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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What does the future hold.

A journey back to 2004.
It’s her first day in highschool, and a small 11 year-old student, is walking up the corridor that she’s spent the best part of all summer learning. She was on a schedule. It was morning, 09:45 hours, and she had to be at tutorial, for 09:50 hours. That would take 5 minutes to get there. Through the narrow furnished corridor, with wooden panels she walked, straight ahead, down another long straight corridor, with the turning on the right, that took you to the library, and also through some double doors, to 2 stairwells, one going to the unit for cognitively impaired, and the other, down to the German rooms. They occasionally smelled of food. As the year went on, she carried on through her classes, but began to notice, there was something she excelled at. That was anatomy. She has always had an interest in medicine, right from the age of about 3, from getting a stethescope at the age of 5, from her GP, and letting her feel tools that were being used, as well as questioning everyone when she went for various checkups.
A few years later, and the rain is falling on the roof of the entrance hall. She is waiting for an interview with a careers advisor, but that will not go to plan, (see blog post further down my archive) So far, she has failed her first mock examinations, is not completing homework and, if she can, doing the bare minimum of work possible.
Finally her GCSEs were done, and it was crunch time. Had she passed, or not. The answer, she had only scraped 2, and failed the rest. Or, passed, but with very low marks. Now she was destined for the local colledge, which she thought would be a rather good afair, as she would not have to do so much accademic work, but unfortunately, her social skills, let her down. Later, she went to the colledge in the UK, which would be where she would discover the Open University.
But what careers had she imagined herself having? An instantanious language interpretor, perhaps a singer, perhaps a medical secretary, general secretary, when she was younger, a doctor, or a nurse, even a ward sister, now a psychologist,/counsellor, or, a speech and language therapist, but hang on, what was this that was starting to interest her? Neuroscience? How could she possibley be a neuropsychologist? She began emailing various people, researching the career specifications, reading up on the job role, reading up on qualifications, when finally, she had decided, that was to be her career aspiration, a neuropsychologist. All she had to do, was make history, by trying to become the first blind neuropsychologist in the Uk, if not the world. They say people love those who try, so why not. If you don’t try, you will never know.   

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