Mindfulness

In this post I want to talk a bit about mindfulness. I think mindfulness can be a very useful and helpful thing to try if you are struggling or depression is giving you a hard time. I know what it’s like when depression makes you feel down about yourself because it seems like the simplest of things are difficult to do, and it’s easy to beat yourself up. I feel this way sometimes.

This week has been a difficult week and a number of times I have felt like I would be better off just giving up. Sometimes I find it difficult to admit there is a problem and accept help. I prefer to pretend like everything is fine and just carry on with things.

I sometimes like to try mindfulness. I find that quite often my head gets a bit ‘cluttered’ and it’s difficult for me to focus. I like to sometimes do something as simple as sitting on a bench and listening to the sound of the trees, cars passing by, people making noises, etc. For a few minutes I can just relax and all the thoughts and noise in my head quiten down and disappear. Also, when I’m eating I try to sometimes slow down, and really taste everything I’m putting in my mouth, and notice the different textures. I can enjoy food better that way.

I don’t do mindfulness that much but when I do it can feel really rewarding and like it helps, even if it’s only just for a little while. I recommend that if you are like me and you suffer from depression or you feel like your head gets a bit cluttered sometimes, you give mindfulness a try.

My parents relationship

People sometimetimes say ‘would you like the kind of relationship your parents have?’ For some of us maybe we say yes. But for others the answer may be no.

Personally for me my answer would be no. Ever since I was younger my parents have always argued lots. The arguments have been so bad that I’ve always worried about my parents splitting up and getting divorced. It has always been very difficult. My mum has never left my dad because she has been thinking of me, my brother and sisters. She has never wanted to put us through something like that.

My dad is usually the one that starts the arguments and he always seems to find something to argue about. He can be very intimidating. My mum mostly just puts up with it all somehow. 

I try to distract myself and I sometimes put on headphones to drown out the noise of the shouting.

Because of all this I don’t know what a happy marriage is really like. I can only read about it in books and watch movies and things about it. I don’t have any real life experience of what a happy marriage is actually like.

It makes me feel sad for my mum because she has just put up with it all for so many years. That seems like a big sacrifice.

I don’t want my life to be like that. I like to imagine there is someone special out there for me. I hope that there is.

I know in most marriages there are probably some arguments and misunderstandings but I don’t want to have anything as bad as my parents.

It is funny how just from looking at my parents people just assume that everything is all okay and the way it should be. But it isn’t. It’s just my parents acting and pretending. But it isn’t real.

It’s true that no one really knows what happens behind closed doors. People can change and act differently. It’s only the people inside the house that really knows what is going on and notices things.

It is horrible growing up knowing what is happening but not being able to say or do anything. Each new day is difficult and you’re always wondering what might happen and what could happen.

I wish that I hadn’t had to experience any of this. I used to think it was my fault for being born and tying my mum down, but I know it isn’t really. At least I have my brother and sisters. I know we wouldn’t exist otherwise. I still wish I could have had parents that truly love each other and make each other happy. But I didn’t get so lucky.

I like to imagine my life will be different and I might get lucky. I just have to wait and see what the future holds for me.

Life Update

I realised I haven’t posted in months now so I just want to say a quick hello and let you all know I am still here. This year has been difficult for me. I’ve been struggling with my depression and I’m still spending a lot of time at home. My Grandad suddenly passed away in March and I’ve been missing him lots. It’s the first time I’ve lost a grandparent and I wasn’t prepared for it at all. I’ve started to see a social worker because I want to move out of my family home and I need some help with that, or to at least know what my options are. I’m going to meet my advocate for the first time next week. An advocate is someone who can help represent my views and wishes.

Anyway, I’m sorry it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted but it’s just been a difficult year so far. I will try to post occasionally if I can.

A note from me

I just want to let you all know what is going on with me at the moment. I have debated whether to say anything or not, but I just want to be honest.

As you all know I suffer with Selective Mutism. People with SM can also have depression.

Lately things have been quite hard and dark for me. My depression has got quite bad and I have been struggling. 

I decided that I can’t record any videos for a while and I might not write as many blog posts whilst things are so difficult me. I want to be able to help people but I don’t feel able to do that when I am so mentally and emotionally ill.

I hope you all understand. I just wanted to let you all know why I might not be so active in some places anymore. 

I hope things will get better at some point but right now that is how everything is.

Thank you for reading this.

Perception of SM

A lot of people find it hard to understand SM. We are often seen as shy or rude.

I have been called all sorts of names by people my own age and teachers, mentors, safe guarders, etc. I remember once a safe guarder from college said to me ‘you’re not a baby’. The way she said it made it sound like she was trying to convince herself, not me. I was hurt that she saw me like that. I am a very sensitive person and I can get emotional and teary as a result. It isn’t my fault. Whenever I saw this safe guarder more often than not I got the impression she was trying to get rid of me as fast as she could so she could help other people. She didn’t seem to take my problems seriously. She wasn’t always like this. When I first met her she was nice and supportive but it changed over time.

This same safe guarder also tried to push me to say thank you to someone. She was telling me ‘say thank you’ over and over again like I was a child who needed to learn manners. What she didn’t realise was I desperately wanted to be able to say thank you but even those two little words were difficult for me. A lot of people with SM also find it hard to say words like please and thank you. It is also hard to say peoples names. We really want to be able to but it is just so hard for us. We are not rude. A lot of us are actually kind and emphatic. We are also good listeners.

We are not bad people but sometimes people label us like we are and we shouldn’t be bothered with.

Christmas

When I think of the word Christmas I have mixed feelings. I like Christmas but at the same time it can be a hard day for me. 

I find it hard because there are people watching me opening presents, waiting for my reaction. I try to smile and act happy but it is hard. I am grateful for all the gifts I receive but it is hard for me to show it. I think other people with SM feel the same.

I want to be happy but the truth is neither depression or anxiety take a day off, even if it Christmas. I can’t just choose what day to be happy. It doesn’t work like that.

But I will try my best to have a nice Christmas this year, just like every other year. 

I find myself reflecting a lot on this past year. I volunteered at a charity shop, left, and now I have just started volunteering at a new charity shop. It is like a new beginning. Also this year I started recording videos of myself speaking about SM on YouTube. I created a Facebook group and did some live videos. And I started blogging here. I am very grateful to everyone that has supported me this year. 

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas. For those of you who struggle, I hope you get through the day okay.

National Stress Awareness Day

Today is National Stress Awareness day so I thought I would talk a bit about stress and ways to cope.

Anyone can get stressed, any day of the year. Some people don’t let it get to them too much, but others have more trouble. I’ve dealt with stress before and sometimes I can let it get to me for days or weeks. 

People stress about all kinds of things but I think it’s worth remembering that it’s human to feel emotions. The stress that people feel should often be taken seriously. If you imagine you are stressed, just think of how you would like to be talked to. Would you like someone to make fun of you, or would you like someone to be kind and really listen to you?

When I am stressed things that help me are:

1. Reading a book

2. Writing

3. Listening to music

4. Going for a walk

I think it’s good if you can find something you enjoy which relaxes you. Stress can be a horrible feeling, but if you can deal with it then it’s not so bad.

SM Discrimination

I want to talk about my experience of discrimination. Unfortunately discrimination can occur when you have a disorder like SM, since you’re not able to speak up for yourself and this can make you vulnerable. 

Due to a lack of understanding of Selective Mutism people made up their own minds about me and I am often labelled ‘shy’ or ‘rude’. There are people that just don’t understand why or how I can spend so much time not speaking. I have heard people say that they can’t imagine not talking for hours on end. It annoys me that people say and think things like this, because the truth is if you had SM you wouldn’t have a choice. We don’t choose to suffer. There is no choice. We don’t ask ourselves ‘would I like to talk today? Yes or no?’ We want to talk, but we just don’t feel able to get the words out.

Sometimes people have taken advantage of my silence and I have been bullied as a result. When I was at college a girl in my class would ask me if I’m okay. I would nod and try to carry on with what I was doing. She saw me nod, but seconds after she would ask me if I was okay again. She always laughed like it was funny and it was a joke. She would stand in my way and block my way. She would tell me to hurry up if I was walking too slowly and push past me. I tried to tell the teachers but I was ignored most of the time. The staff that did try to help didn’t make things much better. I was so relieved when the year was over.

Another example of a time when I was experiencing discrimination was when I finished school and I was trying to apply for a sixth form. I was trying to choose subjects but the staff kept telling me I couldn’t do the subjects I picked because they required speaking. I was eventually told I couldn’t go to sixth form there because there were no subjects I could do. My mum and support workers weren’t happy with that and it got taken to court. I was anxious about going to court but it was quite short and small. The people from the sixth form didn’t even turn up. In the end I was allowed to go to the sixth form centre but I decided not to. I didn’t want to go somewhere that I might feel unwanted so I went to college instead.

When I was at college I had a friend that didn’t turn out to be such a great friend. She was quiet and shy so I thought she would be a good friend for me. As it turns out I think I am better surrounding myself with talkative, chatty friends. I seem to feel more comfortable around those kinds of people. So after a while of being friends with this person at college I wanted to try talking to them on the phone. They seemed happy to go along with it so I tried to call her. She picked up but didn’t say anything. I was saying ‘hello?’ and still there was silence on her side. Eventually I gave up. During our friendship it seemed like I was doing a lot of the work. She wouldn’t talk directly to me, and she would only write on my whiteboard to talk to me. It was like she thought I was deaf. I got really tired of it all and stopped talking to her and spending time with her. About a year later I got a voicemail from her phone. She and her friend had decided to call me as some kind of joke. In the voicemail they were laughing about me and the sound of my voice in my voicemail recording message. The college were fortunately able to deal with it and tell the people involved that it wasn’t acceptable to do things like that. I got an apology note as well.

People also seem to have difficulty understanding that it is difficult for us with SM to speak face to face, on the phone, or even online sometimes. Even if we aren’t in front of someone or if we are behind a screen it can be difficult. When I am online writing an e-mail or using social media I tend to read back what I’ve written and worry that I might have said something I shouldn’t have. I sometimes send an e-mail and wish I could take it back or unsend it. I delete posts on social media. Even as I am writing this I am thinking hard about what I’m writing. It’s like I want to be ‘perfect’ even though I know no one is perfect.

It is very difficult to live in a world that can be cruel when you have SM.

´╗┐First ever blog

Hello everyone. My name is Christina and this is my first ever blog. I’ve always liked writing so I thought I would give this a try. I’m 21 years old and I suffer from Selective Mutism and Atypical Autism. I will be talking about Selective Mutism quite a bit as it is something that impacts my life very significantly. 

Selective Mutism (SM for short) is a communication disorder caused by high levels of anxiety. People who suffer from SM find it extremely difficult to speak to others in social situations such as schools, colleges, work places, parties, etc. For many, the only place we feel comfortable and safe is at home with close family. Although in some cases it can be hard for some of us to even feel able to speak then.

Imagine you were in a crowded room. There was lots of noise, people laughing and chatting to each other. You are stood in a corner of the room, watching and listening to everyone, trying to take it all in. You feel extremely anxious, even though you are only standing there and watching. You want to stay invisible and you hope no one approaches you. Someone walks over to you. Your anxiety levels get even higher. You feel frozen. You are thinking ‘oh no, not again’. The person approaches you and tries to talk to you. 

“Hi. What is your name?” they ask you.

You have the word in your head. Just one word. Your name. You try to open your mouth but nothing comes out. It feels like something is keeping your voice trapped. You can’t make the word come out. You want it to come so desperately, but it just won’t. Your hands are shaking. You are sweating, and your heartbeat is racing. You are struggling to catch your breath. You are fighting this battle inside you. No one else can see it.

The person looks at you, waiting expectantly. When nothing comes, the atmosphere feels awkward. They eventually give up and move away. They think you’re rude, or just really shy. They don’t attempt to come back and try to talk to you. You are alone in a crowd again. 

You feel sad. You failed again. You ask yourself ‘why do I have to be like this?’ You need to get out of that room. You need to escape. You don’t want to be there. You quietly slip out the door.

This is what it’s like to live with Selective Mutism.