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2020 - what a year !!

Hi everyone, sorry not been on here for a while. Life for me as it has been for all of you has been rather weird ! Lockdown has been hard for me but I am not sitting here thinking that it is only me who feels like that so I send you all some love and care.

Life for me now is so different than it was before lockdown. In March I was looking at a busy few months of coaching and tutoring and then the fun of going out to watch the Invictus Games in May 2020 in The Hague. Little did we know that the lockdown would still be going on now in October and that all my work would be cancelled almost overnight.

I had an interview in March for the MA in Counselling at University of Chester and was duly offered a place to start this week.

Why Counselling I guess some of you may ask ? I love my work and the people I meet and work with but I know the problems with my legs and back will probably get worse as I get older so I wanted to plan for the future and having completed Level 2 and 3 Counselling courses at Cheshire College South and West I knew this was the path for me. I want to be the person I needed growing up, and the person I have turned to in my adult life to help me become the best version of me.

University started this week and I am so excited to be on this journey - I never thought I would go back to Uni and to be potentially coming out in 3 yrs time as a qualified Counsellor is both exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time.

I have also been on an amazing journey of self discovery over the last few months as I was diagnosed with Autism in June 2020 after a comprehensive assessment with the Adult ASD Team at CWP Partnership Trust here in Chester.

I started the assessment back in 2019 when I was working with a Psychologist and we started talking about Autism as I felt I had a number of the traits I was seeing in other adults and young people with Autism. I just felt that this may explain some of the things I struggled with and also some of my behaviours and responses to new or difficult situations.

The assessment process was detailed and very thorough - it was carried out via video call after filling in a really detailed form about myself going all the way back to childhood and then this was discussed in more detail with the specialist staff. They also spoke to my partner Karen as they wanted as clear a picture as possible about my life.

They came back to me in June with a confirmed diagnosis and to be honest with you all I have found this life changing. Some people have asked me 'why' I wanted to go through this process and the reason is that I wanted to know myself better. This diagnosis has helped me be kinder to myself, I am more understanding of myself and now understand why I just felt different to other people.

Unfortunately some people have a picture in their head of what someone with Autism looks like - I want to help to challenge that stereotype - we are all different and even though I run my own business, play and coach sport and am training to be a counsellor there are still things I struggle with - such as time management, being in busy places with lots of people, making eye contact and dealing with change or new situations. I have learned to mask my difficulties though and that's great but also incredibly tiring.

Life goes on but for me it goes on with a whole new outlook on life - my Mental Health is not brilliant at the moment but I have reached out and have the support of an awesome counsellor and also support workers at University to allow me to focus on my studies.

If you have any questions or thoughts just let me know. I am not sitting here as an Autism or Mental Health expert but I have lived experience and hopefully my story can help others.

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