Taking some time

Take the time that you need, that’s what I am learning more each day

As part of my bid to have more compassion for my anxious brain I have taken some time off from work, including blogging. Sometimes it is joyous to feel part of the #WritingCommunity and sometimes it feels like a constant reminder that I am not doing enough. I wrote just before we went in lockdown as a country that I was taking simple steps to make life a bit easier. But I have also been doing what I can just to survive.

As this pandemic takes hold in parts of the world with far worse conditions than I live in, after the horrendous explosion at the Lebanese docks, as the economic impact starts to wreak havoc on many lives, I find increasingly connecting to the outside world is overwhelming. Yes to keeping abreast of the news, being a member of the community, a charity-giver, but no to the constant barrage of The News.

In reality this has mainly meant stepping away from Twitter. I took a break to censor Wiley after his heinous anti-semitism a few weeks ago and am now using it very little. Helped along by the fact we have come to a remote spot to enjoy a week’s peace and relaxation. I have never felt luckier to be able to do this. We always staycation (hate that term) and love a countryside holiday from our usually busy, urban lives. Last year I wrote just how much a change of scene can give you new ideas. But I think it also helps with a new perspective on what you need in life.

With this in mind I have a new practice to add to my list of Artist Dates (that I have described in previous posts) which I would recommend to chill out more.

Stone-stacking on the pebbled beach while I am on holiday whilst my son played with his trucks (and knocked over my towers) was both playful and mindful. To take time, flattening the space around, searching for nearby rocks that are smooth enough to stack absorbs your mind completely. Then placing each stone took time and care. A lesson then on taking the time you need to create something beautiful.

What quiet thing do you do to take time out?

Stress and the city

The tang of metal is on my tongue, back in town from a few days away I notice the pollution more, is it a wonder with the assault on the senses that I get stressed out in the city.

Breathing. After a cold a few years ago, I developed asthma again though mild it’s worrying that the last time I had this problem was when I was at school and the playing fields were next to the M6 motorway. Breathing in all this pollution I worry for what it will do for my health long term, and I only live on the outskirts of London.

Getting sick. If I go into London, a few days later I will have a cold. You must get immune to if you are always going in. I have become religious about hand-sanitizer. I didn’t know that I am unusual in feeling a sensation on my hands if I haven’t cleaned them for a while. I get this cloyiness on my palms, and it won’t leave until a wash my hands. The fact that my skin breaks out or I have a virus within days of any trip on the tube seems proof enough that the City is not good for my mild anxiety-led germophobia. Squashed with too many people, holding on to the handrails like you’re supposed to on the escalator, these are all hard for me.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

Sensory overwhelm. It took having a child with Sensory Processing Disorder to understand the world differently. His overwhelm at noises, his reaction of running from busy crowded places has opened my eyes. The world is often too noisy, too busy, too bright, too loud. And though my I can regulate my reaction to the barrage of too much information, I also hate it at times. I may not respond so much but it builds up inside me that tiny irritations build up so that often I reach a point where I need a sensory break too. My go to move is to put my headphones in and looking around, a lot of other people cope this way too.

Too loud. Except not everyone uses headphones. Music out loud on buses is a pet peeve. I have asked many a (usually young man) to put in headphones. I saw a man blasting his music from a player on his shoulder the other day. On reflection, he was probably promoting his own music but I stood nervously to see if he was getting on my bus. Would I have to confront him? Would the bus driver say anything? I want to be polite even if you show no-one else courtesy. But he stayed at the bus stop. The whole imaginary argument had been in my head but left me frazzled. Calming myself with the mantra, nothing happened, and “use this” irritation.

The Big Smoke. I hate the smell of smoke and particularly weed which permeates everywhere. I took precautions to hide it when I smoked in my twenties so no-one found me but now it’s ubiquitous. I will never know if then, in my reckless moments, I was in fact bothering a Mum with a young child who asked her “What’s that funny smell?” Just like my son has asked me.

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His palate is more sensitive and no doubt some of my anger at near neighbours for smoking is because I worry for him. I want to make life as easy for him as I can. But this like my other concerns seems like a characteristic of the urban experience, to me. It represents people doing what they want, where they want without considering others. An individualist way of living.

I have been writing a short story about a woman driven mad trying to catch fly-tippers. This pre-occupation with her surroundings, well let’s just say I can relate. But where my concerns really come from are this desire to make the world a better place for my son. To think about how we can be more considerate to other people and to our planet.

If you’re interested in what it can be like for a person on the Autistic Spectrum with associated sensory difficulties, I recommend this campaign called “Too Much Information” from the National Autistic Society.