Things that spark joy

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Hello everyone 👋🏻 I made a new year’s resolution to draw more for my 21andsensory blog/social media. And here I am attempting to get into it more. I realise this drawing is 100% making use of @mariekondo tidying method of ‘does it spark joy?’ but I think this can phrase can apply to life and not just tidying our living spaces. So I’ve drawn some of my favourite things (and things I think most people enjoy!). It’s important to hold onto the little things that make you happy, even if it’s a nice hot drink or settling down to read a book. What sparks joy in your life?

Featured items:

  • Pantone 7461 mug – would recommend as it’s a lovely shade ☕️
  • Tangle it’s blue and glittery and is just the most amazing fidget, it’s relatively quiet to play with and works well in coat / hoodie pockets! 😍
  • Antsy Labs the original makers of the fidget cube – it’s a nice grey and black version that I have but they do some super funky colours too 👏🏻
  • Chewigem raindrop – such an amazing colour – looks like petrol as it’s all rainbowy. Also very glittery. It’s my go-to chew! ✨
  • Radox bath salts – these are my favourite! 🛀 they aren’t too strong smelling and are ideal if you have achey muscles too 😊
  • The Body Shop satsuma bath/shower gel is incredible – it’s such a nice clean smell that’s not too overpowering/overwhelming 🚿🍊
  • Sensory Direct weighted blanket ❤️ 100% recommend any products from here especially their weighted blankets! See my full review here

Side note: I’m more than happy for you lovely people out there to share my drawings to your own social media, etc but pretty please credit me! @21andsensory

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Medications and being sensory

I’ve been wanting to write a post on my feelings on medications for a while. Have they helped me? What have I found difficult about them?

Medication is weird. Each time I try a new one it’s like a huge big change and I battle with the pros and cons each time.

Mental health medications:

I’ve tried them all. Well it feels that way. Since the age of 15/16 I’ve tried all sorts. Some with weird side-effects and some that have proven to be helpful enough that I’ve stayed on them for years. I have been/I’m still on a few. I’ve tried anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety medication, etc. I’m currently on two medications for my mental health. I use a weekly pill box so I know what to take each day.

Annoying side effects I’ve come across:

  • Never feeling full and always feeling starving hungry
  • Muscle twitching. Not ideal when you’re sat in a meeting at work and your entire leg twitches throwing you forward in your seat a bit (true story #lovinglife)
  • I regularly forget to take the flipping medication (not a side effect just Emily’s rubbish memory)

Cholinergic Urticaria:

Think of it like a rash / hives. I take anti-histamines to control it, otherwise I flare-up and look like a tomato. Think Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (but red) and you’re not far off. If I’m honest I still flare-up and go bright red and develop a nice patchy rash in these places:

  • All over my face
  • Chest
  • Arms
  • Hands / knuckles
  • Legs / knees

Very random. Read more about my cholinergic urticaria in a previous post here: Cholinergic urticaria…and what on earth it is.

Other:

Night sweats. I take a ridiculously accurate amount – 3 quarters of one tablet that’s how sensitive I am to this one. If I take a full tablet I find I don’t pee. Like all day. At all. This is not good apparently. (It’s a tablet that primarily elderly people can take to improve incontinence issues but it is also used to treat excessive sweating. Interesting right?!)

My conclusion:

I think medications have helped me. In the long run. They never seem to kick in for what seem like months and then I feel more stable without realising and wonder if it’s the medication that’s built up in my system and is finally kicking in. Of course I’m no doctor or medical professional. Some people just don’t find medications work for them or have never tried them. And that’s okay too. It’s so hard to tell what’s helping and what isn’t so I totally get that. For me it’s something I think I’ve found beneficial and I have followed my own doctors advice on what he feels is best for me.

One thing I want to mention is that side effects do indeed suck, I 100% feel for all those out there who find their medication is helpful but are then are stuck with annoying and sometimes plain weird side effects.

Why not listen to my podcast surrounding the idea of medications and mental health here

And just a tiny bit of humour to finish:

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Illustrations in the slideshow by the epic illustrator: Ruby etc

 

Sensory Supermarket Trip 🛒

Hi everyone! This video documents my visit to a supermarket (in the UK) as a sensory-person! I explain throughout the video via captions how I am feeling and what is affecting me. Do you also struggle in supermarkets or shopping situations? If you have any good coping mechanisms feel free to share them in the comments below!

Sensory Festive Season 🎄

Ah yes the festive season is well and truly upon us. Welcome to the ‘random questions Emily gets asked at this time of year’.

Yes I went to my team dinner at work. Yes it was painful. Yes I went to our company Christmas party. Yes it was painful and LOUD. Yes I got dragged onto a dance floor against my own wishes. But I survived the environment. Yet I miss ONE cocktail night out and a co-worker comes up to me the next day and says ‘didn’t see you at the pub last night’ and catches me off guard. UGH.

I’m trying to navigate this sensory world and my limit is usually one social / festive gathering and I managed two out of three! So what would make my festive season that little bit better? Less questions.

1. I don’t drink alcohol. For some reason this throws everybody and I am questioned beyond belief. I don’t like the taste. That’s all there is to it! And yes, I’ll have a lemonade instead please.

2. I don’t eat much meat. This throws everybody. Again: I don’t like the taste (although chicken is okay sometimes). It’s easier to say I’m a vegetarian 🌱

3. I do find it difficult to dress up. I can wear a dress but I don’t like anything ridiculously tight or short. And high heels are a bit of a no-go due to tripping over my own feet normally in trainers everyday!

4. I’m dealing with sensory stuff in a new environment and holy moly all these questions do not help!

I can have fun without drinking, eating and dressing up. (Aka: cosy nights in watching Bake Off, Top Gear, Brooklyn 99 or a Louis Theroux documentary. Equally tucked up in bed with a book is just great too!)

Drawing by me. This post featured on my 21andsensory Instagram

You’re not a mess.

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‘You’re not a mess. You’re brave for trying’. It’s so so easy to put yourself down these days. Everything seems that much more difficult to deal with, whether its sensory or adult stuff like admin, self-care, tidying, paying bills. The stuff everyone else makes look easy. It’s easy to think of yourself as a mess. I think of myself as a mess. That’s not nice to write but it’s true. I feel like I am bumbling along attempting to deal with things as they come my way and ultimately feeling overwhelmed sensory and mental-health wise. 

But I started wondering. What if everyone else (the people I think are super cool and have got it altogether in life) also think of themselves as a mess? What if we are all just walking around and thinking like this? I know it comes back to the whole ‘comparison’ thing. Yeah it’s super easy to constantly compare yourself to others because thats all that’s ever in front of you. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat it’s never-ending all the different platforms that throw you happy people all the flipping time. It’s tiring.

2018 has been really hard for me and not a lot of people are aware of this. But to share a snippet I would like to mention how awful life feels when everyone is happy and you feel like an utter mess. A social media example: I tap on the Facebook app on my phone and instantly I’m thrown into newly wed couple photos, new baby scans, new travel adventures, graduations, moving house key photos, engagement photos. ALL I WENT ON FACEBOOK FOR WAS TO GET RID OF THE NOTIFICATIONS AND MAYBE SEE A CUTE DOG VIDEO. Instead I am reminded of how I am not progressing in life and everyone is having a great, lovely, happy time. 

The thing is THEY AREN’T. And I am brave for continuing to remember that and to try and create my own happiness. I have learnt to appreciate more of the little things. I love cups of tea. I like sunsets. I like new fineliner pens. I like my comfy dressing gown. I love baths. I enjoy eating blueberries. These give me tiny happiness bursts. Find the tiny things that bring you joy. And flipping hold onto them so tight because they really can help. I’m not a mess. And neither are you or anybody else you know.

We are all figuring our own stuff out in life, yeah some people more then others, but nobody is a mess. I think we’re all braver then we think.

(P.s Note to self: stop opening Facebook just google dog videos)

This post was originally posted on my Instagram @21andsensory

You’re a limited edition

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It’s so true. Every single one of us. We are all limited editions and nobody is the same. Sometimes this is a bad thing. Living in 2018 makes me feel like I want to conform, fit in and be considered ‘normal’. It means I am constantly comparing myself to others and wanting to be just like them (and yeah social media doesn’t help all this 🤦🏻‍♀️)…

But I’m trying super hard recently to embrace that I’m a limited edition.

Yes I’m very different and some people might think I’m a bit odd, weird or special. I’m trying to be more upfront and honest when I’m struggling and also I’m trying to explain my sensory difficulties a little bit more. And I’ve never done that before. I’ve never out-right said: ‘I have Sensory Processing Disorder and this is what it means for me…’ but the other day I said this in conversation (relatively briefly) andI wasn’t made to feel small or different.

And that felt great.

So anyway this was a bit of a ramble. But on more thing I wanted to mention was that recently I’ve been speaking to a few different people via my @21andsensory account on Instagram through direct messages.

It’s incredible how many people are struggling to understand themselves and make sense of their place in this weird old world. People I’ve spoken to just want to be ‘normal’ and fit in with their peers be it at school, college, uni, work, life in general, etc. We put this pressure on ourselves and mask our true feelings and needs. I have days where I am so desperate to be ‘normal’ and be able to cope in social situations and new environments that I come home and feel incredibly down and very lost.

But…on the good days I am proud of how I challenge myself and try to do new activities. I am able to cope on public transport without getting hella sweaty and cold with fear (thank god for contactless payments, it’s so much quicker and I used to have to hand over sweaty change ALL the time!). I am able to make conversation more fluently and find I am less stressed over eye-contact and I know when to talk.

On days like these I feel like a sort of super-hero (let’s go with spiderman🕸). I have spidey-senses that tingle. I can hear layers upon layers of noise, I can smell things from what seems like a mile-off, I can immediately identify the nearest toilet to escape to in busy locations, I can smell spices and seasoning and avoid eating anything too strong or spicy, I can find nice quiet places to eat and shop without constant blaring ‘background’ music (IT’S NOT ATMOSPHERIC IT’S BLOODY ANNOYING. Rant over ☺️)

So what I’m trying to get at is that there are/can be positives to being you and being a limited edition – you just have to hold out for those good days. I know that’s a rubbish line, especially if you are going through difficult times. There’s nothing worse then someone saying ‘things will be better soon’ or ‘you’ll get through this’ because all you want to know is WHEN? Like a time/date/month/year would be handy?

If I’m honest I’ve had to wait months to feel like I’ve had some ‘good days’. This made me quite sad because as a 24 year old I should be out living life to the max (not like too close to max though…I’m a sensory-being let’s not forget!). This past month I have noticed I have enjoyed things much more. I have felt less emotional and I feel like I am struggling less with being unable to express how I feel. I’ve had good days. I think this could be down to:

  1. The right concoction of medication helping me to feel much more stable emotionally and mood-wise.
  2. Having / finding things to look forward to. This is huge. Before I felt so empty and like there was nothing to strive for.
  3. Appreciating the little things more. Like going out for a tea/coffee or tidying my room in order to keep my mind tidy too. These things can bring me joy.

So to summarise: yup, every single person in this world is a limited edition, and despite social media depicting our best-selves, we are all trying to navigate this weird-old world and… I think it’s okay to make some mistakes along the way.

 

I was interviewed!

Hello. This is just a little blog post to say: I was interviewed on a podcast!

The lovely people from Chewigem interviewed me and the episode titled: ‘SPD and adulthood with 21andsensory’ came out today! If you have a spare moment why not check it out here:

https://chewigem.podbean.com/e/spd-and-adulthood-with-21-and-sensory-sensory-matters-31/

Also you can check out the podcast here on Apple Podcasts

I am a Chewigem Affiliate! They are company who have years of experience, designing, adapting and creating a range of chewing, fidget and sensory aids for children and adults. Check out their website.

I’d love to hear your feedback and any comments you have ☺️