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 !*

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 I’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 

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.

There’s a tremendous amount to risk to playing it safe.

so, another morning journalling attempt…

Over the past month, what have your actions been silently saying about your priorities?

Well we are in lockdown so the past month I have had a lot of my actions enforced upon me by the law!

But, I guess my actions have shown I do have new priorities indeed…

I’m just going to list some of the changes/new priorities here ‘cos I am a scientist and ADHD and deal better with listing things haha, also it’s really bloody hot today and I am having trouble putting my thoughts in order:

  1. I’ve realised for me EXERCISE of some kind every day is very important for my mind and body. I have to do it to stay sane and happy. Even if it is just 2km on the rower or 4 laps of the field next to my parents house. I’m trying to just go running without being super dedicated to a certain distance. I’ve found when I am just running for the love of running and being grateful for what my body can do I actually go further and faster than when I put the pressure of distance on myself. I also get less injures.
  2. READING. Omg so chill time with a book and noise cancelling headphones has been so important. It’s amazing to escape and it forces me to not look at my phone so much which is always a good thing. I now recognise I need to make time to read everyday, even if its an audiobook (which is possibly cheating). It’s so healing and reading really does take you to new places and allow you to live different lives…and travel…omg I miss travelling :./!
  3. SHOPPING. I’ve realised all the things I actually need (toiletries, books, stationary -not food lol) I can buy online and I can buy them from local/small businesses. I don’t need to go to big shopping centers; where I will undoubtedly get stressed and anxious about all the people and overwhelmed by all the items and end up wasting my money on shit I don’t need. AND you can put adblockers on your browser so that’s amazing if you are like me and easily led by ads…and we don’t yet have the technology to block me from seeing end of aisle offers; it’s all too much.
  4. LEARNING a language…I’m still really enjoying taking time each day to do my Spanish learning, even if it’s just a quick Duolingo lesson on my phone. This is something totally different to my work so hopefully it keeps my brain going and expands my mind. Also, it’s nice for me to think that when we can actually travel I can go to a Spanish speaking country and talk to the locals innit. Hola!
  5. I’ve prioritised time OUTSIDE on my own in the NATURE too; I guess lockdown has made me realise how important this is…

I’ll finish this post with this quote I just stole from one of James Smith‘s daily emails…(I thoroughly recommend you subscribe to them!)

Anyway his email today was about being happy and not striving for a life that doesn’t actually make you happy just because you think that’s what you should be doing; and I really needed to hear that today.

Realize that sleeping on a futon when you’re 30 is not the worst thing. You know what’s worse, sleeping in a king bed next to a wife you’re not really in love with but for some reason you married, and you got a couple kids, and you got a job you hate. You’ll be laying there fantasizing about sleeping on a futon. There’s no risk when you go after a dream. There’s a tremendous amount to risk to playing it safe.

Bill Burr
Oh to be at a festival right now!

What’s something you’ve let go that once meant the world to you?

And, what’s something you love today that you never even knew you needed in your life?

This is another morning journaling attempt.

It’s a Saturday, week who knows of Lockdown. Here in Wales we still aren’t supposed to go more than 5 miles from your home.

I’ve had to force myself to have a rest day because I keep getting calf injuries from too much HIIT workouts (specifically squat jumps and burpees) and then trying to compete with people who run faster than me on Strava.

I think with my ADHD (undiagnosed) I always want to be on the go and doing stuff. Even writing this blog post right now is a compromise…I was supposed to be just sat here having an analogue day. No screens at all…(kindle doesn’t count!) but here I am anyway…

I just finished reading Superior by Angela Saini (I have first edition signed copy from where she did a book launch as part of the ‘Why not a Doc’ podcast at the RI) and then I started reading Girl, Women, Other by Bernardine Evaristo on my Kindle (reading it in a book club, with one other friend lol).

So here I am; perhaps these great writers have inspired me. I want to be like them; to write.

And at least if I’m here on the sofa on the laptop, as opposed to in the dinning room, which is the designated work space, then it’s ok.

I’m trying to think of things I’ve let go of…to adhere to the rules and point of the journal prompt heading for this blog post.

The truth is I have trouble letting go, in general. Haha.

My ex who broke my heart; I’ve mostly let that go, but probably not fully if I am honest with myself. I have let go of the anger though; I think I forgive him and I know I am better off. So, I guess in a sense I have let go of the life I thought I would have with him. It still bloody hurts some times, but I think that’s just the betrayal and the shock and fact I was so wrong about him. It hurts a lot less and I think about it in a much more fleeting and less consumed way than I used to, even compared to like 6 months ago. So that’s very positive.

I guess I have fully grieved for that life and I do genuinely feel excited about what this ‘new life’ has to hold.

So that’s the first part of the journal prompt done!

The something I love that I didn’t expect to love has to be my parents dogs!

Bili, Milo and Stella.

I wasn’t brought up with pets because of my asthma and my parents (especially my Mam) for most of my life has actively disliked dogs and their owners sometimes lol.

But then it all changed when she started to look after my sister in law’s dog. She used to cry when he would go back home. She did a full 180 on dogs…and now my parents have 3!

Bili was the first; he’s a Cavachon. I truly love him (and he is my favourite) …I didn’t realise I could love a dog so much, but I do.

When I had that bad break up which happened just before Christmas. When I came home to my parents he started sleeping in my bed instead of in with them. And he even slept next to me in the bed with head on the pillow like a little human. He cwtched into me as I cried. It was like he knew how much I needed him…

Now I consider him to be one of my bestest friends. As cheesy as that is.

Dogs. They give you unconditional love. And it’s impossible not to love how they react when you come through the door. Their excitement at seeing you.

How they force you to relax by snuggling up beside you and going to sleep on the sofa.

How they roll over in front of your when you are walking about the house and want a belly rub.

How they put their ball on the floor in front of you and look up with those loving eyes. And you have to throw the ball.

They have truly thawed my icy heart lol.

I really love them and they have made this whole lockdown thing berable.

These dogs have honestly been better than therapy for me.

I just wish I could take them back to England with me. But then I could not give them such an amazing life…