the rules changed while I was out there and I had to get a lateral flow there and I had a flight booked really early in the morning so was freaking about about when I would fit it in. This was all a lot of extra cost as well as being stressful. It meant I lost at least one day of my trip stressing trying to find a test centre in Reykjavik. I was gutted that I had to cancel my snorkelling trip between two tectonic plates to take a covid test that took 3 minutes (but I guess that is definitely #firstworldproblems).

Finally, another major highlight was getting to finally go to see live music, I went to the ‘Rhythm of the 90s’ gig with my good friend in Brighton at the beginning of December. This gig had been postponed 4 times and I was meant to be going in May 2020 to celebrate my friend finishing her Masters. We finally got to go and dance and sing to 90s tunes with glow sticks and bucket hats and it was just THE BEST.

Medication Adventure

Thought I’d write some words pondering on my experiences with ADHD medication since I was diagnosed this April. 80% of people with ADHD respond well to stimulant medication and caffeine actually makes their symptoms lessen; it makes them calmer and more focused. Unfortunately, as I have always felt more anxious and hyper as a result of caffeine I suspected I would be part of the 20% of people for which stimulants do not work, and I was right. 

After trying two different stimulant meds and experiencing my symptoms actually worsen; along with experiencing high blood pressure, I was then put on a non-stimulant widely used for people with ADHD who don’t respond well to stimulants. But only 50% of people with ADHD feel their symptoms are less on this non-stimulant medication…sadly this medication didn’t seem to work either, I felt more anxious and my rejection sensitivity was even worse. Now I know everyone would say they don’t like rejection but my response to anything that I interpret as rejection is really quite extreme and I always take it personally, even when I know it isn’t personal like I can’t seem to convince myself that they don’t think I am pointless as a human being and I massively catastrophise the situation. For example I got asked to give a 10minute talk on my work and then the next day got told they could no longer fit me in the schedule. This I saw as a personal rejection and I ended up walking in the common area by work for 2 hours crying, escalating this situation in my head that I wasn’t doing a good job and my work wasn’t valid and the academics didn’t care about any of it and my house job was pointless. When this happens the only way I can snap out of it is that I literally run out of energy from all the crying and anger, and then it’s just like I am stuck in an ADHD paralysis for hours. 

Anyway, my psychiatrist had one more medication she wanted to try me on. This one is actually not widely used for ADHD but there is some research in the USA that it can help with ADHD symptoms. These meds are actually used in the UK for people suffering from SAD and/or trying to give up smoking. But yes, I am so happy cos they seem to work – I still struggle with my racing brain and I find it hard to focus on tasks in work but overall I feel calmer and more able to handle rejection and not escalate it and take it personally. So yeah, the point of this post is that it took 7 months to find a medication that actually helped me. Everyone is different; but if you have a diagnosis and you are trialling meds then stick with it. I found it really handy to document how I was feeling on the meds each day in a note on my phone. Then I could feed back all that I had experienced to the psychiatrist when I spoke to them- because as is typical with ADHD you forget stuff if you don’t write it down and then you can’t articulate what you have experienced because you can’t remember…

Meaningful Life

I haven’t done a blog post for ages and I am really feeling at a loose end today. I was supposed to be doing a sprint triathlon this morning but ever since I got back from Iceland at the end of August I’ve had this horrendous cold/chest infection that doesn’t seem to want to go away. So I couldn’t do that or the 10k race I was meant to do last Sunday. Sad.

I am so reliant on the endorphins from exercise to help keep the ADHD at bay and make me calmer and more able to focus. But yes it’s been tough. I hate resting and it feels like torture to not even be able to cycle the 2.6km into work…Also, being active is just such a big part of my identity, cycling, swimming, running like without that in my calendar there is a lot of time left over and then I spend too much time in my head. It’s not good.

Anyway, I’ll try focus and do this morning prompt, even though its 5.22pm…

What kinds of physical clutter have been complicating your life and diverting you from meaningful life experiences?

Well I had a really meaningful life experience in Iceland for the 17 days I was there it was absolutely amazing, and so needed after all the trauma of living through this pandemic. But yeah tbh I am very visual so I don’t like clutter in my line of sight, so I wouldn’t say that physical clutter makes my life more complicated! It feels pretty complicated yes, but I don’t think it’s because of clutter. haha.

Don’t get me wrong I have A LOT of stuff …Some people who come to my flat would certainly think it is cluttered. But I don’t and that’s all that matters, I like to be able to see things that job memories of meaningful life experiences I have had.

However, I guess I should do a ‘Marie Kondo’ at some point actually, but because a lot of my stuff is out of sight I don’t have the inspiration to get rid of it just yet, I always think it ‘might’ come in handy at some point, but yes, does all this stuff ‘spark joy’, probably it doesn’t – but out of sight, out of mind.

I am actually going to clothes swaps now and second hand shops to get clothes- I started doing that this year instead of buying new clothes. I just realised that ‘fast fashion’ isn’t sustainable and given the sheer amount of clothes I currently own it seems silly to buy any more…I should probably start just sharing my dresses and dressy tops with people because I have that many and very few events in the diary where I would be able to wear them 🙂

I think there is a new Marie Kondo series on Netflix thinking about it and perhaps I should watch that and sort my clothes out, given I am at such a loose end …

What is one privilege you have that you often take for granted?

It’s been a while, so I thought I would do a morning journalling post (I am on day 11 of the prompts from this site)… I am just waiting for the banana pancakes my Dad made for me, to go down before I go on a run on the beach so this seems like a good a time as any 🙂

Well, I have a lot of privileges that I take for granted I am sure.

I guess one is the fact I have a job that provided me with a laptop, a laptop that I am writing this post on from my parents house by the sea in Wales. I can therefore work from anywhere which had been very useful through these lockdowns and doctors appointments in Wales.

Even though I have had to come back to Wales to have follow up appointments and MRI following the endometriosis surgery last month, and it’s not ideal having to keep leaving my ‘life’ in Southampton to come back and for – I am very privileged to not only have a GP in Southampton that I can access through the NHS but also a specialist in gynaecology in Wales that I can access through my private health insurance. These are both two, MASSIVE privileges. I have been able to access a psychiatrist through the NHS and get medication for ADHD in Southampton for free. Yes there was a waiting list – but still it’s amazing. And I am super privileged that I am going to be having an MRI next week to see inside my body and see where the rest of the endo is and if I need another surgery.

And all that aside I am privileged to be able-bodied…the fact I can just put my trainers on in a minute and run out the door – that’s amazing and I feel lucky and oh so privileged.

*Throughout this post I have realised I do not know how to spell ‘priveledge’ – that is not correct as it gets underlined with the red dashes – hopefully I will remember its 2 i’s and just the one e and no d- not all e’s !*

Countries I’ve travelled to…

My friend asked me yesterday how many countries I have actually been to; I didn’t know, so I made this list, and now I do. I am looking forward to when I can start adding to this list again 🙂

  1. Greece
  2. Japan 
  3. Spain 
  4. China
  5. Australia 
  6. Portugal 
  7. Germany 
  8. Austria 
  9. USA 
  10. Canada
  11. Costa Rica 
  12. Chile 
  13. Peru 
  14. Colombia 
  15. Scotland 
  16. England 
  17. Northern Ireland
  18. Ireland 
  19. Norway 
  20. Sweden 
  21. Denmark 
  22. Vietnam 
  23. Morocco 
  24. France 
  25. Belgium 
  26. Switzerland 
  27. Netherlands 
  28. Finland 
  29. Croatia 
  30. Italy
  31. Czech Republic 
  32. Poland 
  33. Russia 
  34. India 
  35. Wales
Cerro Tocco, Atacama, Chile.

and yes, I am counting Wales (‘cos it’s a country and I have been there) 😛

My Supernova Love

In the cold control room, blackout blinds are down.

Starting the observation, checking co-ordinates now.

Our first light curve, from the NT Telescope loads.

Screen showing Type 1a, a white dwarf’s dying throws.

My very first Supernova, light captured, successfully shown.

I am here to help, to research.

But also, to run away…

far from; the memories

of us together, him and me.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

Last Christmas he left, walked out, cheated.

So here I am this Christmas, can’t allow the cold.

How to get past the rejection; left me, for her.

Far away South America, I escape to find the warm.

Sunny days, nights observing Supernova, stars that can’t go on.

Stars from which, everything is born.

Everywhere, you are, this mountain,

here in Chile; new love.

Still, my heart mourns.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

My Supernova who are you, new life from just a star?

Zooming in a whole Universe, millions billions to see.

Unlocking the meaning of each emission, what can it be?

Trying to work out which source is yours, first we can’t be sure.

Run the code, check mass limit, observing your ionising core.

Neutrinos settling, mass condensing.

Every single being, born in you,

every atom; in my blood.

You are already, in my bones.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

Cold and grey England, empty house awaits me there.

On screen we’ve found you, a star once glowing bright.

Your curve is turning downwards, more throughout the night.

Sat here searching waiting, measuring spectra faded light.

Lines converging, super heating core, but why am I so cold?

Life emerging, Supernova you made it all.

Elements, you created, oxygen carbon gold,

you are; in everything.

Still, you are not home.  

He left, yet still it’s him. He is

my Supernova Love.

You were supposed to #followme – my supernova love

This is the final poem I wrote for the poetic science event. This poem was in response to the concept of using the language of my science to write a love poem. I went kinda deep into my heart for this one, and to be honest reading it back makes me quite sad, especially since this is about a relationship which ended four years ago.

I guess it just takes as long as it takes.

Penguinology. Part 2

This is my third creative writing assignment where I had to write an opening to my Penguinologist story idea from a first and third person view point. Each opening could only be a maximum of 300 words.

First person style:

It’s about time! I thought to myself. It was a Sunday morning; I’d just sat down in my office chair with a black coffee and opened up my emails. I always work on Sundays. I have an email from Dr Andrew Moore at Natural Environment Research Council. He’s a bit of an asshole but I’m glad to get this email from him as he’s finally informed me that I get to go back to the Antarctica research base at the Brunt Ice Shelf in July to do my field work. I’ve done field work there before but I was always there as part of someone else’s research, and it was only ever been for a maximum of three weeks. Now I have been awarded funding to do six weeks purely in my own field of research, bliss! Hopefully, the other scientists who are at the base will stay out of my way and leave me alone to do my important work observing the Male Emperor Penguins.

I’ve been a Penguinlogist for over nine years now. Most of my academic career has been in Oxbridge; PhD in Biology at Cambridge University and a two-year Post Doc at the Department of Zoology at Oxbridge, but now, disappointedly, I’m based at the University of Southampton. This city has about as much culture as a nat! The National Oceanography Centre has a good reputation, but not for Penguins. So, this has meant it’s been harder these last two years in Southampton for me to get my research funded. At least I have Matt, he was at Oxbridge too, but is now stuck in this dump with me, begging for scraps from the British Antarctic Survey. He’s going to be so jealous when I tell him I’m going to Antarctica; bet he would have loved six weeks away from his boring wife Julia.

Third person style:

Dr Tom Hodges is at his happiest when he is observing penguins. Some say he’s obsessed with them; he’s regularly in his office hyper focused on trying to understand their behaviour. As Tom sits on a small prop plane, destination Antarctica, his mind wanders thinking about the male emperor penguin; he’s specifically interested in doing more work on his hypothesis that the males exhibit psychopathic tendencies. He’s observed that some of the penguins suddenly kill their own babies and eat them; and others seem to kill fellow penguins without being provoked. Tom is eager to collect more evidence of the penguin’s behaviour on this expedition.

Tom doesn’t want to wrongly diagnose these penguins as ‘psychopaths’, he actually hates the term ‘psychopath’, especially after several unqualified people throughout his life have told him that he, Tom is a psychopath. He, of course, disagrees.

Tom’s father left when he was just 10 years old, Tom’s mother Sandra took out her heartbreak on Tom. By the time Tom was 11 he was obsessed with the idea that his mother wished he was dead, and he thought she would try to poison his meals. She wouldn’t let him go out after school and play with children of his age, this resulted in Tom inventing an imaginary friend. Only it wasn’t a human friend that he had ‘imaginary’ conversations with, it was a Penguin called Jonny. Soon Tom and Jonny were getting into a lot of trouble in school. Tom was often accused of biting other children or hitting them with a ruler if he didn’t get his way, and he would just blame Jonny, the Penguin. One of Tom’s teachers suggested he be referred to a psychiatrist. Sandra hated Doctors of any kind, especially because her lying, cheating ex- husband had been a Doctor (not a medical Doctor, but still!); but the sessions were offered for free and the clinic was in walking distance from her house so she let Tom go. After having three, hour long sessions with Tom, Dr Lisa James diagnosed him with Autism and a suspected borderline personality disorder. Dr James then met with Sandra alone to explain to her diagnosis. She made the suggestion of medication and told Sandra that he should be placed in a school for children with special needs. While in the office, Sandra nodded and said all the right things to the Dr, she even took the prescription off her. But as soon as she was out in the street Sandra ripped up the script and exclaimed ‘What a load of rubbish! I hate Doctors!’. Tom never did find out his diagnosis.

Which opening do you prefer?