Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 18-24 May 2020
Please see below our third article by Gemma Owens, Gemma’s daughter Sophia was a performer at AGT
My name is Gemma Owens and I am thirty-six years old. I have a diagnosis of Autism and also suffer with mental health. I live in a busy house with my husband, my mum and five children – Tyler is seventeen years old and has a diagnosis of ASD and bowel problems, Finley is age sixteen and has ASD and ADHD. Sophia is age twelve and has ASD and ADHD, Kyron is seven years old and Edie-Rose is four years old.
Covid19, lock down, pandemic..
It has been nearly eight weeks since our lives have changed when Boris announced that we must go into a lock down, never did I think we would be going through something like this.
On the first week I got organised, schools had sent the weekly task through the computer. I still tried to maintain the same routine and had a schedule with times and activities. The electrics were off in them times. The first week seemed to go relatively well despite a few hiccups, however by end of week two I had started to struggle.
The kids were getting tired, low moods and teary. Electrics were becoming a problem with meltdowns and aggression. As the days and weeks were passing I could feel my self slowly shutting away, everything seemed to be piling up on me having teachers sending work every day weekly tasks and with my kids shouting, telling me that I was not their teacher!
This is not school, it has made me crumble and I can slowly see myself going into a dark place which is somewhere I never thought I would visit again. I am not having much hope for 2020, having birthday lock downs, cancelled holidays, my kids missing there clubs. However I am grateful we are here and healthy but the weeks keep going and I am struggling; as low at times I feel, I am determined that I am not going to let this beat me.
Social media has probably not been the best for me to be on, but it used to be my enjoyment and my time as well but this has all changed. Seeing the different news of what is going to happen different articles from papers scaremongering, the regular updates of not knowing what the next step will be makes me feel angry, sad and deflated.
Knowing this is how its going to be for a long time and the change that my children and I are not good at coping with change. We get to grips with one thing then a couple of weeks later it changes again but we keep going.
Even though I am not in a good place, the things that have been keeping me going are my family and friends. My friends Face-time or call me every day since the lock down and when they do I feel good.
The family do quizzes, teachers phoning making sure we all well and if we are able to visit shops. This communication is important and reassures me that I am not a failing and seeing my children’s faces light up is important during these short times.
To keep myself going, Tim and I have been doing a lot of painting which has kept me busy and focused and helps my days go by. I used to visit the gym four times a day, which has had a knock on effect, but I am doing exercise from my phone daily just to try and help me.
Taking little steps. On the 16th May it was the first time in nearly eight weeks since I had driven my car, I used to love being able to just drive. It did feel like before and felt on edge. I have not been in a shop and the thought of it makes my anxieties really bad, even the thought about going for a walk. so I have shut myself away a lot and luckily I am able to do so with my Mum and Tim here.
Autism’s Got Talent
Autism’s Got Talent has been going since 2012 and organised by the wonderful Anna Kennedy. My daughter Sophia has performed for two years and the show is just amazing with the different acts, from children through to adults the talent they has amazed me. Sophia is also a Pineapple scholar.
Anna and her team put so much into the show and when we attend, and watch the acts perform and how they bond with one other, like a little family has been priceless. We have made some life long friends, and I am looking forward to when the time comes when we can be part of this wonderful show again.