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’ šŸ˜›

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 Iā€™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 donā€™t respond well to stimulants. But only 50% of people with ADHD feel their symptoms are less on this non-stimulant medicationā€¦sadly this medication didnā€™t seem to work either, I felt more anxious and my rejection sensitivity was even worse. Now I know everyone would say they donā€™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 isnā€™t personal like I canā€™t seem to convince myself that they donā€™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 wasnā€™t doing a good job and my work wasnā€™t valid and the academics didnā€™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 itā€™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 donā€™t write it down and then you canā€™t articulate what you have experienced because you canā€™t rememberā€¦

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 šŸ™‚

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 šŸ™‚

  1. Greece
  2. JapanĀ 
  3. SpainĀ 
  4. China
  5. AustraliaĀ 
  6. PortugalĀ 
  7. GermanyĀ 
  8. AustriaĀ 
  9. USAĀ 
  10. Canada
  11. Costa RicaĀ 
  12. ChileĀ 
  13. PeruĀ 
  14. ColombiaĀ 
  15. ScotlandĀ 
  16. EnglandĀ 
  17. Northern Ireland
  18. IrelandĀ 
  19. NorwayĀ 
  20. SwedenĀ 
  21. DenmarkĀ 
  22. VietnamĀ 
  23. MoroccoĀ 
  24. FranceĀ 
  25. BelgiumĀ 
  26. SwitzerlandĀ 
  27. NetherlandsĀ 
  28. FinlandĀ 
  29. CroatiaĀ 
  30. Italy
  31. Czech RepublicĀ 
  32. PolandĀ 
  33. RussiaĀ 
  34. IndiaĀ 
  35. Wales
Cerro Tocco, Atacama, Chile.

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

Lockdown Hobbies

Hobbies taken up during lockdown, and subsequently got bored of/given up on:

  1. Playing piano 
  2. Chin ups 
  3. Push ups 
  4. Punch bag workouts 
  5. Body combat workouts
  6. Mandala Drawing 
  7. Creative Writing 
  8. Chess 
  9. Knitting 
  10. Online dating 
  11. Meditation 
  12. Yoga
  13. Barre workouts 
  14. Dance workouts
  15. Free writing 
  16. Positive Wellness Journalling 
  17. Playing Sims 
  18. Playing Lemmings 
  19. Rowing
  20. Resistance band workouts  
  21. Cross stitch
me feat. cross stitch … I did this for about 2 hours before I got bored…

Hobbies Iā€™ve taken up/rediscovered during the lockdown and still going strong with : 

  1. Zwifting on the Turbo 
  2. Cycling with a club outdoors 
  3. Running by the sea 
  4. Poetry (writing and reading of)
  5. Reading fantasy/thriller/fiction
  6. Paddle Boarding 
  7. Swimming in pools/open water
  8. Bullet Journalling 
  9. Calligraphy
  10. Audiobooks to sleep 
  11. Embracing curly hair 
  12. Facial skin care routine 
  13. Paint by numbers 
  14. Fidget toys 
  15. Playing Two Dots 
  16. Playing Spider Solitaire 

Who have you spent the most time with over the past month, and how have these people affected your life?

Well, I haven’t done a morning journalling blogpost for a while… since Lockdown 1.0 actually and now we are in Lockdown 3.0. *sigh*

It sucks doesn’t it?

But I am very grateful that I am still able to work from home – where ‘home’ is still my childhood home in the Valleys with my parents.

They say you will become the people you spend the most time with and being locked down with my parents I am certainly spending ‘ALL’ my time with them…and no time with anyone else haha.

But I don’t think I mind at all.

If I am going to end up becoming like anyone, I am happy to become like them.

Because they are awesome.

Zwifting on m’turbo

So yes, I didn’t really answer the question in the last morning journalling blog post…sorry, I got distracted, I’ll try again.

This whole getting disctracted happens to me A LOT haha.

I go off on tangents or my brain finds something more interesting than the thing I am currently doing…the number of times I’ve been walking out of a room and walked into the door or wall because I am already thinking about the next thing I will be doing…but yes.

anyway, I need to focus on this question below!

How have you stretched your comfort zone in the past month (even slightly)?  What did you learn from this experience?  Whatā€™s one new comfort zone challenge youā€™d like to conquer?

Well the thing that springs to mind, with regards to being out of my comfort zone, it’s cycling long distances.

I did my first 100km ride on Zwift, which is a virtual cycling platform, a few weeks ago while in lockdown with my parents in Wales.

AND this Sunday, I made the jump of joining an ‘in real life’ cycling group and doing my first 97km ride with a group outside. It was so much fun, and if I hadn’t spent so much time on Zwift indoors getting my cycling fitness up I would never have had the courage to do the group ride.

But yes, now I am really excited about doing cycling in the week in doors and my long rides on Sunday, outdoors with a proper group of lovely people.

The cycling club I am hoping to join is called SGCC btw.

I’ll put some info below about turbo trainers and Zwift below just in case people are thinking of buying a turbo trainer to start their own cycling journey.

So, I have the Tacx flux S direct drive turbo it was Ā£599 online. Thereā€™s also a Wahoo trainer, thatā€™s about the same price and also direct drive. I mainly just got Tacx as it was the only one available, as alot of people were buying turbos 2 months ago when I got mine. Any cheaper than that and you are looking at the wheel on ones and they are apparently not as good for power accuracy etc but then they are like Ā£300 -Ā£400. My Dad has the Tacx Neo which is the high end one that the pros use thatā€™s Ā£1200. Thatā€™s super quick changing in erg mode and has road feel, and is less heavy and easier if you need to pack it away or transport it between two places regularly, which is what my Dad does.

So there isn’t a whole lot of difference that I notice between the two given I have used them both. With my Flux S it is super heavy, but that’s fine for me as the bike just stays set up, with the bike on it in my bedroo, also I am not worried about the road feel :). To join Zwift you need a computer/ipad to attach to it and there is a subscrition, it’s currently Ā£12.99 a month but I believe that price is meant to rise soon. Note for most of the direct drive turbos the bike you attach has to have at least 8 gears on the cassette, and you need to buy an extra cassette with the same number of gears to attach to your turbo.

Out of my Comfort Zone

Another ‘morning’ journalling inspired post…

How have you stretched your comfort zone in the past month (even slightly)? 

What did you learn from this experience? 

Well I guess I stretched my comfort zone by returning ‘home’ to Southampton for 2 weeks.

It’s funny, they say ‘home is where the heart is’ and at the moment my home isn’t in Southampton. I love my job, I find it very rewarding but at the moment in this covid world my job is not so rewarding…it’s the face-to-face interactions I live for in my job. It is seeing those questioning faces of the youngsters that fuels me.

I’ve been reading Scarlett Thomas’s World Quake novels (thoroughly recommend by the way). In those awesome books, specifically the second one, Effy (the heroine) almost runs out of her life force and gets a terrible affliction known as the Yearning. I think this is a good metaphor for how I feel now.

I feel low on life force at the moment; so going back to my ‘home’ in Southampton, my flat, with no garden, where I live alone… it has depleted my life force instead of topping it up.

The distraction of cooking my own food, decorating the spare room, doing my own laundry was not enough to calm my racing mind.

Anxiety stirred in me while I was there, my thoughts run a mock.

Even though I tried to meet with friends in the evenings there was two whole days where I didn’t speak to anyone in real life other than the dentist. I cycled to the common to sit in the sun and read a book but I was truly restless.

Somehow (well because of the global pandemic) my ‘home’ no longer feels like a home. It makes me feel restless and pointless. The pointless feelings are the most worrying; as that when I know depression is looming.

So after 2 weeks there I made the decision to come back to Wales to be with my parents and doggie siblings. I packed up my car last Friday and drove back.

Today it’s the following Saturday, and it’s terribly rainy weather (much worse than when I was in Southampton might I add) but I just went for a run on the beach and I’m now reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in the window seat, surrounded by dogs.

I feel so much calmer here and my mind is not racing so much.

Environment is so important, as I’ve learned from James Smith’s daily emails (again, thoroughly recommend you subscribe to these!)

I don’t yearn for the ‘old normal’ before Covid but I don’t yearn for this ‘new normal’ either… I think it’s impossible to do so to be honest. How can you yearn for a future that is totally unknown?

I am proud that I did get out of my lockdown comfort zone and return to my life in England. I am proud that I stayed there for two weeks on my own. But I am also proud that I was able to acknowledge that staying there any longer might have significantly impacted my mental health.

For now my home is where my heart is, in Wales, with my family; by the sea.