I’ve always had a very strange relationship with food since I remember myself and it was mostly dodging eating something or running away from the smell of something. And I wasn’t a child that was fazed by the if you don’t eat it you’ll get nothing else. Well I would happily starve, I don’t want it thank you and so that’s probably some of the foundation. No one knew at the time I was autistic. I was just a strong headed kid who liked her own way and didn’t like to do as she was told. As an adult I think of the things I liked as a child if I had my way and it was very restricted by I probably had nutrition from every food group and I liked what is now know as the superfoods. Sour sap is now classed as a superfood and I grew up in Nigeria where we had the tree in our compound so I lived off sour Saps and mangoes and guava. I never liked pawpaw (papaya), I can’t tolerate the texture. My taste has expanded as I’ve become older because I guess I haven’t been forced to consume anything under duress so I have slowly tried new things and found it is not as bad as my mind believed. As a teenager, I probably started using food as a form of control, it was the only thing I could control when everything else is a mess and guess this has spiralled into adulthood. As the pressures of adult life mounted executive dysfunction became worse and I started to forget to eat and they had started the downwards spiral in the past when I was not aware. In times of stress my body shuts down. The relevance of my story is that I have to be conscious of my triggers in order to change my responses to them for change to occur. When you don’t walk in consciousness, you have a greater chance of reverting back to your old coping mechanisms. This was my reason for stopping my Ritalin when I did when my body collapsed in January. My body and mind was going through extreme stress and with the addition of the side effects of Ritalin, I didn’t stand a chance. I lost 15 kgs in a month and I was getting to a dangerous place. It’s harder to comeback from that dangerous place (ed survivors will know this so well). My blood pressure was starting to be affected and seeing as no medical professional felt I was a worthy cause, I had to realise I was a worthy cause. I stopped my Ritalin in order to focus on feeding my body. I am far from giving my body the nutrition it deserves but I am proud of myself for not allowing it go to dangerously low levels this time. My mind needed building and you can’t get your mind strong without food. Your chemistry goes out of balance when you starve your body. My end goal is to be as healthy as I can be without compromising taste because I will like to begin to associate food with as a wonderful experience which I also partake in. I’ve never really understood the concept of dieting, low fat foods ( it changes the taste for me), I’d just rather go without so I guess I will have to work with healthier versions of what I like, a better structure with eating including remembering to eat whether I’m hungry or not, regularly. I am aware of the beast within me and I will shame the beast because I am worthy. I am worthy of living a healthy life and my body and mind are worthy of nutrition.
I’m stuck in a rut. This is how I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve tried to write this pages so many times and it always goes back to where do I start. There is so much to say, there is so much to sort when everything has disintegrated. That’s literally what my life feels like. For the last few years it feels like I’ve watched it in slow motion but during the process of self reflection the process of unraveling started even before that. I have a few unpublished posts that where written in desperation at a time I just needed to get shit out of my head then I started an instagram page: identity4422 on 30 January 2019. I had to fight my demons. 22 January 2019 everything came to a halt for me. My body and mind became exhausted. My soul was exhausted and my body went into complete shut down and my mind was manic. My body and mind were so stressed that for the first time in my life I lost verbal communication. I could not talk. My body was riddled with a kidney infection and my limbs refused to work. I was experiencing what is known as autistic burn out. Prior to this I have been facing very stressful situations with little or no help from medical professionals who have a duty of care to help me. I have had many battles with my mental health through my adult life; including battling with my personal stigma of the disease and society’s stigma towards the disease. I have also been battling with the stigma of being a health care professional living with a mental health illness, knowing how these group of patients are viewed by my colleagues. I have discovered that when people don’t know you are affiliated to a cause, they are able to speak openly about their prejudices and biases with no fear of repercussions or fear of having to put on the professional script. I have also been battling my expectations of the current medical systems and I am currently struggling to understand why I am currently in the situation I find myself. I have been managing severe depression and anxiety more or less by myself with little or no input from medical professionals who could help me. For what ever reason, I have been bounced from pillar to post. I have had to pay for a private diagnosis of Autism and I was also recently also diagnosed for severe ADHD; also a private diagnosis. For the last 5 months, I have been sporadically managed over the phone as a goodwill gesture by the psychiatrist that diagnosed me for ADHD. This man has made himself available at crisis periods because he is aware that there is no input from my primary care providers. It’s almost like I’ve been left to rot. Myself and my family. And it’s not okay. When I think of the fight ahead of me sometimes I get overwhelmed and the thought of not waking up in the morning seems more enticing but I don’t have that luxury. I don’t even have the luxury of ending my life because I will leave 4 hearts beating with the same pain I am trying to escape. But at the same time, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am tired of living like this. Does anyone know what it feels like to forget what it feels like to live? I’ve completely lost my structure. I have executive dysfunction and I have totally lost structure which I heavily rely on. I have totally lost my confidence, my self esteem, my self worth, I am at an all time low. I actually have been blagging it for a long time and truth be told I hate what my life has become including how I’ve let myself go. Self care is lacking and I just hide myself away at home not really achieving much but too scared to go out into the real world. I have cut myself off from the real world (in hindsight, that’s how I’ve lived most of my life; fantasy, mimicking, copying) because now I know my truth, I am aware that my prior existence in the real world was based on fantasy. I am a 40 year old black woman who navigated life without an autism diagnosis. I recognised I was autistic when in my professional capacity, I recognised symptoms and my struggles in this client group. I could have wept with elation when I started recognising my struggles in these females and suddenly my life began to make sense. At last I felt I could work with my GP and finally a magic wand will be waved and all will be well in my life again. Again this is my naive self and mind always ready to romanticise a situation but as most things in my life reality always gives me a rude shock. I owe it to myself and my family to get better and get the help I need to get better. My fear and anxiety of professionals is another reason I don’t really engage with them. I am fully aware of the power relationship in the doctor- patient relationship and how professionals have abused their position either due to their egos or lack of understanding. As a professional one of my major issues with the system was its fragmented delivery. This in my opinion is due to the lack of understanding of policy makers in not taking into consideration how mental illness affects the family unit. While the current mental health campaigns places greater emphasis on prevention and early intervention, in reality, the current systems are not designed to promote recovery. And when you actually look at it, there is no money to be made from total recovery. The system is designed to contain and treat symptoms. In treatment of symptoms, the pharmaceutical companies are able to find more research into better ways of keeping symptoms at bay; longer and longer. While I recognise that at present I need medication because I am a place where I have fought for so long that as part of recovery, I have to treat the chemical imbalance with medication until I am in a better place to substitute with healthy alternatives. I am even content in the knowledge that I may have to medicate for the rest of my life if needs be and that too is okay. This has been a journey for me. A process; a process of self discovery, a process of self acceptance, a process of finding my identity and conscious awareness. A journey to finding and living in my purpose and falling in love with my authentic self. I have fought this process a long time and the only thing I achieved was a broken mind and body. So it was wise to surrender. Surrender to the process and learn to meet and love my authentic self. I have decided that it is within me to change my life and I will try my hardest one day at a time. I am not happy how my life has become but now talk is cheap and I have to do something about it. It’s called personal responsibility so tomorrow I will register myself to a new GP practice. I have health issues that need attending from since I had my son 4 and a half years ago. I will document my fight to health and my fight to be treated like a human being. My current experience of the health care system is that I have been treated less than human and I have been left in compromising situations due to the lack of care; the worst being when I had actually tied a noose at the lowest point in my life. Had my baby not cried at the right time, logical would have not come back and my story would have been told from someone else’s perspective. This is my story and I get to tell it and in telling it I get to write the ending. I am worthy of happiness. I am worthy of a healthy mind and a healthy body and I am worthy of love. Yes even autistic me. I am worthy of love. #mentalillness #depression #anxiety #autism #actuallyautistic #newdiagnosis #ptsd #midlifecrisis #selflove #mentalhealthwarrior #blackmentalhealthmatters #blackandautistic #consciousawakening #processingdiagnosis #righttotreatment #humanrights #autismact #poortreatment #selfadvocacy