WHY I’VE BEEN STRUGGLING WITH MY MENTAL HEALTH IN LONDON?

I’ve been living in London for nearly 2 years now. Yes, I have done some amazing things during my time here. All my friends and family are constantly telling me how jealous they are of my life in the Big Smoke. Saying how they wish they could do all these amazing things I’m doing and what an exciting life I have. What they don’t realise is, that it’s just a small fragment of a larger picture. For the most part, I’m pretty miserable…

 

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Let me explain. I mostly blame social media for this misconception of my life down in London. It’s not been all fun and games. Yes, it’s partially my fault too as I am the one posting it but I’m not exactly going to constantly share my hard times on my social media. That can look desperately attention seeking. 99% of the time I share the fun stuff and the amazing opportunities I’ve been offered which I would only dream of back home in the North. Why shouldn’t I? I don’t think anyone wants to see negativity on their Facebook timeline everyday. I certainly wouldn’t. 

Yes, I’ve done many amazing things in the last 2 years like Movie Premieres, Blog Awards, Summer in the City and MCM Comiccon. I’ve even met quite a few celebrities like, Jason Flemyng, Annette Crosby and Director Stephen Frears. I’ve worked with amazing companies like TrekAmerica, Camp Leaders and Universal. The truth is, it’s been a very difficult and tough journey for me here in London. I’ve had a lot of hard times which I never really expected and I’ve really struggled on most days for nearly 2 years. 

“This isn’t a plea for help!”

I have Asperger’s syndrome which means I see things a lot differently to other people and I struggle with social interactions and communication. A lot of people who know me personally might be reading this and be thinking…”you have Asperger’s???” I get that a lot. Most people would never guess that I have “Autism”. Firstly, when you think Autism you compare to other people well know for it like for example, Susan Boyle. However, there are other amazing celebrities out there who also have/had (or rumoured) Asperger’s just like me. 

“Bill Gates, Robin Williams, Tim Burton, Michael Jackson, Alfred Hitchcock all have/had Asperger’s”

Secondly, because I don’t display the noticeable symptoms of Asperger’s everyday. Asperger’s varies from person to person. I really struggled when I was younger but thanks to my mum I got a lot of help growing up so I could interact with others. I didn’t go to “special schools”. In fact I went to a normal public school so I could be with my cousins and sisters, which my mum fought for with the schools every year. I also got counselling and saw a child physiologist. It’s fair to say I got some amazing help when I was younger and without it I would be lost today. 

My Asperger’s is also a complete contradiction to my personality. People with Asperger’s have trouble detecting social cues and body language. We have difficulty holding conversations and knowing when we can speak. We sometimes sound like we don’t care or have a lack of empathy towards other peoples feelings. We HATE change! We have heightened sensitivity to noises, lights, tastes and textures. We get addicted to certain hobbies or interests. We have bad motor skill development so we have poor handwriting and can’t catch balls or use a knife and fork. We are sometimes unable to pick up tone, pitch and accents. We are super creative human beings! 

I am not my Asperger’s! I like speaking to people but I do find it difficult. I like making new friends but I find it difficult to meet new people. I love travelling but I hate change so the start of the journey and new surroundings can set off my anxiety. I love flying but I hate the loud noise planes make on take off and landing. I love eating out but I tend to go for the same meals as most food has weird textures I can’t stand. I am loud all the time and I just laugh it off when people tell me to shh! I love going out but sometimes the lights just make me annoyed and I hate flashing lights! I love watching films which means I’m great to have at a pub quiz but it costs me a fortune at the cinema and my DVD collection is pretty huge! I can’t catch a ball, but I am damn good at hockey which I’ve been playing for 15 years! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, blogging which means I can be super creative all the time!

“Asperger’s is not who I am!?”

Having Asperger’s also means I suffer from other Mental Heath issues. I also have Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Short term Memory Loss (my best friends find this one hilarious!). All these branches come in different levels just like my Asperger’s. Some are a daily struggle and other’s I barley notice or rarely flare up. For example, my dyslexia is daily. I struggle with my dyslexia everyday and have several methods to help me through my daily tasks. Work is particularly difficult but I have yellow screens, yellow overlays, yellow post-it notes. I actually hate the colour Yellow but it helps me read. 

My Anxiety and Depression have been my worst two obstacles over my last 2 years in London. There have been a few triggers that have set this off. Last year, I was involved in a London Housing scam and was nearly left homeless. I also lost £2000 which I will probably never see again. This wasn’t the only theft I experience. I was also pick pocketed in Piccadilly. That was just great! I have ranked up a lot of debt to keep a roof over my head so I spent the most of last year with no social life so I could save every penny I could. The money troubles were the worst and considering I didn’t have much money to begin with I did think about just going home more than once. 

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This year, I wanted to do everything I could to make this year awesome! This year, I took a challenge to travel to a different country every month for the whole year. It’s been pretty incredible. I’ve been to South Africa, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Wales, America, and Canada. In August, I booked a trip to Scotland but my anxiety was at it’s peak. I was so ill. I had wound myself up so much I was actually being physically ill. I spending most days in bed. I stopped talking to everyone. My work performance was lacking. It wasn’t till my manager pulled me into the office when I just broke down. I was that girl crying in work. Grim!

I’d spend so much time working my ass off at work and trying to save money to pay off my debts when I realised…I had no one! Since being in London, I had made zero friends around me. I was so lonely. I had no one to talk to, no one to hang out with at the weekends and most importantly no one to call when I was feeling upset. I had made several attempts to make friends, don’t get me wrong. I had made one amazing friend in Annie who I lived in “the crazy house” with last year but she had left to go back to the States and get marries. All my real friends were a phone call away but I didn’t want to call anyone because it would remind me that they are so far away. I wanted someone here, in person. Someone to go to the pub with at the weekends and a girl chat. I go to the cinema alone, I go shopping alone and I eat out alone.

“I was lonely!”

I took some time to myself to sort myself out. I thought about going home again, several times but I’m doing so well down here with my career. I wouldn’t have the same opportunities back home. I could either, go home and have take a huge step back in my career but I’d be back with my friends and family or I could do something about it.

I joined a new hockey team which I am now loving. I’m spending more time with my house mates. I’m hanging out more with my colleagues at work. I’m branching out and meeting new people. I’m going Speed dating too!!! I’m so nervous but thought why not! 

The best part about the Blogging community is that everyone is so supportive. It’s great to engage with bloggers on Twitter and Instagram who are so creative. I get inspired everyday by all the amazing content I see on my feeds. I’ve made so many new blogger friends but I have yet to meet you. Hopefully, I might pick up the courage to meet some of your all at a blogger event soon. They are always a lot of fun! 

So here I am. Still in London. Still struggling but more motivated than ever. Here’s to another year of tough challenges!

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Have you ever felt this way? Got any tips on how I can get out my funk? Let me know in the comments!

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2 Comments

  1. October 10, 2017 / 8:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing so much! I really enjoy your optimistic updates, even if you think you’re struggling, you try to find the positives and that’s important – but also don’t hide away from the downsides, just as important.

    Having previously lived in London for 4 years, it took me a while to get into the pace of it all but on returning – at random moments – I always need a few hours after I arrive. Basically, if I travel up for something I’m fine getting to my hotel.wherever I’m staying but then I need a couple of hours away from it all.

    Why? London is manic, there’s so much going on, there’s so much happening and I’ve always felt, and others have said in the past, that I’m somewhat of an empath. These doesn’t mean I’m over emotive, I just pick up on everything and it overwhelms me – always have. My escape in London was walking out in the rain when the tourists were hiding, or just going for long walks and seeing where I ended up – safely!

    As you say though, you’v found ways to move out of it and that’s brilliant! London is so big and it’s hard to make a move, but it sounds like you have and that’s the best thing to do. Join a club, do something different. I think setting goals is important to, even if it’s 6 months down the line, should it be too expensive to do things all the time, but keeping learning and experiencing.

    Onwards! 🙂

    • Natasha Atlas
      October 11, 2017 / 6:58 pm

      Thank you Dan! I nearly didn’t post it! It was so hard to write. London is crazy. You’re right. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back. 🙂

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