Empathy, shame and medical professionals

This resonates so much with me. I have something else I need to do but will definitely revisit this and some of the links!

A Better NHS

Last week I went to the second of 3 interdisciplinary workshops on Shame and Medicine. The first workshop was on patients’ shame, and this was on shame and healthcare professionals. In particular, it helped me think about some of the things that are making life so difficult for health professionals at present.

Shame isn’t usually experienced as shame – it is an emotional response including fear, anxiety, and a powerful urge to escape. Shame may be lived as a state of loneliness, or addiction or felt as numbness and chronic pain. It is often so profoundly physical – that people who suffer shame bewilder healthcare professionals and others with symptoms they cannot explain. These feelings can be there all the time, in the case of chronic shame, or arise acutely when something happens that threatens to set off emotions associated with past trauma. Past trauma may be abandonment, loss or abuse…

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Empathy, shame and medical professionals

Aspie Ashtanga

I was going to go and read a book in the bath, but it started to rain so I thought I would write something for my blog instead. It’s been a while! A lot has happened. I’ll maybe blog about some of that later.

I am on a yoga retreat. I needed a break. Oh boy did I need a break! So my kind husband has taken the week off work to look after the kids and I have booked myself onto this yoga retreat. I did a little bit of research (well a lot actually – I’m not sure I can actually do just a little research!) and here I am – in the hills with an outdoor bath (hence postponing my reading until the rain stops), sauna and hot tub! I love water – especially hot water!

One thing I have learnt since being here is that I know nothing about yoga! I thought I knew a bit, having been to various drop-in classes over the last 10 years or so and done a few stretches while planning my shopping list, analysing my last conversation, rehearsing my next conversation and trying to hold in a fart, but it turns out yoga is more than a few stretches! So far this week I have looked at the moon, chanted, breathed, done sequences of postures and contemplated my navel (all without farting!) I am learning about myself as well as about yoga and all the amazing things it can bring if you stick to it.

It is an ashtanga yoga retreat. With a very well known and respected tutor in ashtanga circles whom I had never heard of! I’m quite glad about that as I might have got myself all nervous beforehand! It is quite a small retreat, there are only about 10 pupils. However I would say that many of them have some if not many autistic traits, so I feel very comfortable! Learning what I am about ashtanga yoga I am not really surprised.

I have never done ashtanga yoga before. I can’t say it really appealed from my very superficial knowledge of it – why would you want to do the same postures over and over again (even if you are autistic)? What did I know? Turns out ashtanga yoga is all about progressing through various postures, becoming more and more advanced, synchronising your breathing to the postures with the ultimate aim of having complete control of your own mind through this meditative practice. (A very simplistic summary, apologies to those more knowledgeable than me!)

There are a lot of things I’m taking with a pinch of salt (energy channels and internal fire) but also with an open mind. My medic head wants to discredit a lot of the psychobabble, but my more spiritual holistic heart is intrigued. I am reminding myself that yoga practice has been around for far longer than western medicine and even if the terms aren’t strictly anatomically or physiologically correct, the concepts may be useful. Energy channels or no energy channels there is something energising and purifying about this practice and I can’t wait to learn more!

I am still somewhat disconcerted about the chanting. I find it incredibly difficult to use my voice in public, speaking out, singing in front of anyone, even joining in an “oggy oggy oggy, oi, oi, oi” chant in a zumba class is really hard (any ideas why?) However I am joining in bit by bit and it really is beautiful to listen to. This will definitely be harder than the postures. Small steps.

It is surprisingly refreshing being “bottom” of the class, having always strived to be the best. As an almost total beginner in a class where everyone else is tying themselves up in knots while balancing on their hands and chanting in Sanskrit, I have no one to compete with or prove myself to. While ashtanga probably appeals to the competitive type A personalities the idea is that you work at your own pace, concerned only with your own practice.

I think ashtanga yoga is going to suit me. A structured repetitive practice, where practice does make perfect (well better anyway) with defined sequences of postures and breaths which need to be mastered before moving on to the next sequence. So there is the satisfaction gained when completing a sequence, but the knowledge that that is not the end, the next challenge is the next sequence and there will always be something new to master. A new special interest is brewing…..

The rain has stopped! I’m off for a bath!

Om.

Aspie Ashtanga

How objective is an official #Asperger’s / #autism diagnosis?

My thoughts exactly!

the silent wave

Well, obviously I’ve been on a “diagnosis post kick”.  Please forgive me for doing this.  I do have a lot of thoughts on this one single topic, and each thought has taken a life of its own.  In fact, there seem to be a lot of (different) thoughts on the subject, not just from my brain, but from those of other people.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of conversation flying, both on WordPress and on social media such as Twitter.  There are a lot of really valid viewpoints on (almost) all sides of this conversation.  Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of anger, intolerance, and inflexibility.  There’s also some borderline-instability and even misogyny.  But there’s also a lot of love and support, too.  Gotta take the bad with the good, I guess…

But anyway, a while back, I got to thinking…

Just how “objective” is an official…

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How objective is an official #Asperger’s / #autism diagnosis?

Coming Out

So I have just had a lovely weekend away with some of the girls from medical school. We stayed in a bothy in the country, walked and ran in the woods, drank lots of tea and beer, ate lots of cake and home-cooked veggie food, played our own variation of pictionary, gossiped about facebook friends, discussed the recent election results and the troubles in the NHS, boasted about our sporting / kids / culinary achievements and generally had a great time. Until……

one of my friends asked me about my assessments and then we had THE discussion. It wasn’t really the time or the place for me, but she asked and I don’t lie! Then came the “well we’re all actually on the spectrum somewhere” phrase and she went off home none-the wiser to to the feelings she had stirred up inside me and I that I have been ruminating on ever since! I am hoping by getting this down in print that I may actually be able to move on today and get something constructive done.

No we are not all on the autistic spectrum somewhere. Yes we are all on the human being spectrum somewhere. Certainly many neurotypicals have autistic traits. Many autistic people have neurotypical traits. To be diagnosed as on the autism spectrum requires fulfilling certain diagnostic criteria one of which is for there to be significant impairment in areas of functioning due to these traits (DSM V).

Unfortunately my delayed processing did not allow me to spit this out there and then and I just mumbled a “hmmm” which didn’t really help my cause. What I should have said was “Would you ever say to someone with incapacitatingly (?word) bad migraines “we all have headaches sometimes”?” I will try and keep that in mind (difficult for my mind!) for next time!

Coming Out

Autism Awareness

So it’s World Autism Awareness Day today. I have been reading recently about the use of the term “awareness” and how “acceptance” might be a better term. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet being so new to the spectrum! I certainly feel that there needs to be more awareness about females on the spectrum and how they differ from males, however now I have my diagnosis I would like to be accepted for who I am. I don’t want to be cured, treated or changed in any way, I would just like some help in learning how to best cope with my difficulties and maximise my abilities.

Autism Awareness

Grrrr!

Just received home to find a letter inviting me to an occupational health appointment several hours ago, followed by an email from work pointing out that I’d missed said appointment! Made me feel very stirred up and unsettled until I’d dealt with both. Still feel unsettled. Why can’t I just forget about these things instead of dwelling on them?! Is this an Aspie thing or just an irritated person thing?!

Grrrr!

Today’s thought for the day

I had a really good idea for a blog post when walking back up the hill after dropping my car off for its MOT. However I am completely unable to remember what it was! I really need to write these ideas down as soon as I have them otherwise they may be lost forever! Any one else have memory problems? Actually I think it was something about memory! Something about the need for memory joggers to actually be able to remember anything…maybe it will come back to me!

Today’s thought for the day