Monday, 18 June 2012
ARE THESE THE ANSWERS I’VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR?
Life has a way of throwing up many different situations for us to deal with and whilst they are inevitably different for each and every one of us they are also 100% important to us because it is us as individuals that have to deal with our life situations and my latest situation is one of the most interesting but important ones that I have yet faced.As many of you may know I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in October 2008 and for me it was a brand new start and a chance for me to learn about myself and others and to have a deeper understanding of myself and for life to have meaning for me and far less questions.
In between getting the diagnosis and this point in my life so much has happened and I have achieved so much. I have done two successful years at Bradford College and have one successful year at Huddersfield University under my belt. I have learnt so much about life and people and in the process have become a far more knowledgeable person and a far better person in the process.However despite all this progress I still felt that there were many unanswered questions about myself but because of the progress I had made and the answers I had found I was content to accept that not all of life’s questions could be answered and so carried on trying to make the most of my life.
For the past six months I have been seeing a clinical psychologist for cognitive behaviour therapy and this has been helping me to understand how others behave and why. It was during one of my appointments that a whole new chapter in my life opened up.It all started when I got back in contact with an old school friend who had surgery last year for a brain tumour and is now making a full recovery. However he told me that he had, had to finish work and had, had major personality changes. This resonated with me because when I was 21 I had testicular cancer which was very advanced when it was found and had spread to my lungs and brain resulting in seven secondary tumours in my brain. At the time I had chemotherapy treatment which was successful and I never gave it a second thought until recently.
I mentioned this to my psychologist and immediately she said that it made more sense for me to have suffered from brain damage due to the tumours than to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Because of this I did some research of my own into brain damage on www.headway.org.uk and discovered that because the brain is so soft and complex it is very easily damaged and brain tumours whether primary or secondary can cause brain damage depending on where they are located in the brain.As I have researched further into the after effects of brain damage I am beginning to feel that many of my mental health issues are a result of brain damage from the tumours rather than any other issues. Even though the brain injury is only mild the repercussions from it and at least moderate. On their own the mental health issues I have may not cause many problems. However as my psychologist has explained to me it is far more common to have multiple mental health issues resulting from brain tumours especially because of the number I had.
So now I set off on yet another exciting journey of self-discovery. I am awaiting an appointment for an MRI scan to find out if the structure of my brain has been damaged and I need to see my doctor about getting a psychological assessment from a neuropsychologist. I am reflecting and analysing on my past and especially my present mental health and behaviour. But most importantly I am remaining positive and confident for the future because I have a truly amazing opportunity to learn about myself and why I am the way I am, but I also have the opportunity to change myself and my behaviour for the better and contribute more to society.
Saturday, 9 June 2012
TOO MUCH INFORMATION?
We live in an amazing age of information and technology. Never before has society had access to so much information and all at our fingertips through an increasingly diverse range of technology ranging from smartphones to the now ubiquitous personal computer (PC).
But are we now entering an age of information overload where we actually have too much information and so much of it can be conflicting even when it is written by academics and professionals. Another major issue arises when accessing information on the internet as anybody can write anything and claim to be an expert and done the necessary research when in fact they have done nothing and are not as expert as they may claim to be.
Before the age of the PC and the internet people relied on books for information on many subjects. This was very often a time consuming project and required a high level of knowledge and intelligence which much of society did not have access to. As a result much of the written information can be relied upon to be factually correct and to a high standard, although it must be stressed that some academic work is very much disputed but again this is out in the academic domain so as an individual it is easy to see both sides of the argument.
In the 21st century we can now access so much information, so easily and readily, on so many different platforms, it can be very easy to become overloaded by the amount of information available and where and how to access it all. Information is now streamed to us 24/7 via the radio, television and internet in addition to the more traditional methods of leaflets, magazines, newspapers and books.
Is it any wonder then that in today’s 21st century society people are more confused than ever being bombarded with so many different messages about the same subject? Opinions are formed on a subject based on information read or heard through one media medium. These opinions are then made public through friends, work colleagues and peers and the opinions that someone thinks has been carefully researched and constructed can be torn apart in a matter of seconds because someone else has used a different source of information to form a very different opinion.
So it is back to the drawing board to trawl through an ever increasing mass of information that we are confronted with on a daily basis, trying to decide what is fact and what is fiction, what is true and what is a lie, who we can believe and who we cannot and who and what is reliable and who and what is not.
Never before has it been so difficult to sort through and decide what we can trust and believe in and in all probability it will only become more problematic in the future as more information is added and more opinions are voiced and we can access all this via an ever increasing variety of platforms and media. Yes we all have to be very careful when looking through all the information available to us but it can also be an amazingly rich and powerful journey as long as we treat all information with the respect it deserves until we know otherwise.
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
MY FIRST YEAR AT HUDDERSFIELD UNIVERSITY
My first year at Huddersfield University is over and it has been a very interesting and eventful year for me and I have learnt a lot.
Before I do go any further I will say that the learning experience at Huddersfield University has been amazing and the support I have received from the lecturers and support staff has been outstanding and without it I doubt if I would have completed my first year at university.
I have learnt a lot, not just about the subject I am studying sociology but about myself more than anything. I believe that I have the intelligence and skill set required to succeed at university and beyond, yet I do have problems with self-belief and confidence. It is this more than anything else that could prevent me from succeeding and self-destructing. Hopefully over the summer break I can give this some much needed thought on my part and instil in myself the self-belief I will need to get me through the next two years of university.
Reading appropriate academic material is another area where I need to vastly improve in order to obtain better grades. This will also improve my referencing as this has let me down enormously this year and this area more than any other is the one I need to improve in.
By doing this I believe I will resolve several issues at once including the problem of self-belief and lack of confidence.
Another problem area I have identified is time. All too often this year I have made miscalculations in how much time to devote to my studies, how much I can get accomplished in any given time period and when I need to get my work in for. I do have problems with the concept of time and very often time just passes me by without me actually realising it.
Because of this over the summer I need to read more about study skills and writing academically in order to prepare myself better for my second year at university.
The only issue I have myself with the teaching is of some disparity in the some of the grades I have received. However I shall be investigating this further myself and ensuring that the marks I receive are broadly consistent with all tutors.
All in all it has been a very enjoyable and interesting year and I am looking forward to my second year at university immensely.
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
SLEEP DEPRIVATION – LIVING IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE
At one time or another many of us have experienced a bad nights sleep and maybe for a couple of days after it affects us until we get back to our normal sleeping pattern. However for some people myself included having a bad nights sleep, night after night after night is just part of life and something I have learned to come to terms with and accept that this is a part of my life and something that I cannot change whatever I try.
One of the first questions I try and answer is when did this sleeping pattern start? For me it is when I was in my early twenties. Late nights, alcohol and who knows what else has contributed to my current sleeping patterns. I do remember times when I would go to sleep as soon as I went to bed and woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. I look back on these days with immense fondness the same as someone would look back with fondness on a holiday.
Now I have to sleep whenever I can. It is most difficult during the night. My mind is alive although my body is tired and thoughts are running through my mind at a million miles per hour but the body has no energy and it is this that I call the twilight zone. Just laid there staring at the ceiling or listening to classical music. I may read a book and the tiredness begins to set in the light goes off and it is a return to the twilight zone once again.
Normally I get to sleep between 4.00am and 6.00am. At this present time in my life it is not usually a problem for me because I am at university and right now I am on my summer break. If I was working it would be a very different matter as it has proved in the past. Going to bed early and not being able to sleep then lying awake worrying that you will not be awake in time for work is a recipe for disaster. In the past I have managed an hours sleep a night at times but no one can carry on living like that for ever.
So at the moment my sleep patterns have a minimal impact on my life. But they still have an impact on my life. If I get up reasonably early say around 10.00am I may have had six hours sleep maximum and I then find it difficult to fully function properly throughout the day. If I get up later I may well feel better but I am disappointed because I have missed half the day. It is a vicious circle that plays on my mind 24/7 never knowing what to do for the best.
In the end I end up going through the day half asleep and grabbing a couple of hours whenever I can. I fit in what I can such as going to the gym, shopping, study and other activities when I can and not when society expects me too. It can and does make life difficult at times but in the end what can I do?