Tag Archives: work

Aaaand……. Relax

I don’t normally relax because I like to keep my momentum going. My job requires a lot of reading, writing and thinking. I have multiple deadlines and countless meetings. BUT today, I just relaxed. I chilled and hung like a sloth and I feel great! I feel refreshed, re-energised and most importantly, I feel ready for next week.

In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale


What does Hard Work smell like?

Today’s Prompt: From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours? 


In a relatively recent blog post, I have revealed that my favourite writing place is the Costa coffee shop close to the place I work. I have written most of my blog posts and about half of my Master’s thesis there (using an iPhone 4). I have also read countless books and academic articles there while having a cup of coffee during lunchtimes.

An unintended consequence  of this habit has been the development of a stimulus-response bond in my head between the smell of coffee and hard but enjoyable work. I have always adored the smell of great coffee since I started drinking the stimulant. Coffee has always been my companion (aside from my cat) during over-nighters, revision sessions, meetings and Monday mornings. I call it ‘the elixir of my life’!

Inspiring People with Autism (4): Kevin Healey

KevKevin Healey is one of the UK’s leading Autism Awareness campaigner and a councilor for the National Autistic Society in the UK. He has been campaigning for Autism rights for over a decade and has inspired loads of people, incluing myself. As a person with Autism, Kevin understands what others like him are going through. People with Autism have different developmental trajectories, particularly in areas of social interation and communication. In addition, some may be hyper- or hypo- sensitive to sensory stimuli such as noise or bright lights. These, coupled with other people’s lack of understanding of the condition could lead to prejudice and negative attitudes.

IMG_6144As he recounted on his speech in this year’s Autism Show, Kevin himself has been a victim of bullying throughout the majority of his life. Being a victim of bullies has had a detrimental effect on his worklife, academic achievements and personal sense of security. He has been targeted in school, at work and even on the internet.

As a result of his experiences, Kevin decided to launch an anti-bullying campaign in order to protect people with Autism from being the target of bullying and other hate-related acts. Kevin has experienced and has seen enough victimization in his life and has decided to act upon it. Kevin, along with his supporters, are still pushing for this campaign to be supported and shown in billboards (which will be displayed very soon, nationally) and all media outlets.

He is currently pushing for a law against ‘HATE CRIMES AGAINST THOSE WITH AUTISM’, which garnered a lot of support from celebrities such as Ricky Gervais and Katie Price, and from local MPs. The UK parliament website states:

That this House congratulates Kevin Healey, an Ambassador for the National Autistic Society, who has been helping to raise awareness of hate crime, including cyber-bullying, trolling, stalking and physical bullying, against those suffering with autism through a highly successful Twitter campaign and a Global Anti-Bullying Autism Campaign; notes that the campaign has received the backing of celebrities such as Ricky Gervais, Katie Price and Melanie Sykes; further notes concern at the findings of a National Autistic Society survey that revealed 81 per cent of respondents having experience of verbal abuse, while 47 per cent reported that they have been victims of a physical assault, and that 24 per cent had been victims of cyber-bullying; and finally, calls on the Government to review urgently legislation and police recording of disability hate crime in order that victims can be confident that their suffering will be taken seriously and ended.

Kevin is the epitome of resilience. Despite his negative and (possibly) traumatic experiences in the hands of ignorant others, he did not stop. He wanted bullying and victimisation to stop, and he acted on it. His campaign will not only benefit himself, but thousands if not millions of others will greatly benefit from it, too. Everyday, he is proving to me and everyone else that people with Autism are a major part of society. He challenges negative stereotypes day after day, through his work which is fuelled by compassion and desire to help others and make this world a better place. I am sure that there will soon be a law to protect people with Autism against hate-related acts, and it will be because of Kevin Healey.

He is not an ordinary man. He is a hero. Yes, he has Autism, and yes, he is a hero.




You can help by following Kevin on twitter (@Kevin_Healey )and retweeting his campaign-related tweets. You can also join the twitter storm every Thursday nights in order to get this topic trending (note that the more people we reach, the more this campaign will be successful). Please visit Kevin Healey’s Autism Awareness Campaign website for more information: www.autism-campaign.co.uk

More inspiring people with Autim:

Temple Grandin

Jessica Jane Applegate

Pokemon creator, Satoshi Tajiri

Carly Fleischmann

Inspiring Artists who have Autism

Don’t Miss The Autism Show!


The Autism Show is an event dedicated to the people working with, living with, and teaching individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions. The show takes place in London and Manchester next month, with presenters who are leading professionals in their fields. Also speaking are some parents and individuals with Autism to share new strategies and their experiences.

Headline speakers this year include , Dame Stephanie Shirley, successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and autism campaigner, Janis Sharp, mother of Gary McKinnon, Carrie and David Grant, TV presenters and parents of two children with autism, and Baroness Angela Browning, Vice President of the National Autistic Society, Patron of Reseach Autism and instigator of the Autism Act 2009

From The Autism Show’s official website

For more information and to book your tickets, visit www.theautismshow.co.uk

Does Homeland address Mental Health Awareness responsibly?


Homeland is one of the most popular TV shows in America and is getting more and more popular around the world. In 2012, it has won 6 Emmys including best lead actor (Damien Lewis) and lead actress (Claire Danes) in a drama series, 2 Golden Globes and many more. Recently, it was awarded the best drama, best actor (Damien Lewis) and best actress (Claire Danes) at the 2013 Golden Globe awards.

If you have not watched it or at least heard about it (were you hiding in a hole somewhere?), Homeland is a drama series about Carrie, a CIA agent (Claire Danes) who believes that Nicholas Brody, an ex-prisoner of war (Damien Lewis), is a converted terrorist and is planning an attack on American soil. Despite Carrie’s brilliance, her colleagues do not always trust her decisions because of her unorthodox ways of working.

What is more interesting (for me, at least) is the fact that Carrie is suffering from bipolar disorder (Manic Depressive Disorder). In the first series, she tried to conceal her illness from her work colleagues because she is afraid that her colleagues will lose their trust on her, or worse, she could lose her job. She gets her medication from her sister, Maggie, who is a trained and practicing psychiatrist. Maggie issues Carrie pills ‘under-the-table’, and these pills seem to manage Carrie’s condition.

Many have weighed-in about Homeland’s portrayal of bipolar disorder, with some applauding it’s bold yet sensitive writing while some claim that the show’s representation is irresponsible. Negative points stem from the fact that Carrie is being treated secretly and unofficially, which could encourage the public to do the same. Additionally, some argue that Carrie’s high level of intelligence, confidence and success paint a wrong representation of people with bipolar disorder.

In my opinion, Homeland’s creators, writers and indeed, Claire Danes, are doing a magnificent job. Firstly, they have a person with psychiatric condition at the centre of the show and as a protagonist. Normally, characters with psychiatric conditions are portrayed as bad/evil (SEE MY ARTICLE ABOUT BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT). It is somewhat refreshing to see someone like Carrie being the centre of the plot. Secondly, the programme shows both the highs and the lows that a person with bipolar disorder might experience. Carrie is known to be a ‘genius’ in her own right in what she does. However, her behaviours are somewhat erratic and she has the tendency to break down if pushed too much.

It is important to note that Carrie’s case is an extreme one. Not everyone who has MDD is a genius like Carrie and not everyone’s situation can be managed by pills, just like Carrie. However, her situation is representative of what people with mental illnesses go through everyday. Over 60% of women employed in the United Kingdom are living with a mental illness. These people try their hardest to manage the stresses and strains of each working day, just like Carrie. However, they are all not CIA/MI5 agents like her. They are teachers, shop assistants, doctors, nurses and lawyers, trying to function well in this society. Nevertheless, we need to understand them and give them the right support to flourish.

Homeland also brings about the existing stigma about people with mental illnesses. As mentioned, Carrie did not conceal her illness to her work colleagues until the end of the first series, because she was afraid that she could lose her job (which she did in the end of the first series) and the trust of her colleagues. Unfortunately, this reflects much of what is going in the ‘real world’. A lot of workers hide their mental illness, and are scared to ask for help because of the stigma- which should not be the case. Workers are protected by the Equality Act 2010 which states that:

“…most employers have no right to ask for information about your health when recruiting. However, in an interview, they can ask whether you have the ability to do key elements of the job. There is also a specific exception in vetting applicants for work in national security such as intelligence services. If your mental illness has lasted 12 months or more you are likely to have rights as an employee under the Equality Act. Telling your boss, occupational health or human resources department will mean your employer is obliged to consider making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to your working life to help keep you well. You can ask them not to tell colleagues, but they may need to tell the human resources department.”

I feel that the inclusion of this issue in a well-known show like Homeland may increase people’s awareness of it. Hopefully, it will result in more people opening up to their significant others and it may also increase people’s understanding of mental health. One criticism that I have though, is that in the show, Carrie has not received any other psychological treatments apart from medication, although in the end of the first series, she underwent Electro-convulsive Therapy (ECT). Although ECT is still a controversial treatment, there are studies that have shown that it can be effective. Cognitive-behavioural therapies (CBT) coupled with the right medication has been shown to be the best treatment for people with bipolar.

Finally, the best thing about the show is that Carrie does not let her condition define her. She struggles with it at times, but she copes with it. She does not use it as an excuse forany bad things that happened to her.

The importance of resting and taking a break

This week I have started a job in a primary school, supporting pupils with learning and behavioural difficulties and also mentoring other Learning Support Asistants about dealing with children with ADHD and Autism. I worked every weekday and attended my lectures in university, along with attempting to write a couple of essays for my course. This meant waking up really early everyday and sleeping relatively late at night.

During the beginning of the week, I was able to focus on my job and listen in lectures with ease. However, as the week progressed, my energy levels and attention span marginally decrease. I found it impossible to focus on any of what my lecturers were saying on thursday night and even though I tried to read, nothing was going in.

Friday night came and I prepared myself for a weekend of reading and writing, and even set my sights on writing a good 1,000 words for my essay. However, as my physical and mental energy were on its limits, I ended up not doing anything on friday night. I slept horribly and woke up early on saturday. I struggled to get going on my reading, which led me to feel irritated and extremely anxious. These caused a state of near paralysis and panic in my part, with dreadful thoughts spinning in my head.

I was advised by my very considerate partner to stop trying to work and just rest until the next day. She told me to think of happy thoughts and aim to get my mind relaxed. It worked like magic! Last night I slept soundly, I woke up today with a smile in my face. I mangaged to read 30 articles and I have made notes of good quality. Even though I did not manage to reach my target of writing 1,000 words, I feel really pleased and contented.

I guess this whole week has taught me the power of rest, positive thoughts and the importace of having a healthy relationship. I now believe that i would not acheive ‘flow’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1992) if I am not well rested. It makes sense thinking about it. If my body and mind is not ‘re-charged’, I would not get optimum performance out of them.