bullying

Am I Autistic?

This is the question I have been pondering for quite some time now. I wouldn’t be surprised if I am found to be on the Autistic Spectrum – not surprised one little bit.

You see, I’ve always been ‘different’ – at school, I marched to the beat of my own drum, was known for being an outspoken and opinionated person and my nicknames were ‘Witchcraft’ and ‘greebo’. From around the age of 13 I found my dark side and fell in love of Black Sabbath, Wicca and purple lipstick. I had an altar and I cast spells. All of this, of course, meant that I was constantly bullied.

However, none of that made any difference to who I am inside. I’m me. I’m different and always will be. I’m 31 now, and apart from having grown into my looks (and lost 3 stone in the process) I’m as weird or as ‘eccentric’ as I was when I was a young teenager. I’m normally found wearing black from head to toe, which I gather isn’t exactly ‘normal’.

I’ve dabbled in the vintage world, and for a good few years I was obsessed with the 1940s and 1950s and even started my own business selling vintage clothing and modelled as a pinup. Then, I got bored of everyone looking the same and I put my vintage wardrobe into boxes in the loft, where it’ll stay until I fancy a change again.

My biggest obsession now is my Victorian home that I share with my incredibly patient and laid back partner. I honestly don’t know how he copes with me and my quirks but 3 years on, we’re still deeply in love. He reckons everyone’s on the spectrum a little bit – when he said that, I kinda fell in love with him a little bit more! Everything in our home is Victorian, because I like integrity.

Apart from my obsessions, I also struggle to empathise with people. I often put my foot in it and offend people – though with age, I’m definitely learning how to soften it a little. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still doing it, just not as often.

I also don’t like people, generally. I don’t know if this is because I’m a natural introvert, or because I’m autistic, but people annoy me. The herd mentality of most people irritates me and I just want to shake people and say ‘wake the fuck up’ or ‘shut the fuck up’ when you hear them talk about inane things like football or X Factor. I don’t want to talk small talk – I absolutely hate it. It makes me uncomfortable, so I tend to avoid people I know if I see them. It’s not personal, it’s just my own issue I’ve always had.

Facebook has been an interesting journey – especially when you look up people from school to find that they’re all still friends with each other, and most of them married each other too. I think to myself how odd that is – that they all left, went to university (I tried that twice, it wasn’t for me!) and then came back ‘home’ and married their school friends. I find that odd, and frightening. I am only friends with 2-3 people from school and they’re all guys. Most of the girls were complete bitches. I don’t like women very much, men are easier.

A few things about me:

I don’t like authority. I don’t like uniforms. I don’t like being stuck in an office from 9-5 every day and living for the weekend. I don’t like loud music playing in shops. I don’t like busy shopping centres. I like being indoors, I like being quiet. I like the company of animals. I like to read. I like routine. I don’t like busy pubs – I won’t walk in first. I don’t like plans to change, unless they’re being cancelled altogether. I don’t like big groups of people. Festivals are full of sheeple. I like the vikings. I like strong, independent women. I like feminism. I’m a conservative because I like money, but a socialist because I don’t have any. I’m a walking contradiction. I’m confident, but shy. I’m egotistical. I’m a grammar nazi. I’m a super-recogniser. I have watched the same movies over and over and know all their scripts. My best friends are Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, Rory and Lorelai Gilmore and Lagartha Lothbrook. Fictional people are more interesting and relatable.

So, I’ve decided that I want to know, for sure, if all this (and plenty more besides) makes me autistic. There is ADHD in my family and my Dad is incredibly ‘quirky’ himself. I’ll eat my hat if I don’t end up diagnosed with something unusual.

I’ll be writing about my experience of the Autism Diagnostic Assessment as/when it comes around – it’s booked for 8th December, so it won’t be too long. If you’re interested in following my home renovation journey or my autism journey, please hit the ‘follow’ button and you’ll be emailed whenever I publish a blog post ❤

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The Ugly Duckling

Lying in bed waiting for my painkillers to kick in and I remember back to Halloween last year and a conversation I had with a guy I knew from secondary school; we were in the same form group from year 8 to year 11.  

I’ve spoken before about how I was bullied for being a greebo and a goth and for standing out from the crowd, so this will come as no surprise that I wasn’t the most popular girl when it came to the boys; I plucked up the courage to ask the really gorgeous and popular lad I fancied (not the guy from Halloween) to the year 11 Prom and was brutally rebuffed – cue the sad violins!

Anyway, the conversation with this other guy is on Halloween so obviously we’ve all been drinking and we lose our inhibitions slightly! I don’t normally shout after people I recognise but after a drink I get a little bit brave. The conversation goes as follows… I ask him if he recognises me and he says yes! We exchange the usual how are yous and then he says in a coy voice that he used to fancy me at school! 

I bet you’re thinking ‘Awww how sweet’ aren’t you? So did I… Until he finishes with ‘but I couldn’t tell anyone or I would have been bullied……..’

The poor guy has a crush on a girl in secondary school but he can’t tell anyone or he would be bullied for liking someone like me. Where’s the sense in that?!

I don’t really know how I feel about this little anecdote. I don’t know if I should feel proud for being myself and being fancied for it or sad that someone would have been bullied if they had a crush on me. 

I know I went through an awkward, gawky phase but listen up kids, that phase is exactly that; a phase. 

Since leaving high school I’ve done so many things with my life; I’ve run my own business, I’ve trained as a body piercer and I was signed to a modelling agency and am a published model!

So there you go… The ugly duckling did indeed turn into a swan and all those lads in high school can go suck it! 

Note: I have no ill feelings towards the guy who I spoke to in the pub on Halloween. I’m glad he told me he had a crush on me back in the day – my years in secondary school weren’t the best ones, so it’s nice to know someone had a crush on me back then, so thank you x

It’s just a phase, isn’t it?

When I was in secondary school, I had several nicknames given to me by my peers. I remember Witchcraft being shouted at me across the hall, I remember greebo and goth being launched at me like a bullet set to wound or even kill.

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(A 17 year old me)

But, what these bullies didn’t realise was that I actually got pleasure from hearing them jeer at me, calling me names that I felt were far more ‘me’ than my own name (at the time). I got a thrill out of being infamous in secondary school, whether it was for good reasons or bad, I loved being known by everyone.

I’m no longer in secondary school (thank fuck) and I’m now hurtling towards my thirties at what feels like super speed. But, somewhere along the line, I should’ve thrown away the band t-shirts, the purple lipstick and the New Rock boots and emerged as a social butterfly who enjoys wearing push up bras, sunbeds and peroxide. But I didn’t….

At 29, I’m still dying my naturally medium brown hair, black. I’m still painting my nails black (and now shaping them to a point) and I still wear my ‘signature’ winged black eyeliner I perfected by the time I was 16.

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The difference is, I know who I am on the inside. I know what I want from life, I know what makes me tick. I know that I don’t like being suntanned and I always feel more myself when I re-dye my hair black.

Being a goth, for me, is about knowing myself and trusting that I like what I like because I listen to myself; not the media, or my friends or my family. I’ve had people praise me for my individual sense of style even though they are self professed ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ type and that is what drives me in my quest to show the world you do not have to subscribe to ANY culture or subculture if don’t want to.

Of course, it’s natural for us to all go through stages in life of liking a certain look, or genre of music that is different to what you thought you’d be listening to or liking.

For example just after the ending of my first relationship, I decided to train to be a body piercer. I spent 8 months working in a body piercing studio in the town I went to school. During those 8 months I transitioned into something totally different and by the end of it, I’d packed away most of my ‘gothy’ clothing and was dressing in pencil skirts and shirts with a nipped in waist and wearing red lipstick on a daily basis. I was listening to a lot more Rock N Roll and jazz and was enjoying my girlier side.

It was interesting because being in the body modification industry I got to experience the best of both worlds. I could dress up in a pinup/rockabilly look and still be covered in piercings. I could experiment and see what worked and what didn’t. I loved the creative freedom of working in the body modification industry and it allowed me to widen my interests.

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This is what I’d look like one day, working as an apprentice body piercer.

The more I listened to the music of the 1940s and 1950s, the more I became passionate about the look of the eras. I had started attending vintage fairs and decided to start collecting vintage clothing.

I gathered a rather large collection and with that, a surprising amount of knowledge about buying vintage; so with that, I decided to stop my body piercing apprenticeship and start my own business selling clothing and accessories from the 1940s and 50s and Tally Ho! Vintage was born.

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This was my first ever fair at a tiny, unknown events company in Milton Keynes.

It then grew very quickly and I’d built up a reputation for being the only vintage business in Milton Keynes that only sold ‘true’ vintage. I had quite a following and had regular customers.

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and finally, I had a concession in a vintage/antiques shop in Northampton where I even got my own shop sign (hand made by my fair hand!)

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Tally Ho! Vintage was my greatest achievement. I was being asked to set up my business at popular vintage fairs in the local area and had concessions in several antique shops.

Sadly, by this point, my EDS had started to become a problem and my wonderful parents had to help with an awful lot of the physical work that was involved in running a business and doing fairs. I decided to close down the concession I had in Ampthill Antiques Emporium (pictured below)

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As I was winding down the vintage business, I had started to model for a friend and her photographer friend who specialised in the pinup look. I modelled for several photographers and websites, was signed to Ugly Models and was published in a Tease and Cake calendar in 2014.

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Image copyright: Tease and Cake

Throughout this time, I still had my signature black hair. My nails were often painted red for shoots, but there was always an element of ‘goth’ in how I presented myself. It just came naturally to me, to keep the ‘darker’ side rather than hide it completely and be someone I’m not.

A few years later and the modelling had also had to take a back seat to my health. I couldn’t travel unaccompanied any more and travelling to London for auditions became too much, so I resigned from Ugly Models and only did shoots locally. Thankfully, a friend of mine Kate Beavis writes for Vintage Life Magazine, so I have been fortunate enough to model for her on a couple of occasions.

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Image copyright: Binky Nixon for Vintage Life Magazine

That was last year and this is me now….

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So you see, it’s absolutely OKAY to experiment with your look. It’s absolutely OKAY to throw caution to the wind and wear that bright red lipstick you’ve never had the guts to wear. It’s OKAY to change your look, it’s okay not to care about having a look.

What’s important, is you find out who you are and be 100 percent comfortable with what you find. If you’re not; make changes.

Being an authentic person takes times, growth and courage to be uniquely you. You’re only on this planet for a relatively short amount of time, so stop wasting it by conforming to someone else’s life plans, looks or tastes.

BE YOU, you are enough!