emotional times are ahead

Emotional times are ahead, but in order to look at them, we first need to delve into the archives, to evaluate how one has changed over the last few years.

 

It was the penultimate year of highschool, and a student was coming into the small, but plain foyer, to wait for her support worker. This was normally the start of the day, and the usual routine. Currently, she was due to complete two or 3 pieces of coursework, as well as homework, all on her braille note. Over the last year however, her motivation to study, had dropped, self worth lowered, and failure in almost everything, was on the rise. The downward spiral, was just going on and on. If she thought of going to sixth form, to do ALevels, she was wrong. Her potential was there, it just wasn’t shining through. It was like a dim light bulb, that had previously been lit, but now, dull, and blown out. This was due to the confidence being knocked by people, telling her, she would not amount to much, and that she “couldn’t be bothered”” to put any effort into her work at all. Well, she thought, if they’re saying I cannot be bothered, then, I won’t bother. Why bother. If I try, I get told I’m a know it all, and if I don’t? Well, I get told I’m lazy, and cannot be bothered. It’s a catch22. Almost every subject this young, and bright person, wanted to do for GCSE, was taken away from her. All because they deemed it too stressful and because they did not have, as they claimed, the resources.

 

GCSE results day was upon her, and she made the call, knowing the results already, before they were given, would be fail, fail, and, fail. To her surprise, she had scraped a B, in French, but the rest, were all very low passes, and one fail. Not surprising then, she could not go to sixth form. Tears streaming down her face, she knew what was to come. Years probably, of nothing. The local colledge, was her next destination, but even that, was not going to help her, but hold her back. Two years of her life, wasted, by doing office administration courses, during which, she would be sat at her desk, dreaming at the time, of going to conservatoire, to study singing. There was just one problem, she did not have the acquired grades, nor subjects. And so, the journey went on. Off to pointless places, for pointless tuition. Until, the RNCB, in Hereford. While her experience there, would not be a pleasant one, and one during which a life changing event would end up with her being diagnosed with epilepsy, there was a person there, who understood her, right from the first day of lectures. That person, was her first personal tutor.

 

The end of an english lesson, on her first day of lectures; She had been thrown into the middle of term, as she had struggled to get funding to secure her place there. Having to endure fire drills and learn new routes, as well as doing new things for herself, now, there was the test of new food to try, and the fact she was miles from home, at 18 years of age. As her eyes filled with tears, at the end of the lecture, and she tried to control them, she broke, and burst into tears. Noticing this, the lecturer rang through, and immediately another person was on the scene. Introducing themselves, she heard a Liverpool accent, reminding her of home. This made it worse, but better too, as the voice was warm, calming, and a voice, that she knew would understand her. Experiencing a lot of anger for the first time in two years, as well as life changing events, would teach her many lessons, and also teach her something, that would cause her to rethink her career ambition, and question herself..

 

Friends she would make, and friends she would lose, but one would stand by her always, and to this day, they remain in touch. The event that would make her question her career though, was not the diagnosis of epilepsy, but one of an empathetic kind.

 

Morning break, and she hears a girl crying; Slowly, and at a discrete distance, she follows her, and stops. Calling her name, she then asks what is wrong. Finally, she is told. The girl was worried about exam pressures. Buying her a cup of coffee, and chocolate, she sits with the girl for a while, and then was told by the girl, she should think of becoming a psychologist.

 

A year or so later, and she has embarked on an open university degree in psychology with counselling. So far, she is passing with high grades. This unfortunately, was not to last. Level two approached, and she knew this would be hard. Strangely, her motivation for study this year, was low, and ability to process the questions being asked of her, low as well. Why was this? Feeling isolated, and struggling, she cried herself to sleep at night, worrying over her assignment grades, burying herself in the bed covers, and sobbing uncontrollably, when given the blow, that it was a fail. Feeling ashamed of herself, and that she’d let people, including herself down, she was ready for giving up.

 

But could there possibly be a turning point, another rescuer to pluck her from this stormy sea? Browsing online, she searched for degrees in neuropsychology, her new ambition, and found one, at the University of Central Lancashire. This, was where she was destined. All she had to do now, was apply, hope, then apply for a grant. At least, that’s what she thought.

It was not that easy.

 

Finally, after receiving an unconditional offer of acceptance, she applied for a grant, but was refused, on the grounds she had studied at the same level previously. In that case, there was only one thing for it, fighting for it herself. That was what she did, and now, has succeeded.

 

Having gone through the above story. You would now ask yourself, have things changed? The answer, yes. Things have changed for me, in that I will knuckle down, and not let things build, until I get stressed. I will ask for help when I need it. Finally, the chance for me to show who I am, has arrived. For you all, I will do this. I hope you will all follow me.

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A whole new experience

Just a few weeks ago, I was facing the horrible prospect, of having to defer my university place, and have to face a year of going to the local colledge, or continuing my journey with the OU, but facing great difficulties. This left me feeling very stressed and on edge. Going to the GP, I was asked, about how I was feeling etc, and we had a long chat, during which I had to face the real but all too present truth, I may have depression. Having told people in the past, they don’t need antidepressents, and to get a grip, now I was facing the same thing, having to take Citalopram, and face my own (what has now been diagnosed as, mild depression) Just when I thought things were at the bottom, I was given a lifeline. This lifeline, enabled me now, to go to Preston, and finally achieve my dream, of becoming a neuropsychologist, eventually. This will be a whole new experience, of meeting new people, sharing halls, huge lecture theatres, with up to 200 people or more, work experience in a place I really want to do work experience in, reading EEG scans, via tactile technology, having access to a huge variety of experts in their field, along with assistants for statistics. All I can say, is thank you so much, to the University of Central Lancashire, for bending over backwards, to help me, and I really want to show my gratitude. I cannot wait for the experience that lies ahead of me. Yes, I am nervous, but most of all, I’m excited. There will be emotions, when I say my final goodbyes, but this time, I know I will have the support, and motivation, to study hard, and pass everything. I feel last year, I’d lost my motivation for study, even though it was something I enjoyed, but having to put on a strong front for people, even though inside, i was struggling, was difficult. I would be stressed over assignments, the tutor sometimes was not very explanatory on their explanations, I felt isolated, as it was distance learning. I would sometimes cry myself to sleep over them, and yes, you may wonder why I’m writing this up here, but I am not afraid too. We as a society, must talk, and not hide away from our challenges, or mental health struggles. We’re all not imune. I was totally unaware that what I was going through, was mild depression. Now, having been on the Citalopram for a few weeks, I can honestly say, I feel a whole lot better, and want to embrace this next chapter of my studies, with positivity, and take everything in. I will not struggle, and refuse to ask for help. I will ask for help, as help at UCLan, will always be given to me, if I ask for it, depending on the circumstances, and if deemed appropriate. I hope you have all enjoyed this blog post, and have seen a sense of honesty from me. A side I’ve not really shown here. I felt however, it needed to be shared. As I feel too many people are alone, and need to speak out. If you’re struggling with studies, do not keep struggling, ask immediately for help and advice. Stressing makes you worse, and more likely not to pass your assignments. We can all pass. We’ve got this! We will do it, together. We can do it, together. We will graduate, together.

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Conflicting advice.

Previously, we begun to see on this blog, my aspirations, to become a neuropsychologist, from learning about the brain via my own neurological condition, epilepsy, and learning it the hard way, as well as reading books by the Late Oliver Sacks, listening to documentaries, that would undoubtedly keep me absorbed for hours, feeling moddels of the brain, the giri and sulci that are visble on the moddels too, known to you or I, in English, as (gruves, and folds) Then the more complex conditions, excited my interests, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Acquired Brain injuries, autism, Parkinsons', Savant syndrome, (a condition where those affected, usually have autism, and profound cognitive impairements, as well as blindness, or hearing impairements) encephalitis, and the conditions in that group, etc, as well as esencial tremor, and MS. MND was also in my list of interests, as well as cerebral palsey. What, you may ask, was the conflicting advice? Well, I have been asked, on a number of occations, are you sure you want to take this 12 year journey? Do you not want to think lower in terms of aims? I have been asked this by professionals. My answer, a categorical never. Yes, that may sound stubborn, but if one person, in the psychological profession, gets into neuropsychology, and indeed, herself has a disability, (that word I can't stand using) I will get there. I feel, in my opinion, one with such challenges, as blindness, and epilepsy, though controlled, will be able to endeavour to understand the people walking through the doors, as well as try to answer parents'/carers' questions, if necessary. From the point of view, of someone with that challenge. Yes, there is the ethical boundary, of telling them you yourself, have epilepsy, or are blind, but in some ways, it may make them more at ease, because they may think, "Ah, she may understand. She will not study me, always watch me, through eyes that judge always on the outside, never able to look in. Never able to understand, because they do not have it. They do not deal with it. They, therefore, cannot walk in my shoes, where she however, can." I believe that to be the case. I hope eventually, to work at the likes of the Walton centre, Headway, or the Priory,, even develop a similar centre like Headway on the Iom, as I feel it needs it. Yes, you have stroke nurses, and all the neurological nurses, bar epilepsy, but we need something in one building, with one speciality, under one roof, that can help everyone with neurological conditions, with a team of appropriate people. There is already one neuropsychologist for the nhs, but why not another, for such an ambitious plan as this, when I get qualified. Who knows, as I ask in a title of one of my other posts. What indeed, does the future hold? That is yet, to be discovered. Yet to be told.

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So this is Preston?

The day I'd been waiting for, for a long time. My information visit to UCLan. Getting our flight at the airport on the isle of Man, we set off, to Manchester. The flight was smooth, calm. Landing, we went straight for the first of 2 trains, one to the central station in Manchester, and the next, to Preston. Coming out onto the concourse of the central station with my support worker, I held her arm. People were moving cases, talking, trains going bye. Security announcements. Finally, we arrived in Preston.

In contrast, that station, was a friendly smaller station, with only 6 platforms from what I remember. The city though, was something I'd never experienced, and was about to get a crash course, in city scapes of England.

Preston, class 101. Lunch time, and the streets were already busy with trafic. No let-up, a constant rumble. Crossings, that did not have audible indicators, but only revolving cones. You also had a lottery as to whether the cones worked or not, or even if the trafic stopped in your favour. Trusting a sighted guide, was a must. The streets were wide, sometimes cobled, with shops, cosmopolitan restaurants, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Carabean, Italian, Portuguese etc. There were the posh bistros too.

Preston; Class 102. Night, and early evening.

The constant rumble with trafic was still there. Even by 10 pm, the trafic, still rumbled on.

Now for the university: The staff as well as the tutors, and accommodation management. I just hope I get there.

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So, what’s next

Well all, it has not been an easy journey to where I have got now. I am still struggling for funding to get to university in preston. What would I give, to get there, and do what I am setting out to do, to do the BSC (hons) in Neuropsychology, then an MSC, and hopefully, a PHD. Eventually, should I get there, I will reach my goal, to be a contributing member of society, not a person, living on government benefits, but a person giving back, to help others. Help others in my situation, who have disabilities, (challenges) and/or neurological problems. for reasons I will not go intoo on here, as it is public, I have set up a crowdfunding page. Please feel free to look at it and share it. The link is as follows:
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/samantha-ash?utm_id=65
I'm not wanting to sound like I'm begging, nor money grabbing, as some have put it. All I want, is to achieve, and to help others. I do not want to be a statistic. Now also, comes the anxious wait for results, but on a more exciting note, an information visit to Preston, where hopefully, I will get lots of questions answered. Thank you for reading this rather short update. On a side note, I am liking the new wordpress editor on this IPhone application. ☺️

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Testing times

A monday morning, and the sun is shining brightly over the rooftops of Douglas. A person wakes from her slumber, and comes downstairs, makes breakfast, and has her antiepilepsy meds. Yes, another day begins, but one that is to herald the start of an interesting week, one filled with surprising results, and also, a week, that will change her life completely.
2 hours later, and she is being transported, to a flat in the north of the island, where she will reside for the next week, as a test, to see if she can cope with the stresses, and challenges that independence can bring. Upon arrival, she was met by staff, who explained protocol, and gave her a tour, as well as keyfobs, and the assistance pendant. It was time to go shopping.
After heading down the unfamiliar streets, that had only been walked through once by her rehab officer, they headed down into the supermarket, to buy her weekly goods. Milk, butter, yoghurt, grapes, biscuits, quavers, were a few of the things listed. 
They arrived back at the unit, and her support worker, left her. This was the start of the emotional journy, that would bring back many nasty memories, as well as anxieties. Memories of separation, of being left at RNC, for the first time, the dropoffs every term, and the moments she’d hear her nan’s voice, but could not reach her. She was too far away. Hundreds of miles away. Sitting down, after tea on her first night, and a somewhat nerve-racking experience, she burst into tears. The sound of the television, of the buzzing of the lights, of the clock on the wall, ticking monotonously in 4,4 time. 1, 2, 1, 2, like a metronome. At 60 BPM. The sounds from outside her door all too real, and too loud, and too present. People coming and going, keys, doors, televisions, birds, and the wind. The silence, was no silence, not really, but a multitude of noise, ever present, and ever real, but still there somehow, managed to be silence. Somehow, it was there, but even that, was too loud. Trying to facetime her nan, unsuccessfully, she tried and tried, but it kept dropping. After a while, she slowly, and surely, recovered. Pulling herself out of the multitude of noise surrounding her, she walked to the kettle, to make a cup of tea, which she attempted, and achieved, with no accidents.
The first night, she awoke at 12:30 AM with a pounding headache. Water was needed, so she went to get some, and knocked the whole lot back.
if she thought the second day, and the third, would get any easier, she was right. However, on her last, she became agitated, and teary once more. That though, was due to er being nervous, of doing an unknown route, yet again. Tears streaming down her face, in the middle of her rifle shooting competition, she was ready for giving up, but was urdged not too. Almost overwhelmed, she sat, trying to calm herself, but rather unsuccessfully. Finally, she managed, and as well as that, managed to arrive back to the flat. 
If this is a taste, of university life, for getting my career at the end, I will sacrifice it. I will make that choice.
I made a good fiew friends, one of whom, I will stay in touch with. It’s been a rather humbling, and at times, testing experience.

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The leap of faith

2008, and a lady was about to meet two people, one without vision, and the other, a very protective person, who would, undoubtedly worry for her granddaughter. What this lady did not know, as she was travelling in her car, to the highschool, is that she’d have battles to fight, not with one, but both of them in the months and years to come. Not just that, this girl, with no vision, who had not been allowed to use a cane until now, the age of 15, was about to give everyone, a taste of strong-willed determination, that may lead her into some dangerous, and some good teretory. She was about to go on her first mobility lesson, and this was to be learning how to use the cane, a long white cane, with a ball on the end. 
A few months later, and after constant battles with her, over practising the route they were doing, the small 15 year-old, now 16, was off, on her own. Suddenly, someone notices, she is veering away from the tactiles, and into the main road. Running to stop her, the lady asks her, what she’d done wrong.
Years later, and the now 24 year-old, after coming through struggles of being diagnosed with epilepsy, stripping her of her confidence, and also not practising her routes, nor living skills, finally, could someone, an unlikely group of people, have come to her rescue at just the right time? Come to her familys’ rescue? Come to most importantly, her nan’s rescue? This group, The VIP Lounge, a group, who strives for the independence and confidence to shine in visually impaired people around the country. A group, who will stop at nothing, to get them the independence skills, and help they require, while also helping the indevidual to build their confidence, and social skills. While sometimes facing rebellion from either family members, or the indeviduals themselves, it does not bother them, it does not phase them. They still strive to help them, and do not give up, until success is achieved. This group, came to her rescue, and have now begun working with her, her nan, and other various people, to help her in her endeavours. It will be no cruise, no easy ride, no smooth seas. There will be storms to weather, and arguments, possibley frustration from this person, this person being me, but I shall have to deal with whatever challenges are thrown at me, with grace and dignity, and most of all, acceptance. The existential view, that life, well and truely does, have a meaning, behind everything. Behind every page in the book, there’s a piece of prose, behind every piece of prose, lies the question, and behind that, the essay of which, is your answer.
Now, I must take that leap of faith, off that cliff edge, with my metaphoric carabiner, attached to an absaling rope, and see where I freefall, either down to an abiss below, or I will manage to get myself over to the other face, where I will climb to the top, having reached my goal of becoming a neuropsychologist. Before that though, there is that leap of faith, and I have no choice, but to leap into the unknown, but embrace it, and brace myself, for anything life throws at me. 

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