An Autistic Girls’ First Day at Alton Towers: The Good, The Bad and The Queasy

Dear Diary,

Today I went to Alton Towers with some of my siblings and father. We left very early in the morning – especially since I’d just done a night shift at work – to head off to Staffordshire to enjoy our two day and night trip with both days at Alton Towers and the nights at a Premier Inn nearby.

I was struggling a bit to sleep in the car. I couldn’t seem to get comfortable and was becoming a bit distressed. Much like a toddler having a temper tantrum in frustration about not being able to get the new toy she wanted, I too was about to throw something out of the frustration of not being able to get comfy. In these moments of frustration I become almost like a toddler; I lack perspective and advanced deductive reasoning and want to scream. Eventually I managed an hour nap in a position that could not be described as advisable for road safety but I was strapped in and following the law.

When we arrived at Alton Towers today I was so excited. I almost ran round my family in excitement wanting to express how happy I was and how much I loved them all. This is perhaps not the average behaviour of a neurological eighteen year old but I was happy.

I went on The Blade first and loved it. My head felt wobbly in a good way as I went high in the air and back down again. I definitely want to go on it again tomorrow!

The next ride we went on was less good. I went on with my sisters and at first it was fine but as we were carried higher in the air we also began going round and round and round and I could feel my stomach lurching. I’d had about three hours sleep, not really eaten anything this morning (as I’m fussy about what I eat) and I have middle ear difficulties as I’ve wrote about before on this blog.

The culmination of these different challenges were a disaster on the next ride I went on, which was Spin Whizzer. I know what your thinking reader – why the hell did I go on a ride called spin whizzer when I was still terribly nauseous from the last ride? – and the answer is that I’d never been sick due to a rollercoaster before today and that I also wanted to do what my younger sisters were doing.

After sheepishly wandering off the Spin Whizzer like a drunk Scotsman after a few too many pints; I run behind a bucket (the bins were not the right shape for sticking your head in) as it was the only non public place to go, and hurled my guts up.

I felt better after this and even more so after I’d had my hotdog at lunch (though I nearly hurled it up on the picnic bench after finishing it) after consuming it with what can only be described as the resilience and strength of a naval officer.

Next we went on The Wicker Man which I thoroughly enjoyed despite the very long wait in line. My and my youngest sister are desperate to get some merchandise from the ride tomorrow.

As a good ‘family ride’ we all went on the Congo River Rapids and I bought the picture of us all in the boat for a whopping £10 since my Dad is far too grippy (and perhaps far too wise) to spend that amount of money on a printed out photograph.

I went on The Oblivion which I loved and The Nemesis which I’m glad I’ve gone and bought the t-shirt but never wish to go back for leggings. After a substantial time away from Spin Whizzer I gave it another go with one of my sisters and this time I neither puked nor lived in fear of doing so – although I must admit a slight uneasiness in my stomach stopped me from going on it immediately after again with my sister.

After a quick snack of strawberries, marshmallows and melted chocolate, my family and I made our way to the Premier Inn hotel we are currently staying at. We visited Burger King for dinner (which I’m half-convinced is going to give me food poisoning symptoms in the next half hour) and Spar for snacks such as the Monster Munch I ate whilst writing this post. I of course am yet to get into my pyjamas as I hate having the smell of anything on my pyjamas and as we all know snacks tend to leave crumbs but I shall soon wash my face, brush my teeth and get changed – maybe after some Wine Gums and YouTube videos. I’m next to one of my sisters and currently our whole squad is on their devices with various snacks resting our legs and feet after an adventurous day at Alton Towers.

The castle and the bench area where you can watch the live performances.
Entrance Area of Alton Towers.

My First Pay Cheque/My First Three Weeks of My First Job

Dear Diary,

I’ve been keeping a small diary of my days as a waitress in paper from my first day as to not forget anything. Perhaps I will one day publish them anonymously but for now it is a nice ritual I do as soon as I get home from work.

I can’t really believe that I have a job. I can’t believe that I’ve left high school or that my life has completely changed. I reckon that getting a job has insured me that I’ve kept my routine and the long hours have enabled little time for rumination. There are draw-backs to this of course. I may be thriving…or, I may be a bottle of coke being shaken and will eventually erupt. Only time will tell which is one thing that sucks about being autistic – I never know how I’m feeling until it’s too late.

But I’ve enjoyed working as a waitress. It’s been really tough don’t get me wrong and my feet are in constant pain from blisters but I’ve enjoyed working so much. No-one aside from my boss knows that I’m autistic so far and that’s the way I’m going to keep it (unless it is necessary for me to reveal that information) secret from my colleagues. I would hate to be treated differently by my colleagues who don’t understand what autism is as they don’t know me well enough to be able to see who I am beside the diagnosis.

I’ve made some money and it feels really good. Having the ability to buy myself a new phone in the next few weeks is an amazing thing. I’m extremely grateful for my parents for giving me lifts to work at early morning shifts and lifts back at late hours and I appreciate it more than I feel I am able to successfully communicate.

Something that I’ve loved about my job (aside from meeting some really cool colleagues) is meeting some incredible and kind customers. I’ve had talks with people who have left an imprint on me with their kindness and their respect. I’ve recognised people like me and spoken to them and their parents and felt a lovely sense of community with people like me. I have never seen my autism as anything positive but my ability to recognise a little boy like me and treat him with respect and fun meant so much to his parents they told me and meant so much to me.

So yes. I’m now consistantly tired; Occasionally bored; Frequently excited due to interesting events at work; Sometimes insecure about forming friendships at work but mostly relaxed around a great bunch of people; Endlessly in pain over my feet but ultimately damn happy. Things are really, really, really, good right now.

First Day At Work

Dear Diary,

I started my first job today and I had a great time! It was weird being a grown up when I’m so used to being the pupil in school but I loved every minute of work today and I can’t wait for tomorrow where I’ll be covering the night shift.

When I got home I was quite tired and I felt very sensitive. When I told my parents a joke that didn’t land and they thought I was being serious – I felt really hurt. I started thinking that they hated me and thought that I was bad. This is a sign that I’m tired and my OCD are causing my brain to malfunction.

I won’t let my own insecurities ruin an all round great day so I’m going to go to bed in a minute and get a good nights sleep!

The Night Before Prom

Dear Diary,

I’ve said goodbye to many teachers who have supported me and whom I genuinely care about. My last day is tomorrow evening where I’ll go to prom, enjoy a meal and get my high school graduation certificate.

I’m nervous for tomorrow but also so excited. I have a beautiful dress, I’m getting my hair professionally done, I have beautiful accessories and makeup and I’m so excited!

I’m currently painting my toenails for the prom and I’m going to choose my jewellery – I’m definitely wearing my Elena vervain locket and my Elena ring as well as some of my Pandora charms.

I have a busy day tomorrow so I’m going to get some sleep. This may be the shortest blog post in the history of humanity but I want to record how I’m feeling.

Take care and wish me luck!

Medusa

The nail polish I’m wearing to prom tomorrow.
The beautiful bow my neighbour made that I’m wearing tomorrow!

University Decision: Post-Making My Choice

Dear Diary,

I’ve chosen a course that in part surprised me. I know that I can excel at it and I am genuinely excited to get started!

Of course there are the wriggling doubts, the fears, the nagging voice in the back of my head whispering that I’ve made a huge mistake – which sucks but is also normal. I got into a fantastic course that may not have been my ‘dream course’ but is something that I love and can’t wait to begin.

So yes with the celebration comes slight mourning – mourning for a S1 girl’s dream and mourning for the countless other opportunities that every choice we make in life limits you to.

But despite some sadness and anxiety; I feel relieved. I have a clear view of what I’ve got to do and how I’m going to do it and that feels really good.

I am very happy and I think that this course will not only be badass, exciting and that guarantees a career; but will also make me happy in life.

Only time will tell but today is a good day and it requires a celebration – one preferably when I’m neither sunburnt or exhausted from adrenaline. One thing is for sure; I can’t wait to get started!

Take Care.

Medusa.

University Decision: Pre-Making the choice

Dear Diary,

The time is here – well a mere matter of hours away – for me to decide where I want to go to university and what course I want to take.

There are a few things for me to consider in the next short while. There are things to consider about both my capabilities my dreams and what the hell I want to do with the rest of my life.

I’m an insecure eighteen year old with autism and mental health problems; trapped in the mindspace of a primary one girl, who longs to be accepted and liked by the other kids in the playground. A girl who can’t understand why people don’t like her. I’m someone who lacks confiction in her decisions without letting on to the fact. I’m someone who still struggles to understand how she could possibly be autistic one day and on another day can’t touch her belongings because her OCD is too bad.

This is why I’m scared. I’m scared that I’m going to end up miserable in two ways:

Reason 1: I’m scared that by picking one choice I will be passing up on an opportunity I have always wanted and may never get again. I’m terrified that I am choosing based on fear of the unknown. That I’m using any excuse to not take a leap of faith and do something I’ve wanted to do since I was little. I’m afraid that I’ll end up filled with regret and anger at myself.

Reason 2: I’m scared that if I pick something and take a leap of faith it won’t work and I’ll be disheartened, sad and crushed. I’m scared that I’ll not be able to manage the course either by being not good enough at the course or by having a mental breakdown, or by both. I’m scared that I’ll miss an opportunity to discover what I want to do by rushing into an idea that could make or break me. I could take my time and see, try something and then if I can do it – move on to my dream course (if it remains that).

I’m so scared of regret, I have enough of it from my years of letting my OCD control my life and I don’t want to add to it. But whatever I do regret is always a risk.

I need to spend the next few hours thinking. Will post after I make my choice.

Medusa.

Miss Independent

Dear Diary,

It’s time to start being independent. It’s true, I’ve been over reliant on other people emotionally and in terms of looking after me.

During a phase of about 5 years I didn’t understand what having a family ‘meant’. It’s not that I didn’t have one, I’ve been lucky enough to always have a wonderful family but my brain failed to understand what that truly meant.

So after I realised ( with the help of TV funnily enough ) what it meant to be a family – I started over relying on it.

I’d spent so long not being able to emotionally interact with my family that when I finally learned, I went all in. I over rely on family members and people I admire to look after me. I try and do and belief things that exactly align with what they do and belief because I have a lack of self-identity.

It’s time to start taking care of myself. I’m an adult now and it’s time to take responsibility for the cleanliness of my room, my medication and other aspects of my life. It’s time to start being more independent.

Medusa.

Ear Blockage & Stress

Dear Diary,

My ears are blocked. Both the right and left ear have blockages of wax but the left is especially bad. My ears have always been a problem for me but right now it’s been terrible. What’s more terrible is that I have exams at the moment.

I’ve been very sick recently. There is an intense pressure in my left year, so intense that I’ve been sick and have been experiencing dizziness. What’s more is that the pressure in my ears is making hearing other people extremely difficult. I can genuinely not hear out of my left ear at all aside from the occassional burst of tinnitus.

It’s been hard to go to bed. Usually I listen to ASMR to help me sleep but I can’t hear it out of the left ear and the sound reverberates from my right one as a result. It’s extremely upsetting and frustrating. I have exams to do and I am struggling to sit up.

I had my ears syringed yesterday but that only removed the outer wax and the majority was stuck there. I have to keep studying. I have to go to school tommorrow. Wish me luck.

Medusa.

My 18th Birthday

Dear Diary,

Yesterday, or rather a few hours ago was my 18th birthday and I had an amazing time!

This is my second birthday in lockdown and yet it was incredible. I woke up feeling really excited and then I was wished happy birthday by my grandparents (socially distant of course) and I returned home where I found bunting saying 18 in the kitchen. My Mum and sister arrived from the shop shortly after I came home with a giant balloon.

After we all were together I started opening up my presents. My siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents got me the best stuff I could ever have asked for and I honestly loved every gift so much. It was so exciting and I felt very happy.

Later on I popped a bottle of champagne and drank some of that in my new 18th birthday glass I was given by my Mum. At dinner time my Dad made his famous homemade pizza and I got a whole one to myself!

As I blew the candles out of my cake; my siblings and I listened and sang along to iconic songs such as “Fireflies” by OwlCity, “How Bad Can I Be?” and “Let It Grow” from The Lorax soundtrack and “I gotta feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas.

After dinner we all sat down with popcorn and watched Zac Snyder’s Justice League on NowTV. Even though it was four hours long – I loved the movie and the whole experience was great.

So as my birthday draws to a close I realised three things: 1. Turning 18 didn’t mean that everything was changing – it meant I was getting presents! 2. My OCD was really good today (It was barely affecting me at all!) 3. I had the best time ever.

Thanks for reading!

🎉🥳🎊
My birthday balloon!🎈🎈🎈

To Miss Out On A Normal Childhood For Whatever Reason

Dear Diary,

On the 27th of March 2021 I will turn 18 years old – officially an adult and I have very mixed feelings about it. On one hand I’m excited to get birthday presents and cake. On the other, I feel a deep sadness.

The sadness doesn’t stem from the fact that this is my second birthday in lockdown and I can’t go out to celebrate-although that doesn’t help. My sadness is to do with the fact that I grieve the childhood I could have had, had I not had OCD.

I grieve every time I held my breath as a primary school student as I entered my bedroom due to the fear that I’d “contaminate” the room with my breath. I regret never using my iPod as a little girl because I was scared that I’d “ruin” it. I regret not playing with my toys because I thought that I was “contaminated” and would “destroy” my favourite thing. And I regret spending countless childhood birthdays crying, refusing to touch my presents and not enjoying being a kid.

A normal childhood would’ve been so easy for me if I didn’t have OCD; if a few neurological connections between synapses and nerves were different, I could’ve had a normal, happy childhood.

Whether you had mental health problems, family problems, suffered a trauma, were bullied or anything else that stopped you from enjoying your birthdays and your childhood; it can be hard to accept that you’re growing up.

I wanted to be “uncontaminated” and the way I thought other girls were like. I wanted to be able to touch my toys without showering and holding my breath before hand. And now I have managed to deal with my OCD enough to be able to touch my belongings but it was too late.

I’m nearly 18 and I no longer receive toys for birthdays and Christmas’s. I’m nearly 18 and whilst I lack the motivation to play with action figures or dolls – I grieve not being happy when I could have been and when I wanted to be.