Category Archives: Rambling and Opinion

Blog Out May

I’ve seen an advert which says “outrun May”, and I keep thinking it means the current UK prime minister. But actually it’s about running for charity. Or health. Or something. I’m not interested enough to remember. I’ve meant to do a blog every day month for years but instead I’ve barely blogged. But it’s the first of yet another month so I’m having another try.

I want to get back in the habit of blogging again because I enjoyed it. I need to get in a habit of journalling because my mental health isn’t doing too well and writing usually helps.

It seems that being diagnosed as autistic is the start of a long process and after over two years I still feel at the beginning of my understanding of myself. Over 40 years of not really being who you actually are isn’t easy to work out. I’m not sure who I am or how to parent the awesome beings that my body grew and expelled.

We’re on the cusp of puberty for my eldest daughter, and her diagnosis a year ago should help navigate that. Also being ridiculously open and honest for her whole life. Side affect of my autism, I’m rubbish at lying. We’ll have to apply for secondary school in a few months, and I am honestly scared of her going to a huge school, but an EHCP is unlikely unless she actually goes into crisis, which I’d prefer to avoid. Masking issues and appearing “normal” to get through the day equals “she’s fine” to the untrained eye.

Youngest daughter is still awaiting assessment, because two autism diagnoses in close family and a host of traits are still apparently not enough to avoid hoop jumping with CAMHS just to get on the year long waiting list. We don’t even have written confirmation she’s on a waiting list, and I don’t trust verbal notifications.

I won’t be writing specific details about my children because their lives are theirs and they don’t want it shared online. So if I seem self centered, it’s because I’m the only person I have permission to write about. My life is still child-led chaos of course.

My current special interests appear to be books (always, although picture books are fading, which I’m not happy about so will fight back); autism (especially female experiences and mental health); feminism (sort of, mainly for counteracting everyday sexism for my daughters); decluttering and organisation (because my house is too messy / stimulating for good mental health); and Lego (because.)

I have no plan for this daily blogging. I might hunt out some prompts, or diary stuff, or actually do some book reviews, or stream of consciousness. Or this might be or for another few months. Hopefully not. Please feel free to give me any ideas or questions and I’ll see how I do. Thank-you.

Half Year Goal Review

At the beginning of this year, I made a list of goals in my Bullet Journal. The year has been up and down so I’ve not achieved as much as I might if all had been good, but severe anxiety and depression plus impaired executive function are hard to work with!

GOAL: A place for everything, and everything in its place.
PROGRESS: Working towards it. Still have lots in boxes to sort but am trying to make the place first before bringing something in. This will be an ongoing goal.

GOAL: Separate spaces for all four of us. Children own bedrooms. Adults (quiet) workspace.
PROGRESS: MG and DG finally got their own bedrooms in May, after delays with clearing out the old ‘office’ and repainting the new bedroom. Keeping them tidy is another matter… Mr Chaos has office space in the living room, but it could do with a bit more of a division to make it quieter. My space in our bedroom is still a dumping ground for things to sort, but I’m making time to do creative things more often even if I don’t have my own space yet.

GOAL: Empty TARDIS and garage of storage boxes.
PROGRESS: Hopefully I’ll start doing this in September. The TARDIS is roofless and full of ivy and spiders so not being used as a playhouse at all (plus full of crud) and the garage is refilled as soon as it’s emptied, with more stuff from the house that needs sorting. Lots of culling needed.

GOAL: Create routines and habits that work.
PROGRESS: I tried a bedtime routine that worked for a bit then fell apart. Making good habits is hard, and even with the help we’ve been given from outside agencies, it’s a struggle. Work in progress.

GOAL: Create and keep a blog schedule.
PROGRESS: Ha ha ha. I always stick blogging at the bottom of my priorities, even though I really need to build up Chaos Castle. I’m currently in the middle of 16 reviews on Chaos Castle, but still seem miles away from finishing even one 🙁

GOAL: Lose 6 stone (84lb).
PROGRESS: Started dieting in March and have lost 38lb. I’m in a stalled phase at the moment and eating rubbish again because a few stressful weeks but will try to pull it together after this next week of stress is hopefully over.

GOAL: Couch to 5K.
PROGRESS: Not started. Not thinking about starting.

GOAL: Be authentic.
PROGRESS: Hmm. Not sure if I’m managing this one. Mostly I guess, but I think I still try to hard to play down autism and agree with the “we’re all a bit autistic” and “it’s not real autism” type comments to avoid arguments. I need to stand up for my and my daughter(s)’s autistic selves more. We are autistic. Not just labelled for the sake of it.

WORD OF THE YEAR: Happy.
PROGRESS: Not really.

I actually count that as pretty successful for half-way through the year, given that I usually get nowhere near this in a whole year! Yay for the Bullet Journal for helping me take the baby steps towards progress. Here’s to the next six months 🙂

Just Visiting

I try to remind myself I’ve been here before.

I try to remember that I won’t be stuck here. I will escape.

Thinking is foggy and laden down. My mind is so heavy I can barely lift my head.

What if this time I can’t leave? What if this time I’m here for good?

What if all the years of holding myself together, filling the cracks in, coping, have left me too broken to be fixed?

I can get free. I will get free.

Depression will not hold me.

But right now, I’m visiting.

Just visiting.

Procrastinating

I have procrastinating down to a fine art. I tried to work against it, and did quite well, but here it is, almost the end of March and I’ve not posted anything for ages. So instead of finishing off all the half-written book reviews I need to do, I’ll procrastinate here instead…

I’m still loving the Bullet Journal. In January I got so much done, and I may feel frustrated that I’ve not got much done since (in terms of writing posts, and getting the house decluttered), but I am keeping on top of the day to day things more days than not, and have even stuck to a diet for two weeks so far.

In need of relaxation this morning, so setting up April in #bulletjournal

A photo posted by Anne-Marie Carslaw (@chaoscastleuk) on

We have another autism diagnosis to add to mine, and I now suspect that three out of four of the Chaos household will end up with official diagnoses. Despite knowing we were going through the assessment process, the diagnosis did take me by surprise and we’re all still adjusting to it. It does mean that I really need to start building up local Home Ed contacts because I can’t see that mainstream schooling is going to be that helpful for us.

We have a huge number of review books to get written. Many very excellent ones, and a few so-so ones that probably won’t get added. The best of illustrated books will go Chaos Castle, the rest here. Which will include some very excellent unillustrated books. Chaos Castle is all about the visuals.

I really need to update both blogs visuals.

But content is king, so I have a note to myself to not procrastinate by updating themes… I really want to…

I’ve not been reading as much as I feel I want to, but am currently on the third in the Tiffany Aching series, working up to Terry Pratchett’s final novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. It’s nice to read them all together, without several years between, as everything is fresh from one book to the next, and you can really see the development of writing over the years.

It seemed like a good time to (re)read these. Although reading The Shepherd's Crown will be hard.

A photo posted by Anne-Marie Carslaw (@chaoscastleuk) on

I wish they’d kept the smaller hardback and matt cover format for the last three. I preferred it, and I want the series to match!

I now need to convince myself to finish off writing a review that’s over a month later (never mind all the other ones), so I feel I’ve achieved something…

 

New Year. New You.

Start the year as you mean to continue.

That seems like a terrible piece of advice, as many people start the year hungover and sleeping half the day.

I half did that. I’ve not drunk any alcohol for weeks because of an annoying on/off cold/cough and alcohol always makes me feel worse. So I planned an early night and was still awake at 5am with insomnia (broken sleep/wake cycle) and slept the morning instead.

I could write that as my first gratitude of the year: being able to sleep all morning while rest of family look after themselves (thank-you Mr Chaos; thank-you awesome daughters).

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I have goals most years, that I may or may not achieve, but resolutions seem silly. It’s just a number change, and just one system of time keeping.

When I was younger I hated New Year’s Eve. I hated the change of one year to the next. I was used to being in one year and didn’t want the number to change. Over the years that’s faded to not caring. Now I know I’ve always been autistic, that dislike of year change makes much more sense.

I used to want to make achievements within a year, and save up new things for the date change, but every day is a new day and putting so much weight on arbitrary number changes isn’t helpful.

It’s nice to have a period of reflection, and now is as good a time as any. Technically better I suppose because most people are of work and have more spare time to reflect and consider.

Unless you’re a parent. Spare time doesn’t seem to exist then.

And yet I still seem to waste hours of it.

I started a bullet journal in December, so it wasn’t a new year thing. I’ve been planning my decluttering in it over the last couple of days. Impaired executive function seems the likely reason behind never being able to declutter the house (and it’s got worse over the last four years) and I am so utterly obsessed by the mess that any kind of functioning has gone with it, so I am really really really going to try hard, and work out how to keep accountable without getting stressed and ending up in shutdown.

Baby steps.

Focus on the positive. Let go of the negative.

I’m not into anything spiritual so affirmations and prayers and things like that don’t work for me. Practical. Sensible. Logical.

Lots of lists.

Lots of doing.

Lots of reviewing.

More doing than planning and reviewing would help though.

New year. Old me. I may ramble incoherently sometimes. Most of the time.

The best thing I’ve seen this year so far is from Alex T Smith:

New year. Old you. All good.

Planning

I feel like I’m letting my life slip through my fingers. Years of not knowing why I couldn’t cope with what seemed like simple things; years of on/off depression and constant anxiety; years of feeling like my life has no point whatsoever. And yet still battling on, because I feel I ought to. Then wondering why nothing changes.

Getting an autism diagnosis was an answer, but also it’s just a first step. I am still me with all my anxieties and foibles, but I feel like I’m only the rubbish parts of me most of the time.

I’ve been looking at planners for several months, considering several pre-made styles or printouts and contemplating designing my own and getting it printed on demand. I’d seen the concept of a bullet journal, but watching the intro video didn’t inspire me and I’d written it off. But then I found the #bulletjournal tag on Instagram and saw how other people were using the method to fit them, and I spent hours wasting time on Instagram and YouTube was inspired.

The person whose beautiful bullet journal really made me want to start is Boho Berry. I have a tendency to jump too far into new things and go a little overboard with collecting stuff rather than doing stuff, and New Year’s intentions always fall apart for me so I started reticulating splines (or something) and bought a Leuchtturm1917 squared journal. It didn’t have to be that brand, but that’s the one that seemed to suit what I was looking for best. It is very beautiful.

I have no patience, and I don’t believe that starting something at New Year is necessary the best, so I started for December. I’ve not got into the habit of using it every day, but I have found writing short to-do lists each day are more likely to get done and I was a little more organised for the first few days of new thing excitement!

I’ve thought about my goals for 2016, to become a better me (not a different person; me with all my faults and meltdowns but also with more structure and less procrastination) and my three main areas of focus are house, health, and blog. I’ve not included parenting because that is in every part of me, and included in specific house and health goals.

I think these are my 2016 goals. Planning and forming good habits are the basis of everything really.

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@chaoscastleuk) on

So that’s my plan. Work on creating routines and habits that work for the family; work on creating a living space that reduces stress; work on living together as a family with all our foibles and traits; work on physical fitness alongside mental health. Keep reviewing. Keep accountable. Keep authentic.

Here’s to 2016.

Christmas Gift Guide

 

Books

Books.

Wander round your local independent book store; or huge Waterstones; or order some huge collections from The Book People; or whatever.

And if you don’t know what someone is interested in, book tokens are fab too.

Suitable for any age and any gender.

Just buy books.

Executive Function

Trigger warning: depressed thoughts

I’m struggling with life at the moment. I’m sick of feeling depressed and anxious, and I want to make little achievements that I know will improve my life. But I can’t seem to work out how to do it.

It’s not that I don’t know the theory, I just have a huge mental block on action. I want to live in a tidier house. The mess depresses me so much. I don’t want a show home, or minimalism, or anything Instagram or Pinterest worthy (I Instagram my mess anyway, but I’m odd). I just want tidier. Less crap.

I’ve written lists. I’ve broken tasks into tiny bits. I’ve sketched room layouts. I’ve categorised the “stuff”. I’ve thrown everything on floor and surfaces into bags in the garage so there’s less to deal with in the house.

I’ve stared into space. I’ve read novels. I’ve taken up doodling. I’ve completed Plants vs Zombies. I have a level 7 town hall in Clash of Clans. I’m on level 170-something on Candy Crush Soda Saga. I sleep during the day. I cry. I rock.  I procrastinate. I perseverate.

I know I waste hours and hours but I’ve forgotten how to live. I feel like I’ve done it all so many times before that trying again is pointless. Life is pointless.

I’ll try again. Of course I will. I always will. I’ll look for my diary/planner and break the tasks up again. I’ll get there. I have to get there.

I wish I knew where there was.

Day Four in the October Blogging House…

I will blog every day, but they won’t necessarily be coherent. I almost wrote a rant today about (yet another) hate page on Facebook, and I may still write it but my brain isn’t really up for thinking about it right now.

So today’s post will be a random steam of consciousness thing, whilst trying to ignore how I’m actually feeling as usual because I don’t want to go there.

I almost wrote blogtober in the heading but I think that’s an actual thing. No idea what it is our what prompts (if any) it has. I try to do those something-a-day prompts because I like the idea but there’s always things that are so utterly irrelevant to me. And I’m rubbish at doing things that I find irrelevant.

I was like it at school. And I think I was right. There was no point learning the bulk of things that were covered because I have forgotten them through never needing them, and the things I taught myself were more interesting.

So when my children don’t want to do homework, I agree with them. Is there really any point in arguing and causing animosity with a child just because some people have a “I had to do it so they should to” attitude?

Not that I think children should do whatever they want. There’s a difference between trusting a child’s intrinsic motivation and not caring at all.

I can’t conform. I don’t want to confirm. The world is making me feel very cross at the moment, and wishing that I was and different species.

I found a note in one of the papers I kept from my childhood, signed many years ago, saying I resigned from being human. So technically I’m not, because I resigned more than half a life ago 😉

But I still feel like I’m doing everything wrong. The decisions I’ve made were wrong. I don’t trust myself. I’m the broken one. It’s not an easy way to live a life.

Pinch Punch…

Some neat and tidy looking shelves to show that baby steps have been happening in the Chaos household.

Some neat and tidy looking shelves to show that baby steps have been happening in the Chaos household.

It’s October. Insert inane comments about how fast the year is flying past again. Three quarters of 2015 at an end, and I still find years starting with ’20’ a novelty but in a decade I’ll have lived the same time in the 21st century as the 20th. Assuming I’m still around, of course. I do assume I’ll still be alive at 50. With two teenage daughters. Eek.

It seems as good a month as any to try to do a blog a day. At least 31 posts from now until the 31st either on here or Chaos Castle, scheduled to appear once a day (or written last minute most likely).

It seems a good month because I’ve already written that I want to write more, and do more, and be more. Whatever more is.

It seems a good month because Jax has just opened the idea of a creative circle and getting back to proper blogging is my challenge, one I’ve been failing for about eighteen months now. That and decluttering, which I’ve been failing at for forty years 😉

It seems a good month because (shh, don’t jinx it) I’ve been mostly feeling okay this week. I’ve got a couple of small tasks done. Small, tiny, baby steps. I’m trying not to push myself too fast so I don’t collapse again. Little by little…

So all in all it seems like a good month. Maybe some of the 35 posts in draft might actually get finished. Maybe that huge review pile might get a bit dented. Maybe I’ll manage to keep on getting things done little by little.

Maybe.

It’s as good a month as any 🙂