I’ve been putting off writing my final remarks on being a Delegate for UN Women, that’s because there are a few things left for me to do.
Firstly, I have to complete a ‘Contribution Form’, which is something I will be doing this weekend – I have to review my notes, re-watch recordings and actually formulate what I am going to write – I’m not entirely sure what it entails yet as you complete each section independently, completing one to move onto the next. Which I will admit, doesn’t help my Neurodiverse brain as it’s difficult to plan without seeing the sections!
Secondly, I was approached by a fellow UN Women’s Delegate online to take part in writing an article for the British Computer Society’s (BCS) IT NOW publication, as I am a Professional Member of BCS – I also was asked to take part in something else, but that’s not UN Women related and a topic of conversation for another post.
But, thirdly, and the focus that I am going to spend energy on instead, is the in-person event, which this morning was when I found out my application to attend had been accepted!
Considering there were 2500 delegates, 1000 of them applied to the in-person event but only 650 spaces to take part (this includes in-person and virtually, so I believe there’s even less spaces to get an in-person space in London!), I’m really glad I was able to make the cut – I’m off to London!
As I have mentioned in my blog post ‘UN Womens’ Delegate – Week 1′ (see more links at the bottom of this post), the main priority theme is:
“Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
This event in London is about ‘taking action for gender equality in digital spaces, innovation, education and technology’. One Goal: Build solutions to bridge the digital gender divide. The information pack that I received gave the following stats:
89% of tech CEOs are men;
nearly 200 million women worldwide don’t own mobile phones, and boys are 1.8 times more likely to own a smartphone than girls;
almost 40% of women worldwide have experienced online violence, and 80% have witnessed it;
only 0.5% of girls want to become tech professionals;
excluding women from the digital world has lost $1 trillion from global GDP over the past decade – and the digital gender gap is increasing. The economic impact will rise to $1.5 trillion lost by 2025 without action now.
The event has five focus areas. Of which, I had to pick only one to contribute to. These five focus areas are:
1.Plugging into the grid
How putting technology in the hands of the world’s most marginalised women can give them connectivity into society that enables them to survive and thrive. Providing access to technology for older women, disabled women, and the world’s poorest.
2. Innovators of the future
From the toys children are given to the videogames they play, young people’s lives are shaped through digital tools from their earliest years, including their engagement with STEM. A look at the dark side of stereotyping, and the way sin which technology can be designed to create a more equal future for the next generations
3. Who learns from who?
With the rise of AI and smart tech, we are teaching algorithms based on human databases that are full of biases. How can we ensure that the decision-markers, the designers, and the data they draw from are representative to avoid magnifying existing problems?
4. Under attack in virtual worlds
We are going to spend increasing amount of time immersing ourselves in virtual spaces. Yet digital spaces are unsafe for women in may ways – not only replicating violence offline, but creating new opportunities for abuse from cyberflashing to deep fake pornography. From social media to the metaverse, we’ll be looking at how we can build safe, inclusive spaces before it’s too late
5. Serving women or surveilling women?
As we store more and more of our lives online, and institutions are able to access our data to serve us with increasingly personalised and relevant offers, how do we protect privacy for those who are most vulnerable to exploitation – both by the private second, and by the state?
If you haven’t already guessed by now, by the title of this post, I have picked the last one; Serving women or surveilling women. Although, I will admit all of them are interesting, especially the 4th one; Under attack in virtual worlds, as I have been a victim of online abuse, and the 3rd Who learns from who? is extremely interesting to me but is a new-found interest, so I felt I wouldn’t have been able to contribute much to the conversation.
Did you know the 13th to the 19th is Neurodiversity Celebration Week?
I didn’t until the week before.
And yes, I had a busy week last week, not only was I taking part in discussions for CSW67 (links below), and working full-time, but I found a couple of Neurodiversity Celebration Week events that I really wanted to go to.
Although the majority of the events have now passed, there are still some ‘An Introduction to Neurodiversity’ events going on over this weekend, and I’d recommend everyone at least watch one!
15-20% of the population has a neurological difference. I personally am at least Autistic with ADHD traits. But there’s also Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia (DCD), even Tourette’s.
The aim of Neurodiversity Week is to show to others what it is like being Neurodiverse; bringing awareness to the world. We are not broken and in need of fixing, we are just different, just like some people have blue eyes instead of brown.
We are unique. We are valid. We belong.
Yes, we may need some adjustments in life or a little extra help, and a LOT of understanding and patience, but we also bring a lot of benefits with our different neurological thinking.
It’s also important to not focus on the negatives of neurodiverse people, and instead harness our strengths, especially in the workforce.
Myself, I can be very good with fine details and pattern recognition. I’m usually the one fixing documentation, spell and grammar checking, being methodical. I think outside the box with processes and problems. People with ADHD might be more outspoken and outgoing. There was a person speaking on one of the events who had dyslexia who said they were a lot more creative than others.
It’s also important to not make assumptions. I am autistic, but I am not a genius, you won’t see me fixing mathematical equations on a white board any time soon. But I do have a unique set of skills (no, not those kinds of skills…). I also have a friend who is on the ADHD spectrum who isn’t extremely outgoing.
Approach people, neurodiverse or not, as unique individuals with their own skills, own thoughts, own needs.
In certain calendars this signals the end of the week.
But more importantly, it’s the end of Week 1 on CSW67 (67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women).
As you may know, I was selected to be a Delegate for CSW67. It’s my first time being a delegate and after week 1, what a ride it has been so far.
For those of you who don’t know what CSW is, here’s a video I found created by UN Women (please do give the video a like!):
I’ll quickly give a very brief overview of the United Nations, the SDGs and UN Women. I could go on and on about it, but it will distract from the point of this post.
The United Nations was originally founded in 1945 after World War II, originally the intention was to enable countries to cooperate on specific matters; mostly about resolving major world problems.
The first ‘UN Women’ Commission dates back to 1947; 15 women from different countries met to begin building international legal foundations for gender equality.
In the following decades, several UN offices were dedicated to various aspects of women’s rights. In 2011, these were merged to form UN Women, or the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 1. No Poverty 2. Zero Hunger 3. Good Health and Well-Being 4. Quality Education 5. Gender Equality 6. Clean Water and Sanitation 7. Affordable and Clean Energy 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 10. Reduced Inequalities 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 14. Life Below Water 15. Life on Land 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions 17. Partnerships for the Goals
Today, in 2023, the UN Women’s Commission is deepening and expanding the global framework for gender equality.
Facts and Figures
As you have seen, achieving gender equality is one of the 17 SDGs, these SDGs should be in effect by 2030. However, a study revealed that it could take close to 300 years at the current rate of progress to achieve this.
In fact, the study found it may even be worsening due to global crises and backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
CSW67 – The biggest yet
In my training before the week even began, not only did this figure stick out, but another figure also stuck out to me…
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of delegates was limited heavily to the number that could fill the hall in New York. Due to Covid, it was necessary to evolve, meaning delegates had to become more remote. As well as this evolution, they opened this the max number of delegates allowed and this number became almost unlimited.
UN Women took this literally, and opened delegation to everyone. Last year, they apparently had about 1000 people become delegates.
This year the number is 2500.
That’s 2500 people (men, women and others) who are taking part in talks that will shape policies the UN Member States will sign and adopt to bring gender equality. Globally.
The more people we have as delegates, the more chance we have of making change!
Structure of CSW67
Before I explain my thoughts and current takeaways from my experience so far, I want to briefly explain how this year is structured.
Firstly, there is an online platform which is open to all UN Women Delegates and other UN Women Volunteers who are making this happen. There are sections specifically on certain topics (called Superthreads) as well as a section on the CSW67 Events.
There are three types of Events: 1. Official UN Women Meetings – these are official negotiations and agreements are made around the central theme. 2. Side Events – Permanent Missions, intergovernmental organizations and United Nations entities hold side events on UN premises. 3. Parallel Events – Organized by NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), this enables civil society to be part of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
There are recommended events to join, but lots of other events throughout the two weeks, but they are all optional. It’s open to you how many you attend. In a lot of events, you have an opportunity to add to the discussion, whether on camera or through the chat or Q&A boxes, or you are welcome to use the platform to participate in discussions instead. It’s also recommended to go away with links, new connections and generally feeling empowered to make change. And at the end of CSW there will be a contribution form to fill for feedback to build on learnings for the next CSW event.
The main priority theme is: “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
The review theme is: “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”
The review theme is agreeing to conclusions from the 62nd session.
Week 1 Summary
Of course, this is a summary from my perspective, so please bare in mind that other people may have completely different experiences and thus perspectives.
Throughout the whole experience so far, it is an overwhelming information dump. Let’s just say that I’m glad there are less events on at the weekend and I have time to recover! There’s a lot going on, with UN Women’s Official events, Side Events, Parallel Events, discussions on topics on the community forum, connections on LinkedIn, messages, posts, links, new opportunities, and more!
The main thing I wanted to talk about, is not only highlighting the facts and figures above; the fact we are 300 years away from global gender equality at the current rate we are working, but there is so many research areas uncovering issues that need fixing.
Here’s what I have seen so far: * There is a gender gap on the use of technology, this is more prevalent on rural areas * Women/Girls access technology at a later age than boys/men * Girls appear to loose interest younger, this appears to be from stereotypes or lack of support * There still is gender bias in tech careers/jobs, especially in leadership roles * There is still a gender pay gap in the tech industry * There are barriers with accessing education, especially in rural areas and low-income areas * There are barriers with accessing funding and support for start ups, men appear to have more access than women * There are potential gender biases in AI, machine learning and algorithms (e.g. TikTok) * There are gender bias within targeted ads, which leads to issues of harmful rhetoric for women * There needs to be more online safety and general social conversations in making it safer for women and girls * There is gender bias in the entertainment industry, from funding, pay, access to exhibition space and much more.
This is just week 1. Imagine what week 2 will also bring!
My current take-aways from week 1 is that I have a LOT to think about. If anything, I have taken away even more enthusiasm to push for gender equality in my own life. Whether that is pushing for gender equality at work, in general conversation, challenging behaviour and encouraging other women to join in on the discussions and fight, but hopefully the enthusiasm to bring into my publishing business that I am still keen to set up.
I am also encouraged to join in on future discussions within UN Women and CSW, expand discussions online outside of CSW, and it has encouraged me to look into other discussions, such as climate change, world hunger and more. Helping us achieve the other 17 SDGs.
I also, have a new found interest in gender bias in AI, machine learning and algorithms. More so algorithms, as this is certainly something I have been fighting with on my social media platforms already. Who knows, maybe a PhD is in the making…
Today is International Women’s Day 2023 and I couldn’t go without saying at least something. Unfortunately, as it’s mid-week – and what a week it has been so far – and past 19:00 in the evening, I will have to leave this shorter than I hoped.
Recently, I wrote a post about being accepted as a UN Women’s Delegate for the UK (links at the bottom of this post) Well, that time has come!
Not only is today International Women’s Day, but today is Day 3 on being a UN Women’s Delegate.
I will be keeping notes on my experience (as long as my laptop doesn’t die and I loose my notes, which has already happened to me today! The irony of working in tech too!), and I will write another longer post either at the weekend or at the end of the two weeks, but for now I just want to say how amazing this experience is so far.
One thing that I have already said online, and will repeat here too, is this:
This International Women’s Day is talking about ’embracing’ equity, with powerful pictures of women hugging themselves.
I am not. I am not hugging myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I am ’embracing’ equity/equality too, but the idea of hugging myself doesn’t sit well with me.
I don’t need to hug myself. I don’t need to internalize my struggles as a female/woman. I need others to see my struggles, allow me to speak up, to listen, but more importantly to help bring change to gender inequality. Globally.
Not just for me, but for my sisters too.
I need change. We need change.
This also should include: * Black women and women of colour * Neurodivergent women * Gay/Lesbian/Bi+ women * Trans women * Non-binary and female-presenting people * Women in conflict areas * Every woman who is currently under-represented and is being affected in some way from gender discrimination and inequality. Because they are women/females too!
This is why I am trying to make the most of my time as a UN Women’s Delegate. Not just sitting quietly and making notes. No, I am speaking out.
Like I said in my previous post; I have finally found my voice.
And I’m certainly going to make as much noise as possible!
Please note, I do not own the images in this post. The image on the banner is an official UN Women’s image, the “We need an equal digital future for all” is as well, and the CSW template with yours truly’s mug shot was created by a fellow UN Women’s Delegate Khadeejah Badru, edited to include my face instead. 🙂
Approximately 30 years ago, when I was a little girl, I lost my voice.
I was bullied, ridiculed, left out and generally socially awkward. This resulted in me developing what I now come to know as Selective Mutism.
For most of my life I have in some way been silenced. Whether this is due to my own issues and feeling so alien in the world, that I developed anxiety at 4/5 years old. Whether this was because being female I have had people look down upon me as the inferior sex. Whether this was because being young and inexperienced, people believed I didn’t have anything useful to add to the table. Whether this is a direct result of being misunderstood from actually being autistic, which had never been picked up.
I’m now learning that I am not alien in this world, there are others like me.
I now know being female isn’t the inferior sex, I am just as equal to men.
I might be young and potentially inexperienced, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t got something valuable to say.
I know that the misunderstanding is the lack of awareness in the general population for autism, especially in females.
Now in my 30s, I am unlearning all the negativity I associated with myself, the bad habits and finally coming out of my shell.
I am also speaking up against the inequality and misunderstandings.
One of the reasons why I became an author was because I wanted to get my voice finally heard. I wanted to use the medium of written word, in stories, to get certain topics out there. Including my own story.
But just writing stories is just the stepping stone onto bigger things.
The next stepping stone…
Is becoming a UN Women’s Delegate for the UK!
I’m extremely humbled to be a part of the delegation. To be a part of something as important as gender equality. But I’m also extremely nervous.
But I’m going to continue practicing speaking up, like I have been slowly building up on, and push through these nerves.
I have finally found my voice.
And I’m certainly going to make as much noise as possible!
Hello my little demons, I interrupt your Sunday with another Author Interview…
I also want to apologise for missing posts, work has been getting progressively busier and more stressful, so on my days off I tend to find a dark corner to hide in…
But, I hope this new blog post makes up for it. Because today I have an interview with another fellow author, one who has quite a few similar interests as I do… and I don’t mean that we’re both authors… Say hello to Marcus Liotta!
About Marcus Liotta
As well as being an author, Marcus, who is originally from Chicago, IL, works in Information Technology (as he calls himself; a ‘Technocrat’), defining himself as a Programmer, Hacker and Social Engineer, as well as a public speaker (rather him than me!)
He also seems to have a long list of hobbies and skills, from Philosophy, Psychology, Archery and Survivalism. He even has some legal skills (I feel the need to explain he’s not BAR registered, just to avoid any future confusion).
Although Marcus has managed to scramble together words into stories a few times, from novellas to short stories (I’ll leave some of his links below for you to check out), but I just wanted to quickly tell you about his most recent works, ‘Adrift’.
I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi, especially if it entails space and all things thus contained in space (okay, I like spaceships! There, I said it!) and this one really has the feel of the ‘Expanse’ series (written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck – pen name James S.A. Corey – also a TV series), I mean, you read the synopsis and the interview below and you tell me…
The silence of space can be overwhelming. It can drive a man to madness. When one is consumed by the Empty, a region beyond the reaches of known star maps, there is no rescue. In the vast Empty, nothing can be trusted. A scavenging crew discovers this first hand when they ransack an aged provisioning vessel. Far from any possible civilization, they encounter something more deadly than they could have ever imagined. They should have known better. Often, this place is where starships go to die.
What’s your current book about?
My most recent work, “Adrift“, is a Dark Science Fiction novella about the perils of space travel. A scavenging crew finds more than they are prepared for when they board a derelict vessel, one who contains a deadly secret.
Can you tell me a little about the main character(s)?
The main characters include a muscular blonde woman who doesn’t take heat from anyone, yet also finds herself treating a flying utility drone as a puppy dog. The drone, a massive human-sized machine with sleek metal of a black obsidian sheen, it always hovers nearby and comes when called; but that glowing red eye never blinks.
What got you into writing?
I was always pushed to write when I was very young, given my active imagination. Later, I continued to write short stories and participated in Dungeons & Dragons (or other role playing games), as a Game Master – crafting stories of Monsters, Magic, and Mayhem. That was really enjoyable and kept me writing in my spare time.
Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?
No I do not. I considered it but the negatives seemed to outweigh any positives.
How do you deal with criticism?
I assume the critic is correct in some perspective and considered how to better my writing. If someone responds very poorly, they may not be interested in providing criticism but rather use the review process or a twitter / author contact response as an output for their own internalized-anger. It is important to accept and understand that many who are unhappy project internalized-anger onto others, and into much that they do. Once one realizes this, it is easy to accept another individual for who they are and what they do, while not becoming annoyed or aggravated by their words.
Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?
Yes and no. I often write in silence, but at times when specific scenes are benefitted by listening to a theme song for them, I will listen to a specific set of music for the section. Often, this is non-voice and dramatic music intended for a specific sort of action or dark (creepy) sequence.
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
“A Wizard of Earthsea“, by Ursula Kay Leguin. This book is an amazing adventure and depicts the struggles of Good and Evil, in vivid detail. It is a perfect book to demonstrate the need to accept the consequences for one’s actions, while learning how to cope with the grief of both failure and how to face one’s own demons.
What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
A story that can steal one away from the world and wrap them in a newfound reality is important. This means that integrating a Good Plot, Interesting Characters, Twists the reader never saw coming, and being Consistent in a Story is key. Consistency means both keeping character behavior the same unless some development would sensibly change them, but also not pursuing a plot which would create holes in the story arc. At the same time, consistency also means not introducing new plot mechanics which could cause a reader to lose their ability to suspend disbelief (and take them out of the reality a writer creates.)
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m a Hacker and Programmer, so often my hobbies revolve around code and computers.
Do you write every single day?
Yes, but not always on a specific project. I work on my blog, poetry, various short story concepts or stories for my paintings I often post. When I am working toward publishing a project I absolutely work on it every single day, whether it is writing or editing.
Where do you get your ideas?
I take pieces of our own reality and twist them, shaping them into something that is similar but not as we would normally see..
Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?
I love detailing the conflict between Good and Evil, and how one must fight to be a better person.
Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?
I am working on a horrific book relating to a small town and terrifying ordeal that some must endure. A newcomer brings all sorts of terrible reasons to fear an otherwise uneventful town. I’m also working on another piece relating to Fantasy; both Magic and Dragons.
If you would like to learn more about Marcus and his works, or follow him on social media, here are a few links:
This blog post is a little different today, and I know I said ‘self-diagnosing’, there’s a lot of issues surrounding self-diagnosing medical/psychological/neurological issues, but bare in with me…
I had Selective Mutism…
You may already know that I had Selective Mutism as a child. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with it, but I’m 100% sure I had it as a child (and still suffer slightly with it today – either I clam up and don’t talk, or someone says/does something that is a ‘trigger’ and sets off an anxiety attack). If you didn’t know, I recommend you read my blog post here and check out my very first video on my new YouTube channel here.
Now, the reason why I haven’t been diagnosed is simple… it was missed. Instead, I was thought to be ‘shy’ in school, which is true, I was shy. Painfully. But, I also believe it was missed because there wasn’t enough education into it back in the 90s and early 2000s when I was at school. And the reason why it hasn’t been diagnosed, or at least officially put on my medical records NOW is because of three reasons;
1. I only learnt about it recently, say in the last few years. I stumbled across it actually. I can’t remember where it was I first saw/heard about Selective Mutism, but something in the name made me think “can it be?”. Before then, I never knew it was a ‘thing’ – I thought I was different, special, ‘odd’, that I was the only one who suffered the way I did as a child. Then, one day I came across it, read up about it, and went, Oh. My. God. That’s a THING?! So, yeah!
2. I kinda grew out of it. I developed SM (Selective Mutism) when I was at Primary School (about the age of 4 or 5) and it got worse as I became a teenager through Secondary School. But when I went to college, I went to a completely different college than all my cohort at school so I was no longer around those kids that new me as The Girl Who Whispered and I managed to break the cycle – if I didn’t, I probably would be still suffering today.
3. I learnt to mask. It took me YEARS, but I learnt to mask, hide, pretend I didn’t have it and learnt to fake confidence around people. I was ashamed of having it. I was ashamed of what people would think about me if they found out how weird I was in school, that I didn’t talk, that I whispered. So, I would mask that I had it, to the point of pretending that part of my life didn’t exist. When people would reminisce over their school days and say how they wish they were in school still, I would disagree, saying I hated school, but never said why. It was also hard to explain why I have a fear of certain things – one for example, I HATE people whispering to me now, because that was one thing the bullies in school would do, but try explain that to someone that doesn’t know about your background and you don’t WANT them to know.
It’s not that I don’t want it on my record, I just haven’t yet had chance to really talk to the doctors about it. I struggle with talking to the doctors, not only because I have moved around a LOT over the last few years, but because I have had some very bad experiences in the past. Plus, with the whole Covid situation at the moment, I find it difficult to go to the doctors – I can’t just walk in and ask for an appointment and I’m absolutely TERRIBLE on the phone (I had recently had to email my new doctors surgery to ask for an appointment, but they have just emailed me back asking me to ring them – urgh! Need to find the courage to do that!)
Is this Autism…?
Which kinda brings me onto my own self-diagnosis of Autism…. because SM is a SIGN of Autism… especially in women. So, when I learnt that… I did some digging.
Firstly, I want to apologise if I say anything that may offend anyone, I am still new to Autism, I’m still trying to understand it and I may get things wrong, or may say something that isn’t politically correct. Please bare in with me, I mean no offense. I know at least that some people do not like to be defined by their autism, there is a difference between being ‘a person with autism’ and an ‘autistic person’. I’m new to this concept and am still trying to get my head around it. I will probably use these interchangable and I do not mean offense. I’m still unsure how to define myself – and if I should even be using the term undiagnosed.
Now, I knew about Autism, I’ve heard about it, I’ve seen it, but my understanding of it was HUGELY WRONG. So, yeah, I used to think there were a few things that I saw in myself, but I never really associated myself with Autism until very recently (in the last few weeks).
Another sign of Autism, I have recently found out is masking. Which I do! A LOT! And I didn’t/don’t even realise I do! Masking is the ability to mimic non-autistic traits, or social interaction to hide the fact you have Autism. I’ve heard this is more prevalent in women with Autism, as opposite to men. I used to say that because of my SM, I didn’t learn social skills, but I’m now starting to think that, yeah, the SM didn’t help matters, but actually, my social skills were actually a result of Autism. In fact, I didn’t even realise this was a thing until recently either, because I just thought “this is how we learn” to socialise. Nope, it’s just me, being different.
There are a few other signs/criteria for autism, and more specifically ones found in women, and I will break those down, focusing on the main ones for women, because I want to show you why I have decided to self-diagnose myself with autism…
I took the following list from a YouTuber (shout out to Dan @TheAspieWorld, thanks, dude!) which I will post the video down below for you to watch. He has been diagnosed with asperger’s (which is technically Autism, but that’s a whole other discussion that I personally do not 100% understand yet, so will refrain from saying anything and getting it wrong…)
Autism in Women
Lack Of Eye Contact
✔️ Yep. I used to HATE looking people in the eye. I felt it was too intrusive. I felt like I was staring. Being rude. I also felt uncomfortable when people would look at me too long too, so if I felt uncomfortable, I would think others would too. I wouldn’t know how long to look, do I glance to make them aware I know they’re there and talking to me? How long is too long until it becomes weird and awkward? But, I learnt that eye contact was a ‘typical’ thing to do – so I had to learn how to make and keep eye contact. Some days, though, if you catch me on a bad day, or I’m a little too intimidated by the person, I will struggle – One of my coping mechanisms for those days, I find something else to put my eyes on.
Also, I am an anxious person so I tend to be hyper-aware of my surroundings, and even if I’m not hyper-aware, I am easily distracted by sounds, sights, lights, smells, etc, so if I look like my eyes are darting to things like that… it might not be that I’m struggling to keep eye contact, just something shiny has caught my attention.
✔️ Yep. Difficulty starting conversations (I hate small talk) and keeping them going. Although, this isn’t always the case, if you start talking to me about something I am interested in, passionate about (I can talk for hours about my book, for example) then I can talk so fast, you wouldn’t be able to keep up. I also struggle to understand what is oversharing, what is undersharing, when to stop talking if I’m talking too much, when to ask for help, and what the correct ‘socially accepted’ response is. I used to get people asking me how I am… and I would answer truthfully (“I’m terrible today, I just had a bad day with…”) and apparently people aren’t actually interested in knowing how you are… apparently this is a typical ‘greeting’ for some people. So, I learnt to say (“I’m good, thanks, how are you?”).
Introverted Personality But Outgoing In General
✔️ Yep. I have said to a few people before I am introverted (I like my own company) but I LOVE going outside. Maybe not to bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. Because they can be too loud, or busy, or have too many people. But I love the outside/nature (as long as it’s not too cold, but that’s a story for another day!) I love going out somewhere new, taking my camera, exploring the sites, smells, sounds, etc. I do also prefer going out with people… usually just the odd one or two people that I get on with, as that tends to help with my confidence, but if it’s someone I don’t know well, I’m too worried about how to act around them that I don’t tend to enjoy myself too much.
✔️ I feel personally attacked. Let me just hide my Pokemon collection… My postcard collection… And my collection of bad habits… okay, maybe not including in this category… But yeah, I have been and still am a collector… and a hoader. I also go through phases. I had a large collection of bouncy balls, keyrings, postcards (which I regret getting rid of), bugs (yep, I was that kid! Sorry, mum!), I even came back home from a holiday with a new collection of pretty shells at one point. Unfortunately, I either stupidly got rid of a load of stuff, was asked to get rid of stuff (i.e. moving house) or I lost interest in that thing (I mean, why bouncy balls? What was I going to do with them?) but I have always been one to collect things, to the point of obsession. Currently, I am obsessed with collecting Pokemon on my Pokemon Go app, recently re-started a Pokemon card collection and re-started my postcard collection too. I also, not sure if it’s really an obsessive collection as such, but I HAVE to get something as a memento from where I went – a little gift to myself from a holiday destination, postcard is a must of course, but maybe a painting, or an ornament, heck, even a stone! And LOTS of photos! I also hoard, I’m terrible for it… I don’t like throwing something out if it may be useful in some way – tin cans I can upcycle, jars to store things in, a pretty candy wrapper for no other reason but because it’s pretty – and then I throw away because it’s technically rubbish, ribbons that I think will be useful for something, somewhere, someday and left forgotten in a draw, buttons… because you never know when you’re going to need a bright purple button from a cardigan you had when you were twelve… birthday cards, old electronics because you might want to learn how it works or try to fix it… boxes… does a collection of unironed clothes also count, or is that just me being lazy and hating ironing?
✔️ I have already mentioned this previously, so I don’t feel the need to expand too much on this one. It’s obvious this means Selective Mutism, right?
Masking To Meltdown
✔️ Now, what this one means, is that you mask so often, to the point of exhaustion and then something tips you and BOOM meltdown. If I had seen this without the context that Dan said in his video, I probably would have disagreed with this one. But when he mentioned about the meltdown over something simple like realising someone has eaten all the chocolate sauce and you couldn’t have ice-cream and chocolate sauce… yeah… I realised that was me too. I may be fine one day, have the ‘issue’ not bothering me (Oh, you’re going to replace it… okay, that’s fine!)… but if I’ve had a bad day, or I’m exhausted from masking in a social situation all day… I would have meltdowns over something minor. (IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!) It could be from moving something I own. Breaking something. Eating my chocolate in the fridge. It could even be just asking me to do something simple. I can have a meltdown. And it physically hurts… I mean, seriously feels like an anxiety attack. It’ll also take me a while to calm down, and it’s seriously difficult to be around me because I can either get mad and angry, or I can turn the opposite and get depressed.
Shy And Quiet
✔️ This one is a yes and no answer. But only because I struggle to know whether I was actually shy, or if it’s my SM and/or social skills OR if it’s my masking, but I used to define myself as ‘shy and quiet’ but less so now because I have had to ‘force’ myself to be confident and outgoing to ‘fit in’ and be ‘professional’. It’s difficult, it’s exhausting, and there are times when I just cannot be bothered to be social as I’m so tired from it, so I will become quiet. But I’m not sure if the shy part actually defines me. I guess you could say I used to be, I am nervous in social situations, especially if I don’t know you or there is a big group or I’m put on the spot to talk (please make ice-breakers illegal!) but I feel as if that goes hand-in-hand with the selective mutism checkpoint.
So, yeah, reading through that, it makes me realise I hit all of those points. But, I want to point out there are others, some I agree with, such as the sensory overload issues – only today I had to move my feet from the floor of my flat because downstairs was making noises that was vibrating up through the floor. Inability to listen to people (I find it easier to read conversations/information than listen… it will seriously not go in!). Inability to express or understand emotions (well, there are some I understand such as anger or disgust, but others not so much – I’m really not good with knowing if someone is flirting!)
But, other points I don’t agree with; some Autistic people apparently are good with numbers, I’m not, I am TERRIBLE with numbers, my brain just cannot understand them, I’m terrible with dates of birth, for example (but I’m good at problem solving, I loved algebra in school and found statistics fascinating!). Some Autistic people have great memories, I haven’t, mine is terrible, remembering someone’s name, remembering what I did yesterday, apparently this is a trait from mental health issues too though. Some are geniuses, and yeah, I have a few qualifications, but I do not see myself up there on the genius scale at all – I had to fight to get my MSc, I nearly failed it!
I also, have heard that women with autism can be misdiagnosed with ADHD (or vise versa) and one of the traits in ADHD is the inability to stick to one task, having to do things all at once… that’s me too. I also get distracted easily, by something shiny, or something out of place, something wonky (my damn picture on the wall keeps moving, guys!) But I feel I relate more to Autism than I do ADHD, plus, if I don’t finish a task… I get nervous and frustrated. If I start a task, I have to finish it. It’s hard to let go.
Should I self-diagnose?
But, why have I self-diagnosed myself? Why did I decide in the last few weeks to just go ahead and start saying I am Autistic without getting officially diagnosed? Well, because it helps me. It helps me understand myself, it helps me try out the label and see how I feel about it, and it helps me explain to others about myself.
One of the things I have always struggled with is getting people to understand me. I remember writing about it in a diary I used to keep once, I was so upset that people didn’t understand me. I couldn’t understand why people struggled. I tried to explain myself all the time. Online. To people’s faces. I would write hand-written letters with all the intention of sending them and chickening out. It was EMOTIONAL. I was more upset about that, than actually keeping friends. And yes, that also upset me. It still does to some extent. I really struggle to make and mostly, keep friends. My MSc was torture for that reason and I ended up struggling with my mental health for a bit too. I also tried too hard to get people to like me, which I think put people off.
I recently spoke out on my Facebook profile, my personal one for my friends and family to see, that I am going through the process of diagnosing with Autism and a realisation hit me… if I get this diagnosis, will people finally accept me? Will they finally understand me? And oof… all the feels… I was emotional again!
I also came across another YouTuber (shout out to Paige Layle) who talks about self-diagnosing and explains why it’s okay to self-diagnose. You can watch it below too, I have included the video at the end of this blog. Yeah, okay, I live in a country with free health care – but believe me guys, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be! (That’s a whole other rant that I will not discuss here!) I will at least say that a lot of people have said it’s difficult to get diagnoses for these things here in the UK. It took me until 2010, when I was in my 20s to get diagnosed with depression (one counsellor even said I was just ‘having a bad day’ after one meeting!). It wasn’t until I moved to Scotland (about 25/26) that they did tests to see if I actually had thyroid issues or vitamin deficiency. Getting a diagnosis for Autism is going to be hard and I’m expecting to get misdiagnosed too!
So, although I am probably going to be referring myself as Autistic from now on, for these reasons I have mentioned, I am still going to push to get a diagnosis. To put my mind at rest – and to have it officially on my record in case I need any extra help in the future (ie. with work or education, which I feel would have benefitted me so much if I had that before!) AND, in the process, I hope my SM will also be diagnosed officially too.
Another thing I hope to get diagnosed is my Fibromyalgia. I’m 90% sure I have it now, as it’s getting worse, but that is also one other thing I have had trouble getting a diagnosis. Again, for my own peace of mind. But, this also is another story, possibly for another blog post!
Lastly, here are the videos I recommend you guys watching:
Dan @TheAspieWorld on the Female Autism Checklist:
Paige Layle’s Video on Self-Diagnosing:
I just want to point out, that although I personally have self-diagnosed myself with Autism on these above points, this isn’t a proper diagnosis, so please refrain from diagnosing yourself or someone else you may know, especially on just this one blog post. Please do your own research or, if it’s possible, seek professional advice. This blog post is only short in comparison to all the information out there, and all the research I have done, it’s only scratching the surface. This is only to inform you why I have done this in the limited space I have available on a blog post, and doesn’t give you the full picture. 🙂
Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
It’s Sunday and here’s another blog post for you guys. This week I have another author interview for you guys, come and meet the true story inspired author; S. J. Krandall!
About S. J. Krandall
Based in New Jersey, S. J. Krandall lives with her husband, two sons and two dogs. Having worked with children for more than twenty years, she’s now a stay at home mom, using what spare time she has to enjoy her interests such as travelling, writing, art and photography.
Fun fact, today is actually her birthday, so please join me in wishing her a very happy birthday!
Fear Farm No Trespassers
Fear Farm No Trespassers is a short story collection that is based on true stories. And there’s something about true story inspired horrors that really interests me, especially after reading the reviews on Amazon! It’s going straight on my wish list!
Within one year, reports of several missing people took over the media. The victims, all had ventured to parts of the deep wooded countryside never to return. Rumors, posted from local townsfolk, of what might have happened to them caught the attention of the public. Some said the undead may have taken them. Others believed that quick changes in weather patterns played part in their disappearances. A survivor, the only witness, was committed for madness as her story went uncredited. Even though some information was strange investigators, family, friends and adventure seekers all looked into them finding nothing. The lack of any evidence baffled the minds of the people involved as they continued to search for answers. Among them, a young woman so obsessed with these stories in her past that her own nightmares become a reality as she stumbles upon unspeakable horrors playing out before her very own eyes. Are they made up in her mind? Are they a dream? Or is she next? Whether real or fantasy, a story was unfolding before her and she could not stop the images that played out as she confronts who or what was responsible for these individuals grotesque fate.
Now, let’s try to understand how her mind works and where the imagination for this book came from…
Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from the world around me. Nature plays a significant role and I am able to focus and create through my surroundings. I take walks and visit the country a lot, which where most of my ideas come from.
Do you have a schedule when writing? Or do you try to fit it in when you can?
I do not have a schedule when writing. I try to fit it in when I can or when the ideas come to me. My days make it harder to follow schedule so this works for me at this time.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
I am working on my second book at the moment. It will be part of the Fear Farm series which is a series of quick scary reads. I am also dabbling in some short stories.
What’s your current book about?
My current book, which was published in July, is a collection of shorter stories that all come together for one gruesome ending. It is about missing people and the mystery that surrounds their disappearances. It is all seen through the eyes of one obsessed traveler as it retells each and every person’s horrible fate.
Is your book based on a real person?
My book is based off of real events that have occurred to real people in real settings. Their names and locations have been changed and embellished upon for the sake of fiction.
Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?
I need to read the book first and compare it to the movie version, but I am a movie buff. I love watching movies.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I am not writing I love to create in other ways. I do photography (which can be seen on my social media accounts) and art. I love to garden, take walks and travel. I am also a mom to two wonderful sons and we do many things as a family.
How do you use social media as an author?
I am still learning a lot about social media use. I can be found on twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I post a bit about myself and my work along with my photography and other fun things. I like trying to communicate with readers and other horror fans and I love to see what others are creating in return. I have seen such amazing talent on those sites.
Big thanks to S. J. Krandall and opening me up to her extremely interesting book! Another happy birthday and all the best in future endeavors! (i.e. Book 2!)
If you would like to learn more about S.J. Krandall and her books, or follow her on social media, here are a few links: