Tomorrow I am traveling to Manchester to give a presentation and catch up with members of my team based there.
Here’s a quick tour of what I’m taking in my bag. Roughly in order of importance.
My pressure vest lives in my main bag with lion. It’s my best defence against strong anxiety so it’s always with me. If I start getting anxious I can put it on and use the sensory effect to help me calm down.
Why take the risk? I take enough to cover my expected usage plus spares. Better to have and not need, than need and not have!
As I will be sleeping at a hotel these are key to ensuring I avoid an awkward conversation in the morning. For daytime, they are a safely net and help my confidence.
I wasn’t going to mention them, but I thought it’s better to just be honest. They do fill half my bag after all.
I won’t sleep well at the hotel. I may not even sleep at all. In order to help I am taking a gro clock sleep timer. It will count down the night for me, provide a known and reliable nightlight and it’s part of my normal morning routine too. Sameness, familiariy and a count down to the morning. All great things for helping me to stay calm.
Another part of my morning routine is a bottle of milkshake. I have milkshake with me, plus a bottle with hot chocolate powder in it. A bottle of hot chocolate is my ultimate distraction / calming tool. So if it all goes wrong I will ask someone to mix it up for me.
If I do get overloaded I’m going to have numb hands on the train back. For that reason I’m taking my sippy cup so I can drink on the train without worrying about knocking things over.
These coloured cards will be used during the trip with my line manager. I can use them to communicate my anxiety level and knowing I have them works well as a backup and provides some reassurance and confidence.
When I get back to London, I’m being collected by Carrie and we will use the communication cards in the car incase my iPad has no battery or I’m not in a state to use it.
Like above these are just incase I’m in a bad state when I get into London and meet Carrie.
We need to cross a busy station and then walk to Bee (her car). This is the first time we have attempted anything that complex!
I need to either be 100% in control, or looked after by someone I trust. When my friends look after me in a busy place they just hold my hand.
Carrie can’t do that, so by wearing a harness and rein under my jacket I can physically hand her ‘the reins’ when I meet her.
This makes me feel safer, gives her an easier way to guide me through a busy place and also means should the worse happen she can keep me away from dangerous places.
Much like the cards etc, having it and not needing it is better than needing it and not having it. I was given a set so I may as well take them.
Small sensory toys to keep my hands busy.
These show the details for each step of my journey. I have also brought the flash card for Apple.
I’m going to see if I can use it (verbally of visually) to order a drink on the train. Maybe.
My MacBook for presenting, my iPad for entertainment, backup presentation, speech, questions via Twitter and my iPhone for communication.
I also have my iPod which is loaded with routines and media and doesent connect to the internet so will get great battery life.
Every device I carry is tracked and has speech synthesis software. They are spread across me and both my bags. I should never be without at least one tool to communicate.
If needed my friends should also be able to locate me.
Looking through the list now and reflecting on it my main thought is "wow that’s a lot of childish things" and I guess they are. The thing is, they work. Last time I made this trip I required 24/7 support. This time I’m making it far less support.
This trip is right at the very very edge of what I can do. I need to be able to feel safe at the hotel and if the most effective method is a hot chocolate before bed and a fancy nightlight that’s not a high burden.
Coming back is the more challenging journey by far. I get into London at rush hour, Carrie is collecting me for the first time and I need to exercise all the caution I can. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
This trip is hugely ambitious. Hopefully with the preparation we have done and the systems we have in place it should all go well.