The bully meets his match?

Well, the summer has come and gone and whilst I had every intention of blogging I found myself just enjoying the long summer days and before I knew it, poof, the summer was gone.

It has been an interesting summer, I don’t want to dwell on COVID 19 in fact let’s skip that subject as much as possible. This summer resulted in my eldest daughter getting her A Level results, again lets try and skip the politics of that area, let’s just say it was a very stressful time and I’m glad it is over. The outcome though was amazing and she is off this Saturday to start her Law degree at Bristol University, I am hugely proud of her achievements and whilst I will miss her immensely I am just bursting to the seams with excitement for her.

Bonnie has had an intense summer, the continuation of being in such close proximity to the 5 members of our family has not been without its issues and her anxiety levels have been incredibly high. It is her OCD that has been very distressing to watch and as a result of appointments with her therapist a decision was made to try and tackle the OCD head on.

Now Bonnie and I have read every book going on OCD, we have watched every programme and we have scoured every website, and we get it. We understand the whole concept of OCD and how that bully really should just get lost and leave her alone, and yet it is still there every night-time filtering away through her body until she goes and picks up the object(s) from the bathroom (predominately toilet rolls and towels) finally allowing her to sleep. So the decision to tackle the bully head on resulted in much the same way as if you tackled a bully in the playground and it fought back. Now, normally I would encourage Bonnie to continue to fight the bully but at this moment in time it was too strong because I felt that we were giving it too much power. Again much like the bully in the playground we have been feeding its ego and boosting it up to seem something big and important, in actually fact it is just weak and feeding off of someone else’s pain. So we have tried another tact, ignore it. Try as best as you can to distract yourself and not let it feel so powerful. Find something else in your life that can feel an accomplishment that the bully cannot take away from you. It doesn’t mean that it goes away but what it does mean is that you spend a little less of the time worrying about it.

So Bonnie has decided to invest more time in her studies, she would be year 11 at school but she has been homeschooled since year 6. This is amazing for me, do you know how long I have waited for her to come to me and for her to suggest that she focuses on her exams… well it’s a long time. Don’t get me wrong we have completed many online courses and art programmes and bought lots of books but I am talking about a clear path to sitting GCSE’s.

Some of her decision to do this was brought about by the eldest daughter achieving her exams and going off to Uni but a lot of it was as the result of time and trying to beat the bully. Since she was 10 years old and left school I have encouraged her to make sure that she was in the right place mentally and physically for life, and that her exams could wait. It was a difficult decision and met with objection by some family members and some friends who questioned (continually) my approach and who have really caused me anxiety and stress. They also left me wondering if I had got it right, was I creating further issues and distress for Bonnie further down the line ? Well it’s taken me a while but to all those people I now really feel as though I can say Nah Nah Nah Nah… I finally feel able to have the confidence in myself again and in fact I should not have doubted myself.

The teaching aspect is coming from tutors. I am truly grateful to have found a wonderful maths tutor who is kind and considerate and who constantly tells Bonnie how wonderful she is. How amazing is that !! I am capable of walking Bonnie through the concept of maths but at the same time I am not, you see I have the ability but I am not very good at breaking things down and actually teaching them. So the introduction of Anne is a life saver and to be frank I do not feel that I have failed, I feel as though I have succeeded in what was the initial plan. It’s early days but hopefully 2 years down the line Bonnie will have the results required to take her to the next step of her life, be that further education or a job, lets wait and see.

As you can tell from my spelling and grammar the English tutor is also not me. I may well have that old A level result tucked away in my portfolio but my abilities here to teach this area are severally lacking. A friend I have known for over 40 years, since we were 4 years old, has very kindly picked up this honour. Her credentials are impressive and for want of wanting to keep her down off the high pedestal that she should be on I shall not list them, but rest assured she is an excellent teacher and should never ever doubt her ability to encourage and enthuse others. She has an understanding of Bonnie’s situation and of the fact that Bonnie gets extremely tired from the sensory issues and so she is able to work with that in mind. The best thing of all is that she can let Bonnie choose texts that she would like to work with, this is brilliant because although Bonnie may understand MacBeth she chooses not to study it because it is set in a colder climate and she doesn’t like the cold. She also allows Bonnie the ability to debate areas which obviously could not happen in the same way with a class of 30 children.

So I am finally starting to see a clear path into the future. It looks promising and hopeful and full of positivity and whilst it will take some time to tackle that bully at least he is not getting the same head space that he once was. In fact bully I think it is about time you go and do one! If only it was that easy.

When your daughter takes over your blog….

This blog is not my usual blog, today’s blog is written by my daughter Bonnie.

Hey, my name is Bonnie. I am 13 years old and I have Asperger’s syndrome. Today with help from my mum I would like to blog about my obsessions and how they make me feel.

I understand that most people have obsessions but for me the obsessions are much more intense. I have recently recognised that some of these obsessions are unhealthy for me, despite the fact that from the outside they may appear to be good for my physical and mental well being.

Take for example my obsession with ‘Exercise and Diet’. Everyone knows that in order to be healthy we must take regular exercise and watch what we eat and drink. I started to work out to you tube videos because I wanted to feel better about myself. It wasn’t my plan to become a gym freak but I just wanted to spend some time working on my body, maybe toning up a bit and feeling those endorphins flow. My sisters get regular exercise at school but because I am home schooled I am aware that I need to motivate myself to exercise. The problem for me is that I became obsessed with the workouts.

What started as a 10 minute easy work out once a day progressed to 30 minutes of intensive exercise that is meant for more experienced people that have spent months building up to these exercises. I went from the 10 minute workouts to the 30 minute workouts in a week. When I look back I don’t know what I was thinking. You see for 13 I am pretty switched on to the downsides of having Asperger’s and one of those is that I get really tired. I understand that for most people working out for 30 minutes a day would not be that hard but for me the knock on effect is huge. The other major issue though was the anxiety that this obsession created. For me I was caught in a catch 22 situation. I wanted to work out but my body was too tired, my brain wanted me to full fill the desire to work out but the anxiety of not being able to do so made me feel extremely stressed. I’m literally tired just thinking about it.

At the same time I was increasing the amount of water that I was drinking as this too was something that went hand in hand with the exercise, and so was my diet. Let me explain. So I needed to drink more water, but there is only so much water that your body can physically handle. My obsession meant that I was caught up in inner turmoil with what I wanted to do and yet what I physically should not do. I used to say to myself “I need to drink more water, but I can’t”. It had been brought to my attention that you could drown from drinking too much water. I know that I was not at that point but you must understand that for me my obsession could have taken me to that place.

I had a similar situation going on with food. I cut out all the processed food, sugar, fat etc but that meant that I left myself on a diet with very few calories. This did not help with the tiredness or give me enough energy to work out. I didn’t need to become this obsessive about food, I already have a healthy vegetarian diet.

On the other hand I have some obsessions that I class as healthy. One of the obsessions that I have had for about the last 18 months has been Kanye West.

Obsession makes it sound rather stalker(ish) when you are talking about a person but that is not the case. My interest in Kanye is something that I feel I can control much more easier, and if I spend more time on social media reading his tweets then the consequences are not life threatening in the way that the Exercise/ Diet Obsession is.

He too has mental health issues that mean that some of his tweets cause controversy but I find some of his tweets refreshing and at times inspirational. I find that we think in a very similar way and that we have similarities. For example Kanye went on the Ellen Show and I felt that when Kanye went off on a tangent, talking about his passion for making the world a better place, Ellen gave him a look as though he was crazy. I face those looks too. I’m not saying that Ellen did not understand him or that people do not try to understand how I feel but they do not share the same connection.

It’s hard to explain but when I spend time looking at his tweet’s and watching documentaries about him etc it makes me feel happy. I find that the world has very few icons who talk about their mental health issues. I find it refreshing that with all that he has to deal with he still manages to be a successful rapper and fashion designer. That gives me hope that I too can overcome my issues to become something. It may be harder for us to achieve things in life but I still have hopes and dreams and it may take me longer and I may have to work harder but I will make something of myself.