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.)
Hi everyone I’m back again with another lil’ drawing of a very sensory based grounding technique I find useful when I am anxious. You may of heard of it before, it’s usually referred to as the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. I find it useful because I am (obviously) a highly sensitive individual and it distracts me to tune into each sense separately (might be hard to do in a busy situation but I find it helps in most other situations!). It just turns your thoughts entirely to your senses and off cycling and worrying thoughts even if it’s only briefly. Below are some pointers that might help you…
👁 Really look for 5 things you can see: what’s in front of you? Really look and pick out some small details, maybe it’s a wooden surface which you can see the grain of, your own hands and your fingerprints, the fabric of some curtains and the way they hang, the specific colour within something like a hanging picture, what’s pleasing or not so pleasing to look at?
✋ Feel 4 things with your hands or even feet as you walk (please be careful in these COVID times with this though!) the fabric of your own clothes, the seat you are on, if outside the grass or pavement or brick wall you pass by. Even just the sensation of your feet within your shoes, try and really tune into that feeling.
👂Acknowledge 3 things you can hear right now. Can you hear traffic in the distance? Conversations going on a couple of rooms away? What can you tune into? Even if it’s a ticking clock, sound of a pet pottering about…
👃 What 2 things can you smell? Maybe it’s your own deodorant, perfume or aftershave…or someone else’s? Or the smell of a room, cooking smells, air freshener or cleaning smells, etc. Is there any sort of smell to the air surrounding you?
👅 Can you taste anything? Even if it’s a drink you’ve just had or something you’ve eaten is there any taste at all in your mouth?
Hello! Here is drawing number six (part of a series on our 8 senses, scroll back in my feed to see my previous drawings!) ✏️ which is all about Interoception which is a lesser known sense that actually helps you understand and fell what’s going on inside your body (think of it as an inner sense)…
A sensory diet is important! It’s a way of self regulating (like using fidget and stim toys) and usually involves physical activities like rolling on a yoga ball, having time on a swing or trampoline, heavy work activities like using weights or lifting and carrying things. The idea is a sensory diet helps you to become more grounded as you are getting the regular input that your body needs. As a result you may feel calmer and more in control of your behaviour and mood. I’ve definitely seen the benefits of having a sensory diet (for example I use a therapressure brush to do body brushing which has helped me to desensitise my limbs to touch).
I never feel full…like my stomach and brain just doesn’t have that sense wired in..it’s really odd and can be annoying (comment down below with a hands-up emoji to join the club) I experience this even more in restaurants, due to the busy, noisy environment I literally cannot connect to what my stomach is feeling because I am filtering so much other information.
Visual cues – these can be super helpful, especially to remind ourselves to do daily tasks like personal hygiene, to drink and eat enough and what to expect during the day. I know a lot of people use social stories (google the term for more info, they were developed by Carol Gray in 1991) as a tool to help with self care skills, social skills, changes in routine, etc. You can make Velcro versions so you can easily change out what your day looks like.
Hypersensitivity to pain…if you’re a sensory being you may well be hypersensitive (over-sensitive) to pain…I know I am!! I am very tuned in to pain and when something hurts it REALLY HURTS even if it’s something small like a cut it’ll be super distracting to me. Equally you may be hyposensitive to pain (under-sensitive) and not realise if you are hurt/injured.
Grounding exercises – these are super useful when your mind is whirring, thoughts swirling and your heartbeat feels a bit rapid and all over the place. Most smart watches have in-built breathing exercises / apps built into them (e.g Apple Watch does, my Fitbit does too!) and these can be helpful in terms of distraction by looking at something visual and timing your breath along with an animation. Of course there are lots of different grounding exercises, another good one to use when you are overwhelmed is to sit and use your senses to ground you, name a few things you can hear, smell, touch, see, etc. This can diverts your brain and distract you.
Alexithymia is a difficulty in recognising emotions and identifying feelings. This is something my autism assessor said she think I might struggle with. I definitely find it super difficult to explain my feelings to others because I genuinely cannot recognise or process my own emotions.
Do comment down below if you can relate to anything in my drawing or anything I’ve said, I’m always keen to hear how everyone copes with these things. Two more drawings to go in this little series!
Hello everyone, I’m back again, this time with an illustration of some self isolation achievements. I know that all the news on TV and online seems to be constantly swirling around and being updated continually (which is fine) but it can be really difficult not to get anxious, stressed, upset and triggered by it all. I’m trying to hold on to the small positives each day and the little autistic and sensory achievements I have been making along the way.
Why not comment down below any wins or things you’ve done with your time (they can be big or small – everything counts).
I hope you are all doing okay and staying safe (as much as you can be with all this going on).
Hey everyone! Last week I was interviewed by the lovely Thomas from @aspergersgrowth on his podcast ‘Thoughty Auti’.
It went live last Saturday so go check it out! It’s everywhere you’d normally listen to podcasts and also on his YouTube channel too! Was such a nice chat and we talked all things sensory and autism related. Let me know what you think 💭
It’s that time of the year again: Halloween 🎃 I hope everyone has a Halloween that suits them – whether you are going all out and dressing up, trick or treating or even partying (or if you’re just having a nice quiet night in with a book and a bath!)
I’ve done a little doodle above describing some of the things we autistic / sensory people struggle with when it gets to this time of year 🍂 It can be quite an overwhelming season (Halloween, Bonfire / Firework Night and then the Christmas festivities 😱) it all seems to follow one another in quick succession!
Hello everyone I’m here again to share another little doodle, this time on masking 🎭. So what actually is masking? Masking involves trying to hide being autistic so others will accept us. It’s also referred to as camouflaging. This means we act in ways that other people will think we are ‘normal’ and to try and be accepted socially. My doodle includes a few examples of trying to mask.
Over the course of my life I feel I have perfected the art of masking (which isn’t necessarily a good thing). I am extremely good at with-holding my feelings and emotions, bottling them up until I get home. I would cry when I had to go to primary school each morning. Then speed forward a bit in time and I’d come home from secondary school each day very tearful. I even used to cry up in the SENCOs (special needs support) room at break and lunch times because secondary school is quite literally THE most overwhelming place I have ever had to cope in 👀. But slowly through sixth form and university I began to build up a resilience to the world and although I still get overwhelmed I can always come home, have a bit of a sensory meltdown (and a good cry) then move on with things.
Socialising will always be hard for me and I think I will always cope with the world like this. But that’s okay. I have to actively remind myself that ‘normal’ isn’t real. And I think you should too. Masking is an autistic and sensory way of coping with the everyday and just trying to get by. Now that is brave. To go out in the world and just exist is a huge thing. Do you have any tips related to masking? Feel free to share below ☺️
A smile can go a very long way. Why not challenge yourself to share a smile? It can be with friends, family, someone at work or school or even a passer-by. Just a little smile of acknowledgement can really make someone else’s day.
I’m learning that the little things in life are just as important to hold onto. Everyone seems to be growing up super fast around me and I still feel like I’m just behind everyone else. Obviously social media and comparing my life to others really (really) doesn’t help but it’s frustrating when all I see is other people hitting big milestones or doing epic things. I know these things would never suit me but I think it still affects me.
I will always be that little bit different… but I think being sensory might just be a super power 😉
I recently had a ‘lil look on @etsy as I wanted to get some cool badges I could wear on my hoodies and jackets that might represent me and maybe also highlight to other people about my sensory needs. Also I wanted to support some independent shops / artists and I always hear such good things about Etsy shops. So I somehow stumbled across these two lovely shops:
@Okaydoodle does the CUTEST badges 😍 I’m obsessed with the little speech bubble designs 💬 they are bold and simple and I really like the size of them – they don’t feel heavy and look great on a denim jacket!
@Doodlepeople make the beautiful badges that start with ‘Hello I am’ and come with so many different options! There really is something for everyone and I was so so impressed to find a badge relating to sensory issues 😍 and the suspected autistic one as well is lovely as you don’t feel like you have to have a diagnosis (or if your on a waiting list for an assessment) it just works really well.
Honestly recommend checking out both these shops (click on their links below!) postage was super fast for both shops and I really would recommend them! Have a little look at the badges in the slideshow below…