The Photogenic Face of Depression

Ever heard the phrase “You don’t look like you have depression” or even “What have you got to be depressed about?”

As if depression has this stylised look that is recognisable or a person has to have something to be depressed about. Maybe a depressed person should have the black sweepy hair, fingerless black gloves, heavy black eyeliner and studded chokers. Too stereotypical? Well… maybe someone with depression must have a deathly disease or some other awful circumstance in their life that they have a reason to feel depressed about? Maybe.

Or maybe Depression is simply something that unfortunately comes to the people who on the outlook look happy and cheerful, and seemingly have their lives together, but they have this uncontrollable low feeling that they can’t shake despite good stuff happening.

My parents and I suspect I have depression. It isn’t serious by any stretch of imagination and it’s not something I’m going to seek medicinal intervention for because I feel I am coping without it. However it does effect the way I build relationships, my motivation to do things and also generally the way I interact with people.

I have said previously that I work as a Front of House Team Member (and Part Time Management) in a restaurant. You have to pretend and become someone else when your in this job. If you’re not charismatic, funny or a salesperson, you have to become each one of them to do well. Outside of my job, I’m not a socialite. I endeavor to keep out of the way and stay in the quiet as much as possible. This may have been evident in my previous posts. I’m worried that the people around me don’t really want me there and that I’m essentially just a ‘cling-on’.

I’ve talked with my parents to possibly reduce my hours at work just because I feel exhausted by both the hours and also from just feeling down almost all the time. I’d like to think people see me as happy, talkative and maybe a little eccentric at times. When I come home and I’m in my bedroom with everyone asleep and my brain won’t switch off, that’s when I’m the most low.

Depression isn’t something that has a look or is circumstantial. I mean, Robyn Williams also known as Mrs. Doubtfire or as Alan Parish, suffered from Depression and he was a comedian! Did he look like he had depression?

Depression is this horrible clinging shadow that doesn’t disappear when the sun goes behind the clouds. It puts a horrible twist into everything and doesn’t let up. I dropped out of University cause of Insomnia and (I now suspect) Depression. I vividly remember a friend telling me to go the doctors and getting depression tablets while there because I wasn’t sleeping, stressing so much about my Uni work and just not wanting to come out of the four walls of my bedroom.

I was then called into a meeting with my Course Leaders because I was failing that year. I couldn’t keep up with my work load. I was missing lectures because of Insomnia and because I simply couldn’t leave my room. The good days was when no-one was in the house I was staying because it meant I didn’t have to face anyone. It was then that my Course Leader suggested my suspending my year and possibly returning at the start of the next year.

I didn’t. 

I left University with a Level 4 University Qualification in Illustration.

Depression isn’t just one type of person and that one type of person doesn’t have depression. I smile a lot. I joke a lot. I try and make other people around me feel happy. I’d like to think I’m polite. I’m not moody. I’m not crying every 5 minutes. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t think the worlds out to get me. I don’t hide my face under a hood or behind a mop of hair.

Depression is just little old me. Depression my friend at work who doesn’t think I realise. Depression is my close family who I see everyday who doesn’t realise I notice their sudden mood changes when certain other people come around. Depression is me, who despite trying to be happy and cheerful for others, feels alone and sad almost all the time.

Don’t stylise depression when depression isn’t an Instagram Filter. We smile, we say hello, we act normal. Don’t think that surface water is as deep as we go.

Advertisements

#HePutARingOnIt

We’re slowly getting a following on our blog (when we post that is)… and we know some of you don’t either have us two on Facebook… so we thought we’d announce this here too!

On the 12 August 2017 at roughly 11:30… Dale proposed!!!

20708011_492340624436034_1916367560012745770_n

He took me to Sissington Castle in the UK, and after a bit of a walk around the gardens, got me down on a bench and popped the question! (on one knee!).

He forgot his words so literally got straight to the point… he had planned a speech bought he couldn’t stop shaking… even after I said Yes.

So now we’re wedding planning like crazy!

Dale and I will be doing video blogs (just because it’s easier for us to do together) of our wedding planning process… which will be both sharing the joys of wedding planning and  express our struggles with wedding planning which we have already encountered!

 

Thank you Guys for all your support!

Aspergers IS Autism!

I hear this a lot ‘he/she has Aspergers and Autism’. 

I heard it today in fact at work! One of my colleagues was serving a table who, coincidentally were from my neck-of-the-woods in Staffordshire (the mum even came from the EXACT little village that my Dad grew up in… I regret not getting her name). It was mentioned to my colleague that one of the daughters were Autistic so they’d like somewhere quite quiet. My colleague mentioned me and mentioned how I had a boyfriend who was Autistic and Aspergers.

Before I continue, I just want to assure everyone I’m not blasting my colleague. She’s a lovely lady and we get on very well. She’s very inquisitive about Dale and has even asked me to teach her some sign… so this isn’t a ‘bitching’ session against her.

When she told me, I just had to correct her. It drives me nuts when I hear people say the ‘and’ between Autism and Aspergers, as if they’re two different things.

Aspergers IS Autism! 

Just the same as Melanoma is Cancer! Or Dyslexia is a Learning Disability.

I’m sure people have heard the ‘Autism Spectrum’. That’s because there are LOADS and LOADS of different characterisations and degrees of Autism. You have High Functioning and Low Functioning. Aspergers is higher on the list… but it is still Autism and should still be treated thus; not as someone who is a burden, but as someone who just needs allowances.

I’m not sure where this distinguished gap has formed between recognising Aspies as Autistic; I’d asked another colleague as she herself is married to an Aspie, but I believe it has originated initially because, as I have noted myself, Aspies tend to be harder to diagnose because they seem ‘normal’ (whatever normal is). Aspergers tend to not be the more publicised ‘Autistic Vegetable’* that just hum to themselves and have violent outbursts when touched or there’s too much volume. My Colleague mentioned that her husband was diagnosed in Canada at a fairly young age, but wasn’t diagnosed as ‘Aspergers’ but the more blanketed ‘Autistic’ because Aspergers wasn’t recognised as a Mental Condition.

The trouble with that is, because Aspies are more highly-functioning, people either denied the Autistic Diagnosis and continued their every day life, or they sent their child to a special school which dumbed them down.

I repeat, ASPERGERS is AUTISM.

It’s just a different characterisation. Aspies can still be over stimulated and have Sensory Overload. Aspies still don’t really like touch. I’m blessed to have Dale, as I have said before, who loves me cuddling him, kissing him and holding hands with him (but even then it just selected people), but some Aspies can’t stand it. Aspies can be possessive and obsessive. Aspies can be very one-track minded. Aspies can be very non-vocal.

No two Aspies are the same… the same as no two lightening bolts hit the same spot. I’ve met three other Aspies since meeting Dale.

One couldn’t stand touch, apart from his mum. He couldn’t even deal with someone sitting next to him, apart from occasionally me because I earned his trust. But even then, it had to be only when he was okay with it.

Another gave me a hug in greeting on my first day of meeting him. Dale didn’t even shake my hand on our first meeting. However this guy certainly loved to talk about his interests, and he was very outspoken.

Another was quite outgoing! On initial meeting, I didn’t click she was an Aspie until someone told me she was.

And of course there’s Dale. You know pretty much all about him… so I don’t need to tell much about him.

However, I feel this really does demonstrate the serious lack of awareness people have about Autism. 

The danger of not recognising Aspergers as Autistic, is that people don’t understand their needs because they still think Aspergers is a separate thing.

When Dale goes quiet all of a sudden, I had people get irked because he’s stopped being social with them, when actually it’s either because the situation is too much for him or he can’t figure out the appropriate thing to say and when to say it. When he’s had to lock himself away because he’s had a full on week/couple of days or day, I’ve had people become annoyed because he needs to man up. When actually he’s probably mentally exhausted and just needs to decompress and recharge so that he can give the next social event his best effort. But because they still see Aspergers as something different to Autism, they can’t get their head round it.

Another people confuse is Anxiety and Autism/Aspergers. I’ve heard some people say that Anxiety is a symptom of Aspergers.

No! Anxiety is a completely separate diagnosis.

Anxiety is common among Aspies, but it isn’t a characterisation. Not all Aspies have Anxiety. Anxiety can be, in some instances, cured! Anxiety IS a disability. Aspergers is NOT. Assuming this correlation would be effectively saying that eating Bacon gives you Cancer (now days, everything gives you cancer). When actually, no, it’s just merely a coincidence.

So people… Please please PLEASE stop saying Aspergers and Autism! 

Because ASPERGERS IS AUTISM

 

 

 

*DISCLAIMER: I use ‘Autistic Vegetable’ to represent the way the Media and the way none awareness people may think of Autism. This is in no means to suggest that Autistic People are Vegetables because they most certainly are not.

Man of my Life!

Half Term has hit and it just seems like too many things are happening at once and piling up!

I’m feeling more lonely then ever after an episode last week of where I just wanted to get out of the house… but had no-one to hang out with. Mum was a work, Dad was at work, Brother was at school, Dale was at work and practically what felt like my only friend in Brighton was out spending her morning with her boyfriend.

So in a fit of desperation, I drove off in my car, parked at the side of the car and wept. Wept because I felt so alone. And wept is such an old fashioned word to use, one that you only see in old storybooks… but I feel it is apt. There I was, sat in my car just crying my eyes out cause I could not bring to my mind anyone who I could just text ‘What you up to today?’

I’ve been working crazy shifts at my job which are all evening shifts and take over the most of my weekend. Apart from my colleagues (who I would say are my friends, but wouldn’t say they’re people I can just text and see if they want coffee at costa… Except perhaps Sharon and Lily… and now my mum) and the mass amount of customers that come in through the restaurant doors, I don’t have time to socialise.

Mum and Dad have gone up north to visit my Grandparents, and I’m taking care of my brother while they’re away. 

Friday night I came home from work, after working from 10am to roughly 11pm, and discovered that my little brother hadn’t eaten anything for dinner. He’s 14 so was capable to cook for himself, but I felt like such a failure for not being able to look after him when he was depending on me. I was mad! I was mad at everything, not to mention I hadn’t eaten anything either since 9am, so I was starving too. I was mad at me, him, work, parents, siblings. Even the internet hub took on onslaught of bad language from me! I ended up driving down to McDonalds with the brother, apologising profusely to him, and buying us a McDonalds feast. Not nutritious, but it was better than nothing.

I’d also messaged my sleeping Dale that night too… and Saturday morning I woke up to him telling me and bro to come over to his flat for breakfast. We had prearranged that he would hang out with the brother while I was at work… but Dale knew the gravity of the situation after Friday Nights Frustrated Messages.

So from 10am on Saturday morning, my wonderful boyfriend cooked me and my brother breakfast, gave me a blanket and let me sleep on the sofa, allowed me to use the shower, gave me a kiss off to work and looked after my brother until when I came home from work at 23:30 to pick the brother up. However again I was in a foul mood after not leaving work till late.

And Dale got the brunt of it. My poor man got the angry, frustrated, emotional Alli.

And the amazing guy just stood there… let me have at it, then just pulled me into my arms while I let all my frustration out into tears.

He didn’t yell back at me, he didn’t just storm off. He just held me silently. This man who is… by public opinion… supposed to be emotionally switched off and supposed to approach things in such a spock-like manner… completely reacted in the 100% appropriate way.

I thanked him countless times last night… and I’m sure I’ll thank him countless times in the future…

Today, I’m still not 100% but I’m ready to face it head on. What mood I’ll be in when I get home I have no idea… Hopefully it will be much better! 

Made a U-Turn

I’m back waitressing at my old job, and at the moment feel a little over my head. 

Unfortunately, my job at the Learning Centre had to be left as I wasn’t in a financial position to continue. I do miss it… everyday. I miss working with the amazing kids that I say every Monday and Tuesday.

One of the students I had was taken out of school because of issues they had. The student was sometimes difficult, and I did lose my patience sometimes, but it seemed that I was the only one who could get through to them. Just before Christmas they had decided they wanted to return! My Sister (who had come to work with me for two days and met the student) saw the them on her bus to work and the student started a conversation with her. 

Amazingly the student said that they missed the Learning Centre and Me! I had given them the drive to go back to school. I’d given them confidence to believe in themselves and now they’re doing well in school! 

There are certain students who I have seen grow so much in the 5 months I was with them. Some students who were hardly interacting with people at all I saw make friends and completely flourish in class. I saw students gain a passion for learning and really setting their personal bars high, challenging themselves to be their best. I will miss it! I also deeply miss the team that I worked with! When I was unsure how to deal with something or approach an issue, I did have my team that I could get an opinion from!

I cannot mention names, genders or age of the students relating to the above due to Child Protection reasons. I also cannot divulge the name or location of the Learning Centre for the same reasons.

However, my other life-long dream is owning my own cafe/restaurant.

Before I had left my waitressing job at the Harvester, I was in training to become a team leader/shift supervisor. It was a step on a ladder to achieving my dream. I went back to that job and am again being trained into taking on that role as Shift Supervisor.

I’d hit a few road bumps (been late a couple of times due to the dramatic working hours change – from a 9-5 job to a all over the place shift job – and also made a few poor decisions which inconvenienced the team), but thankfully the management is being very gracious to me and giving me a little leniency on me being a complete doofus! Going back hasn’t been easy, especially going back in the position I went back in. So, like I said to my boss, I’m kicking myself up the arse and sorting my crap out!

For the past few months I’ve battled very hard with feeling depressed and unfortunately, my family and Dale would get the brunt of it.

It got to the point of one day literally dropping all plans and telling everyone that I literally didn’t want Human contact with anybody. I think I spent pretty much a day and a half on my own. It was only broken by my worried mum coming to make sure I was okay.

Dale and my Family are in full support of me going back to the Harvester, even if it means most of our evenings are taken away and that we now don’t have full weekends together. It is hard… I miss them. However it makes the times that I do spend with them a lot more precious. It’s more than likely I won’t get Valentines Day with Dale, as that’s a popular day in any Restaurant. However… I must must must remember to book our 2 Year Anniversary off (which will be 29th March ^_^ )

 

So, It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster start to 2017, and we’re only 30 days in! (I literally just had to check that! It feels like it’s been 2017 for ages!) Thankfully I have a Family, I have Dale, amazing friends and a omnipresent Father who knows everything that’s happening (just wish he’d wake me up on time in the morning). 

 

Lastly, bit of a promotional drop… If you’re in Brighton, please please please come a check out The Katarina, Harvester! We’ve had a major overhaul of our Service Skills and our Food Production! Not too long back the Restaurant wasn’t doing amazingly and was struggling to make ends meat… but now we’re steadily hitting targets and our reputation is steadily on the rise again!

 

Cheers Guys,

Night night x

Churches are Lonely – Follow Up

Roughly 2 months ago, I posted a blog post about how Churches were lonely places to be. 

It’s taken me so long to write this follow up post for a few reasons, some of which being that I firstly didn’t want to write it prematurely and not allow the previous post to have the full effect. Secondly, I wanted to make sure that a follow up post was correctly thought out and written so people didn’t misjudge my intentions. I also didn’t want to contradict the purpose of the original or even to sweep the first under the carpet.
This is a follow up post however it doesn’t mean the problem still isn’t a problem.

I had mixed responses regarding the post, mostly all being supportive and wanting to help the issue. Fewer were responses about whether such a public media was the correct way to approach it. So before I report the changes I’ve felt and seen within my own church regarding the subject, I will tackle the Public Media.

I had written my ‘essay’ firstly on my notes app on my phone after an incredibly lonely day at church. No one had said hi to me apart from the people who’s job it was to say hi to me. People who I had known pretty much all my life didn’t even give me a blink. I had originally written the essay in partly anger, partly upset and unforgiveness. My original intent wasn’t for it to go on the internet; I’d written it because I express my feelings better in words. I had then showed it to my mum so she knew how I felt without me tripping over my words (or saying the wrong thing, which I do a lot), and she read it. She heard me. She then encouraged me to post it to the blog, which I’m glad she did.

I posted my essay on this blog for reasons as follows:

  • I express my feelings better in words
  • I felt that if there were anybody else in the same situation (which there were) they needed to know it’s not just them being introverted or unsociable
  • It wasn’t just a ‘my church’ problem

I started having people contact me about how they felt exactly the way I did. I had people start talking to me at church because they were in the same metaphorical boat as me. 

A Youth Leader that I had when I was in Youth Work contacted me and asked to meet up. We went for Waffles and Ice Cream and just talked. We did talk about my blog post and how I was doing.  We also talked about how my church leader had contacted me wanting to have a meet up too. He’d been deeply upset by my blog post, not because I had offended him, but rather because he doesn’t want anybody to feel like that in his church.

He asked whether I had unforgiveness and, I’ll be honest as I was with him; Yes. I do. I’m working on that but it’s difficult to forgive being forgotten about especially when you feel forgotten about by so many people.

I actually give myself credit for the fact I didn’t start crying in front of him, because I always seem to end up a blubbering mess when talking about my feelings!

He’d also asked where will I go from here (writing the blog post). I’m still trying to figure that out too. I find it difficult to just strike up a conversation with people, even if those people I’ve known for years. My issue, as said in previous posts, is that I don’t want to inconvenience people. I hate feeling the uncertainty of whether the person likes me or whether that person wants to even speak to me.

I’m glad he didn’t just suggest for me to go talking to people, because that really showed he had listened, which sometimes I find if I have a verbal discussion with someone, I sometimes get over-talked and therefore, people miss what I’m all about.

My life long ambition is to own a cafe/restaurant accessible for everyone. So I guess, in a sense, I want to lead a social hub, where people can gather, make friends, bring friends and have a background noise of conversations. Silence, when you’re an introvert is so deafening and even though I sometimes do prefer just being alone typing away on a blog post, I do like being around people. It’s no coincidence then that my last job was Waitressing and my current job is working in a Learning Centre for Homeschooled Children where I have an active involvement with the students.

So I guess my ultimate step forward would be to start hosting my own social gatherings. Maybe they wont be so popular to start with, but I’d like to at least try. I’m a fairly good cook, so maybe I’ll provide dinner for the guys that come along.

If you’d be interested in coming along, do let me know!

I’ve also developed some other friendships in the church since the blog post. Mostly with people who have felt the same way as me so we’re of a mutual standing. I don’t think I’m at the stage of just walking up to them and having a conversation, but at least I now know there are people who feel the same. I wouldn’t have discovered that without the blog post.

I’ve also been attending a small group without my parents or Dale. Unfortunately I still don’t converse much and there are weeks I do feel lonely. However, there have been times when I’ve felt very comfortable in that setting and people engage me. I know that sounds one sided and I should be trying to equally engage them. I know that, and I’m working on it.

Finally, my intention of the article wasn’t specifically directed at my church. I have been to roughly three other churches (two in the Midlands UK and another in the south). I find the exact same thing happens. Granted, at the other south church I was hardly attending the church, mainly because of my socializing problems and the fear of just sitting on my own looking like an idiot. I’m not naive enough to think it’s just happening in my church and moreover, only happening to me, because it’s not. I knew that before I even wrote the post. The problem was, nobody was addressing it and some didn’t even want to admit it.

Has the problem magically gone away? No. It hasn’t. However, I’m also not naive enough to think that one 2000+ word essay on the internet would enact a domino-like effect and change the complete runnings of the church. If it did, the problem would have been addressed long before now and solved equally as long before now. It hasn’t, but it’s a working progress.

 

To those who still don’t recognise this within a church, please just glance around, see how many people are just sitting on their own in the congregation and notice how many people just walk straight passed them. Yes, they probably don’t want to socialize… and yes if they did they could make the effort too. But what if they a petrified of other people not wanting to talk to them and them being a nuisance to other people? What if they don’t have that confidence? Please, just go say hi to them. Help them! 

 

The STRANGEST thing has happened to me today… And it’s such an out there coincidence that it’s almost as if someone planned it!

Today I was sideswiped in my car. Dale was with me and and luckily I got a witness who pulled over and offered to give a statement should I need it. Now, normally the story would end with a ‘I contacted the insurance company and now I’m waiting on the tonnes of paper work’ (I’m currently going through an insurance claim cause a stupid person decided to not stop in time and put a head sized dent in the back of my car at the beginning of October. I think my car is cursed or something), however, because it’s literally paintwork damage, my Dad advised me to see if the third party would agree to paying it straight off.

At the scene I completely bloody forgot to get the other cars number plate. All I had was her mobile number and the contact number for the witness. When it happened I did say a few choice words (… the instant reaction to someone playing bumper cars with your car) but the lady who side swiped me was reassuringly very pleasant. We even gave each other a hug.

I text her after speaking to my Dad about whether she was up for just paying straight out for a paint job, cause I think me and my Dad agree that it seems almost not worth the coffuffle of going through the insurance for a bit of coloured spray! The lady agreed and said she may do the same and use the same garage if they do a good job. Anyway, we’ve got talking and we had a discussion about my job (I mentioned at the scene that I was a teacher… explaining the mound of paper and pens I had stored in my car. It was easier than saying I was a centre manager at a learning centre for homeschooled children).

Anyhoo, turns out she has an Son who is a high-functioning Aspie and in mainstream school! You can’t make this up! So now we’re talking about conferences on the ASD Spectrum.

I posted on my Facebook the other day, asking about seeing God’s plans! Now, I’m a Christian and I believe that God has a plan for every second of my life. This may be conflicting, but I’m sure he didn’t plan for me being in an accident this morning, but I do believe he may use this to start up a whole new chapter. It can’t just be a coincidence that the person who I shared an accident with has an Aspie Son (she also had an Aspie [ex] husband) and goes to Conferences about ASD.

We’ll see where this takes me shall we? Again though, I repeat my status; WHAT ARE YOU DOING GOD?