I don’t Know How to Act

I doubt I’ve ever been sure how to act in conversation. I take on the role of who I think I should be in different circumstances. It never really works of course, there are only so many mannerisms you can copy from people in your life before your real opinions and thoughts are revealed.

Since my diagnosis I’ve noticed that I’m acting the way I think an autistic person should act. Try that for irony? I’m even being autistic about being autistic. These days in a difficult conversation I avoid eye contact, not because I hate it or feel uncomfortable looking people in the eye, but because I feel like people understand that I am uncomfortable. I play with my sleeve and avoid eye contact because when I do this adults who know about my diagnosis (which is most people) understand how I’m feeling. I take on the persona or role of having autism despite the fact that I actually have it. I know that many autistic people dislike making eye contact so I’ve adopted that in taking upon my role.

It makes me feel guilty, like I’m stealing from people but I can’t help it. It’s both subconsious and consious, I didn’t know I was doing it at first but then I noticed it worked. People could understand the obvious signs of distress especially how I usually make good eye contact and would understand that I was feeling stressed or upset.

I’m not good at figuring out what is the right thing to say, do or think. I struggle to understand people’s feelings sometimes and this makes me sad. I get angry with myself for not being able to decipher the correct things to say, do, act or think.

So what can I do? The truth is I’m not sure but right now I’m going to watch some YouTube and distract myself from being angry with myself.

Medusa

Music, The Restraint Scene and Golden Globe Nomination

Dear Diary/Sia,

Music has just been nominated for best motion picture for a musical in the Golden Globes and I can’t help but be upset.

A few thoughts crossed my mind as I watched the recent interview by Sia. One of them being there are clear discrepancies in her story, another being a lot of autistic people would find the level of movement, colour and noise apparently in the film very uncomfortable sensory-wise making the fantasy of the protagonist unlikely. But even ignoring that, – even ignoring the perhaps quasi-collaboration with literal hate-group Autism Speaks – I feel angry.

The whole restraint scene was awful. I saw the clip on YouTube and my god it made my stomach drop. We’ve all seen characters do “problematic” things in scenes in a film but never have they been seen as the right thing to do by the people involved with the film’s production. The whole scene was of Leslie Odom Jr’s character teaching Kate Hudson’s to literally pin Music down until she calmed down when she was upset. I have no goddamn clue why anyone thought this was appropriate to have included considering a quick news search will show you the dangers and the problems with this approach.

Had something like this happened in another film I’d have been disturbed but not nearly as angry, because another film would not be some sort of attention seeking Oscar bait meant to persuade reviewers to vote for the disabled film. Music is a woke, egotistical and downright ridiculous concept made to stroke egos and make people feel progressive and self superior whilst simultaneously being offensive and cringe worthy.

Of course Sia does not have to answer to me personally. She is a creator of art and up until now, I’d say a good one. I would never want to restrict art or imagination – no matter how personally uncomfortable and upsetting I find a portrayal. I am reasonable and forgiving and autistic and I am perfectly capable of being all three whilst still being upset.

But the whole thing feels icky and wrong and I can’t help but truly believe that If someone had made a film like this including dangerous methods of handling a person, about almost any other group of people, much more people would have been upset. All the woke, progressive celebrities who criticise people for having different opinions, who simp for other celebrities and refuse to be unique or true to themselves – are all silent. Because the sad truth is that when it comes to disabled people – no one really cares aside from your everyday Joe.

If Sia had originally responded with respect and politeness to autistic people’s grievances, I could have a lot more sympathy. People make mistakes – granted few people make three/four year mistakes, taking advice from Autism Speaks and making a movie about a young girl with autism without clearly understanding much about it – but they do. And mistakes, however stupid and lengthy do happen and I can imagine living in the echo chamber of Hollywood and being surrounded by fans and money would have an effect on ones judgement on matters. (I say this not meant as an insult but more of an excuse for her behaviour.)

When Sia first made her comments about not hiring an autistic person due to the fact that it would be “unkind” a young autistic actress responded stating that herself and many others would have been willing and able to play the titular character. Sia replied saying perhaps she is just bad at acting.

I do not know this young woman and I have never spoken with her, I do not know anything about her and yet I feel for her. She responded to Sia’s tweets without being rude and made her point (from what is saw) very well. And multi-millionaire, hero to many, Sia with her millions of followers decided to publicly humiliate a young autistic girl for being unhappy about Sia’s choice.

In an interview Sia states that her desire to cast Maddie Ziegler was “nepotism”. Again I must say – Maddie Ziegler is just young and not to blame for this. According to Sia in the infamous interview she was very worried about seeming like she would be mocking autistic people – a worry that Sia allegedly assured her would not happen. Of course that’s exactly how it looks but that’s on Sia, the team behind it and the casting – being 14 years old and being unable to act as an autistic person in a way that’s respectful and accurate is not the child’s fault. Bad acting is in part the casting director’s fault. (I’m sure she’s a much better actress now – she was obviously fresh out of dance moms and I can’t imagine being an American child reality star leaves enough time to do enough preparation to take on any acting role let alone this particular one.) If she wanted to write a film where Maddie played the lead – totally fine. Just don’t make the main character autistic in a sensory-overloaded film just to feel progressive.

But do I think Sia will be in much hot water? No I don’t, because when celebrities disrespect disabled people the sad thing is – few people care. Truth be told I don’t think that Sia should be cancelled, she may have screwed up badly and she may be blinded by wokeness and self-superiority – but she is probably not a bad person.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter. I hope that it doesn’t win any awards because not only is it under-researched and un-deserving – it means that every Tom, Dick and Harry is going to want to get in on the trend of making crappy films.

Thanks for reading.

Medusa.

Perfection and Wanting To Fit In

“I’m not like other girls” is usually said by edgy teenage girls with perfect makeup, hair and clothes to their hot love interest in a teenage movie but, I am actually not like other girls. I’m autistic so fitting in was never really in the cards for me and I longed to be the same as the other girls in my class – or more like the way I thought they were. My ocd basically consisted on “I’ve never seen a celebrity or person I admire do this” therefore doing it is “contaminated”. I washed my hands till they bled because I was half convinced the other girls and celebrities never had sticky fingers, never spilt food on themselves and never touched their belongings when “contaminated”. The girls that my autism, my ocd and myself want to be like is the perfect girl. This made up Disney channel character who never has ear wax, snot or any other human functions. The girl that is perfect on every social media platform and never has acne. Of course this girl doesn’t exist – I know that, I just wished I believed it as I still yearn to be her.

My ocd is centered around my desire to have friends and be accepted – something that is a result of being autistic and being bullied when I was young. I can remember the first time that I washed my hands before touching one of my belongings because I was worried about ‘ruining’ it. That way of thinking is still with me. I feel like I am the problem.

I still have the juvenile dream of being this perfect person with perfect things. I want to be perfect and “clean”. But I can’t. And whether I believe it or not, the truth is no one can. Of course as much as I know that no one is perfect, there is a big difference between knowing and accepting.

I’ve got OCD and instead of accepting that I was bullied by mean girls in primary one, instead of accepting that I have had problems making and keeping friends because I’m autistic, I have created a narrative where I think I must be, look and feel perfect in order to be accepted and liked by the other girls. But the sad thing is no matter how many times I wash my hands and avoid touching my belongings as to not “ruin” them; it doesn’t solve the impossible problem. That I am me. I sometimes struggle to make friends and I will never be able to be in a romantic relationship, get married or have kids because I’m not that type of person. *(Both of these things are not due to my mental health problems or autism- people with one or both can happily sustain relationships – this is a me thing.)*

So perhaps it’s time to stop lying. Perhaps it’s time to accept that I’m autistic and I’ve got OCD, depression and low self-esteem. Perhaps it’s time to realise I’m genuinely not like other girls and can never be. I am autistic; I am a blogger; I am a teenager; I am a good friend; A hilarious family member; Lover of jewellery and books and tv; I have back acne and weird toenails; I’m a scrapbooker; And I’m spotty, smelly, often have a uni brow and my social media, my work and my life are not perfect. Perhaps I need to start accepting this and perhaps one day I will.

No filer. No makeup. No good diet – No joke I’ve eaten my entire body weight of chicken McNuggets over the past month.

Depressed, Angry And Then…Came A Moth

Dear Diary,

My OCD is shocking today. I’ve broken my own rules by showering two days in a row for the sole purpose of pleasing my OCD. I don’t even care though; that seems completely irrelevent to me right now.

I can’t find myself caring enough to do anything right now. My parents are annoying me ( a sign I’ve not had enough sleep ) and I’m feeling frustrated by the fact that it seems life is going to take a lot longer to get back to normal due to COVID-19.

My printer is not working – which was the only thing keeping me calm and busy. Printing off photos and stickers for my sketch book was a happy distraction and coping mechanism but thanks to shoddy WiFi it won’t bloody work.

I just don’t care anymore again. I’m finding that challenging my OCD is not working when there feels like there is nothing to challenge it for.

And then like a sign from the heavens, a pesky moth flew into my bedroom. Scared of having a moth fly into my mouth whilst asleep or secretly die somewhere only to give me a heart attack when found three months later, I enlisted help to get it out of my bedroom. At first I called my Dad but he made it clear there was nothing he could do. Determined to rid myself of the moth I enlisted my nine-year-old brother’s help – though I had to make it clear stomping on it was not an option.

We managed to lure the creature into my en suite bathroom. I managed to catch it in a plastic sheet of paper and throw it out the window – only for the little shit to imediately fly back in again. Eventually my twelve year old sister joined the crusade and managed to single handedly remove the moth from my bathroom. Afterwards we all laughed and now my little brother is sitting in my room intensely telling me about his video game theories.

Even though I feel like crap right now – a half hour ago I was angry, upset and depressed and I’m still those things – but I feel slightly better. What I’m trying to say that sometimes life gives you lemons, other times it gives you moths. So make lemonade or go on a mission with your siblings to try and rescue a moth.

Home Learning, Compulsive Hand Washing & Breakdown

Dear Diary,

So I started my home learning experience today. Actually I didn’t start anything – that was the problem. I spent hours staring at my assigned work and barely wrote the date and title. I could not focus no matter how hard I tried, so I decided to have a break from my work today.

If only I could have a break from my brain. I’ve been compulsively washing my hands and mouth. The backs of my hands and my lower face have the rough texture of dry skin that is eerily familiar to when my OCD was at it’s worst. The dry flakes of skin caused by my washing aswell as my acne are what my OCD calls “contaminated” so I feel extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. Everything feels wrong and I want to throw something – or many things.

I can’t focus in my schoolwork and I can’t focus being in my own body. Everything in the world feels wrong and I feel wrong. Part of me wants to have a shower – to give in to my OCD to the extreme sense of not just washing my hands/face but having a full-on “decontamination” but I’ve spent too long training myself to only have a shower every two days.

The world is crazy right now. I want to go to a spa type place and get my skin sorted or at least helped. I want to go on holiday and relax in Center Parcs and most of all I want to go to my therapist and the autism support place I recently joined. I want to not feel like everything I own is going to be ruined by myself.

I’m trying to distract myself by listening to music or scrapbooking but when you’re high on OCD anxiety the sound from headphones or a speaker is too much of a sensory problem; the process scrapbooking is also very difficult when you are frightened of “ruining” everything you own.

The Effect That COVID-19 Has Had On My Therapy/Recovery

Dear Diary,

It’s one o’clock in the morning as I am writing this draft and only one thing is on my mind: I wish I could speak to my psychologist.

I’ve done two or three zoom calls months and months ago which went well, however the real thing is no doubt better for a number of reasons. The first of them being that it’s awkward with internet connection; especially for someone like me whose house is notorious for having dreadful WiFi and secondly, because I would not be comfortable talking about intrusive thoughts over the video call – it would feel weird for me.

My psychologist who I have not seen in at least five months by my own reluctance to zoom- and my previous improvement in dealing with my OCD which also meant less need for appointments- is a child phycologist and guess what? Soon I will no longer be a child.

I was supposed to have more time with my psychologist over the last year. A pandemic was not supposed to happen and intervene in my improvements. I wasn’t supposed to have to grow up without being able to visit my therapist because of a virus. I suppose a lot of people will be feeling like this and I know that I am very lucky in the grand scheme of things – a lot of people have had to cope with a lot worse this past year.

I wish I could make it all go away. I’m feeling exhausted by lack of sleep, guilt, worry and regret. I wish I could give being normal – whatever the hell that means – a go for a day and spot the difference. I wish that I could’ve worked out some of my problems with my psychologist and psychiatrist (who are wonderful doctors and people by the way) during the past year in a world where the pandemic never happened. If wishes were horses.

But I can’t change what has happened. I can only sit here, in my pitch black room after resisting the urge to give in to my OCD. My skin spotty and hair slightly greasy due to the poor dietary choices I’ve been making lately. I can watch the shadows form around the light of my iPhone screen, my Alexa playing the soft sound Distant Thunderstorm in the background and hope that somehow, tomorrow will be better.

My Dog Died Today

My Dad told me this morning that my dog Oscar had died a few hours ago. I got up and rushed downstairs to see my dog in blankets. I touched his fur. We will bury him tomorrow and his body is currently wrapped in blankets in our Summer House.

Regret is the one thing I feel right now; that and guilt.

Five years ago my OCD told me that Oscar was contaminated and so from then on I treated Oscar like he was a monster. I refused to touch, walk or even be near him despite doing so for years. Even in my OCD Rehabilitation I still refused to be near him – refused to be near all my dogs.

Last night when he was sick I kept poking a spot above my eyebrow and it got infected. I put a plaster on it last night and when I took it off this morning it took of a third of my right eyebrow. So now I have an infected spot area and only two thirds of an eyebrow. Things are not going great.

Now I’m in my room with puffy eyes and a deep pit in my stomach. I thought there would be more time to get over my weird dog OCD fears – I thought there would be more time to make an attempt at getting over my OCD dog problems. But there isn’t. He is dead and all I can think about are the walks I refused to take him on, the pats I refused to give him for the last five or so years and my avoidance of him. I am so consumed with contamination that past memories of him prior to him becoming contaminated are almost non-existent.

I feel like I have a hole in my stomach and all I want to do is scream and cry.

Oscar

What is OCD Rehab?(+Merry Christmas)

Dear Diary,

Disclaimer: I’m not a trained professional, I’m just a girl with OCD and autism who has developed a strategy that helps me and may help someone out there. (I created this strategy completely on my own.)

Hello. My name is Medusa and I’m an addict. I think of OCD as like an addiction much like gambling or alcoholism. I’m addicted to the false feeling of control and relief I get when I listen to my OCD. Addictions are a way of coping – or rather not-coping – with stress or just life in general. They are heartbreaking and unhealthy. OCD much like addictions causes me to have relapses and stints in personal rehabilitation.

The feeling of relief and the flood of endorphins I get mixed in with the severe nervous energy every time I give in to my compulsions or avoidances is a sort of high. Momentarily It feels better, It feels like I’m in control of my life and that everything is going to be good. But this is a slippery slope that will almost always lead to a severe relapse and is merely an illusion. Every time I let my OCD win it comes back stronger and more often.

OCD Rehabilitation is what I like to call the process in which I go cold turkey on all my compulsions all at once. It isn’t a place or a facility it is merely a decision to put myself through what truly feels like the most impossible thing imaginable. It results in days of feeling confused and uncertain or even excited.

My rules: 1. Go cold turkey on your OCD and wait for the pain and anguish that your compulsions usually temporarily relieve to eventually fade. 2. Realise that this is your chance to get your life back, be pissed, be reckless in your disregard for your OCD’s demands. Do not negotiate with that terrorist.

After my first time in OCD Rehab I was in a sense sober. After days of confusion, pain and going against what felt like my very nature I, after nearly all of my life felt somewhat in control of my OCD. My anxiety and depression still needing to be managed but the OCD is just an unhealthy manifestation of them, the removal of that enables the true work to be done. I still have OCD but it is locked away in a locked box somewhere Doctor Sleep style and sometimes I slip up and open it without realising.

Much like a sober alcoholic, I cannot indulge in the occasional compulsion. No matter how good or hard things get I cannot even for one moment give in. A hand wash there because I’m worried I’ll ruin something means that next time I feel ‘contaminated’ I’ll be more reluctant to fight it. OCD is as familiar as the back of my hand and any regression made could result in returning to my darkest days.

I have relapsed before. Hell, I’m borderline relapsing now. Stressful events such as Christmas bring on the desires of avoidance and compulsions and it’s hard to hold it together.

If you relapse like I did and will do again, check yourself back in. I hope this has helped someone. Believe me I understand how impossible it feels to resist the temptation of your OCD and if you asked me two years ago if I’d be doing this I would have thought it impossible. But I’m doing it!

Please take care of yourselves this Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful time. It may get hard or stressful but we’re all in this together and we will all get through this because we have to.

Merry Christmas and let me know if OCD Rehab has helped you.

OCD Turning Night Into Day

Dear Diary,

A favourite saying of my mother’s is “you’re turning night into day” and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately. At night I’ve been having irrational OCD worries that I’ll pee myself and so I have been unable to sleep at night. Then I’ve been sleeping in until lunch or napping for hours on end.

The problem is that my OCD is for lack of a better word – confused. I’m not quite down the rabbit hole of OCD mayhem but I’m also by no means doing well. For the last three or four days I’ve been deliberately wearing dirty clothes and have been taking no effort into my appearance. And when I say no effort I mean barely brushing my hair etc. It doesn’t make me feel happy to not at least look and feel presentable.

My OCD is ‘confused’ right now because I’m avoiding things like my OCD wants but I’m also not making an effort to rectify when I accidentally don’t avoid something. I feel in limbo unsure of wether my next actions will feed into my OCD or fight it.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to get through today and I’m going to enjoy my dinner which will be roast chicken breasts, rice and vegetables. Then I’m going to do my best to distract myself. My not-so-rational logic is that tonight I’m going to somehow have an epiphany and get back on track so let’s just see how that goes.

The Ghosts Of OCD Christmas’ Past

Dear Diary,

I’m not sure what exactly, about the Christmas experience is the root cause of all my crippiling mental health problems during this time. Perhaps it’s the expectation to be happy, the overall hustle and bustle of Christmas or something else entirely but I every year find myself in a dark place.

My OCD is nowhere near as horrific at Christmas time as it used to be when I was younger but the ghosts of OCD Christmas’ past still haunt me. Not just the memories of being so unhappy and anxious, not just the saddness that I wasted so much of my childhood consumed with OCD but also because the similar, familiar feelings of anxiety, guilt and depression greet me again.

Today is the 19th of December and I’m off on my Christmas holiday’s, except all I’m feeling is guilt. I feel guilty for things I may or may not have said, done or felt during the darkest periods of my life. I feel guilty for not liking people for reasons I can’t completely remember. I feel guilty for my social failures then and now. I feel guilty for not being able to understand others’ feelings when I was eleven and undiagnosed.

I’m scared for Christmas. I’m scared that I’ll fall into old patterns and give in to my OCD so much so that it ruins my whole day. I’m frightened that I’m going to fall into a depression that never ends. I’m scared that I won’t enjoy Christmas.

I remember so many Christmas’ where I cried and washed my hands compulsively to the extend that they bled. I remember my shoulders aching with pain because I was holding myself in a way as to not touch certain things. I remember being so anxious and unhappy.

So what should I do? That’s the million dollar question. For now however I’m going to focus on not going into a coma of misery each hour until the feelings of stress, sadness, guilt and whatever else subsides.

Will update soon. Hope everyone else is feeling okay.