Thursday, 10 September 2015

Beautiful handspun and yet another syndrome!

The mood to blog has finally arrived again! The excitement, the photos, the words and the urge to express myself all at once!

But the computer won't work. It's really slow and isn't connecting to my camera properly. I'm restarting it but I'll crack on in an email to myself on my phone while it thinks about what is wrong.

Well it's been two weeks of ups and downs again. I received the most beautiful package from my sister after sending her some fibre from Hilltop Cloud to spin. She included some other yarn she had spun in the box which I hadn't expected. It was lovely.

This is the beautiful Alpaca which has been lovingly spun by my sister. Gorgeous. Stunning. Four balls of this.

My sister was diagnosed with Hypermobility EDS type III on the same day as I attended my Autism pre assessment so it's all happening. I have just been to my GP about it as having a sister with it means there is a fifty per cent chance I will have it too. It is genetic but there is no blood test for it. Other types of EDS can be tested for in a laboratory but this one involves asking lots of questions again like Autism so out mum pops with her now familiar A4 notepad.

For my sisters diagnosis she compiled an A4 folder with a complete family history in it which helped her enormously.

EDS is a joint and skin condition. It affects everything from how often you bruise to how your hair comes out of its follicle. It affects your throat. It affects your body temperature. It affects your heart valve. It affects your circulation and your mood. It affects how you digest food and how you feel when walking down the street. Being too aware of your body can make you feel uneasy and anxious and panic attacks are common in those with the syndrome.

It makes your joints click almost constantly. I made the mistake of wearing heels to an interview recently and leant forward in a quiet moment. Everything cracked. Literally every joint in my body. I was stressed out and embarrassed at sounding like a seventy year old. They looked unnerved. I didn't get the job unsurprisingly. Probably because I was so unhappy in my heels. I don't know why I've got it into my head that heels look more professional. They might do on other women but then other women have normal joints.

So anyway it didn't take much of a fight to be referred for a diagnosis. I am off to the hospital soon.

During the past few weeks I have discovered a wonderful video podcaster who lives in England! Hooray!

Along the Lanes is a beautiful wonderful podcast which has really livened up my evenings recently after working in a call centre. She is alive with excitement and adores colour and fibre so much it hurts. She has cool red hair and has a lovely collection of yarn! Beware, she could prove to be addictive...

As you can probably gather I have got the camera to work and my computer is alright. Must save up for another one soon.

I will pop back in another couple of weeks to chat. The crafty mojo is returning and autumn always helps.

Happy knitting...

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Summer thunderstorms and a revelation

The sky is a swirling mass of greys, whites and blues with the occasional flash of lightning.

Yes. It's August and I am finally feeling settled enough to write a blog post. It's been a while. My last post was back at the start of May shortly after being told I was being let go just after my first Sherlock convention.

WARNING: It's a long post. Get a cup of tea. I talk about autism.

I've never been made redundant after being in the same place for so long, always either terminating a temping contract myself, being told I wasn't suitable in a temp role or resigning so it was a first experience. I managed a final team meal and drink on my last day which was lovely and mostly managed to keep it all together.

I have been temping since the start of June with just a Friday off before I began agency work. I am now on my third temping role and feel I might be settling in for a few months which is when things will be reviewed again.

I also went back to my GP after going to her in December of last year suggesting I might have mild autism. I felt bolder as a result of being on my medication and seemed to be in the mood to sort things out personally.

This time I spent longer talking to her and refused to budge when the inevitable "but you seem alright. I meet others with worse autism and they don't even know they're autistic" comment arose. I dug my heels in saying my sister had been diagnosed and that a lot of situations seemed to be happening which seemed to align with a classic case of Aspergers syndrome in my work life as well as my personal life. She asked me what I thought a diagnosis would bring and whether I thought it would change things. I answered that my sister seemed to have a much higher understanding of herself and had just got married. I said it had helped me to understand why sometimes we seemed to get wires crossed and be unforgiving, despite an initial period of anger with her after her diagnosis had quelled.

This seemed to work. I spoke positively about my sister and how she had adapted her life and that I was concentrating on staying in work. Sometimes mental health professionals are very sarcastic about the reason why you want a diagnosis. They sometimes think it's an excuse to go off sick from work and go on to benefits so I have been careful to keep all my conversations very work focussed. I am continually seeing examples of how autistic I am demonstrated clearly at work. How people's expectations of me are very high but I get tripped up by bullies, how I can't make small talk, how I feel in a busy office, etc.

So eventually, after six pages of A4 notes had been handwritten about me (my mother prefers to handwrite notes) as a child by my mum and after which autistic traits I had displayed strongly had been listed and handed in, I waited to see what would happen.

I received an appointment for a pre-diagnostic assessment very quickly. They seemed to have a sense of incredible urgency about them. I then attended and have been referred for a full assessment including family members. Strange for someone who doesn't really need a diagnosis, huh?

Anyway, I won't criticise the NHS but I do feel the resistance to give any kind of diagnosis other than a mental health related one is a little shocking. It's all to do with money in my view - receiving it from anti-depressant companies for mental health and having to pay for other diagnoses like autism. Well, sorry if I've cost the NHS money but Aspergers syndrome is so serious it's classed as a disability so **** you.

I thought about writing a post about how you can deal with someone with Aspergers syndrome. If I was neurotypical (someone without autism) I would love that, so here are a few tips:

1. Don't crowd someone with Asperger's. Aspie people tend to like to talk to one person at a time. I need to watch someone's face and body language intently. I can't do this with two or three people. Keeping track of a group conversation is hard. I can manage it but my word it drains me.

2. Don't shout or pop balloons or blow a whistle around an aspie. I find noise tolerable but wearing. Sudden noises are awful. I always know when someone with autistic traits has clued into the fact that I'm sensitive and wants to bully me - they make sudden loud noises. I have been bullied in this way.

3. I like anything repetitive. If we spoke about planes last time we spoke and I liked it then talk about planes again.

4. If I talk about the same subject at length then please try and cut the conversation short politely.

5. Don't be offended if I walk past you without eye contact or saying hi. Please don't think I'm rude. I sometimes don't see the point if we've already said hi or if I only saw you the previous afternoon.

6. Don't touch an aspie. Don't slap my back or place your hand on my shoulders. This has happened to me at work and it really really stressed me out so much.

There is loads of information on the National Autistic Society website. You can also donate through this website. I have had to stay on hold for two hours to speak to someone on their helpline which has changed my life a little.

I have been knitting quite a bit - I'm knitting a present for a friend and am over halfway through the purple cushion knitted with some yarn my sister spun for me for Christmas.

My blanket has been folded up since June - it's cool enough to knit small things but it's a little bit too hefty now. I will start again in September I'm sure.

Thank you for all the support in between posts. Thank you to all my new followers over on Facebook. It's been really nice to feel missed. I will hopefully decrease the distance between posts from now on.

Monday, 4 May 2015


Well it's been five weeks since my last post so I think they're speeding up a little bit! I got a three figure readership which is good considering my lack of words and pics or indeed, regularity.

There have been a few eventful things which have happened in those five weeks. At the top of the list is managing to go up to London for a Sherlock Convention. It was a brilliant day.

I thought I would feel a bit lonely and spaced out in the talks but the whole day was like a blissful dream. My medication held fast so I didn't have any problem sitting in the hall - in fact I was hugely relaxed. A very unusual experience and one I will treasure. It gives me confidence when I sit somewhere I usually panic and feel blissed out. Although of course, staring at Rupert Graves wouldn't make anyone panic! It felt like such a perk to sit amongst such an intimate audience and have him entertain us.

Apologies for the blurry pics - there are more pictures and news from the day in a more coherent form on Cumberbatchweb.

I have been so inspired by the day that I have plucked up the courage to go and see Louise Brealey (Molly in BBC Sherlock) at the Bristol Old Vic at the end of this month. I will be on my own again but I'm sure I won't feel lonely.

I have been getting a little shaky recently as I knew my contract at work was due to finish at the end of May. The team are moving offices halfway through May with me still in it but I got my notice last week. The responses I've received so far have been amazingly positive and I'm quite confident I will find something good soon. Now I have the notice and I'm job hunting I feel quite a lot better, and of course I have the Louise Brealey play to perk me up if I feel down...

I am just over halfway through the rainbow blanket and a quarter of the way through my cushion. I keep folding it because it looks so good when neat. I have used it to cover my legs and fallen asleep happily underneath it a few times.

I recently blogged about my doctor agreeing that I have mild autism but not enough to get a diagnosis. It's amazing just how much of your life it affects. I have joined the National Autistic Society and have been reading about things I didn't even imagine were linked to autism like some autistic people liking the weight of a heavy duvet or blanket at night. I don't quite understand it but I guess I'm one of those people. I'm not sure how I can alter this part of my life in summer. Any suggestions?

I have received a sum total of two writing rejections since I last blogged. I'm a bit sad that each rejection still feels like a boulder falling from a mountain while I have feet of clay. I took a few weeks off from writing, editing and sending out this time so I feel very much refreshed. My latest flash fiction story is about a trans girl and her boyfriend and I'm hoping someone somewhere will like it.

Anyway - I'll be back in a week or so (she says) to update you all with any news.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

You need rain for a rainbow

I have been busy over the two months since I last posted on this blog. I have finished half of the Cottage Blanket designed by the wonderful Attic 24.

Words cannot adequately express how much this comforts me when I sit on the sofa and find it waiting for me to begin crocheting. Through the last two months I have had many ups and downs and have been quite busy at times so the thought that this will be waiting for me when I get home or get off the computer is a very wonderful feeling indeed. I have had a lot of rejection in the last few months but that's inevitable for a writer and I am learning to be thick-skinned. Usually I need a day and then I'm ready to go again.

I have finally had three stories published through the brilliant Womentoring scheme and my ace mentor Vicki Jarrett. The three stories are in the current issue of The Next Review which you can buy for just £4.50!

Last month I attended my sister's wedding which was held at a lovely hotel in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire. The room where the ceremony was held looked out onto rolling countryside and was very romantic and happy. I had only been to one wedding before so was quite nervous and didn't know many of her friends but they are all very friendly, interesting and intelligent people so there was nothing to worry about there. I even ended up dancing until 1am. Not like me at all. Wonderful.

So this rainbow is indeed spreading some much needed cheer into my life and the lives of my loved ones!

My sister has started to spin and gave me a lovely hank of hand dyed and hand spun texel wool which has lovely flecks in it and feels nice and tweedy. I love tweedy yarn and it's really soft when knitted up. I launched into knitting a cushion without really thinking about it as I just wanted to knit with it as soon as possible. However, I think there's only enough for one side of a 42 x 42cm cushion. So I will have to think about what I will stitch on the reverse side! Isn't it knitting up beautifully though.

So a great two months overall since I last blogged. I will try and make the time to blog but I'm always tempted to use odd bits and bobs of time to write or submit stories at the moment. I will aim for once a week again though.

Happy British summertime!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

January rainbows

Well...I've well and truly had another blogging break over Christmas and the New Year. Over my two weeks of leave from work I spent a lot of time going for walks, writing, crocheting a blanket...and listening to my Mum cough!

We still managed to have a relaxing break but we didn't manage any proper days out as Mum was feeling poorly and I'm not always very motivated to go off travelling on the trains and buses by myself. So I spent a lot of time listening to beautiful music on Radio Three, Classic FM and Six Music and crocheting.

We went for a few walks and it was nice to have some sunshine on Christmas Day for once so we spent an hour or two in the morning exercising our legs before we sat down for our meal.

I spent a lot of time over the two weeks honing a collection of six stories ready for submission to a formal year-long mentoring scheme which involves two free week-long Arvon writing residentials. I also had to write a one thousand word statement and a page of biography from scratch to go with them. I then had to print four copies of everything. I managed it but it was the most effort I've put into any writing submission since my dissertation ten years ago at university. It was a steep learning curve as I had submitted the stories to my current mentor who provided brilliant and very useful feedback so I felt encouraged to carry on editing.

My Attic 24 blanket was amazing to crochet. After I had got the hang of the simple pattern and I had completed the first two rows I was away and am loving every minute of crocheting it. I'm getting on better with a simple crochet project after work. It helps that it's split into two row segments so I have a limit if I don't want to do much.

Look at all those ends! Like life in general - ends need threading up and securing carefully. I'm sure I'll find them not too bad at the moment as my head is clearer since I went on medication. It may not be for everyone, or a long-term fix due to side effects which tend to irritate after a year (for me personally) but for now it's helping me swing along nicely while I have some uncertainty in my life. It's helped my concentration which has always been an issue - perhaps you can tell from this blog post that I have been able to 'settle' to projects better recently.

I'm having a weekend all to myself at the moment - my Mum is away with my sister at Centre Parcs in a spa as a pre-wedding treat so I have plenty of time to write and crochet. I hope you're having a lovely weekend wherever you are.
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