Sunday, 10 December 2017

Progress and facing my fears - a self indulgent waffle!

This year has been a year of facing my fears - at the start of the year I made a conscious decision to 'grow a pair'. I made the choice to myself to do it and I *have* been doing it all year long.

And I am kinda proud of myself for doing it!

Things I have done/wanted to do that scare me:

1. Do more social things - so I don't always make the social events I agree to go to, I sometimes arrive late and leave early so I don't have to spend as much time there but I am trying. Every time I arrange something my brain wombles tell me no-one wants me there, that everyone thinks I am weird or odd, that no-one will actually speak to me, that I am going to do something so catastrophically awful that the entirety of Wales will banish me from their midst - melodramatic yes, illogical yes, but real thoughts and feelings? Absolutely!

But I have gone from going to enforced events 2-3 times a year to doing things a couple of times a month. And yeah, sometimes people don't speak to me but that's okay because sometimes I don't speak either, and some people think I am weird and odd and yeah that's okay too because I can be weird and odd and maybe some people don't want me there or are indifferent to whether I am there or not and that's also okay too

2. Try a sport and not just any sport but a team sport - I am not a team player, I'm not all go team. I don't get the whole high fiving thing (and not only because why the hell would you want to high five someone who has been doing an activity that is going to make them sweaty and revolting and also have they even washed their hands today?), the chants, the over emotional responses to winning or losing and so on. I don't like sharing my personal space with strangers and I don't like celebrating mediocrity like hey you tried a thing and it didn't work but well done for trying- whatever!

So clearly I had to choose a full contact team sport where people are all hot and sweaty and smelly and gross and encouraging and supportive *vom* and it was hard - not just the physical side of things because let's face it I am a fat unfit blob who is more flabs than abs - but the interpersonal skills side of it. It's like having your fear become a reality - the fear of being awful and rubbish and the worst one there and then you go and you are awful and rubbish and the worst one there! The first few sessions were hellish. People literally dripped sweat on me (and yes even typing that makes me want to throw up!), I've had to speak or rather shout stupid things out in a group of people, I've looked like a complete idiot and dick on numerous occasions, I've had to deal with the fact I suck, I've had people leaning on me, practically sitting on my lap and spinning around me and making really fucking uncomfortable eye contact. And these people are scary, they are good at what they do, they actually believe in the whole team thing! It's incredibly odd and unnerving and so hard.

I am glad I have been doing it. It has had a positive impact on my physical well being - my diabetes is so much more well controlled and this combined with going to the gym (another breeding ground for germs and oh so many feelings of inadequacy and confirmation of my own hideous fat physical appearance!) has led to me actually being a lot fitter and stronger.

I'm still not convinced by the whole team spirit thing but I am impressed watching how people work together to achieve some pretty cool things and watching the techniques and dedication of the players is, and I really hate to admit this, inspiring and kind of makes me want to be better too. I also discovered I quite like zoning out and skating around in circles.

3. Being more open - more open about my past and my mental health.

You know it's so hard to actually make the words come out of my mouth when speaking to someone to say I was in an abusive relationship, hell even typing it just makes me want to sink into a hole in the ground. There's so much shame and anxiety around it. Will people believe you, will they think you're weak and always that underlying feeling of it's all my own fault, I caused a perfectly reasonable nice person to do this thing. I have and I haven't  really succeeded with this, I have managed to post on a few forums where people don't know me personally (though I also then freaked out and deleted the posts as they contained a lot of detail), I have sort of mentioned it in passing as in my ex wasn't very nice and they were abusive but not the detail and I think that's okay its progress.

I've also told several people I have OCD and I have social anxiety. I mean I haven't told everyone and certainly not work and I don't go round wearing an OCD socially inadequate freaks of GB team shirt but I am acknowledging it. I struggle to put into words when I am speaking the impact it has but considering previously the only people who knew my diagnosis were me and my GP just telling people is enough.

What's  really been important for me this year though is recognising I am moving forward, it may be slow, it may be tiny steps, I may fall over but I continue to try.

The problem with hugging

It's the time of year full of festive good cheer where friends and family meet up and pass on gifts, cards, wishes of joy and hugs. Which is really super awkward if like me you don't hug.

Now firstly let  me start by saying I actually *want* to hug people, I want to be able to be care free and run up to friends (if I had friends) and greet them with a hug but I can't. It's like my brain is  wired wrongly and can't seem to make the connection between the thought of hugging and the action. Hugging just feels alien to me, uncomfortable and weird. And here are the reasons why:

1. I wasn't hugged as a child - this isn't a woe pity me my childhood sucked throwaway comment - it's true I have zero recollection of being hugged or hugging anyone as a kid. Maybe I was but I just don't remember it. To be honest I have very few clear memories of life before I turned around 9 and those I do have don't lend themselves to warm fuzzies of family get togethers and everyone greeting each other with a smile and a hug. I don't blame my parents for this - I'm a socially awkward adult and it's taken me this long to develop enough social skills to get by - as a child I was probably quite foul. But anyways I don't think I ever learned to hug people properly. Which leads on to:

2. How exactly do you know when to hug someone anyways? Like when is it appropriate and when isn't it? What if you go in arms spread guns blazing so to speak and the other person is just expecting a friendly hand shake?

3. And whilst your about it how do you compensate for things like height differences? I mean if I go to hug someone taller than me and I end up with a face full of boobs I am not going to complain I personally am rather fond of boobs in all their forms but other people may not be so thrilled getting smooshed up against mine.

4. Talking of smooshing being fat what if my fat squidges into whoever I am hugging and repulses them to the point they vomit up their lightly fried sprouts and pancetta?

5. And what if I squeeze them too hard and break them? How do you decide how much pressure you apply with a hug? I mean do you stop at the point they start creaking ominously?

6. Then you have other considerations like, what if you both go in for the hug and end up facing each other and then breathing in each other's faces? What if one of you has bad breath? Or a cold or some other airborne disease that you are then breathing it over each other?

7. Speaking of diseases you dont need to be breathing on each other to spread them you can spread them by touch, what if the other person is dirty or smells really bad? Or they think that I smell really bad? It's possible  I am bigger than most people so I sweat a lot (I wash a lot but I worry a lot about smelling)

8. Then there is the whole bodily function things - what if one of us sneezes, coughs, spits, burps etc on the other one by accident? It could happen. Also what if my breathing is too loud like hoooooorccchhhhh hooooorrrcccchhhhh Luke I am your hoooorrrccchhhhh Father type loud?

9. What if I am too fat for someone to hug - like they go to hug me but can't get their arms around me - awkward yes?

10. Also how long do you hold the hug for? What if I am there holding someone in a bear hug and they are thinking okay weirdo you should have let me go 3 minutes ago and now it's just awkward?

So yes, if I don't hug you it's nothing personal it's just that all of that goes through my head and by the time I have considered everything the moment to hug has passed or I have just said no because it's easier for me to avoid the hug and be considered cold and unfriendly!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Septum Piercing

I've wanted to get my Septum pierced for a while - if your not sure what a septum piercing is - it's the piercing which goes through the cartrillage between your nostrils - sometimes called a bull ring piercing :)

I was a little nervous about getting it done as the only other cartrillage piercing I have is my daith and that was like being hit by a 4x4 with a big nail nail in it! But I love the look of the septum piercing and decided as a birthday treat to myself I would grow a pair and go get it done!

Now - the night before getting this done I had actually been out for my birthday and drunk a fair few pints, shots and jaeger bombs- this meant I wasn't going to drive (the amount I drank I wasn't sure that driving anytime the following week was a good idea!).

So I walked myself down to my local tattoo and piercing studio - these guys are super fab, welcoming, great at what they do and most importantly they are super clean and hygienic (OCD girl needs to know that nothing nasty is lurking in the studio!)

Arriving at the studio I met the guys and filled in my consent forms (every time I go I have to fill these in I think I need a pre-filled form now haha)

Then came the fun part - who doesn't enjoy someone feeling around the inside of their nostrils with their gloved fingers? This, I am told, is important to make sure that the piercer hits the sweet spot rather than going in too high is supposed to be excruciating painful! He then came at me with a blue pen and spent a while trying to find the perfect and straightest spot for the piercing - he had me look at it - it all looked fine to me then he rubbed it out and started again because he wasn't happy with it - this took a little bit of time but hey you want your new piercing to be nice and as straight as possible :)

Once he was happy and I was happy it came to the time for the actual piercing - I was laid down flat on my back for this and I took my glasses off. I was shown the sealed in the packet sterile needle and the expiration date (they always do this which is great) and then it was time for the piercing.

Now, I am not going to say it was the most comfortable experience in the world - there is always going to be a level of pain when someone is putting a sharp metal bar through a part of your body that doesn't have a hole in it! BUT it wasn't actually that bad - the first part was a sharp pain that came and went suddenly, the threading though was a bit pinchy and the end - when and I swear to god this is true - I heard it pop as it came out the otherside was probably the worst! But the whole thing was over in less than a minute and there wasn't really any after pain or much blood or anything. 

I had to wait a few seconds as he fitted the balls onto the end of it - this is fiddly for someone to do wearing gloves and then it was all over. 

30 mins after it was done

Afterwards the guys chatted to me, gave me the aftercare advice sheet and that was it all over and done with.

Aftercare is the usual don't play with it, don't twirl it around, wash your hands before touching it and clean it several times a day with sterile saline solution (boiled water with dissolved rock salt).

I've had it  now for just over a week, and I have had absolutely zero issues with it, minimal bleeding, minimal pain (sneezing and blowing my nose for the first time was an interesting experience for sure) and it appears to be healing very well.

The bar gauge and the balls are rather large but once it's healed in around 4-6 months I can switch this for smaller daintier prettier ones. 

Here are a  few things I have realised in my week of having this:

- humans have tiny hairs in their nostrils, these along with snot, will stick to your piercing, moving it suddenly without soaking it first will pull these hairs - this hurts more than the piercing on it's own!

- cotton ear buds are perfect for removing snot from your still sore nose without you needing to use a tissue of go near the piercing site (also yes it is gross but there is something kinda satisfying about spinning that cotton bud and watching the snot build up on it - like a vom inducing version of a candy floss machine)

- I open my mouth really widely to eat apples and things, this makes my top lip hit the piercing, this is fine after a week but in the early days it was slightly uncomfortable

- People think it's absolutely fine to make rude comments about this piercing - like random FB buddies etc - fuck them - I love it and the more it heals the more I like it

- Fear of the pain of the thing is worse than the actual pain of it - if your considering getting it done and are scared it is going to hurt - it will sting a bit but it's really not that bad and is over in 30 seconds - just make sure you go to someone who is experienced in this type of piercing and remember unlike a tattoo or a lot of other facial piercings when you remove this one any scarring (the little dimple) is hidden inside your nose

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Baking with Betty Crocker - Spooky Spider Cookies

We were lucky enough to be chosen to take part in a new Insiders UK and Betty Crocker campaign.

We got our pack through last week and it contained lots of different goodies:

- Chocolate chip cookies mix
- velvety vanilla cake mix
- chocolate fudge brownies mix
- gooey salted caramel brownies mix
- vanilla icing
- recipe cards, campaign booklet and money off coupons :)

I decided to give the cookie mix a whirl with H

It's probably the easiest of the mixes - you pour the mix into a bowl add 2-3 teaspoons of water and mix - in around 2-3 minutes it mixes up into an easy dough.

H  (aged 4) was able to mix it together with very little assistance from me.

Once the dough was formed we split it into 8 roughly the same size balls which we put onto a baking tray and flattened with a spoon to make the cookies. H needed a bit more help with this as the dough was a tad tacky. We made sure to leave lots of space on the tray.

The cookies baked in around 15 minutes at gas mark 4 (the instructions said 10-12 minutes on gas mark 5 but I know my oven tends to the higher temp). Despite giving them plenty of room on the tray the cookies did slightly merge together when they cooked - but this was easy resolved by cutting them slightly with a knife when we got them out of the oven.

As it's Halloween I decided we would gt creative and decorate our cookies. I had some chocolate coins and some strawberry laces in the cupboard. I cut the laces up and H and I placed 4 laces folded in half on the cookie and added one of the chocolate coins on top - I then popped them back on the baking tray and popped them into the still hot oven for 5 mins.We got them out and H helped to smear the melted coins with a spoon over the laces to make a spider body, We added small pea sized bits of the vanilla icing to make eyes and used some cut off bits of laces to make smiley faces and finish the eyes. We left them cool for an hour on a wire rack.

Whilst they cooled the cookies firmed up and became more crunchy and then it was time to try them:)

They were really crunchy and tasty and not too chocolatey.

The mix made up 8 cookies around 7 cm in size and the whole process from mixing, to baking to decorating took around 30 minutes.

Overall we really enjoyed trying out this mix and and look forward to trying out some of the other mixes in the pack

Friday, 20 October 2017

New Ink :)

Today I got a new tattoo :)

My new humming bird tattoo - freshly done

My previous tattoo's have been for me but this one was different - this one was for my friend Barb.

When I was 17 I got on a plane and flew to the USA to meet some people I had been talking to online for the last 5 years (mIRC anyone remember those days?).

I stayed with Barb who had become a close friend through the chat rooms - I actually stayed with her and her husband at their large ranch style home just outside of Nashville Tennessee, and another 21  people came down to stay over the 3 weeks I was there to meet me (they were all Americans). Most stayed for the weekend or a few days with us as my friends property had several bedrooms and bathrooms plus a couple of acres of land surrounding it for camping and RV's and TN is hawt!

I don't sleep well and neither did Barb so we would sit on her porch on her rockers in the early morning and evening and watching the humming birds come and go at her feeders - most of the time there was noone else around at these times - we didnt need to talk we could just chill in each others company and enjoy being outside in nature.

I had an amazing time with her - I got to travel and do a lot of fun things out there - DollyWood, Graceland, The Smokey Mountains :)

When I got home we made plans for me to go visit again but family and then Uni got in the way. We still stayed in touch online and by post sending postcards and even talking on the phone (anyone who has the misfortune of having to call me knows I hate phone calls but when it's a call at 2am from ya buddy in Nashville then it's way more fun especially when they are singing songs to you), she was there for me when my nan was diagnosed with brain tumors, when I was going through my OCD diagnosis, when I was in an abusive relationship and I like to think I was there for her too when her son got shot in a drive by, when her dog had to be put to sleep.

So I was really upset when she contacted me to tell me she had cancer of the esophagus - she hadn't said anything about being unwell but had had the symptoms for a while - she told me they had caught it in time, and she was having treatment and she wasn't worried and they managed to get rid of it.

Unfortunately, the cancer came back within 12 months of being "clear" and she wasnt able to beat it. I really wanted to go for her funeral but I couldn't make it - I sent a card and ordered flowers but I am gutted I didnt say goodbye properly.

I've never been popular or had many friends and I can count on one hand the friends who I could be myself with and who were supportive of me as a teenager and young adult, Barb was there for me at some really difficult times in my life and I wanted something to remember her and our time together by. She loved the humming birds so that's why I chose to have this design - they also remind me of Barb she was small but humming with energy just like the ones I saw on her porch.

The placement of the tattoo is significant to me - it's over a scar left by the abusive ex and it's turned something I was ashamed of and hated seeing into something I can look at and smile.

Friday, 13 October 2017

My little demon called OCD

As this week was mental health day I thought I would post about my experience of  OCD.

It started with the need to say a prayer every night before going to sleep when I was about 10 - if I didn’t say the prayer then something terrible would happen to my friends, my family, my pets or me. I KNEW that it was my responsibility to say this prayer. It started really brief

“please keep everyone safe”

Then developed into:

“ Please make sure nothing bad happens to my family, my friends, my pets or my house, please make sure we don’t have a fire, or a burglar comes, or we get sick or are in a car crash or get hurt in any way, please make sure people don’t die because they are old”

And it had to be said every night without interruption.

Then the rules changed – it had to be said but it had to be said 3 times. If a car went past or if someone made a noise I had to start again.

It sounds stupid right? I didn’t even believe in God (still don't) but I couldn’t risk anything awful happening. When I tried skipping it I couldn’t breathe, it felt like someone was squeezing my chest, I saw flickering black dots, I sweated, my stomach cramped and I felt like I was going to throw up, I couldn’t sleep, all that I could think was I have to say the prayer I have to finish it or something terrible will happen, I’d physically shake.
It was okay though I could manage it. I just had to say the words in my head and the pressure would be off and I could carry  on and get to sleep.

The thoughts though behind it weren’t satisfied. Walking to school one day and I saw 3 red cars in a row and it was like someone had poured itching powder over me. My skin was crawling, I was on high alert because something terrible was going to happen I knew that the only way to stop it from happening was to go back home, go into the house and close the door and start the trip again. 

This started an almost obsession with car colours. Different colours and patterns of colours meant different things:
3 red cars in a row? – Go home, start again
3 black cars in a row? – Go home and stay home do not leave the house DANGER
1 red 2 green cars? – do not drink during the day
2 silver cars 1 red car? – do not use a blue pen

Crazier and crazier but if I didn’t obey the rules then bad things would happen – I knew they would, we would get burned alive in our sleep, or run over by a train or catch a fatal illness. The dread brought out physical symptoms, headaches, pain in my limbs, pain in my jaw, blurry vision, trouble breathing, dizziness.

I also knew it was a secret – no one could know about it – if people knew and knew the rules then the rules would change and the rituals wouldn't  work. As time went on the rituals became much more  embedded and it became harder to hide them. 

As well as having my rituals to perform I also developed a fear of becoming contaminated - school is a great place  to learn things to really mess with your head! Dust is made up of people's dead skin, you breath it in and you have bits of their skin contaminating your body! Flushing the toilet creates a vortex shooting micro-organisms and water droplets containing urine and feces into the air which you then breath in getting contaminated! Someone coughs or breathes near your food it's got to be binned as it's contaminated. The list goes  on.  It pretty much started ruling my life dictating what I could and  couldn't do.  I struggled with high school my weird behaviour and rituals didn't win me any friends, I didn't want to spend time with other people because they could cause me to become contaminated. I spent a lot of time talking to people online who lived in the USA  and Australia - I felt safe there - we could talk but they weren't going to sneeze on me, cough or leave bits of their skin near me. I managed to pass my exams and get into Uni.

 Uni was a turning point. 

A Dr there diagnosed  me with moderate OCD and referred me to a counsellor -  I didn't actually end up seeing the counsellor due to some other issues but when I got back to Cardiff my  Dr here told me I could attend a CBT course or start on SSRI for anxiety. I opted for the CBT course and they put me on an SSRI to help manage the symptoms whilst I waited. There was a fairly long wait to get on the CBT course but luckily a cancellation space opened up,which was really good as I refused to take the anxiety meds because I had a fear of getting poisoned (kinda stupid when you think about it -someone is deathly afraid of weird things going into their body and you give them weird things to put in their body!)

The CBT course was aimed at treating the symptoms I experienced by examining why I needed to do certain things. It helped me a lot and although it didn't address the root cause of the OCD it helped me develop new coping strategies and work arounds so that I didn't need to complete my rituals.

I read a lot on some forums I am on - people say they have been cured of OCD. I really wish I could say that but I haven't - I still have crazy thoughts and I still find myself doing things that make no sense to anyone else but do to me, but OCD no longer controls my life. It's currently a niggle in the back of my head, a little voice,a whisper rather than a screaming roar and that's okay.

In my day to day life I struggle with moving on from a task - if I have something to do then I have to complete it before  I can start something else - at skate practice and the gym I find it difficult if I cant complete an exercise and struggle if the coach or PT wants us to move on to something else - if I am eating a meal I have to eat it by sections each section has to be completed before I can eat the next, I like to eat sweets etc by colour and size, I still dislike people being in my personal space, touching my food or my belongings, I shower at least 2 times a  day.

I find it very difficult to speak to people about any of this. OCD is seen  as a joke  - you get comments like "wow I wish I had OCD then my house would be clean haha" - its almost acceptable to make these comments  yet would they go up to someone who was quadriplegic and say wow I wish I was quadriplegic then people would have to give me a seat on the bus, or to someone with anorexia - wow your so lucky I wish I had an eating disorder so I can lose this last 50lbs! People think it's just about washing your hands a lot or double checking your door is  locked - they dont understand that it is a compulsion and that if you dont do the things your head tells you to do then you cannot function and if you do the things your head tells you to do you still cant function. It can ruin your health, your relationships, your employment and education opportunities. It saps the energy out of you and turns things that should bring you joy and happiness into an endless rotation of doubt and fear.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Ball Mania MCR - The TramShed Cardiff

Ball Mania MCR - The TramShed Cardiff - an adults only giant ball pit! 

Today was ridiculous fun. Imagine a large structure with enclosed hard mid thigh walls and then ceiling high netting filled  with thousands of little plastic balls and children!!!!! Myself and 2 friends got to dive, roll, swim and sink and just had an absolute blast playing in the ball pit.

Our booking was for 2pm and we rocked up at around 1:50 - we had bought our tix online for £12 each for an hour and the price included free lockers, a party buffet (more on that in a bit), access to the cinema showing kids films and the ball pit.

We checked in and were given our sexy yellow wrist bands and had to signed waiver saying we were healthy, free  from injury and not going to sue if someone accidentally stepped on our head whilst submerged in balls or words to that affect (I'm not going to lie I just filled it in without reading it - I could have been giving them permission to sell my organs to a science lab or summat!)

Sexy yellow wristbands ooohhh

We dumped our bags in a locker - the key was on a wrist band so you didnt lose it in the ball pit, kicked off our shoes and headed in

Giant ball pit

It was super quiet - like 7 other people in the ball pit in groups of 2 and 3 - so plenty of room for us to play.

shoulder deep in balls!

wading through the balls - there are so many adult jokes here but I am just going to leave it

The pit is almost empty so lots of room to play

The first thing we all did was take a flying leap and superman through the balls - getting up after this was a tad difficult!

After the first 10 mins of throwing balls at each other and rolling around like idiots we settled down like the mature grownups we are and took turns in burying each other

My buried mate - only visible part is her hands and thats cos she was trying to get back up

Peek-a-boo - a few minutes before they completed covered my face with balls too - happily it was really easy to breath under them all
They provided a few beachballs for you to lob around plus a giant beach ball but it was flat! So we had to make do with the smaller ones. They also blasted pure 80's/90's cheesy pop (you haven't lived until you have sat in a giant ball pit shoulders  deep in a thousand plastic balls and danced and sang along with hand movements to the locomotion!)

30 mins later and we were shattered, sweaty and in need of a drink so we dragged ourselves out of the pit and went looking for the party buffet.

The party buffet was provided upstairs which conveniently had a bar too - as we were all driving and it was 2:30pm on a Sunday we stuck with soft drinks - a 'pint' of diet coke was £2.50 - it was kinda vile tasting - like the really really  cheap and nasty super market own brand cola bleargh

The party buffet was a huge disappointment it included: cocktail sausages, 1/4 pieces of mini pork pies, cheese and onion rolls (the veggie option), a selection of multipack bags of crisps, cheese cubes on a cocktail stick and pickled onions on a cocktail stick. Also it was advertised with jelly and icecream but they had none :( I was very sad at the lack of jelly and icecream!

However, they made up for it with a selection of biscuits and chocolate rolls, kinder chocolate, froggos, and loads of chewy sweets.

After sugar loading we headed back into the ball pit for another play.

Technically, our tickets were for 1 hour from 2-3pm but no-one asked us to leave and even though some more people had come in - taking the total in the pit to about 20 it was still really quiet. We stayed and played until around 3:30 and then headed back to the buffet to grab some more chocolate and sweets to eat on the way home - gotta keep those sugar levels up right?

We really enjoyed it but a few things could have improved it:

1. More balls! Yeah there were balls a plenty but it would have been so much more fun if they had more - the balls came up to our knees when standing -  doubling the amount so they come up to our hips would have been better

2. Slide - how awesome would it be to slide into the ball pit?

3. More choice on the party buffet and include a free bottle of water

Would we go again? Yes we all enjoyed it - we ar actually looking into the adult soft play next in Swansea :)