Just ask once

I had a scheduled call with the bank today. Just routine stuff. Routine stuff which you would just a year ago pop into the branch and sort out at the counter. Nothing is routine now.

Anyway during the call the bank person asked a couple of not really banking questions that kinda through me

Can I ask. Are you ok. Are you coping. It must be so tough. Are you getting the support you need.”

That’s the bank saying that……

Now before I go on – I am ok. I am coping. A bit of support would be nice but it’s not happening. But here’s the thing. I could so easily be doing not so well in this single parenting gig. Really struggling. Getting no support. Desperate. Looking over the precipice. Sadly many are. In fact forget the single bit, many people are….

I became a single parent in 2016 following the death of my partner. In that time the only official person to ask how I was doing was that bank person. No doctor, no school professional, no education specialist, no one from the local services. NO ONE in the support areas has ever asked what the bank person asked. How many people are struggling and nobody finds out. Nobody asks. I guess the assumption is that those that struggle will always put their hand up. Sadly that might not happen.

That is such a worrying thought.

Grim

Just let this research finding sink in (press on the link for the details)

Autistic people are four times as likely to experience depression over the course of their lives as their neurotypical peers

In the UK the approach is that parents have to fight tooth and nail for any kind of support. The fortunate ones who get some support find out all too frequently that support starts to be withdrawn around the teenage years. Adult autism support is basically non existent for the vast majority.

In our little family world Hawklad is struggling. His anxieties are on the rise. He is stressed out. Trips outside of the house and the garden are currently impossible for him. We are fortunate in that we do have access to some psychological support. Sadly from a Team who are stretched to breaking point. But we still have some support. For how long that support continues – who knows. He’s a teenager. This is the only support he gets now as all the other services have already been withdrawn.

How many other of autistic families are facing the same challenges. TOO MANY. How many autistic adults have been let down by society. TOO MANY.

This is grim.

This time

I can’t blame him for these, this time. But it does explain why he keeps coming in the house with muddy paws.

I had a post yesterday about Autism. When I wrote it things seemed ok with it. But then something happened. I happened….

I’m still working through this pcurrent bout of depression. Won’t be the first or last time I do this. When depression becomes DEPRESSION with me I start to doubt myself. Question my worth. That’s what happened yesterday. I reread the post and didn’t like it. The words were wrong. Uncertain of the message. Why was I bothering. If people want to read about Autism and Autism Patenting then they would be so much better off going to other blogs. Go to a blog like Robyn’s wonderful one. Nothing I said could change my mind. The voices in my would not be satisfied until I deleted the post. Eventually that is what happened.

Today the voices are not so strong. I guess today the post would have had a slightly better chance of being published. With my depression it comes in waves. Bad days then better days. Will be that way until I finally get on top of this run of D. In the meantime I will plod on. Trying to not listen to the voices in my head too much. Focusing on those things in my life which bring joy and happiness.

I can do this

We can do this.

Street View

There are things which I should not be allowed to do when I am are feeling depressed. Here’s are a few things that can send me spiralling downwards.

Watching my so called football team

Look at the news

Anything to do with Boris Johnson

Standing on a Lego piece

Listening to Roger Waters

Weighing myself

Looking at the bank account

Watching the first 10 minutes of UP!

Looking at my face in the mirror

Now I can add something else to that list. Going on Street View…

I don’t know how but I ended up on that App, randomly looking at a street in New York. I had been searching for Science news items. But now I was in Street View. Thats when I made my first mistake. I looked up my old childhood home town. It’s a clever app as I could effectively wander the old routes I would walk when I was young. Seeing just how much had gone and just how run down it had become really made me feel even more down.

Then the next big mistake. I looked up the town we used to stay at in Switzerland. I wandered that beautiful place. At first it cheered me up. Remembering sights and sounds. But then pangs of sadness. Reminders of just how long it’s been since I was there. Then a nagging feeling. If I do ever make it back here I’m doing it as a single parent or probably on my own. Suddenly going back seemed even more unlikely.

Now I’m getting really down.

As I navigated the streets I caught sight of a building we would always walk past on the way to the train station. A shop window I would always look at. It was a steep climb up that street and it would give my partner a chance to catch her breath. But now it looks like it’s gone. Turned into luxury apartments. That made me really really sad.

A few minutes later I was stood outside in the garden. Stood alone in the darkness. Feeling really low. Yes definitely time to start avoiding Street View.

Romeo

As dark as the view may seem if you keep looking hopefully you will eventually see a few rays of light. WE can do this.

I was stood outside surveying the grey skies. Definitely feeling low. Hemmed in and a bit beat up. Thinking about life’s many constraints. Then to the west I saw a few rays of light. That reminded me of just how fortunate I am. In my low moments I seem to be better at remembering the bad stuff. Yet I am so fortunate to have really special things in my life. That thought made me smile.

Then my attention switched to our two daily visitors. Our two lovebird pigeons. Everyday at this time they meet up on our fence and basically DO IT. They don’t seem to mind an audience.

Well today I watched Romeo and Juliet move slowly together. The big moment came and Romeo FELL OFF the fence. Landing in a heap on in the grass. By the time he had recovered his poise and flown back up to the fence ….. Juliet had flown off. If I could understand Yorkshire Pigeon I think I would have heard a loud cry of PANTS.

I think I know what Romeo was feeling. Many of us have kind of been there.

Feathered Romeo you have given me a much needed chuckle. You have more than earned some extra food scraps today. I think you could do with that.

Out of focus

Spring is coming.

Have you ever tried to take a simple photo of a bush. A bush in Yorkshire. That’s Yorkshire where the sun might be out but it’s blowing an absolute howler of a Gale. The perfect weather for out of focus photography.

Out of focus.

To be fair that’s been me since 2016. Better recently but still not completely focused.

So many reasons for that but one thing stands out. Let’s go back to the summer of 2016. I’ve driven my partner into hospital for a short stay so they can conduct some exploratory tests. Our son in the back seat. What did we talk about. Can’t remember. I’ve tried but can’t remember. Probably talked about visiting and picking her up again on Friday. Probably about some jobs to be done. Maybe some shopping…..

When I returned on the evening she was sleeping so we never spoke.

I returned the next day. She wasn’t feeling too good and was having tests so I didn’t see her.

Friday I turned up and was taken to a separate room by the Doctor. Her condition had worsened overnight. The test results were appalling. She had at most a few weeks. She was drifting in and out of consciousness. If she woke then she would probably not be aware of who was around her.

That was it. No more conversations. We never discussed the new reality. The grim new future. The plans we had were in tatters. No new joint plans. As a result I’ve felt out of focus. Hesitant about my intentions. Trying to think about what we might have talked about and agreed if we had one more conversation. Guessing what she would have wanted. Trying to make decisions for the both of us.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to go fully with my views. Can I ever be certain what she would have wanted. It’s hard enough to work out what I’m thinking some days. So yes still probably out of focus but now it’s just through my eyes.

Mist

I don’t know why but as soon as I saw our morning sky I immediately thought of two opposing medieval armies preparing for battle. Just waiting for the mist to lift before they crash into each other.

Our area has had so many bloody battles dating back to Viking times. Who is to say that these very fields have not witnessed that grim sight.

Today’s grim sight was restricted to this unshaven, unkempt Bloke with zero fashion sense leaning against the fence. Coffee cup in hand, exposing his partly covered hairy legs to potentially the ghosts of the past. I guess in years gone by I would have opted for the kilt look. Need to get the air onto those ‘airy knees.

Mist is an apt way of describing my current thinking this morning. After a year of lockdown (now just two weeks short of that anniversary), I still can’t see the way forward. No nearer establishing when (or if) Hawklad will feel able to return to the outside world. Is it school or permanent homeschooling. Will my job survive. When will be our next holiday or excursion. Are my dreams on hold or permanently cancelled. Will I ever get to where my heart desperately wants to go. Is that it for concerts or football for us. When will we see friends and family. Is that it for hugs. Is the world still out there. Has anyone even noticed that we aren’t part of the crowds anymore.

A pandemic year and I still can’t answer those questions.

Mind and hope mist.

That is not a great feel.

Midday

That’s more like a Yorkshire midday. Very dark and brooding.

The sky may be bleak but it’s actually quite inspiring. Makes the landscape feel full of character and emotion. In a funny sort of way I prefer looking at this type of sky to a blue cloudless one.

Did I just say that!!

I came inside freezing cold, jet blasted and very very damp.

I guess the point I’m making is that in an ideal world I would have a view filled with snow capped mountains. It’s a climbers thing with me. I feel at home with the peaks. If I can’t have that view then maybe a view of the Sea. That is down to someone being brought up in a Yorkshire Fishing Town.

That is just not happening where we live. A small hill top 40 miles from the sea. The view we have is open farmland and countryside. Lovely yes but not on the surface that inspiring for me. But it does have something special. The sky. As we are on a hill top with no surrounding peaks or high buildings or trees …. we have a big sky. So I look to that for my inspiration. Hence my liking for a dark, brooding sky. The kind of sky that really deserves the old Hammer Horror movie treatment. Doesn’t have to be horror. A sky perfect for Jayne Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

I remember my mum would listen to sad records to cheer herself up. My partner would watch sad movies to lift the spirits. Which is kind of understandable when you have to live with me. I guess a brooding sky does something similar with me. It sparks my imagination. Helps me dream.

So that’s another item on the list of things to be thankful for. For me it’s so easy to fall into the trap of just seeing the bad things in my life. Depression brings all the bad thoughts to the front of my nogging. They end up dominating my thinking. Doing all they can to bring me down. But the reality is so different. I am so fortunate. So many wonderful things are a part of my life. Yes I’ve known sadness and loss but that’s the human condition. We will all venture down that road in our life’s. So that’s not unique to me. Life deserves to be lived. And yes that can mean smiling at a brooding midday sky.

So let’s dream under that sky. Shall I be Heathcliff or Dracula. Let’s not kid myself, with my looks it better be the Bram Stoker character then.

Snow Bunny

Apparently there is a world out there somewhere.

The snow is now a distant memory. The last bit to cling on was this random block of ice. The last part of the snowman. Snowman to Snow Bunny.

It’s been one of those weeks so far. A week off from school. In other years a week of trips to the Zoo and the Seaside. Maybe a wander in the Hills or Moors. Not this year. Not last year.

A week at home….

Which kinda makes it like every other week. Ok no school at home but it feels the same. Get up early and do my exercise. Make breakfast for Hawklad. Do housework. Do the wash. Change the bedding. Make food. Go out in the garden a few times. Fighting with the cable signal. Watch Disney Plus. Feel bad about not reading so squeeze in a chapter. Go to bed. Seemingly not doing much yet wondering where the days have gone.

But.

Thankfully connecting with friends. Friends are able to break the Groundhog Hog sensation for a while. That is so important these strange days.

Sky

I was outside exercising in the chilly morning Yorkshire air. Definitely chilly. There is a local expression for this weather. It puts hairs on your chest….

That’s all well and good but hair on the chest is not really helping. But more on top would be more use.

Anyway I was chucking a kettlebell about when I noticed the sky. So special. Another reason to be thankful. And yes there are so many reasons to smile. It’s a good life. Yes tough. Yes a bit constrained but still good. So much to hold on to.

Look at that view. Breathe the fresh air. Enjoy the peacefulness. Listen to nature. Wonder friends. Hawklad. Our tree.

Then I dropped the kettlebell. Got a little over excited. And unbelievably the 14lbs of bone crushing hell MISSED my toes. Another reason to be thankful.

Today the mindset is much better. More positive thoughts than bleak ones. For too many days I’ve focused on the stressful in my life. Today feels more like a day for focusing on those things that I’m thankful for.

Today it definitely feels like I can do this. We can do this.