Things that are difficult for Sensory Beings…💭

I did a quick little doodle on what us sensory beings find quite difficult to do in our daily lives (Obviously these things aren’t exclusively difficult to just sensory people, these can apply to many different people).

Is there anything that you find particularly difficult to tolerate? Feel free to share coping tips and tricks below in the comments and let’s all help each other out ☺️

What is stimming? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Hi everyone 👋 this is a post in collaboration with the wonderful @agonyautie. Sara suggested working together on a post together all about stimming and what it looks like visually. Here are some wise words from @agonyautie:

‘Stop shaming stimming. Stimulate yourself through your senses. Have fun, Stim freely, be respectful of others and Stim Shame Free. Make sure to stim safely and stim boldly!’

I’ve tried to visually represent in my two illustrations ✏️ the wide variety of things that can be referred to as stims (which is short for self-regulatory behaviour). Stimming helps a person to self calm and process overwhelming environments. Some stims can be quite subtle such as hair twirling or chewing whereas others are more noticeable and can be destructive such as skin picking (dermatillomania) or hair pulling (Trichotillomania) which can cause damage.

It’s important to recognise that stimming safely (whether you are a child or adult) is okay and not something to ever be ashamed of. It should not be looked down on or discouraged. Go forth and stim freely! 🙌

Link to my original Instagram post here

An important pie chart 🥧

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Hi everyone! Hope you like my important pie chart drawing ✏️ does anyone else have a range of clothes but also just stick to your favourite, old, most worn and comfy clothes? I find it SO hard to wear new clothes and new shoes 👟 (it has taken me actual years to get into new shoes!). It’s so difficult sensory-wise to get used to new clothing 👕 and it always ends up that my clothes have to be washed multiple times before I feel comfortable wearing them…

Do not get me started on itchy / scratchy tags and labels, ugh! They are the worst 😭 how do you cope with clothing and footwear? Any top tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below. Please feel free to share my post on social media platforms but do please credit me @21andsensory thanks!

Mental health = Confusing 🤦🏻‍♀️

Hello everyone – hope you’ve all had a good weekend. As well as sharing my drawings I’d like to share my thoughts and ideas on my Instagram as well 💭 mental health (to me at least) = confusing. My mental health is confusing to me because my issues and feelings 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 also think it’s great that self care is becoming more of 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 is always tough to deal with but I try to make time for self-care and enjoying the little things in life (e.g like running a bath, reading a good book, drawing,etc).

Yes, I have my own mental health problems. But I am always here to chat if you feel like you need someone to talk to or just a bit of support. (Please feel free to share my drawings just credit @21andsensory)

Can you turn the sound down please? 🔇

Hello everyone – hope you are all having a good day. I’ve done another little drawing which I thought I would share with you all. I am very sensory defensive when it comes to sound. I am constantly asking my parents to turn the sound/volume down on the TV 😂 It’s always too loud for me 🔈

I’ve also been struggling this week with a busy open plan office at work which is noisy and bustling and generally wears me out! 😱 I also jump at anything even slightly loud (even people sneezing 🤧) I’ve been using my noise cancelling headphones but does anyone else have any other good tips for dealing with loud noises?

Also: I’ve reached 1,000 followers on Instagram! Thanks so much to everyone out there who follows along – my main aim when setting up my blog and Instagram was that if I could help out one person out there by providing sensory advice / tips / support / etc to them then I would be happy!

Sensory Hangover

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This post explains what an earth a sensory hangover is. Before you read this: it has nothing to do with drinking / alcohol consumption! 🚫

A sensory hangover is a term I’ve started to use (in my head!) to describe the state in which I am left in after being in an overwhelming place, environment, scenario, etc. The sensory hangover begins on instant return to my house – I can get emotional and feel totally overwhelmed and stressed out.

An example: I was invited to my friends 21st birthday party. It was at her house and it was a surprise birthday party. I hate surprises. I felt awful and sick and spaced out for the first part of the evening while my friend wasn’t even at the party but I managed to hang out with two other girls I knew. Then when my friend came in the room I had to ready myself for everyone shouting ‘SURPRISE!’ super loud, with much clapping, hugging, kissing and music accompanying it all. It was all too much and I made my excuses and left relatively early in the evening. I then got home and cried. A lot. My parents were understanding but I just couldn’t hold my emotions in and I felt completely weird for the rest of the evening and most of the next day. It took a real chunk of my energy out of me and I was left unable to process everything and all messy inside my head.

Now I try to be way more conscious of where I go, for how long, and what will be there that could affect me. I say no more often now (although I have the FOMO: fear of missing out) I know it’s for the better and I am way way happier not going and having a chilled night in. Sound is a huge issue for me and can really quickly bring on a sensory hangover – I feel physically drained and unable to process or compute what people are saying in noisy situations that I just prefer to remove myself from them entirely. 🏃

The sensory hangover can then move on a bit and I have episodes of intense OCD where I will feel the urge to clean obsessively (whether it’s myself or my bedroom or another room in the house). This keeps me busy/distracted/occupied which I find helpful – I really enjoy tidying my room and putting things away every few days.

So…to put it simply: a sensory hangover describes the physically tired, mentally drained and totally spaced out feeling I have after an overwhelming social interaction. 💥(The feeling of a sensory hangover will come over me immediately after an overwhelming thing and can last from a few minutes to even a day in length which = not cool)

Have you ever experienced a sensory ( / autistic-type / call it whatever suits you!) hangover?

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