Friday, 27 May 2016

Top 5 Things that Scare the $^1+ out of me

I will note this is not a list of my top five fears (which is basically 5. Eye contact 4. Speaking on the phone 3. Sharp objects near my wrists 2. Stairs/Elevators 1. Going blind) rather it's a top five of things in the media/on the Internet that scare the everliving shit out of me. These things at some point have caused me to lose sleep for a week.

Just be careful clicking links - I take no responsibility for you being terrified out of your wits.

It's mainly the picture that does me in. Those fucking eyes. I was first exposed to this via a stupid Facebook chain picture that scared me witless. I had problems sleeping for a week afterwards, although it doesn't bother me as much now.

Again, the freaking imagery that people have made. Plus the fact that I relate so much to Squidward (my siblings were very much the Spongebob and Patrick, and I hate both characters with a passion). How do people come up with this stuff?!

Saw this at a friends place, only watched the first half an hour before heading elsewhere to do something else like play sweet, innocent video games. Finally fell asleep that night after watching a silly silver-screen movie called "A New Leaf" before passing out to Schnukums and Meat.

Just gross. There are just some things that don't need to be watched (or in my case, overheard).

1. Springtrap/The Purple Guy (Five Nights At Freddys)

FUCK this animatronic and FUCK the Purple Guy. For those not in the know, the Purple Guy is the evil bastard who killed the kids who haunt the animatronics in the Five Nights At Freddys games. After the first game, he's killed by a Golden Bonnie Suit he was trying to hide in, and became Springtrap, the antagonist of the third game in the series. Even keeping my lamp on doesn't help, and it's only gotten worse since Bastet died (being a bigger cat, he could have easily taken on any animatronic, and he always slept on the end of my bed, where I could comfort myself by resting my foot near him). Of course, he's just as bad in his Purple Guy form - one night while casually reading about the Puppet (quite possibly my favourite character) an animation started where the Purple Guy started walking across the screen. Thoroughly frightened out of my skull, I exited the FNaF wiki quick-smart.

Sleep well!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Swingsation: Day Three!

I really did NOT want to get out of bed this morning. I had definitely spent WAY too many petrol tickets on Saturday night. However, I was determined to force myself to at least watch the workshops today, and get as many dances under my belt as I could.

Well, first I left my shoes at the apartment (discovered while in the middle of crossing the road). Then coming back down the stairs the strap of the bag that my sister gave me snapped. Thankfully I was able to hook the strap onto one of the zippers so it's still functional.

The first workshop was with Arjay, who has a huge, amazing, constant energy. It was all about dancing with one lead, two follows. Of course, I forgot to put on my dance shoes didn't I? Anyway, after that little faux pas, we had a BLAST with the workshop. It was easily the most fun workshop of the weekend, and I really hope I get the chance to do another double-dance soon.

Of course, my left plantar fascia (which has been troublesome since I was a kid) was determined to try and put a damper on things, as was my complete lack of energy. Both were egging on my anxiety but I wasn't going to give in.

Lunch was Maccas with my roomie Josephine (who I am so glad I got to know this weekend), who I introduced to the Loaded Fries with cheese sauce and bacon. Yes, I am evil.

After watching the last workshops, I scooted back to the apartment and foolishly took a nap. I awoke groggy and really not in any state to do anything except grouch, but I was determined and as anyone who knows me will tell you when I get determined there is NOTHING that can stop me. It was probably a good thing I had the apartment to myself, I was able to try and unwind a bit before heading to watch the Invitational Jack and Jill.

The Invitational was amazing. It almost made me want to dance competitively just for the chance to be able to dance with one of those pros, but I know that competitive dancing is well beyond what I'm capable of. Yes, even I have limits.

It was after the Invitational that disaster struck. Dancing with Chris, the plantar fascia finally gave a massive "WILL YOU GIVE IT A REST BITCH?!" No one calls ME a bitch, so I kept going despite the fact owchie. As Chris helped me off the dance floor, I felt a familiar snap in the back of my head. Oh. Crap. That snap meant that my ability to speak was GONE. I tried to form the words, but there was nothing. Not one word. And my foot was burning badly. I ended up outside with Natasha (who is wonderful) who managed to calm me down and get some of my Rescue Pastilles into me. Of course, I still couldn't speak.

It was after the awards (congrats to all the winners by the way!) that my ability to speak finally returned (with a lot of effort mind) and I managed to get in one last dance with Ty (who I knew would be gentle with me). I then headed back to the apartment (as much as I would have loved to stay) and now it's time for some rest before the long drive back to Brisbane tomorrow.

Overall, this weekend was a success. I asked so many people to dance (and I apologise to you all, but I can't remember any of your names!) and met so many new people. I learnt a lot about myself and my dance, and I like to think that I strengthened some of my existing friendships. I actually felt confident for 90% of the weekend, and I got to dance with some very advanced dancers (unfortunately not the pros, but there's always next time). West Coast Swing and the community around it is a great place for everyone, especially those with mental illness, and I am so glad I took the opportunity to experience this great weekend and all the good things that came with it!

One could almost say I felt like a normal girl for once.

Swingsation: Day Two!

IMPORTANT NOTE: For an alarm to go off, it must first be set. Just something I thought I'd throw out there.

So after sleeping in until 0900, I quickly rushed to the Mantra to continue the Swingsation fun. The first workshop was all about musicality, and I took a lot from it (even if I totally sucked at it - hashtag oh well). It made a difference watching the Jack and Jill competition too - I could really start to see how the competitors were working the music with their partners, so it's definitely an area I need to grow in. I'm really bad for letting the music take me over and almost completely missing musical cues from my lead - however while social dancing tonight I did manage to hit a few spots so I'm definitely improving!

The second workshop was all about connection, which is by far the weakest aspect of my dance. This workshop definitely helped there, although disaster struck towards the end. You see, I have a really, really big problem with losing my balance (as my first dance teacher Chris can easily attest to - he had quite a challenge teaching me the start step - hashtag infinite patience), and the last part of the routine we were learning involved a dip. The moment they demonstrated the dip, it was instant pure terror to the face. Cue mini-panic attack.

I headed out to try and walk it off, without realising I still had my dance shoes on. So I took them off and walked around barefoot on the streets of the Gold Coast until I found a pharmacist, where I was lucky enough to find my Bach Rescue Pastilles in a blackcurrant flavour (which beats the disgusting cranberry and lemon flavours - hashtag gross). The pharmacist instantly saw my predicament and kindly offered me water and to sit down. I thanked her, but decided it was best just to walk it off. I got back to the Mantra, got my shoes and went out for lunch.

I got back to the Mantra in time for the Jack and Jill preliminaries. Social dancing somewhat calmed my frayed nerves although I was well and truly frazzled. Thankfully after some really amazing performances by the competitors the ballroom was closed so we were all forced out for dinner. It gave me the chance to calm down (and take advantage of the Blackadder DVDs in our apartment - hashtag WINNING).

Unfortunately there wasn't enough leaders for me to participate in the next workshop which was all about partner-stealing, but it was really fun to watch. Also by this stage an old childhood malady was beginning to play up - I was born with really, really bad foot arches, and my left one was starting to hurt. I ignored it though (hashtag future issues) and kept on dancing away. The Jack and Jill finals were a treat to behold, and you couldn't pull me off that dance floor even if you tried (to my detriment, hashtag responsible adult). About ten minutes before the Pros were going to do their fun Jack and Jill competition (wow, just wow. So, SO amazing, so brilliant, so much energy and passion - hashtag speechless) the pain began to get too much (thank you James for chatting with me while I rested - hashtag thanks mate). I was going to give up and go back to the apartment, and had put my shoes on when I saw something in my bag that made me change my mind.

A few weeks ago I finally found a Joel Patfull footy card. My hero. The man who never gave up even though he was delisted by port. The dance shoes went back on - hang it all, I was going to dance through that pain even if it killed me, because no matter what happens I want to be like Joel Patfull. Eventually I lost feeling in the foot, which made dancing interesting, but then the pain returned with a vengeance, surging up to my knee. Finally out of petrol tickets, I headed back to the apartment at around 0115. Phew!

Easily the best part of the day was getting to dance with the two best dancers in the whole world (in my opinion - hashtag biased), Zac and Chris. I love these guys to bits, dancing with them just makes me feel so much better about myself, and any dance class where I don't dance with either one of them is a class wasted. Chris is my favourite to dance with, and as I mentioned earlier he was my teacher when I first started. If it weren't for him, I doubt I would have continued dancing (even though at the time I would have happily smacked him. Repeatedly. Hashtag I'm sorry!). Zac, even though he's a world-class dancer, is so incredibly down-to-earth and just brings so much energy to every dance. Every time I dance with him I feel so much more confident as a dancer, he seems to know just how good you are and how to make you feel like you're a star even if you have no clue what you're doing.

That being said, I had some awesome dances with so many guys today that I am simply blown away. This whole experience is making me wish so badly that my social skills weren't completely shit, so that I could really talk to people and make connections and friendships, because everyone is just so awesome. I really hope that I can take some of this energy away with me to use at regular Raw Con classes back at Mt. Gravatt. Who knows, maybe I'll even start joining everyone for dinner before dance class...maybe.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Swingsation: Day One!

So, I got up at the usual time of 0750 of a night of very poor sleep. However, after cuddles with the Chinny-cat (who I dearly wish was here, I worry about my only living fur-child) I left home at 0830 and had a pretty good run to the Gold Coast, where I immediately headed to the beach to get my feet wet in the ocean and get sand all over my feet.  Feeling a bit more confident, I then headed to the Mantra on View to start my Swingsation Day.

The first workshop was a styling workshop for ladies with Virginie (who is gorgeous!) - I got the first few moves, but a free-spin? Me? Not going to happen in this lifetime (without someone getting seriously injured anyway - namely me). The next workshop was a really fun lesson on passes with both Maxence and Virginie. I'm not really sure if I got it or not, but a few of the guys used the moves in social dancing with me later that night and I didn't step on any toes so I think I did good.

Lunch was...UGH, I HATE eating out in public! I hate ordering food, I hate having other people around that I might accidentally look at, I hate trying to not get food all over myself, I hate people looking at me when I eat UGH UGH UGH! I went to Hungry Jacks and while the food was nice and well presented...I'm sorry, it's one of my hang-ups.

The next workshop was an intermediate class with Ben and Victoria, who were just awesome. I was debating whether or not to actually do this workshop, not having a very high opinion of my skills so far. I'm glad I did it though.

I skipped the next workshop, which was more advanced, and took a bit of a breather to watch the more advanced dancers do their thing. It gave me a chance to settle a bit, which was good as I was going to need all the composure I could get for the evening.

Afterwards (after finding somewhere to park that wasn't going to get me a parking ticket) I headed to the apartment where I'm staying with a friend. The building itself looks fairly old, but the apartment itself is mondo neato. After having a short break, I decided a small serve of chips was in order for dinner, however upon heading out I bumped into some good friends who were having Italian. So I decided to order some spag bol to go while actually enjoying some social interaction for once. I then headed back to the apartment, had a shower and chilled out for a bit.

Now the big challenge - the evenings festivities. I learned pretty quickly that if I sat down for too long without dancing I started thinking. Given it was in a very loud, crowded place (a very high-stress situation for even the most neurotypical of us) thinking usually means thinking bad thoughts like "Obviously no one likes me." "I'm shit at dancing." "I should just give up." (I think I'm in for a couple of smacks from a couple of my dance teachers and fellow dancers for that last one)

So I was determined to spend as much time on the dance floor as possible - and the guys at Swingsation are AWESOME. Every dance had me grinning from ear to ear, even if I didn't get to dance with everyone I wanted to. Even towards the end of my evening when I was getting pretty tired and starting to slip into an attack I was still able to happily dance and maintain a panic scale of between 2-3.

I think that might have been because I've found a niftly little device that keeps my core warm while leaving my arms free - an exercise vest. A lot of people commented that I must be baking, but I reckon that warmth bought me a couple of extra hours.

Anyway, there were times that I had to leave the dance floor, and that was for the Strictly Swing competition and the Classic competition. Sitting there trying to keep the bad thoughts away was stressful, and multiple times I wondered if I was even going to be able to dance again that night. Thankfully my sanity prevailed and I managed to last until a little after midnight. Yay me!

The best bit of all was the line dance we did - super simple and super fun to play with! I probably looked like the biggest dork in the world, but I really don't care. I had a blast!

All in all I had a great day - but it was a long one, and it's only Friday. There's still Saturday and Sunday to go. Do I have the energy and the mindset to last the full weekend without an attack, or worse, a full autistic meltdown? I'm worried that I don't, as I am thoroughly exhausted right now, and I haven't been sleeping well at all recently. My panic scale also peaked at 6 by the end of the night after being able to maintain a 4 last night. Is it just going to keep rising? Or am I just being paranoid?

Here's to a fun weekend for all, and hopefully all goes well!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Swingsation: The Pre-Party!

For those not lucky enough to be in the know, the annual Swingsation event is going down right now on the Gold Coast. Being of the shy, autistic and anxious persuasion, I have been pretty nervous heading up to this event, but as it turns out I might not need to worry.

Tonight was the pre-party, so I took today (and tomorrow and Monday) off work to prepare and enjoy. The day was all about preparation, getting clothes washed (and making an impromptu visit to the Target at the Queen St. Mall to get some pants). Plus my "Smoke Me A Kipper" shirt arrived in the post. I was worried this afternoon as I returned to the laundromat from the city on the bus (having shoved all of my washing into the dryer and racked off to the mall) that I might have spent one too many petrol tickets on the preparation (going to the post office + laundromat + visit to the city spells exhaustion). I was going to have a long drive ahead of me to the Gold Coast - was I going to be able to get through it all without having an attack?

The answer, happily enough, was yes. I did decide to leave at around 8.30-9pm though to drive back to Brisbane (before staying the weekend on the coast), thinking it was best that I left on a high. I managed to ask 3 people whom I had never met before in my life to dance (a huge undertaking for one such as I) and couldn't help but grin the entire time. It helped that the first thing that happened was that I ran into people I knew, which helped me feel safe.

Tomorrow will probably be an early start - I want to get a few social dances in before the workshops start. I had a lot of fun at the workshop tonight, Maxence and Virginie are AWESOME (and I WILL get at a social dance with Maxence if it kills me!). I hope too that I have the petrol tickets to get through the whole weekend without having an anxiety attack, while making lots of new friends and trying to be the most personable and social person I can be!

But best of all, I get to dance!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

A Cycle of Depression

Depression sucks. I should know as unfortunately I am slowly coming out of another lovely depressive cycle, brought to you by stress and anxiety. I was stupid enough to take on a stressful project at work, which lasted a month and ended with me having a seven-day panic-attack (complete with chest pain, breathlessness, sore arms, painful neck and shoulders - the works!). I then fell into a depression (which thankfully wasn't as bad as it could have been - thanks Raw Con and my psychologist!) which seems to be in its last throes now. So I thought I would give you an overview of the timeline of how my depression seems to work. I'm hoping that I've got it figured out now, so now it's just a matter of recognising where I am in the cycle, and possibly preventing the depression from even happening in the first place.

Everyone will have a different cycle, so it's always good to try and figure out what your timeline is so you know when your danger periods are. It's good to keep friends and family informed too, which is another reason I'm writing this blog.  If you haven't read my previous blog where I talk about my panic scale, you might want to take a look, as I refer to it in my timeline. I'm just a clusterfuck of fun times aren't I?

1. Everything is good.

At this stage is when I'm at my optimal levels. I'm functioning normally (well, as normally as I usually function), I have good routines settled in which allow me to work well while keeping happy and energized. I like being here. Yes, I still have my off days which admittedly sucks, but I get over them pretty quickly. I can easily keep myself to a 4 or under on the panic scale, sometimes getting to a 5 but rarely getting above a 6. If I do manage to get to an 8, it usually drops back to a 4 pretty quickly

2. I get overconfident.

Yep, I've been in those routines for a while now and I've gotten everything sorted out. I am OWNING the world! I can do anything! This is the big danger period, because this is when I usually start getting slack or signing up for things that realistically I simply can't handle.

3. Prolonged stress/series of unfortunate events.

I can still do it, I can get through it, I'm doing fine...those are the lies I start telling myself to get myself through this period, all while my energy starts to sap away and my routines fall apart and the good, solid base I've built for myself crumbles away. My panic scale starts sticking at a 5 or a 6 most of the time, which is a BAD thing, and I shoot to a 7 or 8 a lot quicker and find it a lot harder to come down.

4. Breakdown.

This can come in the form of a prolonged panic attack (like the seven-day panic attack), a full blown autistic meltdown (may that never happen again) or a nervous breakdown. Congratulations, you just reached 9 on the panic scale and you're not getting below an 8 any time soon!

5. Depression.

I'm stuck at 7 or 8 on the panic scale and it feels like there's no end in sight. Anyone who's had depression knows what it's like to be here. Here sucks.

6. Recovery.

The tail end of the depression sees me stay around the 5 or 6 mark on the panic scale, sometimes getting up to a 7 but starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes I even get back down to a 4. How nice.

7. The Drop.

Talking with my psych yesterday, I mentioned that last time I had a depression I had about a month of paranoia, not caring, anger and anxiety before finally getting better. I call this the drop, which is the period just before I get back together where I become the most unbearable person in the world. I hate everyone, I'm certain I'm going to get fired, I'm certain everyone hates me. Basically I become a 15-year-old again.

And then after that it's back to square one again. Hopefully once I get back to square one I can stay there. I'll definitely be talking to friends, coworkers and management so they can make sure I don't go taking on any more than I can handle, so I don't plunge myself into another depression again. Because yes, this one was purely my own fault for volunteering for something that I realistically am not able to handle. Lesson learned!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

I dislike today

Today is the one-year anniversary of when my fur-son, Bastet, was killed. I came home to find his dead body in a box under the stairs. I miss him so much it hurts, but that's not the only pain that comes from his death.

You see, even though I am a fertile young lady who would LOVE to have a large brood of children, I have ultimately decided against breeding. It hurts. My craving to be a mother has always been strong, just ask my siblings how maternal I can get sometimes. Hell, you don't even have to ask my blood siblings, you can ask any of the ones I seemed to have picked up along the way. So having the life of one of my fur-children cut drastically short is devastating to me.

"But if you want to be a mother so much, why don't you?" I hear you ask. Several reasons actually.

1. My poor genetics.

I am a genetic disaster. The mental illness alone is bad enough, and there is no way I'd ever, EVER put anyone through that (especially my own children). Now add on my genetic heart problems stemming all the way back through the maternal line, the dodgy knees and the fact that I am physically weaker than most ten-year-olds and I think it's probably best my dodgy genetic material stops with me. I seem to have been born at the shallow end of the gene pool, my brother got considerably better genes that what I have (he at least has hand-eye coordination and is strong for someone his age).

2. I'd make a terrible parent.

Did I mention my mental health? I still have a lot of trouble controlling my temper, and I will lash out at what a lot of people would consider insignificant things. When I'm angry, I go right for the jugular, and I always seem to know what words will hurt the most. I also have a hard time letting things go (I still shake with fury when I think about how my parents simply let my sister save over my first Pokémon game - I now have zero record of my first Pokémon, thanks for nothing) and I don't think things like that are particularly healthy for children.

3. No one will breed with me in the first place.

Yeah, the whole thing about breeding is that you need someone of the opposite sex in order to complete the process. Yes, there is a guy I'm interested in, and yes, I'm 99% certain he's aware of the fact (If he isn't he's exceptionally thick) but there's no way I'd put him through being with me. It's not that I'm a bad person, it's simply that I'm better off by myself. Most of my time I spend alone anyway, and I enjoy my time to myself. That's not to say I don't crave affection, but if I ever want a hug, I'll just go to dance class where they hand out hugs like lollies. Besides (and we are going into wayyy too much information here) no man can ever do for me what a couple of AAA batteries can.

That all being said, at least once a day I sadly think of the life I'm not going to have. I do want someone to love and to love me, and I desperately crave my own family. The thing is, I know it'd be a bad idea, ending with someone getting hurt. I don't want to hurt people, especially not my own (non-existent) children.

So if you're hanging out with me (especially to my friends who are younger than me) and I start fussing over you, you now know why. And I'm always up for "adopting" more younger siblings so if you ever wanted a big sister, I'm more than happy to help!

Monday, 2 May 2016

Let's Get Social!

I can hear the many groans, protestations and eye rolls from all of my fellow Aspies/Auties already.

I don't know about you guys, but I am stuck in a bit of a dilemma. I, as a human and a somewhat social creature, crave friendship and human contact. I want to go out and have dinner with friends, or go for walks, take a car trip to the mountains and take photos etc. Alas, I lack the social skills to cement those sorts of friendships, and I'm often too anxious to join the few friends I do have in their more social pursuits, like parties and being in large groups. In fact, I have often considered ditching dance class purely because I don't do people well (not because I think I can't dance, which is what some people think - bitches, EVERYONE knows I can dance!).

However, every so often I am rewarded for venturing out from my shell, and tonight was one of those times. Due to the heavy stress I am under (thank you work) I am finding a lot of the progress I have made in beating depression and anxiety is being quickly eroded. This is beginning to manifest physically in the form of lethargy, painful limbs/shoulders and a busted immune system. I have been advised by my beloved Mumsie to look for physical therapy to try and help combat this (along with my psychology sessions). So tonight I went for my usual trip to the laundromat, where I bumped into a nice lady with a dog she was taking care of. It turns out that this lady is a massage therapist. We ended up having a really good chat about animals and I got to see her "office" as she lives around the corner from the laundromat.

It might sound like a meaningless coincidence to some people, but positive interactions like the one I just had a huge in encouraging people with Autism/anxiety to come out of their shells and contribute to the world at large. Another fun interaction I had was at the NRL. I was lucky enough to be sitting with the Rabbitohs fans, and one young lady was friendly enough to strike up a polite conversation. WINNING!

I will admit it's not all smooth sailing (just ask anyone who was at Raw Cons "Last Supper" at Greenslopes how awful I was) but sometimes you just have to soldier on and keep practising at being a functional human being - remember the "fake it 'till you make it" rule and go for gold!

Just stay away from automatic doors.