Categories
autism Balkans decision making holiday hyperfocus loneliness masking social skills university

Balkans Roadtrip

I’ve just got home from a roadtrip across the Balkans with my two high school friends. We booked our flight to Budapest back in December so for a long time the trip was simply referred to as Budapest 2022. Then we went on a trip to Dublin at Easter and gained a trip mascot – Kevin the carrot. We created a Kevin the carrot Instagram page called Kevin’s crazy carrot adventures so spent a lot of the trip getting content for it. A group trip is something I never really thought I’d do but I really really enjoyed it.

This picture was taken in Bosnia at the Tara Canyon. It is the second deepest canyon in the world and we had a 6 hour rafting trip down it.

Countries visited: 7

Number of days: 18

  1. Budapest, Hungary
  2. Ljubljana, Slovenia
  3. Lake Bled, Slovenia
  4. Hochstuhl, Austria
  5. Belgrade, Serbia
  6. Sarajevo, Bosnia
  7. Tara canyon, Montenegro
  8. Split, Croatia
  9. Trogir, Croatia
  10. Zagreb, Croatia

This trip isn’t really something I ever thought I would do for a number of reasons:
It was very poorly planned
I get stressed when I have to spend to much time with people
We were constantly changing location

This is a view of Lake Bled in Slovenia.

A lot of these points are relating to my autism and I will explain further below. 

It was very poorly planned
For autistic people, lack of planning is a big issue. We like to know all the big W’s – who, what, when and where. We all had exams until 1 week before the trip though which is where the planning problem came from. It helped massively that I had exams to focus on first. I’m a very all or nothing/ black and white style thinker so whereas I used to need to know exactly what I was doing, I am now a very in the moment person and struggle to think ahead to the future – which provides a planning problem on the other end of the scale. Luckily, as we were travelling before school holidays, it didn’t matter that we were last minute. We did it all very systematically:

  1. Decided how long we wanted to go away
  2. Which countries we wanted to visit
  3. How long we wanted to spend in each country
  4. Which places we wanted to go to in each country
  5. How we would get between cities

We left the daily itinerary to when we got there but had a good basic plan. I really didn’t mind this because my main issue with lack of planning is wasting time and not having anything to fill a time slot however, I took my laptop meaning that in the time that the others spent faffing, I could work yet still be available to contribute to any decision making. In the past I think I’d have just got very anxious at the empty time spent unsure of what the plan was. 

I get stressed when I have to spend to much time with people
The main reason I don’t like spending too much time with people is because I get exhausted from socialising. Despite this, I found I was fine. I think this is because I went away with a group of friends who I have known for a very long time so can be myself around them and don’t have to mask. This relieves most of the strain of being with a group of people for a prolonged period of time. Additionally, a lot of the time we spent together was walking which is far less intense. 

We were constantly changing location
This is something that in the past I would have found very stressful because I like knowing that I have a ‘safe place’. Despite this, I find now that as long as I have my phone and laptop with me on a trip I’m fine. This is mainly due to the fact that it means I have a sense of normality in that I can work. It probably doesn’t make sense but it just provides a constant and something that I’m in control of. I am someone who likes to exercise as a way to relieve any stress so it really helped that most of the days were spent walking around. Our trip total miles were 255! I do think my friends got slightly frustrated that my solution to everything was walking. Lost? Don’t bother with Google maps, just walk and you’ll get to an important landmark eventually. Too hot? Just walk. Too tired? Walking will energise you. 

So overall, it was a great trip and I had an amazing time.

This was taken on the way up a mountain, at the border with Austria.

Top tips:
1. Don’t get night buses to save money, they are really busy, you won’t get any sleep and it’s much better to get an early morning bus. The bus from Sarajevo to Split was one of the most scenic rides I’ve been on and I had a whole row of seats to myself. 
2. If you are in a group of three or more, it’s often cheaper (and more pleasant) to rent an apartment. 
3. Splitwise is a great app for logging shared expenses. 
4. Most of the touristy attractions are quietist early morning and late afternoon. 
5. As long as you have access to a washing machine, you can manage with a small rucksack for 3 weeks. 
6. Using a monzo travel bank card means you won’t get charged for using a card abroad. 
7. Most cities have apps for buying tickets both for the airport shuffle bus and in the centre. 
8. Make sure you always have a snack supply. 


Categories
autism employment university

How to keep down a job as an Autistic person

In my previous article, I gave some tips on getting a job as a person on the autistic spectrum. But what about when you’ve secured a job? How do you keep it? Work is hard for the majority of people and for autistic people, despite the skills, knowledge and positive attributes autistic people bring to a workplace, it can be particularly challenging and be filled with barriers to overcome.

The main issues with employment arise when employers don’t recognise these barriers or subsequently attempt to remove them.

The main reasons that people with autism may struggle at work are:

  • Overwhelm
  • Anxiety about change
  • Difficulty dealing with change
  • Work environment
  • Lack of awareness

Overwhelm

If you’ve had a job before, it’s likely that before starting the job you had to complete and array of admin tasks – all of which can be overwhelming and require significant organisation. Signing contracts, providing bank details, national insurance number, background checks completing forms etc…. If you’ve never done these tasks before, it can be really hard knowing where to start and how to find all the information.

I remember when I started my job in the warehouse, I found it really stressful having to source all the information for the forms. I found that the best way to do it was to create a checklist and focus on one point at a time rather than trying to do it all at once. I now keep all the important documents and information in one place to make the process a lot easier in the future.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Anxiety about change and issues coping with change

Autistic people tend to really struggle with change. This is because they use routines and rituals to try and cope with the chaos and distress of everyday life. Keeping things the same gives some sense of control. A new environment can really disrupt this. For my most recent job, I work remotely meaning there were a lot fewer changes to contend with.

Before employment autistic people might have lots of questions such as:

  • What will I do as soon as I arrive at work?
  • What will my colleagues be like?
  • What will the work environment be like?
  • Will I have to stay overtime?
  • When will my breaks be?
  • What if I get overwhelmed?

The list goes on and it can be very easy to get stuck in a cycle of overthinking about these things. When I started my job, the thing I was most worried about is what the actual job would be like. I was lucky in the fact that my partner at the time started at the same time as me, which gave some form of sameness and comfort as we were in it together. Additionally, the first week was classroom based and gave us a really good introduction to the job and gentle easing into the warehouse work.

Something that can be done beforehand is to request that employers give (if they haven’t already) clear guidance on what can be expected in the job role, working hours, what the general day to day structure is like etc. You could even ask for an opportunity to visit the workplace prior to starting to be introduced to colleagues and the environment. This can really help with visualising what the day and routine will be like in order to aid the transition.

Settling into the new job and environment can be really hard however there are some things that can aid the transition.

  • Ensuring people know your preferred method of communication. If you prefer written instructions or instructions given separately then tell people!
  • Develop a plan for how you are going to prioritise certain tasks.
  • Sometimes it can be useful to ask for the personal profiles of colleagues. In the most recent job I had, we had to all create personal profiles with key facts about how we communicated and what we found annoying.
  • Some employers may offer mentors to give support.
  • Ask for clear guidelines on what the rules are and what is ‘acceptable’.

For example, I always thought that the half an hour break at the warehouse started from when you left the chill but it turns out that the majority of people started it after going to the toilet and sitting down with food. This is an example of something that is ‘acceptable’.

Work environment

For many people, it is the work environment rather than the actual job that causes the most issues. This can be due to sensory problems. Many people with autism are more sensitive to sensory input than other people. Things like lighting, noise, smells and temperature can all cause sensory overload. One of the issues I have is having a conversation with someone when there is a lot of background noise as my brain seems to focus on the background noise rather than the person talking which can be problematic when being given instruction in a noisy environment as none of it goes in. I was quite lucky in my job as I find that a way to reduce overstimulation for me is exercise and my job required me to constantly be on the move.

If I was in an office space I think I would really struggle to work. I’m in the library at uni now, on the quietest floor yet there is still too much noise for me. Sniffing, clicking, typing etc… Luckily I have headphones.

Sometimes employers will be proactive. For example, if you work in a shop that gets busy, they may move you to a quieter area. Sometimes it’s important for you to be able to respond to your needs yourself or let your employer know that you are struggling. I used to start making a lot of mistakes in the warehouse when I got bored because my brain couldn’t process the information anymore so I would get moved to a different role.

It is standard for employers to provide opportunity for feedback and this is a great time to tell them what’s working and what isn’t.

Lack of understanding

Often, if colleagues don’t know that there is a reason for your peculiarities caused by autism then they may just label you as weird or misunderstand you and develop friction. Autism is called a hidden disability for a reason – many people don’t know that you are autistic until you tell them. If employees don’t have understanding of the condition, you will potentially lack the support you need from others. There are many unwritten rules in the workplace that can be hard to grasp. These rules vary, so it can be good to talk them through with someone. Additionally, many workplace break times involve a lot of smalltalk – which can be hard to grasp but some good topics of conversation are:

  • The weather
  • TV
  • Plans or the evening

It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid controversial topics such as politics or money.

If you can, it could be a good idea to provide your employer with some information to give to colleagues about how your autism effects you. Most workplaces offer disability awareness courses as well.

In my opinion, it is a good idea to disclose autism to an employer as they will the have certain duties to you. The main law that is relevant to you is the Equality Act 2010. It requires promotion of opportunity for disabled people. It means that you shouldn’t be discriminated against based on you disability and should be treated equally and fairly.

It also means that you should be given reasonable adjustments. 

Reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes that employers make in order to best help you carry out your role. They can include:

  • Having your own desk.
  • Enforcing a policy that avoids people being noisy near your workstation.
  • Agreeing an alternative dress code due to sensory sensitivities.
  • Allowing flexible hours.
  • Allowing noise cancelling headphones.
  • Allowing you to start early and finish later to avoid rush hour.
  • Putting communications in writing.
  • Being given advanced notice regarding changes.
  • Extra training.

Some useful resources:

You may be entitled to extra financial support as an autistic person in employment: https://www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled

practical and financial support can be provided to help you start or stay in work https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-factsheet/access-to-work-factsheet-for-customers

Equality act 2010 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents

Free advice on workplace rules and rights https://www.acas.org.uk

Categories
autism decision making hyperfocus loneliness masking obsession Uncategorized

Autism and the need to be busy all the time

In my previous blog I mentioned that in order to overcome my loneliness, I tend to make myself really busy in order to feel like I have a sense of purpose. I thought I’d unpick that a bit more.

Just to put things into context – A few weeks ago, I had a two hour exam, followed by a meeting with a charity I’m a youth campaigner, a two hour meeting for a peer research job I have followed by a meeting with an environmental group I’m part of. And then, after all that, I still had to log some hours of work. So, when I say I’m a busy person – I really am!

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

I just feel like I function well in chaos. Everything I need to do is constantly whizzing round in my head. I like it like the though. It’s like my head is constantly being pulled in all directions. I don’t so much get stressed but excited. I think the emotions are very similar and my body confuses the two meaning I am not so much effected by having so much on my plate but rather in a constant state of being happy and looking forward to things.

I’ve not seen much online about hyper productivity and autism but I’m sure it must be common. In society today, I think it is extremely easy to be pulled into the trap of trying to find purpose. We are generally taught that we are valued by how we contribute to society rather than the value we give to our own lives and those closest to us. There are pressures from all round to be productive and as an autistic person, prone to take things to the extreme in order to appear normal – hyper productivity occurs.

A while back, I tried to change. I tried to do less. It didn’t go very well. I figured out that the issue wasn’t in the things that I do, it was in the way I did them. I am very prone to attempt to multitask but I think what I’ve learnt is that it is better to give my attention to one thing only, rather than multiple things at once – whether it be with studying or spending time with friends. I find that the more busy I get, the more busy I want to be.

There are two sides to the coin of being really busy and motivated to do things. It can be a bad thing. When I first started Uni, I really struggled with prioritising the things I needed to prioritise. I was clinging onto the things that had kept me busy throughout lockdown when really I should have given them up. I think that it was my way of coping with the change of moving out because it gave me a sense of normality while distracting me. I always that because I hadn’t reached burnout yet that I was fine, however I wasn’t devoting energy to the things I needed to.

So why might Autistic people be more prone to this?

Desire to fit in

I think a lot of the narrative in society, especially since the pandemic, tells us that we have to be productive all the time. Volunteering for things, even when our plate is already full. Making promises and having to rush tasks just to make it work. Being consumed by work all day every day. And then once you’re technically done with a something, you feel guilty for not doing more. It’s a vicious cycle. You judge yourself for what you haven’t done, rather than looking at what you have done. Yet being hyper productive is a way to feel worthy, fulfilled, and in control. And so you become obsessed.

Obsessive nature

A really common theme in people with autism is the obsessive nature. Obsessions give stability, security and control. Sometimes however, with people who mask a lot, we can fall into the trap of becoming obsessed with whatever is socially acceptable, just taking it that extra bit too far. Social media is definitely a place where toxic productivity festers, for example through tweets about spending the pandemic learning new skills and utilising every second. Many people focused on productivity during the pandemic. Many people felt afraid and uncertain so tried to gain control. If you are busy, you are distracted from fears of the future. It was all over – free courses online, really amazing experiences being offered online and widening access to things that we’d never have imagined doing before. But – How do you know when to stop? For me, that’s where I struggle.

Executive function

Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.  I’ve seen it described as having a role similar to a conductors in an orchestra. It manages and organises each musician. Tells them when to begin, how fast or slow, and when to stop playing. I struggle knowing when to stop things and when I’ve done enough. I get hyper focused and as a driven person, take on more and more.

 Hyperfocus

I think Hyperfocus is a less talked about autistic trait. It involves a person becoming fixated on a specific thing, topic or event. It’s more than just concentration. It can mean that we are extremely productive and get a lot done. I can go all day going from one important thing to the next, sending email after email that would take other people hours to write. It seems easy because I am just in this mindset of ‘go go go’. However all this does have its draw backs in that we have less energy for other things – often the important day to day things like admin tasks or keeping on top of washing.

Something that I have used to help me with this is time blocking – assigning certain times to certain things. I find it so easy to get lost in doing something that it gets to the end of the day and I realise I’ve spent far too long on one thing to the detriment of another.

Time blocking is a time management tool that divides your day into separate blocks of time. Specific tasks are allocated to each block. 

By setting reminders on my phone, I have to move on once the time is up. At first it was really hard to do because I hate leaving things unfinished and often my brain will keep looping back to the unfinished task but now, I just view notion (the app where I keep everything on my laptop) as a second brain so I can just tell myself that it’s okay because all the work I’ve done is still there, it’s not going anywhere and I can pick up from where I left off. Changing my view to this really helped me.

I think another reason I struggled with time blocking is the fact that I work best when I want to do something rather than when I’m being told I have to do it. What I tend to do to get round that is split all the tasks that I have to do up, and then give myself options that I can choose myself for each time block.

All of this has really helped me because before, I was consumed by my work and not balancing things very well at all. I was trying to just fill every minute with ‘finishing things off’. Now, I still fill every minute but I also have specific times for things like socialising, meeting people and running. And because I have specific times for certain things, I make sure to give my undivided attention to each thing I’m doing rather than trying to multitask.

Categories
autism decision making medical school university

Decision making as an autistic person

I really struggle with decision making. I even struggle with making simple decisions such as what flavour ice cream to get or what to have for tea. In fact, these small decisions are often the most exhausting to make and are the main reason why I rely on sameness: eating the same meals everyday, wearing the same clothes and buying the same things from the shop.

Bigger decisions, such as choosing a degree are even harder and one of the main reasons I actually chose to pursue medicine is because it would reduce uncertainty. I’d have something to pursue and a guaranteed career path at the end of my degree. In addition, it gives me a goal that every decision I make can relate back to.

I just wanted to share a quote that I came across a a few days ago that I thought was really quite profound.

If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.

Deepak Choprat
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

It resonated with me because I used to feel very much paralysed by decision making. I think catastrophysing and overthinking all stem from the black and white thinking that is a typical autistic trait. Often, my brain leads me to think that there are only two possible scenarios: Good or bad. In reality there are many possibilities to every situation with equally as many factors to influence them. This thinking just leads to an overall snowball effect of spirallig into thoughts about what ifs. I often overthink any decision I make and obsess over what could have happened differently, as well as what I may have done wrong. Like many autistic people, I am highly self critical.

I think i’m extremely good at making logical decisions, especially when it is concerning other people which I think is in part due to being able to detach myself from the situation. I think that making decisions is all about gathering data for me. I like to research things extensively before jumping to conclusions, thus having a lot of data to consolidate my choices. If I have a lot of data, or all the pieces to the puzzle so to speak, then I am able to be confident in my choice. This could explain why I am bad at making decisions relating to any interpersonal issues as I am unable to gather sufficient data or worry that I have misunderstood and gathered the wrong data.

There is also the factor of uncertainty that decision making brings. Oftentimes this fear of uncertainty can be a driver of decision making. Autistic people struggle with uncertainty, often more than neurotypical people, so if an option gives less uncertainty, then it could be a better decision. There are so many variables in every single part of our lives. Things fail, people lose, things go wrong all the time. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. There’s only so much you can prepare for things. So much of life is unpredictable and control is just an illusion that helps us stay sane. I may feel in control of everything in my life, but a natural disaster could suddenly jeopardise it all. No matter what I do, nothing will ever go completely to plan. Which is hard to accept but that’s why I really like the above quote, because it views things in a different way.

I think additionally, one of the main issues with autistic people and decision making is our ability to deal with the consequences. This is due to being so self critical about our mistakes and ruminating over small details. We hold onto these minor things as if they are memories that should be cherished – or in my case, factors in future decision making (hence why it can be overwhelming when. so many factors come into play).

All of this indecisiveness can lead to us making good decisions, likely better decisions than neurotypical people however, neurotypical people are often able to better deal with the consequences of poor decisions and don’t waste so much of their life worrying.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Here are my top tips for decision making:

  1. Try to remember the above quote when you are stuck in a cycle of trying to make the perfect choices.
  2. Rather than making one big decision, maybe make small choices along the way. For example, if you are making a choice about changing career, you could volunteer in that area for a while first.
  3. If making a small decision like what to cook for tea, you could either stick to the same meals throughout the week or use an app that looks at what food you have in and tells you what to make based on that.
  4. Shop online specifically for what you want so you won’t be overwhelmed by the choices available.
  5. Write a pros and cons list down and think rationally about the outcomes of each option.
  6. Try to do things that are out of your comfort zone, it may be hard at first but it will open up more opportunities in the future.
  7. Remember that nothing is permanent and there is always a way out of something if you don’t like it.

Categories
autism book Poetry

I published a book!

Late last summer, I decided that I wanted to do something purposeful and have a project that I could work on over a period of months so I decided to put together all my poems about autism into a book, as well as produce illustrations and explanations for the poems. It was hard work and I found the editing very tedious but it is finally here.

My poetry book allows unfiltered access into the mind of a recently diagnosed autistic female and reflects on the many emotions associated with being on the spectrum. Many of the common traits associated with autism are touched on in the book and the meaning behind the poems are explained in detail. These poems are written from the perspective of an autistic individual who appears fairly normal due to masking her autistic traits, but they also show the repercussions of this and what it feels like to be an outsider in a society made for neurotypical people. They also offer insight into certain autistic behaviours, explaining why autistic people do things different. In addition to focusing on autism, there are poems about anorexia. These poems offer a glimpse into why so many autistic females end up with eating disorders in adolescence.

All in all, Not Neurotypical shows why our society needs more people who understand autism. Many people on the spectrum are misunderstood and therefore cannot access the freedoms they deserve. This means that autistic people cannot reach their full potential and in general, have lower life expectancies.

Categories
autism breakup medical school

5 Ways to get through a Breakup as an Autistic Person

Breakups are unpleasant and the emotions they bring up are complicated. Grief, confusion, heartbreak, anger, sadness, anxiety…. All of these are normal reactions. Even if things ended well, you’re still likely to have some sort of reaction.

For autistic people, a breakup is arguably just that bit harder. A breakup brings uncertainty. and disruption. Whether it be routine, identity or even your home – everything changes. Nothing is set in stone anymore, future plans up in the air. The unknowns can seem overwhelming and leave you wanting to go back to a relationship, even if it was toxic.

You can’t start the next chapter of you life if you keep re reading the last one.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

1. Don’t go searching for a quick-fix

This is going to take time. No matter what anyone says, there is no quick fix. everyone is different and processes things in their own time. It’s as much as taking each day as it comes as it is anything else. Accepting that it will take time and that you will heal is a big part of the process. It is so hard to accept that something that was once a massive part of you and your life will become a memory and it is normal to feel like you are going through a bereavement. As you grieve the loss of what you thought would be your future, think about future aspirations to replace your old ones. Use the time to pause and think about where you are in your life and what you want moving forward. There is something positive to be gained from every experience if you look hard enough to find it.

2. Try to write down your emotions and piece them together

It’s important to identify and acknowledge your feelings.Autistic people often (contrary to popular belief) experience more empathy, this means that you may have a good understanding of how your ex feels. you may feel both angry and sad for them at the same time. You may be frustrated because they hurt you but you still really care for them. It may be painful, but trying to suppress or ignore your feelings will likely make them come out in another form. Allowing yourself to feel the pain and emotions may worry you but these feeling won’t remain intense forever. Grieving is essential to the healing process and the intensity of the emotions will decrease over time. No matter how strong your grief is, it will not last forever.

3. Don’t blame yourself

There will always be ‘What ifs’. There will always be something you could have said or done but you can’t keep replaying the past – it’s already happened. Don’t dwell on who is to blame but look at things from a different perspective. This could be a good learning opportunity. It’s useful to focus objectively on what the relationship was lacking and how it failed. A chance to see where things went wrong and how you can make sure they go better in the future. You could even buy a journal specially for writing down these thoughts and feelings.

Autistic people are great problem solvers. Try and look at this as a time of self growth. Things will change in the future and to move on, you need to understand and process what happened. The more understanding you have, the more you can learn from what happened.

4. Reach out to others for support

I think this one is the trickiest for people with Autism. A lot of articles will suggest meeting with friends or making new friends however for autistic people, socialising is the last thing you want to do when you are feeling rubbish. It is hard enough in normal conditions. If it isn’t too much you could ask to meet up with a friend for a walk as it is often easier to talk to people whilst walking and not face to face. Additionally, you may feel like your ex is the only one who truly understood you and who you didn’t have to mask around – so it can feel pretty isolating and lonely. Despite this, there are a lot of people out there who can support you, whether it be family, counsellors or support groups. People who have been through painful breakups themselves are especially helpful as they know what it is like and can give you hope.You could also join a new club or group because even if you don’t make any best friends straight away, face to face contact usually helps improve your mood.

Photo by Dio Hasbi Saniskoro on Pexels.com

5. Try to focus on positive coping mechanisms

During any time of high stress, it is exceptionally important to look after yourself.

  • If you struggle to stop and are constantly on the go, it may be an idea to treat yourself as if you have flu.
  • Get plenty of rest and time to recover.
  • Pay attention to what you need and don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Don’t be pressured into making any important life decisions whilst you are in such an emotional state either as you may regret them in the future.
  • Stick to a routine. This is probably one of the most important ones as sticking to a routine will help structure your day and give you purpose.
  • Avoid using Dugs, Alcohol or food as a way to cope. There are better, less destructive ways of coping. If you are an obsessive person, it may just be a good idea to avoid drugs and alcohol completely.
  • Eat, Drink, Sleep and Exercise – Everyday!

A few coping mechanisms to try

  • Eat some crunchy vegetables (strange one but it actually relieves a lot of tension!)
  • Start a new project (distraction is always good)
  • Do some volunteering
  • Write a letter, imaging you’re giving a friend advice on how to cope with the situation you are in
  • Go running

It may hurt. It may feel like the world is ending. But you’ve got this!

Categories
medical school Poetry university

Shifting Family Dynamics at University

I wrote the below poem after seeing my family for the first time after moving to university. It was a strange experience because I suddenly felt like a visitor in their lives. It was something out of the ordinary for them to see me. It reminded me of when we used to meet up with family members for a meal after not seeing them for a while. I did not belong to their ‘unit’ anymore. Maybe it was the fact that I just met them for lunch and a walk; maybe it will be different when I go and stay at home, but it felt so strange. I felt like I was a dead person, looking on at my old life before I moved to uni – except I wasn’t there. It was almost like a feeling of grief because it dawned on me that things would never go back to the way they were before I moved out.

I tried to personify my house in this poem because I guess growing up we assume that our house will be our home forever. And it feels like a living breathing thing full of life (or at least it does to me). There’s a strong rhyme scheme to that section too because it reflects familiarity. I wanted to repeat the phrase ‘life goes on’ because despite the fact it’s a scary concept – life does go on whether I’m there or not. I think I have a lot of insecurity about whether my family miss me, prefer things without me etc. However, I think I’ve just got to realise that this is a time of change. Things are different and not the same but, that doesn’t mean they’re not good. One period of time does not compare to the other because it’s different. Life moves on.

Grief buried in my bones,

Bones of the body that is my home.

My own –

My only permanent home.

Pulling the new experiences,

Deep into my skin,

Letting sadness evaporate

and dissipate at dawn

The old me looks on

(From the outside)

At those four walls

With their glowing white front

And their brick back

With the trees round the side

And the blinds it lacked

With its warm red walls

And uncarpeted floors

With it’s four toilets

And heavy wooden doors

The old me looks on

From the outside

Because life goes on

Missing one

I’m not there,

But i’m very aware

That life goes on

Missing one.

I wonder if they like it,

Without me there?

Whether they miss me,

Or even care?

Shifting dynamics

A time of changes

Building a new life

with a bunch of strangers

Finty Royle

Categories
Poetry

Departing

Below is another poem, this time about changing trains. I had to go on a train a few days ago and it got me thinking. I always hate that period of time between hearing your station announced and the train stopping. It’s a stressful suspense that is very much the same emotion felt before a big change in life. I then thought about the fact that before moving out, it’s like being on a train accompanied by your parents and then you switch to being all alone. I’m not sure this poem conveys that enough but it’s up for interpretation. I love train stations because they are full of interesting people. I’d happily go for a picnic at a train station on a rainy day!

Photo by Sascha Hormel on Pexels.com

A thrumming, A humming,

A stomach churning, chugging.

A plucked string,

A live wire charging the air.

Buzzing, rumbling, nearing.

A nervous energy,

Emotions strung high.

Heavy clouds looming

In a darkened, moody sky.

The moment before,

The train stops at the station,

A disconcerting suspense,

A fugitive frustration.

Destination reached,

Time to step down.

As doors inhale the platform,

With a deep sigh of a sound.

An auditory hug,

From the bustle of the station,

A spirited chatter of strangers,

In the same situation.

Comforting cocoon of the carriage –

Time to leave.

Taking experiences,

And what I believe.

A step into the unknown,

A journey new,

Time for another train,

Where fresh light shines through.

Copyright – Finty Royle

Categories
Poetry

A New Chapter

I’m going to start off this blog with a poem I wrote a few days ago after moving into my university accommodation.

I based the poem on the idea of changing seasons. Just like the seasons change, so do stages in life. Change isn’t bad, it’s just the natural way of life. Some people embrace change, some people resist it. Despite this, it is very much inevitable.

I debated staying at home for uni but decided it would be best to move out. Simply because it would mean pushing myself out of my comfort zone and expanding my experiences in life as well as my opinions. That’s not to say it’s an easy move, but challenges are good! Hopefully the poem below articulates this well.

With the soft rumble of the car engine,

I was left all alone in a new home.

And in the embers of the setting sun

My new life, this new chapter, had begun.

Intoxicating and soul swirling,

Is this perplexing freedom unfurling.

Wading through shadows of dusky grief,

I shall learn from the seasons and and the leaf.

A world cycling through shifting patterns of change,

The tides of discomfort and situations strange.

Unavoidable, inevitable

But very much manageable –

Time to move on.

So as the cooler air blows between the trees,

And the paths become speckled with mellowing leaves,

I will feel blessed

That i’ve experienced the seasons at their best.

©Finty Royle