Toxic people. How to recognise them and what you can do to protect yourself against them.

Hello to this weeks’s first blog! Of course, as the title says, this blog will be all about toxic people, how to recognise them and how to set boundaries in place when dealing with them. Stay safe out there!

Trigger warning for mentions of abuse and gaslighting ❤

In our lifetimes, no matter how old we are right now, we have more than likely dealt with a toxic person. Whether we recognised the signs at the start or not, things can certainly escalate quickly when you have a toxic person in your life.

Toxic people can leave us feeling all sorts of ways from sad and confused to emotionally exhausted and nervous around them.

Let’s start off by looking at the ten types of toxic people! (Though there are more types).

1. The Excusers. These people use all sorts of excuses to dismiss their behaviour so they don’t have to apologise. Whether this is mental health, grief or something different. Now of course, grief and mental health problems can cause us to react in ways we regret, and for that, we usually apologise. However some toxic people use these as an excuse even if they aren’t suffering with grief or mental health problems. Unfortunately, there are people out there who believe that using these as an excuse will get them dismissed easily, whether they have these problems or not.

2. The victims. This has a relation to number one. These people love to play victim in any scenario, turning the situation onto you and making you question your own judgement. This is called ‘gaslighting’. Gaslighting can make us feel confused and upset at not just them, but ourselves. We believe that we are the guilty party and that we are not helping the person, but hurting them instead. 

3. The maskers. Those who convince the public that they are one thing when they are in fact entirely different. Now this one usually comes along with an abuser. An abuser will try their hardest in charming the public into believing that they are a nice person when behind closed doors, their mask falls and out comes a monster. To add to this, these ‘maskers’ may also add in that it’s the real victim who is the problem, not them. This is their way of getting the public, including the person’s friends, family and work colleagues to believe that the victim is actually the problem, which then increases the victim’s isolation from others.

4. The jokers. These ‘jokers’ hide everything behind a joke. Every nasty action, every nasty word is a joke. This is their way of quickly switching the blame from themselves onto the person who questioned their actions or words. This ‘joke’ excuse gives them many gateways into saying and doing what they like and then calling others ‘sensitive’ for not understanding the joke, when in fact, this can actually be considered a part of gaslighting.

5. The hypocrites. These guys hate it when you say or do things that they don’t like and can be quick to snap in these moments which can make you feel nervous and on edge around them. However, if you tell them that you didn’t like something they said or did, they’re most likely to just laugh in your face and continue doing it despite knowing that it hurts you.

6. The braggers. These people love to rub all of their accomplishments in your face even if they know you are struggling. Now of course, it’s all okay to talk about your accomplishments and what you are proud of. Here is a more detailed explanation of this point:

A person with a physical disability is proud of themselves because they have finally been able to clean their bathroom. They tell their friend their accomplishment, but rather than the friend being happy for them, the friend then gives this person with a disability a long list of what they have achieved that day and how they’ve been able to clean more than one room. Not only is this ignorant, but this can also leave the person feeling undermined and unnapreciated.

7. The self-focused ones. They don’t care about your likes and interests but expect you to care about theirs. Now, I have personal experience with one of these people so I can explain this. I used to chat to someone daily before I distanced myself from them because of this very reason. They talked to me a lot about their interests, mainly manga. Manga was never my thing, but for them, I always listened to every word they said with interest. However, when it came to me discussing what I loved, they practically ignored me and continued talking about manga or something else they enjoyed. These conversations always left me feeling drained and upset. I felt like I didn’t matter to them, so slowly, I distanced myself and to be honest, I’ve felt a lot happier ever since.

8. The diary dumpers. People who expect you to be their dumping ground or personal journal. I have also had experience with one of these people and it can cause a lot of tension not just between you both, but in yourself as well. They barely talk to you unless they need you to listen to their problems and then they leave again. They don’t want to sit with you and figure out a solution, they just want to dump all their problems on you whether they know you quite well or not. Of course it’s okay to talk to others about their problems, but we have to remember that throwing all our problems onto someone and then leaving and ignoring them can cause a lot of heartbreak in a person and can make them feel like they’re being used.

9. The snappers. Relating to number five, ‘snappers’ are very quick to anger, even over the most smallest of issues. These people can leave us feeling like we must walk on egg shells around them so we don’t upset them. This is especially worse if the person doesn’t discuss with us what angers them. Not only does this cause nervousness or fear, but we may also face a ‘trial and error’ situation where we must figure out ourselves what makes them burst.

10. Last but not least, the guilt-trippers. This is self-explanatory, anybody who purposefully makes you feel guilty over any decision is not worth it. Whether this is making you feel guilty for befriending someone, not befriending someone, taking up a job offer or a dream career or a college/university placement or anything else, you deserve the best and don’t deserve people making you feel guilty for doing things that make you feel good.

So, now that we’ve established a few types of toxic people, let’s get into how we can manage them!

Firstly, know your own image and sense of self! This fits perfectly with the gaslighting. Trust your instincts and know that a lot of their gaslighting is to shift the blame onto you. I know that gaslighting can be hard to recognise a lot of the time, but just stay safe out there please ❤

Here’s a few examples of what gaslighting can look like:

‘I did it for you.’

‘You’re just paranoid’.

‘I never did that’.

‘You did do that!’

‘You’re being too sensitive/overdramatic.’

‘You’re acting crazy’.

‘Maybe you’re just tired. You should sleep. You might feel less confused in the morning’.

Next, recognise how they make you feel. No friend, partner, family member or whoever should make you feel sad, angry, confused, nervous, scared, embarrassed, emotionally exhausted, felt uncared about or feel untrusting of them. Once you recognise how they make you feel, you can keep a close eye on everything else.

Next is to try and limit your time with them. This can be difficult especially if it is someone we love or live with, but most of the time, we can find a way to have some peace and quiet away from them whether this is going shopping, going fishing or any other way we can get away for a little while to relax and breathe.

Don’t gossip to them about others and don’t gossip to them even about your own problems. They can quickly use this against you!

The main one which will lead to the next points is to KNOW. YOUR. BOUNDARIES. Boundaries are very important when it coms to toxic people. Not only should you know your boundaries, but you should state them too. If a toxic person keeps messaging you and irritating or upsetting you, let them know that you’re switching your phone off for a while because you need to work on something, you need to sleep etc.

Another boundary is not putting them first all of the time or at any time. You are important, whatever they say and you deserve to look after yourself and treat yourself. You are allowed to put yourself first. This is not selfish, this is self-care.

Taking care of yourself and putting yourself first can also involve counselling or therapy if you feel like you need it!

Learn when to say no or walk away from them. Of course in certain circumstances such as abuse or if the person lives near you, this can be a challenge, but it is an important challenge.

Regarding this, if you do say no to them or do walk away from them, don’t go back on your words! I know that if it’s someone we love, we can feel that temptation to give in or go back to them, however this only tells them that no matter what they say or do to us, they will charm us enough to go back to them. In cases, this can make the toxicity even worse for us and even harder for us to escape.

All done! So today we have explored the world of toxic people, what they can appear as and what actions we can take to protect ourselves against them. I do hope this was a helpful read and I hope that if you are currently dealing with a toxic person, I hope you take these steps on board and take care of yourself, because you matter so much.

Sunday’s blog will be all about my rescued animals and how I helped them to find happiness again, and next week’s blog will be about things to consider before buying a bird! (Or any other animal!)

Thanks everyone! ❤

Night-time sadness, rainy day sadness and what we can do to get through them!

Hello! This week, we will be talking about night-time sadness, sadness during rainy days and what we can do to improve our mood during these times!

Let’s just get right into it!

Night-time sadness can affect anybody, especially those with mental health problems such as depression. It can also be affected by sleep problems like insomnia. Night time sadness can be a vicious cycle. We can’t sleep because of overthinking, but we overthink because our bodies and minds won’t allow us to sleep peacefully.

Night times are generally quiet, and that’s when our thoughts begin to race. We have no distractions during the night unlike the day time. We think about future events, we think about past events, what we should have said, what we should have done, things we’ve said and done that we regret. People who feel lonely may suffer from loneliness much more at night, which brings on a whole other bucket of thoughts. Why are we lonely? Why don’t we have friends or a partner? Is there something wrong with us? Will we always be alone?

These thoughts can be particularly difficult, but hopefully I can provide seven helpful tips on how to remain calm and content during these nights!

1. Try to unwind before bed. This includes staying off social media! Social media can be great, but it can also make us feel rubbish, and in order to fight off some of these night time thoughts, including loneliness, try to avoid it! Yes, this means turning off your phone or avoiding social medias such as Twitter and Instagram.

2. If you have someone to talk to at night time, whether this is a partner or friend, chat with them! Whether you tell them about your night time sadness or not, it’s good to be able to stay up and chat with someone.

3. If you don’t have somebody to talk to at night time, write in a journal! Writing in a journal can be beneficial for us to get our feelings our rather that bottling them up and by doing this, we may feel much lighter and more relieved afterwards!

4. This one is one of my tactics, so I know it will probably not be for everyone, but if you fancy it, talk to a fictional character! It sounds silly I know, but I can’t even explain how much talking to a fictional character has helped me with my problems.

4. Try and limit or avoid caffeine all together. I know there’s a few coffee drinkers out there who will gasp at this, but drinking coffee probably isn’t the best idea if you want to relax at night time and try and avoid those intrusive thoughts from popping up!

5. Do something that calms you. Whether this is having a shower, a cup of tea or something else, these little calming activities can be quite useful for relaxing before bedtime and may help in fighting off those intruding thoughts!

6. Do things that keep you happy and distract you. I love to listen to music and watch Youtube videos, so whether you also do the same or prefer something different, do what you can to distract yourself and keep those thoughts at bay!

7. Another little thing that may be able to help is keeping a small journal with helpful quotes in. Write to yourself and say that you will make it through the night. Tell yourself that you’ve done enough and that you’re good enough. Your mind may thank you!

Now, hopefully these types are somewhat useful, let’s move on to rainy days!

So this section is similar to night-time sadness. During cold, dull and dark rainy days, our mental health can be worsened or we may feel more depressed.

Hopefully these next six tips are useful to help beat those rainy days where we don’t feel like ourselves!

1. First of all, write down a list of things that make you feel calm and happy, and then for rainy days, you can tick them off! This could be watching your favourite TV show or watching Youtube videos all day or it could be another indoor activity such as knitting, sewing or other creative activities!

2. Learn something new if you fancy it! Not only would this provide a good distraction but it may also make us feel productive during these rainy days!

3. Sometimes we don’t feel like talking to anybody during rainy days, but it can be beneficial! Reaching out to people by phone or by internet can help us feel less lonely and talking with others can also improve our mood!

4. Hang out with a pet! Their warmth provides a huge comfort for us and it’s also someone for us to snuggle up with and talk to!

5. Talking about warmth and comfort, there are other ways we can get this too! Hot baths, hot cups of teas and warm blankets are the way to go!

6. Buy a sun lamp! These have been recommended by many therapists, especially for those who suffer with depression and seasonal affective disorder. These lamps help by providing us with light that we would usually receive during sunny days and also increase serotonin, which is a chemical that makes us feel happy.

So there we have it! I really hope you enjoyed reading this blog and I hope that at least a few of these tips are useful! Let me know your thoughts!

Behind The Closed Doors Of Twitter.

Hello everyone! Today’s blog is all about Twitter and the negative things can happen there and what to do when those negative things occur. Let’s get right into it.

So everyone reading this blog who has a twitter may have found themselves involved in some type of drama at some point. Whether this was subtweeting or being subtweeted, involving ourselves in an argument that had nothing to do with us or drama in DMs involving harassment, bullying etc, we’ve all most likely been there.

Let’s start off with things that can happen behind closed doors in DMs.

Many people have experienced some sort of sexual harassment in DMs at some point, whether this was from a man or a woman, most of us have experienced a rude remark or a nude that we just didn’t ask for! Many women especially have experienced men DMing them and telling them what to wear and what not to wear. Yes, this has actually happened! A twitter user who I will keep as anonymous once reported that a man felt the need to DM her telling her that she needed to wear a top that covered her entire chest area, as having her breasts out ‘Wasn’t professional enough.’ Now, let’s just put it this way, people can wear whatever they please! If you don’t like it, the block button is always readily available and it’s free!

I did a poll on twitter asking how many people have ever received a weird or creepy DM. There were ten votes. Eight people said they have and two said they haven’t.

Regarding harassment and creepiness in DMs, people have had the unfortunate experience of starting off with really good conversations with people. They talked about their interests, what they were up to etc, but suddenly, the other person changed and became rude or creepy towards them. This is even worse when you thought they were actually nice!

BOOK DMS!

Sorry if that scared you, it scares me too. I did another poll on twitter to ask how many people have had these dreaded ‘book sale’ DMs. There were eleven votes. Nine people said that they had experienced a ‘book sale’ dm and two said they hadn’t.

People have mixed opinions about these DMs. Some believe that it’s a good way to market your book but others say that it’s disrespectful and most of the people who send these DMs don’t care to even interact with you or help you out with anything. Plus, it’s similar to going up to a random stranger in the street who just gave you eye contact and asking them to buy your book while shoving your book in their face. Is it really necessary?

Relating to this, quite a lot of writers and authors also really love to shove links to their books in your tweets where they just aren’t asked for. This is pretty self-explanatory, it’s not needed, it’s rude and some of these book links ends up under tweets that are discussing something serious!

Moving onto the next point, comments and jokes that are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic etc. This has a wide vary of opinions. Some people regard these as jokes and say they mean no harm about them. ‘Dark humour’ if you will. There are some people who enjoy this type of humour, and honestly we can’t stop them from making these jokes, but personally I do not agree with jokes that involve minorities and those that already have a hard enough time dealing with their realities. If you want to make these jokes then go for it but don’t get offended if somebody calls you out and tells you that they don’t like it.

We also have to consider how unsafe some of these jokes can make people feel. If you make that joke about trans people, how unsafe do you think trans people will feel? Will they feel like they can come to you about their problems when they need someone to talk to?

Now obviously I don’t speak for all trans people. Some trans people have friends who make jokes like these and don’t care. That’s fine for them! But if you are going to make specific jokes, make sure others around you are comfortable.

Moving on to the main reason why I wanted to write this blog, writing ‘rules’ within the writing community, disagreements that turn nasty and subtweeting.

Lately, there has been many tweets from some writers and authors and some random trolls either bothering those who write a certain genre or talking about other writers and others who write in different types of formats and saying that ‘These don’t work.’ Writing is supposed to be fun and for many, it’s a way for them to escape the difficulties of life. Slagging off people who write in a different way is a fast way for someone to feel crappy about their work, and you have no idea if they’ll actually consider giving up their work on not because of your inconsiderate words. We want people to feel like their work is good enough. If you don’t like what someone has written that’s all good, but I’m sure you can still sleep at night knowing that someone has a different approach to writing than you. In other words, zip your lips and move on.

There’s always been drama on Twitter, especially lately and during the beginning of the pandemic when everybody was bored at home. Most of these disagreements and subtweets are over petty things that can easily be discussed privately rather than bringing the whole of Twitter into it. We don’t always know the context of these subtweets so jumping on someone just because of something someone said is ridiculous and honestly almost childish. In relation to this, when we subtweet, sometimes someone will assume we’re talking about them when we’re not. Obviously this is a guilty conscience, but it still brings up yet another argument. There have been moments where someone has said something that could be considered rude or offensive, whether this was just lack of awareness or the fact that they possibly struggle to get their words together, and they’ve ended up having tons of people piling onto them and upsetting them. This is heartbreaking to see. You need to know context and also let people explain themselves! Getting others involved also doesn’t help the situation. If you don’t like what someone’s said, you can either ignore or confront. If you feel the need to confront, do it under their tweet or privately. Don’t immediately subtweet and say ‘Get a load of this guy!’ We are adults, not kids in a playground upset because someone won’t let us play with them so we go and tell all the teachers.

There’s always a time and a place for subtweeting. We all have our different opinions and we all have different things to subtweet about. Some people like to subtweet those who send them creepy DMs, some people like to subtweet those who have a different opinion to them, some people like to subtweet when someone is phobic in any way or harmful or dangerous to any communities, including exposing paedophiles.

Now let’s talk about something else that has bothered me for quite a while.

Popular people, especially in the writing community.

I just want to write a small paragraph that regards my previous points, subtweeting is bad enough but when an account with 20k or more followers does it, it brings pretty much the whole community into it and this can be so exhausting for people, especially those who aren’t doing well with their mental health, which can also be exhausting. Plus, as I have said before, sometimes we don’t know context and with larger accounts bringing their followers into the argument, they have more followers to defend them which means that the person who has been subtweeted is most likely to get much more abuse, whether they deserve it or not.

These larger accounts are also harder to call out if they say something crappy due to their large following numbers and the amount of people ready to defend them. This has caused many people to shut up and shut down when it’s come to this as they don’t want their criticism to be received with harassment and abuse. This means that larger accounts tend to get away with much more than a smaller account. Due to this, the larger account still gains more followers who have no idea of the things the larger account has said or done. It’s a losing situation.

When I did a poll on twitter about how many people have experienced bullying, eight people voted. Six said no and two said yes. However on another poll asking ‘Have you ever had a rumour spread about you on Twitter and you have lost friends because of it, there were eleven votes, six stating yes and five stating no. Even though these results show that this hasn’t happened to some people, it still shows that people have experienced bullying and even lost friends due to it. The last poll I asked involved the question ‘Have you ever had someone say something horrible in DMs but you couldn’t confront of expose them?’ There were six votes, three said no and three said yes. To those three that said that they have been through this situation, I understand you and I hope you’re okay, and if you feel the need to, I hope you are able to talk about it with someone.

Now, these are all sad points and by the tone of the blog you might see that these issues upset and anger me, but for the ending of this blog, I want to say some things on how you can tackle and move on from these issues.

Please note that these are just my personal takes. I have been raised to move on quickly from these things by ignoring them, but if you do things differently, that’s all good!

  • Harassment and weirdness in DMs- Whoever this is from, it’s not nice to be on the receiving end of it. A lot of people like to publicly mention these people, and honestly this doesn’t really bother me much especially if it’s someone who quite a few of your followers are following, or someone who seems genuine in the TL but doesn’t hesitate to be dirty or rude in DMs. By all means expose them! Personally for me, I always ignore and block these types of people. It gives them less attention that way. If I feel like it’s necessary to talk about them, I usually tell people privately.
  • Book DMs and book links under tweets- Block. That’s what I do. It stops them from doing it again! Though if you don’t feel like blocking, you can always just unfollow or soft block. Don’t subtweet them, whatever you do. It’s unnecessary and gives them and their work attention! As for people who tweet links to their books under your tweets when you didn’t as them to, you can easily unfollow, block or just mute their tweet.
  • People who make phobic comments and jokes-This is a difficult one and depends on what the person feels like doing. If I come across someone who makes these comments and jokes, I don’t usually expose them. Exposing people is exhausting for me and especially if you’re calling out an account that has a loyal group following them, I bet you that they defend the person you’re exposing. As for jokes, everybody is different. If people want to make phobic jokes, we can’t really stop them but we can ignore them. Keep yourself safe ❤
  • People who have ‘unpopular opinions’- I’m talking about those who go on about how much they hate romance or other genres or how they hate certain formats etc. I usually ignore these people. They can have their opinions. Just know that your work is still great even if others appear not to enjoy what you do! Don’t let these people make you feel rubbish about yourself or your work.
  • Disagreements that turn nasty- I avoid these at all costs and I would advise others to do the same. Sometimes it’s hard to engage with these people, but honestly you’re just adding fuel to the fire and it’s a high chance that these people just won’t shut up, so don’t waste your precious time on them! You can either ignore them or block them, whatever makes you feel better!
  • Subtweeting, whether it’s yourself or others- I honestly believe that subtweeting has a time and a place. A lot of subtweets nowadays usually involve small petty things that develop into larger arguments due to people getting involved when they shouldn’t be. If you see others subtweeting, try not to get involved! Again, I know it can be hard to ignore, especially if the topic is something you are passionate about, but the more people join in, the more dramatic it becomes.

I used to own a Twitter account and my main tweets involved calling people out for every little thing. This actually led to many mental breakdowns for myself and it wasn’t a nice place for my followers either. People want to come online to a safe place which is understandable with the negative things that can happen and has been happening in real life.

  • Tackling larger accounts that subtweet or make inappropriate comments- This is a very difficult one and is completely up to you. Since starting a fresh new Twitter account, I’ve been afraid of calling out some larger accounts so I’ve just kept my mouth shut. I don’t want their followers to come after me as I know they probably would, but if you feel the courage to come out about these people, I admire you so much!!

You are allowed to block people. There are no rules to who you should and who you shouldn’t block. If it makes you feel comfortable and safe, go for it!

So there’s that! I am a bit worried as to how this blog will come across. This was structured, but this all comes from my heart and how I truly feel over these issues. If you’ve read all the way up to this point, thank you very much!

The blog next Friday will be about night time sadness and loneliness and how to fight it!

Loneliness, isolation and depression and how to fight them!

Hello everyone! Today’s blog is about loneliness, isolation and depression and how the pandemic made those things worse. Hope you enjoy!

Whether we want to accept the truth or not, humans are naturally social. Most of us need someone, but others can cope with being alone better than some.

Before we get into this, there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. A person who is alone is by themselves, but a person who is lonely can feel isolated from others and feel that their social needs are not being met, even if they are surrounded by people. Those that feel lonely can be living with parents, a partner or a housemate, but still feel like they want or need another individual.

Loneliness isn’t a mental health problem in itself but it can be the result of a mental health problem or a physical illness/disability. Mental or physical health problems can also isolate people which increases loneliness.

Anyone can experience loneliness but there are certain groups that are at a higher risk. These groups involve those with mental health problems, those with physical health problems, the elderly and young people. Isolation and depression in young people have increased drastically over the past year during the pandemic. Another group that may be feeling particularly lonely at this time is children! Children have faced the frustrating reality of missing school which means they’ve also been missing their friends. This has easily confused and upset children and has caused them to feel lonely, even if they have been taken care of by parents, carers or their siblings.

There are many reasons as to why people may feel lonely and may have noticed their mental health worsen. Here are those reasons!

-They live alone. Living alone can cause feelings of loneliness, but having little to no support system outside of their home can also worsen these feelings which can further develop into depression.

-They don’t have any friends. Someone may live with someone such as their parents, a partner or a housemate, but the lack of friends can make someone feel lonely and left out, especially if they hear of others hanging out with their friends.

-They don’t have a partner. Someone can have the best family and the most amazing friends, but the ‘single loneliness’ is real, and it can actually affect people’s confidence and self-esteem! Similar to friends, this type of loneliness can suck when you see others talking about their relationships.

-Bereavement. A person’s death can already affect a person horribly, but with the pandemic taking many people’s lives, this has massively affected those who suffer with loneliness and mental health problems.

-They don’t have a job. Whether a person lives alone or with others, having no job and no co-workers to greet every day can also cause feelings of loneliness and even affect self-worth. Having no job also means less work for a person to do, meaning they’re more likely to not have a distraction from the grip of loneliness and depression.

-They aren’t able to go outside and receive ‘general interaction’. Going out for a walk raises the possibility of us bumping into a friend, family member or co-worker and also increases our chances of just talking to a random stranger! Those who can’t get out due to a mental or physical health problem won’t often experience these random conversations, which doesn’t do anything to improve loneliness, isolation and mental health.

-They’ve got a new job or they’ve been accepted into a new school, college or university. When we join a new job, school, college or university we may not know anyone there, which already brings on the awkward feeling of trying to get to know people, and this can be especially difficult for those with mental or physical health problems. As for jobs, those who work in large shops or those who work the night shift may find themselves feeling lonely.

-Domestic abuse. Just because someone is living with a partner doesn’t mean that abuse isn’t happening. It’s easy for us to think that someone is lucky for having a partner, but we have no idea what is happening behind closed doors. Those in abusive relationships, whether it be physical, emotional, mental, financial or a mixture, can also feel very lonely, scared and isolated.

-Financial difficulties may also cause somebody to feel stressed or depressed. These financial difficulties can also come from the fact that they’ve lost their job, which can also cause someone to feel lonely and depressed.

I did a small poll on Twitter asking people if they have experienced loneliness or not. I also asked them if they’ve noticed their loneliness become worse or if it remained the same during the pandemic. ten people took part in this, saying that they have experienced loneliness. six of them said that their loneliness became worse during the pandemic, and four of them said that it remained the same.

Now that we’ve took a look at those who are at risk of loneliness and depression and the reasons why people may experience loneliness and depression, let’s take a look at what we can do to cope!

  • Reach out. This, of course, is easier said than done, but there is always somebody out there who will listen, whether this is a family member, a friend, a partner or even someone on the internet. People underestimate how good social media can be for these sorts of things, but it can be very useful. We can also find others who are feeling the same way as us via the internet!
  • Do something you love! Whether this is working on a hobby such as writing or drawing, gardening, reading, watching something you enjoy or listening to music, this can be a good distraction for us.
  • Finding a new hobby or finding something new to learn. Not only does this help us feel productive, but it also diminishes any lonely feelings as it keeps us occupied on something else rather than overthinking!
  • Spend time with a pet! People also underestimate how wonderful pets can be when we’re not feeling ourselves. This of course doesn’t mean that you should head out and buy a random pet, make sure you do your research first and make sure you have the resources to take care of a pet, but if you already have a pet, sit with them, stroke them, talk to them! Research has shown that sitting with and stroking a pet can hugely increase feelings of happiness and reduces loneliness.
  • If you feel safe enough, go for a walk! Personally, I am lucky with this as I live in a very small town with a relatively small population, so I don’t have to bump into people all the time. Going for a walk, whether on your own or with your dog (if you have one) can increase your ‘general interaction’!
  • Join a group online or in real life. There are so many groups out there, and there’s one for us all. This can definitely improve interaction and may reduce loneliness and increase happiness and excitement!
  • Again, if you feel safe enough, volunteer! Especially in these times with the pandemic, there are many people in need and this includes those who are now using online delivery services. If you are able to, it would be lovely to do this! You’re not only helping others, but you’re helping yourself too!
  • Write a to-do list. Even though we’re in a pandemic, it’s still good to write to-do lists! This can include anything from getting up out of bed, making our bed and opening our curtains/window, or other tasks such as cleaning up the house a little and throwing out any old clothes or furniture/ornaments we don’t need anymore. A spring cleaning, if you will!
  • Taking medication. If you need medication, set reminders to take it! It’s very important ❤

Now, my personal ways of helping myself fight loneliness and depression.

-I love a holding a hot cup of tea. It’s actually been proven that holding a hot drink can stimulate the feeling of human warmth! As someone who has been lonely for many years and hasn’t experienced much human touch, holding and drinking a hot cup of tea has seriously been a lifesaver!

-Daydreaming. It sounds silly, but daydreaming about my favourite fictional boys has helped me pass the time and has helped me to feel less sad and lonely!

-Listening to a podcast. There are a few youtuber podcasts that I love listening to. Hearing another person’s voice has reduced my lonely feelings, and they’re also super funny, which has cheered me up!

-‘Small comforts’ such as blankets, teddy bears and pillows. Cuddling these small comforts has stimulated the feeling of human touch, warmth and comfort for me, and plus, soft things are nice to bury your face in!

So, there’s that! I hope this blog was useful and I hope it was a good read! Loneliness is an important issue that is never talked about enough, but it’s nothing to feel ashamed of, and we are certainly not alone!

On Sunday, I will be writing and posting another blog called ‘Behind Closed Doors’. This blog will focus on another important issue. What happens in DMs! Whether this is creepy or weird DMs, DMs involving harassment or bullying or people saying horrible stuff and thinking they can get away with it, I will be discussing it!

Next Friday’s blog will be all about night-time loneliness and how we can combat that!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog and I will see you on Sunday!

Understanding voice tone, sarcasm and jokes!

Hello everybody! Today’s blog is going to be about people with autism and anxiety who struggle to understand voice tone, sarcasm and jokes. It will only be a short blog as this will be more of an explanation and a reminder to those who don’t understand why we struggle with these things to just be more gentle and understanding for when we don’t understand you!

People, especially those with autism, have a hard time with understanding social ques such as facial expressions. Facial expressions can be an indication to whether something said was a joke or not. If you maintain a straight face when telling a joke, someone with autism or anxiety may take it the wrong way. They can take what you said as a fact and either ‘correct’ you on the joke or if it was a joke regarding, for example, them being in trouble, they may feel fear that they’ve done something wrong. People with autism and anxiety have faced much stigma and discrimination, and one of the most common feelings in those with autism and anxiety is the fear of doing something wrong, including upsetting people. Smiling or laughing can be very beneficial in helping them to know that it was just a joke!

Those with autism and anxiety view the world differently to those who don’t have autism and anxiety. We are always on high alert and this includes our fight-or-flight senses. This is a big reason as to why we may take some jokes seriously.

Another reason why people with autism may not get jokes is because they have a hard time understanding the point of view of other people. This doesn’t mean they’re selfish or don’t care to understand others, it’s just that they simply have a hard time seeing other’s points of view. This, again, has to do with them seeing the world very differently to those who don’t have autism.

Sometimes, when people with autism and anxiety don’t get a joke, we can feel very embarrassed, especially if we are mocked for it. It’s not something we can help, and it’s more painful for us than it is for you. We can also feel very misunderstood and left out if you make a comment such as ‘I don’t know why I tell you jokes because you never get them!’

Despite the fact that we struggle to understand tone, jokes and sarcasm, we do have a sense of humour! We love humour, we love jokes and we are most likely sarcastic. When it’s us telling the joke or it’s us being sarcastic, that’s a more comfortable scenario for us as we KNOW that it’s a joke and we KNOW that it’s sarcasm, so please don’t leave us out of jokes!

Relating to that, and to finish up, here’s a few ways on how you can communicate to us effectively so we understand what is a joke and what is serious!

1. If we don’t understand voice tone or a joke or sarcasm, be gentle with us and explain! Honestly, it’s not our fault that we struggle with these things so being kind to us makes it much more pleasant!

2. One thing that some people tend to do it add a /j or a /srs at the end of messages. J/ stands for ‘joke/joking’ and /srs stands for ‘serious’. There was a huge controversy over this method last year. Many people became defensive, angry and even insulting towards this method. This was quite an upsetting time for those that benefit from these signals. They made remarks that it ruins the joke, but let’s be honest here, adding a /j doesn’t ruin the joke, as we actually understand that it’s a joke and may proceed to laugh at it! This is much more comfortable for everyone than us not understanding and then everyone ends up feeling uncomfortable.

3. Regarding number 2, using emojis in text can also be super helpful! I love using emojis, and the laughing or smiling emoji at the end of a joke genuinely fills me with joy and relief!

4. Don’t assume that we can’t tell jokes or be sarcastic. We totally can. Just because we don’t get some jokes, doesn’t mean that we don’t have a sense of humour, so tell us your joke! We most likely will get some of the jokes you say, but for the times that we don’t, help us out!

5. Try not to make your jokes too serious, especially when this joke may freak us out and make us believe that we’ve done something wrong or hurt someone. To add a personal example to this, I once had someone say that one of my tweets was condescending. Clearly, this upset me a lot, and after a short while or calming down, I deleted my tweet and told the person that it was light-hearted and just a joke. They responded back and told me they were joking too. All good! Happy to know! But it is just a reminder to be careful with the wording of your jokes as we don’t want to feel like we’ve messed up!

So, that was a short blog on why people with autism and anxiety can struggle with tone, sarcasm and jokes, and why you need to be a little gentle and understanding with us! I hope this was a good short read for your weekend, and I will see you next Friday for the next blog which will be all about loneliness, isolation and depression and how the pandemic made it worse.

Thanks everyone!

Dissociation.

Hello everyone! Today’s blog is about dissociation. To summarise, this blog will discuss what dissociation is, why it happens, the different types of feelings that come with dissociation, how to help yourself when you are dissociating, how to help others when they are dissociating and to finish off, I will talk about my experiences with dissociation!

What is dissociation?

Dissociation is a state of disconnection from the world/your surroundings or from your thoughts, your feelings or your identity.

Why does it happen?

Dissociation can happen as a response to trauma or a response to a ‘trigger’. This fits in with those who have PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). People with anxiety disorders can also experience dissociation. Dissociation can happen at the most random of times, so we don’t always know when they’re going to occur!

What are the feelings that come along with dissociation?

There are different types of feelings that can happen with dissociation, and it also depends on the individual and their experiences.

Here are a few common examples of these feelings.

-Not feeling connected to your body. This feels like you are experiencing life outside of your body, almost like watching yourself in third person, or feeling like you are dreaming or watching a movie with you starring in it.

-Feeling like you are not part of the world. Similar to feeling disconnected to your body, you can still hear and see things, but these things can appear blurry and sound muffled.

-You might struggle with your sense of identity. You may forget who you are, or similar to feeling disconnected to the world, you may see or feel yourself in third person.

-Feeling like you are moving in slow motion. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Feeling like you are moving in slow motion can be a very weird sensation, especially if you see everybody around you moving normally.

-You may appear in a daze and may repeat actions. I have an experience with this type of dissociation, so stay to the end to read about that!

-You may feel like a robot or feel like your movements are robotic. Again, I also have an interesting experience with this!

-Feeling like the world isn’t real/feeling like the world is a simulation. This can be particularly confusing or frightening!

-Lastly, your mind goes ‘blank’. This is very common and can be more annoying than anything!

Now, helping yourself if you dissociate!

-The most important thing is to identify ‘triggers’ that can cause you to dissociate. This fits particularly with PTSD. If there are any ‘triggers’ you can think of, write them down and create a little plan or how to avoid them or how to cope when they appear!

-Breathing exercises. Dissociation can occur if you are facing a triggering or stressful/anxiety-inducing situation. These situations can activate ‘fight-or-flight mode, which then activate dissociation. Learning breathing techniques that work best for you can be a huge help in keeping you calm while you are dissociating, and may help you come out of dissociation quicker! When you feel yourself dissociating, just breathe and be in the moment. It will pass eventually, I promise!

-Grounding exercises. There are different methods that can help you when you are dissociating. The most common type of grounding technique is using your senses. What can you hear? What can you see? What can you smell? What can you taste? What can you feel?

What about if you’re in the car. How many red cars can you see go by? What about silver cars? Pick any colour you like!

Using our senses can help in bringing us back to reality.

-Following on from senses, sensory items can be another grounding technique. Soft items such as blankets or small, soft teddy bears, fidget cubes or tangle toys or any other items can help calm us down during dissociating. They can also be a good distraction. Pets can also be involved in this. Stroking soft fur or feathers can be very relaxing!

-If you dissociate at school or work, it can be beneficial to let your teachers, friends or co-workers know about your dissociations, and even better if you follow up with ways that they could help you! This way, not only are you defeating stigma, but you are also building a support system along the way! Result!

How can you help people who dissociate?

Understanding dissociation and knowing how to help someone who dissociates can really help a person to feel safe and understood.

-First of all, ensure that they feel safe! Don’t make fun of them, don’t joke about them dissociating, and if they can move, (as dissociation can sometimes cause a person to feel paralysed), encourage them to go to a quieter place. Bonus points if you go with them!

-Helping them with their breathing exercises or grounding exercises. Asking them about what they can see, hear, smell, taste or feel can provide them with a good distraction and can ensure that they feel calm and are not at risk of completely panicking or freaking out.

-‘I’m here. You’re safe’. Being with someone and saying these short, simple words really opens up a world of safety and security for someone who is dissociating.

-Offering them sensory items such as fidget items, small teddy bears or wrapping a blanket around them can also help to build a feeling of security and can help to pull them out of dissociation. Another thing that can help in calmly bringing them out of their dissociation is, if they feel comfortable with this, gently touching their arm or shoulder and asking them if they are okay.

If they dissociate mid-conversation with you, don’t take it personally! We usually don’t know when it’s going to happen to us, so please be gentle with us! Even if you don’t know how to help, just sitting with us can help more than you know.

Now, my experiences with dissociation!

  • I used to volunteer at a food bank before Covid arrived. I had just received a call from a shop asking if I would like to do two months worth of work experience with them. I said yes and thanked them before hanging up. However, my anxiety kicked in and instantly I dissociated, zoning out into space. I could hear another male volunteer trying to have a conversation with me, but I couldn’t pull myself out. When I finally came out of it, I felt embarrassed and instantly apologised multiple times, explaining that I wasn’t ignoring him and I was just experiencing dissociation. I’m happy to report that he just laughed and said he was okay with that as long as I was okay.

  • During my old work experience, which was retail work, 5pm was arriving, nearly time for me to go home. This meant that there weren’t many people in the shop, so I wasn’t exactly upset by a large number of people surrounding me. I was cleaning a candle shelf. All of the candles were on the floor, and at that moment I dissociated. The type of dissociation I experienced was feeling like I was in a daze. This resulted in me cleaning the shelf three times before placing the candles back! At least the shelf was clean though!

  • This one also relates to my old work experience. A guy had asked me out on a date a few days earlier, and I politely turned him down. However, he decided to continuously come into the shop to chase me up, and when my manager told me that he had came in earlier to find me, that threw me into a state of dissociation. My mind went completely blank, and all I could do was thank my manager for letting me know. For the next hour my mind struggled when it came to me finding words to string sentences together, which had a small effect on my interactions with customers. Thankfully I was able to go home after that hour as my shift was over.

  • After work experience on a separate day, I headed to the bus station and my mind fell blank again. This wasn’t a bad experience as I didn’t have to talk to anyone and only had to hand my return ticket to the bus driver before finding a seat and sitting down, so this wasn’t too bad!

  • On a few occasions. I have had dissociations where I have believed that I and/or the world around me wasn’t real, and that it was all a simulation. This is a super freaky feeling and can be harder to pull out of. I’m glad I haven’t had this type of dissociation for a while.

  • Relating to number 4, I have also felt like a robot on one occasion! This is also a very weird feeling, and almost hard to explain. My movements genuinely felt robotic, and this dissociation activated when I was picking my cat Tabitha up. To add to this, I also believed that Tabitha was a robot! Yes, I believed that my cat was a robot. All I can remember about this is standing there holding Tabitha in my arms and thinking, ‘Wow. Are we actually robots right now?’

  • To finish up on a simple one, I have had multiple experiences of just ‘zoning out’ into space. Personally for me, this isn’t a scary feeling. It’s actually quite peaceful and I’m happy that I have two supportive parents who allow me to come out of it on my own and don’t laugh at me or try to force me to stop dissociating. It helps that my mam experiences dissociation too, so she understands.

So, there’s my experiences! I hope that this blog has educated you on dissociation and I really hope that you’ve enjoyed reading it! I’ll see you next Friday for another blog which will be all about people who struggle to understand tones, jokes and sarcasm! Cheers everyone!