Holidays

So I’m in my second year at uni and have finished for the summer (already!) and I’m already starting to miss my uni routine. I have to have some form of routine in my life in order to cope properly. I like to know what I’m doing each day so there aren’t any surprises or unexpected events to freak me out.

I like to make timetables to structure what I’m doing with each day and I like to be productive during the holidays still revising for uni or brushing up my skills before I go back the next term. If I don’t feel I have achieved anything each day I can find my OCD and anxiety creeps up on me and I feel like a failure.

I’m not usually a very happy person in the holidays which nobody really understands apart from the close family. I need structure in my life in order to live and not overload myself. I also don’t like holidays away in hot places – even over 19 degrees becomes too much for me to cope with so I avoid family holidays abroad. I tend to stay in the UK as much as possible!

So here are some tips to help you cope with the holiday season:

  1. Timetable your life! Try and structure each day so you know what is coming and don’t feel as anxious.
  2. Hobbies: try and fill your time by distracting yourself. For example by doing physical activity and exercise or even craft activities like drawing, painting, etc. Do more of what you love!
  3. Meet up: try and meet up with friends and family you might enjoy yourself 😊
  4. Create to do lists: I’m forever doing this I love them! It helps to structure your time and make sure you get things done that you need to!
  5. Get outside: I’m going to try and do this more over the summer, there’s nothing better than walking or running out in the fresh air. And if your not into exercising even a picnic outside counts 😉

How do you cope with with holidays or unstructured time off? Any thoughts would be great 😊

Internships and Navigating

My uni encouraged everyone in my year to get an internship or work experience placement over the summer. It could be however long we choose but we just had to gain some form of experience within industry.

Ugh. I love love love the idea of work experience or an internship in my dream industry but there was just one problem. My SPD. It wasn’t so much as a problem it was more of a really big obstacle. I found a few internship opportunities and applied for them online. I had a couple of interviews which were super dooper scary but quite interesting and I accepted an offer of an internship. All sounds fine and dandy at the moment doesn’t it? The only small (actually massive) problem was that this internship was based in London. This would involve navigating to and from London each day completely SOLO.

So I set about trying to learn a route to and from Central London everyday. Just to add – neither my uni friends or internship employers know about my difficulties (except that I’m dyslexic). It took me 2 hours  to get to and from the office I was working in everyday and I was there for a month. It was kind of difficult at first not knowing anybodies name and I had to keep moving desks as there weren’t enough. I did however get to know some quirky and very lovely people, which I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t given it a go.

In short I SURVIVED.

Through my internship, I’ve learnt to have more of a YOLO (you only live once) attitude. If I hadn’t done my internship I wouldn’t know how to navigate London, how to get the tube, how to read a train timetable, etc. My escalator skills have improved too! Im quite unaware of where my legs and arms go so I always bash into tables and sides of things, so you can imagine a moving staircase is a slight nightmare for me 🙂 Its also taught me that I really only do live the once and should make the most of my life

I will leave you with some interview tips and a list of the travel apps I used that were helpful for navigating my way round London.

Interview tips:

  1. Keep eye contact. Difficult I know but definitely important, its okay to glance away every now and then.
  2. Wear something you are comfortable in. I get irritated by scratchy labels, certain fabrics, etc. Just make sure you are smart but happy in what you are wearing.
  3.  Always think of one question to ask at the end. Every interviewer I’ve had has always asked me if I had any questions for them. It also shows you are interested in working for them and inquisitive about the company.
  4. Just be yourself. Be honest, and if you are happy to try and explain if you are dyslexic, have other learning difficulties or disabilities. It will save you worrying in the long-run.

Travelling apps I used:

  1. Tube map app – Search for this on your phones app store, it’s a great little application. You pop in your current location, e.g London Waterloo, and then your destination, e.g Baker Street, and it will show you how to get there, on what named / coloured line you need to take and any changes you need to make.
  2. Citymapper app – This app works in cities worldwide and gives you a variety of transport modes in order to get across you city.
  3. Google maps app – This is great if you are lost or like me needed to buy somewhere to buy food for lunch. It gave me walking directions to the nearest supermarket super easy.
  4. Tube map London underground app – This is also a great app, which you can pinch to zoom in and out of, essentially its the london tube map in your pocket
  5. The Trainline app – great for booking tickets to pick up at train stations like I did early in the morning. You book online or via the Trainline app and you avoid having to mess around at ticket machines or asking for a ticket – I always get too muddled in loud environments and can never hear the attendant!

Worlds apart…

I’ve always felt worlds apart from everybody else. I’m described as ‘special’ and ‘different’ because I have SPD and don’t fit the generic stereotype of a normal 21 year old girl.

Why should I conform?  Yes I hate parties, I don’t drink alcohol, I’ve never stepped inside a club and I prefer to go to bed before midnight. That’s normal to me. That’s my everyday life and it’s my choice.

Yeah I have sensory overloads and meltdowns and can’t explain why all the time. I’ve been asked ‘so what if I waved a magic wand and your SPD went away?’ I  just simply reply ‘then I wouldn’t be me’. So don’t be afraid. Don’t be normal. Just be you.

Switched Off

spd

I hear this a lot:

  1. ‘She’s not really in the room’
  2. ‘She is away with the fairies’
  3. ‘She’s switched off’

That she happens to be me. And it might describe you as well? I tend to ‘switch off’ in busy or loud environments and I can be quite difficult to talk to. Many people I know/who know about me find this hard to understand. However for me it is almost like there’s a traffic jam in my head… and then I crash like a computer does that hasn’t been shut down properly. That’s my way of coping, to zone out and try and block out the noise.

I can’t think properly or straight when there are noises so if I’m trying to write, study, revise, think, etc I use these great noise cancelling headphones: http://www.edzkidz.co.uk/Kids_Ear_Defenders_Blue they are so noise cancelling that you can’t hear hardly anything its like being in your own bubble! I also take them to loud events like concerts and firework shows (all fireworks should be silent in my opinion!). I also wear earphones when I’m travelling on public transport because that makes me feel in my own little world and I can either play my own music from my phone or just put my earphones in and have no music playing anda slightly more quieter journey!

What coping methods do you use when it comes to loud or busy events? I’d be super interested to hear any so I can trial them too!

Image credit: special_needs_parents instagram account

Starry Nights

I was bought the fantastic Innoo Tech LED Star Night Light Projector Lamp (available to buy here) and it has been the best sensory present I’ve had in a while! It can be plugged into a USB mains plug or can be a standalone unit with batteries inside it. I up to my bedroom and plug it in next to me and my entire room fills with stars across my ceiling and walls. Its super therapeutic and calming to lie under. The unit has two modes – gold stars or a changing colour star mode – I tend to stick with the golden star mode as the colourful mode is quite jazzy! Its inexpensive at around £7.99 and I highly recommend it.

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Managing Birthdays 

I’m officially 21 tomorrow (see my first post in order to understand this!) and another year has gone by and I’ve coped/survived in the sensory world! Im not great with birthdays as I don’t like all the attention to be on me. I also absolutely hate surprises, and yes I know that’s weird but I guess that’s just me. So my birthday always tends to be a tiring and overwhelm me sensory wise.

I used to hate parties as a child and I still do to this day – I tend to avoid them at all costs! I also don’t drink alcohol as I really hate the taste of it so I look like an utter party pooper but really I just can’t cope with the loud noises, bright lights, people touching up against me, weird smells and foods on offer that I can’t eat. This makes me a complete nightmare to take out anywhere but this is how I am and if you feel the same you aren’t the only one.

Do you find social situations, gatherings and parties a nightmare? What coping methods do you use? ( I find escaping to the nearest toilets to calm down and be in my own space works well!) And relax – you are not alone! 😉