A Great Day Until I Found Gristle In A Chicken McNugget

TW: Don’t read if you have anxiety surrounding food and it’s texture.

Dear Diary,

I had a great day at work today. It was genuinely really enjoyable and happy and I was in a fantastic mood until I went to McDonald’s afterwards to get some food.

I ordered what I’ve been ordering for ages: coke, fries and 9 McNuggets and things were going great. I was munching on them on the drive back until suddenly I felt something in my McNugget. It was hard and tough and I knew almost immediately what it was. I convinced myself that it was something else until I took another bite and found an even bigger bit of gristle.

Spitting it out into my takeaway bag I finished my meal with a deeply uncomfortable feeling in my stomach.

The thought of the gristle caused me to panic. Most people get upset when they find something less than desirable in their food but call it autism, OCD or something else, I was really upset.

So upset, that I feel like I can’t go to McDonald’s ever again because the thought of another McNugget having gristle in it is really upsetting for me.

What I need to do is sleep and not obsess about gristle or McNuggets and right now that’s what I’m going to do – sleep and have a lie in.

Stay safe.

-Medusa

Intrusive Thoughts To Do With Greed + Food OCD

Food and me have a complicated history. I’ve always been a big eater and have always enjoyed eating take-outs, at cafes or at resteraunts with my family. Despite how much I’ve loved food, it’s also been a large part of my OCD.

Throughout my childhood certain food was viewed by my OCD as ‘contaminated’. Not by germs ( although ‘germs’ was the terminology I used to use to describe the thing that was ‘contaminated’; a word later added to my language.) or an actual founded in reality, albiat very unlikely concern such as it having some sort of disease; my ‘contamination’ was different.

It was the grease from a bagel, the tomato ketchup from my brother’s hotdog, the slight possibility of a crumb from a sausage roll falling on my scarf when I’m on holiday to Centre Parcs e.t.c.

The thing that was different about my OCD as my phycologist pointed out later was that when I felt like the food had ‘contaminated’ me, I was never in fear of consequences like a loved one dying or getting sick from the food – the typical OCD fears that would fuel the compulsion ( or at least the typical line of thinking that if I do something or fail to do something, X, Y and Z will happen as a result. )

My OCD has rarely been like that. Don’t get me wrong – my OCD is by no means worse or better than any other person’s is – it’s just different presumably because I’m, well, autistic.

When I got ‘contaminated’ by food or any other thing I deemed undesirable, I was not afraid of something bad happening as a result – It was that I felt wrong and bad. It’s hard to explain the way being ‘contaminated’ feels. It’s not real, ‘contamination’ is a way for me to deal with life – I know. But the feeling is awful.

Something that one of my phycologists once said about my OCD being different to the traditional OCD made me think oneday in my appointment about how upon feeling ‘contaminated’ by apple juice – I searched on Google Images ‘celebrities with apple juice in their hair’.

I wanted ( and still do to a degree ) to be like ‘everyone else’, I looked at these ‘normal girls’ in my real life and celebrities. I looked at the girls in my class and on the TV, who I could never quite understand and found flaws in myself in ways that were unconventional. The worst part is that even if someone else got  apple juice on them for example – that was okay! They were not ‘contaminated’ because it was only me who got contaminated…

Because at the end of the day my OCD is not about preventing something bad from happening, I think my OCD is about my autism.

So that brings my point to today. I go out and buy spicy chips from the shops, food I buy with my own money that I truly don’t need as I’ve already ate. I eat them and now I feel the familiar feeling of being ‘contaminated’. I feel greedy because I did not need to eat them and I hate myself slightly for being so greedy.

So tonight I showered, giving into my OCD and as I sit here late at night on what would have been a school night had I still been in school ( a transition that my autism is struggling to comprehend – that I’m no longer in high school ) and a plan to hang out with a friend for drinks tomorrow and all I can think about is how those spicy chips made me feel.

But we all know it’s not really about spicy chips. It’s because I have a social event tommorrow and I’m nervous. It’s because I’m realising that I am no longer a child and have new challenges. It’s because I am autistic. I just wish my brain would believe it.

Parents and Autism

Dear Diary,

I was never great at communicating with my parents growing up. Call it autism, depression or the fact that I had OCD and my parents had no clue what I meant in my early years when I told them about ‘germs’ – or a culmination of all these things but I truly was rubbish at communicating my feelings.

After I grew up a bit, I understood a lot more about what I thought a family was about; and so I opened up a lot more about how I was feeling and then I also began to rely on my parent’s approval without even realising it. I am so reliant on my parent’s opinions and approval and they don’t understand it. My parents are by no means pushy or try to stifile or undermine mine or anyone else’s opinions but they are human beings with different opinions.

I feel alone in the world when I’m not relying emotionally on my parents because as soon as I realised properly in my autsitc brain that I had parents – I became subtly dependent on their approval. It’s not that I didn’t still yell at my parents, roll my eyes and storm out in a huff – because believe me I did (and still do). It’s more like I have the need to tell them every little thing that goes on in my life because I need to know that what I did was okay. My parents already do so much for me and I don’t think they actually realize how much I appreciate all that they do because I’m not good at communicating it all the time. They make sure that my room is clean, my clothes are ironed and I get driven to work and cooked hot meals without any complaint from them.

The trouble is that they don’t understand how I don’t understand that I need to keep my room clean and that I have to iron and wash clothes and arrange things. In my head I’m only a few years away from not living in my room full-time so the notion of keeping my room clean is pointless. Of course their argument that you could say that about anything is valid but I just don’t feel like it is correct.

One more thing about my parents that I find so frustrating as a young person with autism is the fact that they seldom remember I am autistic at all times. When I do something ‘autistic’ in public like speak much louder because I’m not good at regulating my volume in different places – they treat me like they would any other 18 year old who is being loud and seem to forget I’m autistic. When I talk about something too much they think I’m obsessed and don’t understand that sometimes I’m just trying to process something I like or really don’t.

Here lies my main problem and the reason I need to grow-up. Deep down no matter how much I know in my heart of hearts how much they love me and how much time, money, effort and sacrifice they put into getting me help and making sure that I am ready for adulthood, even with all of that and more; I am angry at them. And at the same time I just want to make them proud.

I am so angry and annoyed that they didn’t realise I had autism sooner. After I was diagnosed my mother said that “Finding out I had autism made everything make sense – it was the missing piece of the puzzle” not in an unkind way but it made me wonder how could you not know? Maybe not that I had autism but that there was something wrong with me when I was unable to touch my toys without washing my hands and brushing my teeth because I had OCD. I obviously didn’t know that I was different but surely they must have. I’m angry that whilst of course I joined CAHMS in primary 6 – my parents didn’t figure out that I was wrong. My mother told me that they thought I was just mature for my age which is why I preffered speaking to the grown-ups on play-dates.

Of course my parents are only human – two humans with three other kids, a morgage, a house and jobs to juggle; and if we are being honest I took up alot of those juggling balls – so it is truly unfair to blame them for not understanding a condition that mainstream media didn’t and still doesn’t understand. It’s also completely unfair to expect two humans to be able to 24/7 be able to deal with the autistic behaviour I do and not be in the slight bit frustrated how I wake them up because I want to talk to them.

It’s also truly unfair to blame them for things that they could not have known. Like my mother’s offhand remark of “Always stand up for yourself” a hallmark quote that she couldn’t have known I’d take literally. A quote that led to S1 me taking on S3/4s girls who were rough and ready because I stood up for myself for a stupid comment that would have saved me alot of friends, tears and pain had I just ignored. Me following her advice from nursery because I didn’t understand about how varied and complex most situations with conflict or drama can be. So why do I still feel angry about it? And why do I now get annoyed when my mother tells me very simple things that I obviously should and shouldn’t do in a situation which makes me feel like an idiot when I have a very recent history of taking the words of a cat poster to heart?

Why do I still feel angry at taking my middle aged Dad’s advice to write my phone number and e-mail down to give to all the girl’s in my new primary class in P6 on my first day only for them all to somehow have lost the bits of paper by the time I started my first term? Why am I annoyed that my Dad still has no clue about what a lot of my conditions actually are?

Why do I feel so upset that as a 18 year old woman I have just literally asked my Mum if it’s ‘okay’ to go to a nightclub with my colleagues. Not is it okay on a specific night because we have plans – but is it okay at all.

It’s not all bad though, my Mum disagreed with something I did recently – not in a nasty way but a simple “wouldn’t have done that myself” kind of way. I obviously don’t agree with her as I believe I did the right thing in the situation but her critisism did make me think about certain consequences of doing similar things again which is without a doubt a good thing. So I made some progress really today. I acknowleged my mother’s reasonable advice, respected myself for making the choice that I made and moved on. I think this mindset is the place I need to be at. I need to be Miss Independent but able to accept my parents opinions and advice without ignoring it or treating it as gospel truth.

I don’t think they’ll read this post as I’m obviously not going to directly message them about it but if they do read it they should know that I’m obviously not trying to upset them, nor trying to make them feel like bad parents, people or anything like that. They are fantastic people and parents – I am simply unable to verbally communicate some of this to them.

Take care of yourselves.

Medusa.

Back From Holiday Blues x 10

Dear Diary,

I’m back from my holiday and I have got my new iPhone 12 mini using my first pay-cheque. I’m not feeling good though; I feel like I want to scream and smash things and cry.

I returned home from Alton Towers and struggled to sleep only to then lie-in until midday. I can’t touch my new iPhone all that often because my OCD is appalling. I don’t want to be at home and I don’t want to be at work. I feel like smashing my laptop and running away. Little comments today have been making me really upset and I’m angry at everyone. I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m tired of being like this.

I just want my brain to stop for five minutes but it won’t. I want the weather to cool down so that it’s easier to sleep and I want to stop feeling troubled by my middle ear problems. I want to not worry about how wrong everything feels – because it does! Everything feels so wrong and I can’t explain why. My OCD is terrible and I’m feeling so bad.

It’s hilarious that I work and stay busy but it inevitably ends up causing me to burn-out and yet when I have time-off I can’t cope with the lack of routine. If I’m busy I have no time to clean my room and do other tasks and when I’m completely free I’m lost on what to do (especially when I’ve already wasted half the day.)

I fucking hate my mind and I just want things to feel right.

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.

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.

To Make A Choice To Try

Dear Diary,

I had a choice today; a simple choice that could make a huge difference in my life.

I’ve been feeling like I don’t want to be here anymore for a few weeks now (not suicidal – just a wish to not exist). A feeling that if there was a magic button and I had a choice to remove myself from existence, I’d press it.

The world has felt bad and I’ve been feeling miserable. My OCD is bad, my self-esteem is bad and my anxiety is through the roof and whenever this happens a simple question goes through my mind “Things are always going to end up like this so what’s the bloody point?”.

I suppose it’s normal to be negative whilst being depressed but it still sucks. Knowing that I’m going to have to deal with my autism related OCD and anxiety for the rest of my life is horrible to think about and it hurts to think about.

Whilst being in this vortex of misery other aspects of your life gets sucked in too – aspects such as your schoolwork, your appearance and the tidiness of your room. As seemingly inconsequential as these three things seem, they all add up and lead to a very depressing situation.

So after all that; my choice came today. My exams are starting in the next week – exams I’m woefully underprepared for – and the thought of doing any studying felt impossible. It was physically and mentally straining to pull out my textbooks and open my laptop. I confess I nearly quit twice and I nearly threw my laptop in frustration.

But I chose to keep studying; and I ended up doing some good revision. Despite every part of me wanting to curl up in my bed and want to die – I chose to do something productive and it has made me feel better. Schoolwork feels that little bit less worrisome and I feel more in control of my life.

I’m still not feeling 100% – or even 50% but it’s a start and after today I want to keep trying.

Feeling Bad

Dear Diary,

Things feel for lack of a better word – weird. My OCD is not great and my depression is suffering right now. I don’t feel right and I don’t know why.

I feel like I’m drowning in uncertainty. I feel like I can’t breath and like any second I’m going to crumble into a billion pieces. My mind feels frazzled due to the OCD and anxiety and I don’t know how to make myself feel better.

I feel almost lost for words. The feeling I feel is that of constant anticipation for something bad to happen despite nothing suggesting that this is true. Maybe it’s the post-lockdown worry, maybe it’s that I’ve got school tomorrow or maybe it’s another thing entirely; the problem is that it sucks.

I’m refusing to make an effort in my appearance. I’m finding it hard to find the willpower to brush my hair and feel no motivation in making myself look nice which for a teenager is difficult to deal with.

Contamination is there but not the worst OCD-related thing that I’ve been struggling with. My main problem is avoidance – I’ve been avoiding touching my scrapbook, my jewellery and certain belongings.

I just want a magic wand to be waved curing me of all my problems. It’s really hard to give a damn about anything right now. When breathing feels like an anticipatory move for an unseen threat coming from my own mind – it’s difficult to do anything except play video games and hope that I’ll wake up the next day feeling better.

I fear my mind is going to break and that I’m going to be sent down a path of anxiety and depression that I’ll never get out of. This of course is nonsense – no emotion can last forever but it’s a fear nonetheless. I suppose that’s common for fears though, they tend to be semi-unrealistic.

It’s late now so I’m going to go and brush my teeth and get some rest. I have no clue how I feel about school tomorrow, but that’s the beauty of autism isn’t it?

Medusa.

Recovering From A Low

Dear Diary,

After my epic birthday I crashed. Not as far as I sometimes go, but far enough to cause disturbance in my life. My OCD and insecurities have been terrible so much to the extent that I wouldn’t reply to an e-mail giving my photo and getting included in the school yearbook…yeah, I’m not doing great.

I’ve not been scrapbooking due to OCD. I bought a bunch of stupid-ass clothes from a shopping site – all of which I’ve returned – because I wanted to be as pretty as the models and I thought that it would make me for lack of a better word “good“. I’ve been struggiling to adapt to the whole gradual school return. I’ve not been keeping track of my planner or doing any real schoolwork. I’m just kind of there.

It’s hard to get out of this kind of low feeling becuase whilst there is so much that I should be working towards or getting excited for – I can’t help but only see lockdown in the future. The pandemic if anything, has made me very short-term.

If I’m being honest I don’t know how to stop feeling so sad. I have no goddamn clue what I should do to get my mind and life back on track. The only thing that I know is that tomorrow is a new day and I’m going to make an attempt for some positive change: Waking up earlier, practicing driving with my Mum, doing some french revision, writing some more of my english dissertation and, finally buying some clothes that I actually like.

Fingers crossed tomorrow will be better. Take care.