Organisation and Medication

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It’s around this sort of time each week where I realise I need to work out my medication for the days ahead. I got a little medicine box to sort them out properly which is very visual 👀 (Link to it on amazon here.) I’ve arranged the colours like a cool gradient 🌈

I’m not going to lie: I am forgetful when it comes to medication. I couldn’t tell you for sure if I had my medicine even if I took it five minutes ago 😂 (I think I have short-term memory loss). Anyways it’s all about the little things each day which help and organise my life.

Now to watch Brooklyn Nine Nine on Netflix…👮🏻‍♀️👮🏽‍♂️🚔🚨

(p.s how cute is my ‘lil succulent?! 🌱)

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I visited a zoo…

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At the weekend I got to visit a zoo (with my fav person) and I really enjoyed seeing so many different animals that I thought I’d share some photos I took. I haven’t been to a zoo in years.

(Short tragic story: last time I went when I was little I cried profusely during a free elephant feeding session during which an elephant touched my hand which freaked me out. Not cool…and my family remind me of this at every possible opportunity!).

Anyway…it was an interesting environment to visit. Lots of different indoor and outdoor areas and many loud children (not a complaint just an observation!) and lots to see and do. My favourite areas to visit were the incredible sea lion tunnel where we could walk underneath their huge tanks and see them swimming past – check out my @21andsensory Instagram post for the video I took of them.

Also I LOVED visiting the penguins at this particular zoo as we could see them swimming underwater and get up close to them on dry land too! Make sure you click through right to the end for a cute surprise…

Do you have a favourite zoo, park, museum, garden, etc that you like visiting? What’s your fav animal? Comment down below or post an emoji!

The search for noise cancelling headphones…🎧

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You may have seen on my instagram stories that I have recently bought a pair of bluetooth wireless headphones. I’ve been pondering (actually obsessively comparing and watching youtube reviews) on which were the best brand to invest in for months. I haven’t ever owned wireless or noise cancelling headphones but I knew I needed some as soon as more people moved into my office at work. The background noise can get too much and tip me over the edge mood-wise.

So I went for the Sony WH-1000XM3 and I am loving them so far. So it took me a while to unbox them (I’m rubbish at opening new stuff – I still have new shoes I’m struggling to get into!) and I shared the process of unboxing them and pairing them with my phone on my stories (if you’d like to have a look just click on the ‘Sounds’ highlight under my instagram profile).

So far they are SUPER comfy. I was really worried about them sitting funny over my head because of my glasses and the ends of them pinching behind my ears. But I can confirm: they are 10/10 great pick for glasses wearers.

They have active noise cancelling and ambient noise mode settings depending if you are sitting, standing and travelling. ALSO: If you are listening to music and someone comes up to you for a conversation / you walk into a coffee shop to order something you can just place the palm of your hand over the ear cup and instantly hear what’s being said in the place around you! Such a clever feature that also means you don’t have to take your headphones on and off all the time.

I am yet to try them on public transport but even in a quiet environment they’ve been fab. They have 30 hour battery life (38 hours without noise cancelling on), an option to switch to wired connection if they run out of battery and an accompanying app that has oodles of different features and sound configurations to play and test out.

Would you be interested if I did a little review post here on my blog after I’ve used them for a couple of months? Comment down below!

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?

An Instagram Q&A…

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Every so often I like to do a Q&A session on my Instagram Story. If you’d like to get involved do follow me @21andsensory. Here’s some questions from this week that I was asked:

Do you ever feel weird / different / insecure because of your Sensory Processing Disorder?

Great question. If I’m honest I do 100% feel weird because it’s like my senses are always on high alert and everything is too loud, bright, colourful, strong smelling, scratchy, etc! I do feel very different especially because of my age I think people expect me to be out 24/7, socialising, drinking, partying, that sort of thing. But…that’s why I made my blog and my Instagram / Twitter / Podcast! I really wanted to find others out there struggling with the same things daily and just talk all things sensory related and share tips and tricks. I’ve chatted to so many amazing people it makes me feel part of a community of other lovely people who understand exactly what it’s like.

What’s the first signs you notice when you’re beginning to be sensory overloaded?

Hmm. For me it tends to be my mood plummets and I have a ‘fight or flight’ response which means I’ll start to cry and escape the environment quickly. I’m quite good at removing myself (for example) from a loud situation if I’m starting to feel super overwhelmed or on the verge of a meltdown. Also I can get super hot or super cold and feel totally zoned out which is never very nice!

What happens to you when you’re in sensory overload?

Equally a good question but always a weird / hard thing to explain. It’s almost like I’m shutting down like  I’m shutting down like a computer I think. I feel totally overwhelmed , incredibly emotional, tearful, zoned out and generally odd. I bite my nails really badly and this ramps up even more during times like this. I can go quite non-verbal and not explain to anyone what’s really happening . I tend to find the nearest toilet that I can lock myself in and escape the environment or situation that started the overload. I retreat to my room and lie under my weighted blanket / duvet. I did then experience a sort of  ‘sensory hangover’ where I just need to be in a quiet place on my own for a bit to recuperate and feel better.

How does stress affect your ability to handle different sensory stimuli?

Stress makes everything sensory-wise like 100% worse. I find I can tip into sensory overload / meltdown much quicker when I am stressed and even a sudden noise or annoying smell can really grate on my nerves 😱 so I try and stick to routine and work the same hours each day and take regular breaks, etc. I also have a to-do list that keeps me on track daily in my life and work! I always try and avoid stressful situations where possible and say no to things like events I don’t feel I can handle.

How do you handle the overwhelm when you feel like you have made someone uncomfortable?

I try not to overthink things. The worst thing you can do is re-run over what you’ve said and over analyse things and it can lead to so much stress and unnecessary angst. I struggle with this as it’s so easy to lay awake at night and overthink things but just remember: the other person isn’t thinking about the conversation you had with them hours ago, they’ve moved on with their day and lives and I think it’s important to remember that a bit.

Not understanding typical boundaries in social or work context ie: talking religion at work?

This can be difficult because the boundaries are never very clear and I understand that. Try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think ‘could this spark a debate or upset somebody?’ before you go ahead and talk about it? For example I don’t talk about politics with anyone because I don’t understand it all! 😂 and I know people can be quite sensitive to that topic.

Do you ever punish yourself by not allowing yourself to stim?

No I don’t think so. If anything I’m the opposite and forget that swimming can help me which is why I have a post-it-note on my sensory / fidget  box that says *HELPFUL CRAP USE ME* 😂 😂 😂 I forget in times of overwhelm what helps me! Also just to add: you should never punish yourself for anything. Whether it’s stimming

I hope this was an interesting / helpful Q&A ☺️

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

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