Lines! 

“Does she line things up?” 

This is a question that comes up frequently during appointments for Lou. I must admit I’ve quietly thought to myself : why does it matter if she does?!? The trouble is I don’t always grasp what people are trying to get at! 

We have been noticing more lately as Lou approaches 5 years old, that she prefers to line her toys up, early assessment reports would always say: “Doesn’t  appear to line things up.” Then I’m guessing this wouldn’t have been seen unless it was in the comfort and safety of her own home. Recently Lou has developed an interest in little characters such as ‘Shopkins,’ ‘Trolls’ from the recent movie, ‘Peppa Pig’ and ‘Tsum Tsum’ characters, she will also line up her Barbie dolls and wooden bricks, anything that’s within her reach really. It always amazes me how she knows the name of every single character and will name them as they are placed into line: “there you go, into the line Stawberry Kiss.” She also tells me every day who has been the: ‘Line Leader’ at school! 

I’m always interested in the theory behind these things and started to think that during my experience in Early Years Education that I’ve seen many Neurotypical (NT) children perfectly happy to line things up, in the chaos of a toddler or child’s mind I can see how to order and line objects such as toys can provide some organisation and control to the many things that are loading into their brains as they are like ‘sponges’ taking in so much information about the world around them. 

Then I starting to think about my ‘ways’ (as we describe them in our household!) and thought back to being a teenager that  had a certain place for every single ornament on shelves, books and CD’s in alphabetical order, everything in it’s own place and if any item was ever moved I could tell straight away and feel very frustrated and this feeling would only go away when I moved the object back into it’s certain place. This reminded me that when Lou is lining her toys up she prefers to be on her own and if her sister, Moo (almost 2) moves a character out of the line that Lou is making, or if a character falls down then the whole lot will get thrown across the room and this will often result in a meltdown. 

“I told you to stand up Cooper!” (Said in an angry voice.)

This is a character from The Trolls movie that has a very long neck and is notorious for falling over out of line! Lou will say “he’s my favourite because he ‘poos’ cupcakes! 

I read that: 

“A disruption in the order of alignment of the line of toys might be upsetting because lining up the toys provides comfort and a sense of control.” 

Source: oureverydaylife.com

I think that by having my children I did have to adapt and mellow out a bit in terms of taking this sort of control in my life as I learnt to dedicate my time to them rather than spending time cleaning and lining up. At times of more stress I will have a burning desire to clean and organise more and I find this is a way to reduce my anxieties and gain back some control. I cannot help that my brain is saying to me that I like the way a room looks after it’s been cleaned and organised, and it’s the control and organising the mind aspects I guess that prompts Lou to line her toys up. I guess that after a day of demands and holding in her sensory overloads at school could result in coming home and feeling better after lining her toys up. 

One thing that I do want to try and help with is that this doesn’t become more of a problem as Lou teaches her teenage years or adulthood, as I couldn’t revise for my GCSE’s or do any University work until a room was tidy, if I did try and sit down and study before tidying I would be distracted by dust on the TV, bits on the floor and I’d just have to get up and clean it, often resulting in working in to the early hours of the morning and resulting in a ‘burn-out’ whilst revising for my GCSEs, GNVQ at college and University degree and I’m still like it now – before I start work on my laptop I have to clean up first! The difference is that my lining up and order verges on OCD that is treated via my GP, it is an obsessive nature that has grown with me over time and I can’t even remember if I lined up my toys as a child! I worry that Lou has picked up on this but simply cannot help the way that my brain is wired. 

This is why I sent the relevant information to the ‘Umbrella Pathway’ panel (assessment for ASD in Worcestershire.) As for now I will not encourage Lou to stop lining things up as I can see that it’s therapeutic for her at the moment, and she’s decided to do it on her own agenda, but early intervention is key and I want her to avoid it becoming more and more obsessive as she gets older, to prevent it interfering with other aspects of her life like her school work, or relationships as it takes a lot of Lou’s daddy to understand my ‘ways!’ And not everyone could put up with it! 
I’m always fascinated to hear other people’s experiences about lining things up, whether a child or adult. I like to find out the theory behind it all. If anyone would like to share a story either named or anonymously I’d be happy to share.

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Thanks for reading 🙂 

“Today Poppy the Troll is the line leader”

Spectrum Sunday

My story isn’t over yet… #WorldMentalHealthDay 2016

My own design which describes my journey. The butterfly is a symbol of peace and freedom to me. I’d love a Semi-Colon butterfly tattoo (when I’ve found out if I’m allergic to the dye.)

I usually prefer to write about Lou’s journey, not my own.

But on days like today I remember back to 2008/9 when I had, what I now describe as my ‘tricky time.’ I prefer to write all of my memories from this time to my online books. I’ve always carried a feeling of being ashamed of suffering a nervous breakdown, but what I’ve learnt over time is that it happened and I’m here to tell the story and therefore:

“My story isn’t over yet!” 

(Source: Slogan from Semi-Colon project.)

I was homesick, 3 hours from where I grew up, I hadn’t really branched out to make a lot of new friends outside of where I worked as I didn’t feel that many people ‘got’ me. I had a bad reaction to some anti depressants and it all went a bit down hill from there. I remember feeling so very scared because I didn’t feel in control of my own body and I couldn’t trust anyone around me due to the paranoia I was feeling at that time. I have this tremendous pang of guilty because people did get hurt at this time, lives were changed down to me but it’s not like I chose for the black cloud to descend on me 😦 

I could have stayed feeling guilty forever, I could have let it consume me, but I now take the approach that: 

“Everything happens for a reason.” 

And I wouldn’t be on the path I am today if these events hadn’t happened. I had to go through a tremendously rubbish path to enable me to learn about myself and become the strong person that I am today. 

This event in my life sparked some (still mainly) unanswered questions about myself, as a child and also an an adult. I suffered brain trauma at birth, could this have any effects on my mental health? (Another topic for my ongoing research,) although no one is to ‘blame’ all I can do is learn about myself and how I can go about to ensure I can function. I have questions about:

– Depression

– Anxiety – (in particular, social anxiety.) 

– OCD tenancies 

– Undiagnosed Autism? Particularly Asperger’s Syndrome.

– Bi Polar? A huge question mark as I no longer have ‘high’ episodes, more on an even keel.

– Highly Sensitive Person (HSP.) As suggested by a great counsellor I saw. 

– Sensory Processing Difficulties – in particular, a ‘sensory avoider.’ 

I could sit and ponder on these things all day but…

…What I have got are 2 beautiful children and a partner that understands me, for me, like no other person has (except my mum!) Ever! I’m now back, where I feel that I belong, back where I grew up and in familiar terratory. With people close by that would spot straight away if I didn’t seem right. My issues have only meant that I’ve ever had a few weeks away from working, I’ve been able to do a job that I so desperately love, that allows me to forget about my worries, for over 12 years. One of my biggest worries is that my issues would stop my future career prospects as my fear was that people would ‘think’ that I wasn’t suitable to work with children, but it has never stopped me, it’s one of the elements where I tell myself “keep going, your good at it!” When I run my music sessions currently, and I see the children are smiling and enjoying themselves I think to myself “this is what I was born to do.” 

I do worry that I could have future ‘occurance’ but I desperately try not to dwell on it, I worry that my daughter will suffer the same worries as a teenager and throughout stressful times in life. But I can be the one who can spot her troubles and get the appropriate help if needed. 

Mental illness needs to be talked about, for years it felt like my ‘dirty secret’ I was so worried and moulded on other people’s impressions of me. What are people with a mental illness supposed to act like? Do people expect me to have a massive meltdown in the middle of a public place?! Do people expect me to sit and cry all day? In fact I find it very difficult to cry, I have only cried twice in the past month! 

We need to talk to other people who are going through, or have been through the same experiences, I have a few friends and my sister who I could be completely honest with about how I’m feeling and can talk openly about my experiences, I recently chatted to one friend for 3 hours about how we perceive the world and people in public, and realised that it’s not just me who thinks a certain way! Which was a massive relief for me! I’ve only had one experience so far, of sharing my problems, (regarding a view I have on a particularly sensitive subject,) where this person really couldn’t understand me, and later referred to me as “ungrateful” amd “selfish,” (needless-to-say, I no longer associate with this person!) 

This was one of my first original quotes that I produced after starting my Blog in March 2016. Blogging to me is fantastic therapy. There are so many thoughts going around in my head, it’s a relief to get them out and onto the Blog.

For more information and/or help, please contact: 

www.mind.org.uk

www.time-to-change.org.uk

One of my biggest hurdles was plucking up the courage to tell my GP how I was really feeling, the GP’s can only really help if you open up, something that I’ve learnt over time. I was so worried about being dismissed or being told that I was “making it all up.” But thankfully, this has never happened. If I have a problem I write it down and hand it to my GP, for me, I am the sort of person who finds it easier to write things down, rather than to make eye contact on a particular sensitive topic. If you, or anyone you know, are feeling that you need to talk to your GP, my advice would be to write it all down and post or take it in personally.

Thanks for reading 🙂 

OCD!

Having OCD is really difficult when your a parent I wish it would just disappear as it just doesn’t fit in with family life!
I’ve tried to stop myself picking up every sock, toy or other item that’s lying on the floor, but now find myself doing it without realising!
OCD first made an appearance when I was about 14, I was stressed about school, being picked on daily and just about the only thing I had control over was the way my room was tidied. Everything was ordered, lined up and spacious.
I hate my hands being dirty, I don’t mind getting them dirty with gardening, messy play, etc but I can’t wait to wash them! I like it when objects are ordered and in line, and shock horror! I caught Lou only today lining up bathroom products!
More to come on this topic!

Thanks for reading 🙂