I’ve been seeing lots of Instagram posts today that are so genuine and honest, people explaining the struggles of living with mental health issues. l did this drawing to explain how mental health affects sensory people (and how the two can become quite intertwined to the extent that it’s hard to tell what’s responsible for what feeling, thought, etc).
I’ve explained before that my mental health is confusing to me because my issues can randomly intensify and l also struggle with episodes of depression which can be really debilitating. Obviously everyone’s mental health is very different but I do think it’s important to be supportive to each other both online and in the real world.
I do think it’s great that self care is becoming more a ‘thing’ now and it really is important in order to keep functioning in life. I find that my mental health mixed with my sensory issues (and now knowing I’m autistic) is always tough to deal with but having a community of neurodiverse and like minded people here on Instagram has really helped me to understand not only myself but to understand how others cope in the big wide world.
(Doodle is my own view of mental health and sensory issues and I totally understand that not everyone may agree / relate to what I’ve said and drawn as we all experience things very differently.)
On my latest episode I have special guest Ella Willis! Ella is a 21 year old Newcastle-based Autism advocate who creates amazing and really informative educational videos on her TikTok (@ellaellaw) where they have almost 120,000 followers!!
Ella is also a fab illustrator and shares work via Instagram @_ellawillis and via an Illustration IG @illustratetothepoint. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you usually get your podcasts.
I thought I do a drawing on an issue thats always been close to my heart: the nightmare that is open plan offices. Here is some of the reasons why I struggle…
People bringing in their own smells constantly: ARGH. So many smelly lunches! Strong coffees. Overwhelming perfumes, aftershaves, deodorants.
Everyone chatting: I cannot filter a conversation happening in front of me if there are also many going on around me. I find it super hard to tune into the closest person to me because i hear everything all at once.
Desks are too close: I need my own personal space (who doesn’t?) and I find open plan offices can sometimes be set-up like call centres where they squish as many people as physically possible into the space. I know this can’t always be avoided but by being so close to other people it can affect how well i work (they might wear strong perfume or aftershave, chat too loudly, have hot smelly lunches at their desk, etc) and this grates on me.
Strong lighting: Strip lighting can be super harsh but also really distracting.
Random desk visitors: FILL ME WITH UTTER FEAR. Please email me! I am super responsive via email I promise. Don’t ring me or visit me at my desk….I know this is easier said than done but I work a million times better if I someone emails me in detail about the work they’d like me to do or schedules in a meeting I can prepare for. I hate it when people just ‘pop’ by my desk even if it’s for a chat…I’m at work and I really (really) don’t want to chat. I just want to do my work and do it well. I know that sounds very anti-social but I am quite anti-social and need structure to my work and day in order to thrive.
Bright clothing: I’ve said it before (in previous posts and in my podcasts!) PLEASE DON’T HANG UP YOUR FLOUROSCENT JACKETS in the office. Cloakroom / changing room = fine but in and open plan environment it is honestly sensory hell. They are beyond distracting and physically upset me (which sounds ridiculous but they take my my entire head).
Also I saw @innocent did a post recently about Disability Pride in July and they mentioned that they don’t employ many people with disclosed disabilities at the moment and they’d like to change that.
They were encouraging people to chat and feedback with input in the comments and I think this drawing is my little contribution as to how companies (especially larger ones) need to be aware of how overwhelming open plan offices can be. It’s great to hear so many companies are moving in the right direction and encouraging the conversation around how to be more accommodating for neurodiverse employees.
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Hi everyone – I thought for the next post in my Sensory Series I’d discuss how difficult it can be as an Autistic person to manage change.
In my Sensory Series I’ll be sharing text slides on different aspects of Sensory Processing (in between my regular posts of illustrations) so I can share my own outlook on all things sensory. I thought it would be interesting to share my own experiences, tips and tricks along the way.
Slide 1: Why it can be very difficult to manage change
Changes can be big or small. Yet they still feel totally overwhelming and life-altering…even if they aren’t really.Something as small as not being able to find your normal shampoo or your favourite brand of cereal at the supermarket can honestly feel like the end of the world in that moment.
So imagine how big things like social occasions let alone life events can be to an Autistic person. They can be utterly huge and hard to process.
It’s very difficult to describe how scary change can be as an Autistic person with sensory issues. I strive for normal, sameness and routine and when this is messed with I can’t cope.
The thing is…I might look like I am coping well with change. But I (and many autistic people) have mastered the art of ‘masking’ where we are very effectively able to keep up an ‘act’ or ‘front’ of managing when inside we are extremely distressed and overwhelmed. It’s so draining.
This is something that can come flooding out once we reach our own safe environment like home. This might look like a shutdown or meltdown which can be worrying for surrounding family, friends, etc.
Sometimes we just need the space and time to decompress and process what has or is going on. And that is okay. It sucks in the moment when you can’t manage what is going on but I’ve learnt…the feelings do pass and life does carry on.
If you like my work and you are able to, please consider supporting me via my Kofi page. Or why not have a listen to my 21andsensory Podcast – there’s a new episode every two weeks
Please do share this post and feel free to comment down below how you cope with change and any tips you have!
The lovely people @stimbox kindly gifted me this box* 😍😍😍 I am honestly so impressed with the contents of it and I think my enthusiasm comes across in the video (and the fact I keep comparing it to Christmas haha!).
The lovely people @fidgipops kindly gifted me these awesome pop-it’s! 😍😍😍 I LOVE THEM! They are super satisfying to play with and really do keep your hands and mind occupied and distracted so I’d definitely recommend them.
I was a guest on the ‘Psychology in the Classroom’ podcast!
The podcast takes psychological research and translates it for classroom teachers so they can effectively apply it to their teaching practice to help improve outcomes for their students. Interviews with leading psychologists and other experts in the field of education, as well as deep dives into educational theory and a little bit of neuromyth busting.
Lucinda is the host and has a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology, an MA in Special and Inclusive education, is a qualified teacher and taught psychology from 2002-2017. Her passions lie in psychology and education and luckily the two are inextricably linked. She now produces a podcast ‘Psychology in the classroom’ and writes a weekly blog summarising psychological research on learning and education.
Here is the episode description:
Interview with Dr Cathy Manning from Oxford University and Emily from @21andsensory.
This week’s podcast covers Sensory Processing Disorder. This is a very varied disorder which affects how people process sensory information and as a consequence how they respond to the environment. Though often linked with Autism SPD doesn’t always go hand in hand with ASD. SPD can be triggered via all senses such as vision, noise, touch and smell and considering your classroom environment can really help to support young people who struggle with SPD.
You can find out about Dr Cathy Manning’s research here.
You can find out more about Emily and her work here or follow her on social media @21andsensory or listen to her podcast here.
The link to Mary Hanley’s research on displays is here.
Autistic and trying to be happy. Happiness is something that I keep hearing a lot about’ but are you happy?’ and ‘do what makes you happy’ but here’s the thing…
I am a natural people pleaser. I care a lot about other people’s happiness and have never really cared for my own. I love to make other people happy and I put others first all the time. But my own happiness? That’s much harder to navigate and for me…and something that is difficult to see in myself. I am someone who struggles with Alexithymia so I cannot always put into words how I feel or what I am feeling inside. This makes happiness very difficult because I don’t actually always know what happiness ‘is’ if that makes sense? Like how do you define a mood?
That was a bit deep. Anyway…what I am getting at is that I am trying to be happier as an autistic person and do things more for my own happiness. I have a lot of very random autistic struggles that seem to pitch up out of nowhere (and I know so many of you too do). It’s flipping hard to be happy when you seemingly cry for no reason or become overwhelmed at the slightest thought, feeling or sense not being filtered properly.
I am still trying to be happy with who I am because I constantly have this thought that I am a ridiculously complex individual. But I think a lot of us are. And that’s what makes us who we are… and super interesting human beings. I’m off to go and find some little moments of happiness. I hope you can do the same too.
(I’ve now said the word happy to many times it’s starting to feel weird and sound different…wah!).