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Sunday 20 March 2022

A mindful recovery from COVID, perspectives from my bedroom window, and how The Universe works in mysterious ways

Today is COVID day 9 for me and I’m still testing positive and quarantining in my bedroom. 

Thankfully I feel less shattered than this time last week, the coughing and aching has virtually stopped, I don’t feel like I’ve been flattened by a steam roller anymore, and I’ve barely needed to take any paracetamols for a couple of days.

I’m thankful to The Universe that the sun is shining, it's peaceful outside (apart from the birds singing their little hearts out, the blaring chimes of ice-cream vans, and the sounds of children laughing and playing in their garden!), and I can recover snuggled up in bed (with my laptop, phone and wi-fi!) knowing I’m being well looked after by my husband.  

Something I hadn’t expected to be able to thank The Universe for by having COVID is the gift of precious time – time to stop worrying about others for a while, and focus my energy on myself and MY recovery, for a change – ie. practice what I preach to others! 

Yes, it’s been great having time to catch up on things I’ve been meaning to do for AGES!  And I don’t just mean replying to personal emails and messages I’ve not had the energy to reply to for far too long (tick); or writing a couple of blogs (including this one - tick, tick); or burying myself in my laptop to finish projects for the Support Group I’m a Trustee of (tick, tick, tick, tick).

More importantly, I thank The Universe for offering me an insight into what life may be like for anyone with EXTREMELY impaired Executive Functioning 24/7, 365 days a year – often on top of chronic physical and mental health issues. 

By that I mean I now have a better idea of how exhausting it can be to have constant brain fuzz (more fuzzy than I usually have as someone with ADHD) that makes it not just difficult to make decisions but virtually impossible; the frustrations of trying to express verbally what I’m thinking or feeling (assuming I can remember what I was going to talk about); what it feels like to feel light-headed and keep misplacing and dropping things – and the list goes on.

I’m thankful to The Universe for giving me time to listen to what's going on outside my window, which is wide open and allowing in the wonderous smells of freshly cut grass - thanks to my lovely husband, who is also recovering from COVID, and who needed a lie down after mowing the lawn.

I’m thankful to The Universe for giving me time to lift my head from my laptop, lay back on my bed and enjoy watching the shadows and elliptical rainbows moving around the walls as the sun moves round and shines through the Venetian blinds and crystal pendant inside the heart hanging at the window.  

I have a tendency to see things from a different perspective from others, so I couldn't resist being a bit arty with some of photos I took. 

Great fun! 

Except…… my constantly whirring ADHD brain has also had time to consider things from a very different  perspective too.....

I think of the traumas that have made generations through the ages crave for the peace and solitude that I’m enjoying today.

And I think about the perspective of all those recovering from COVID-19 who are having very VERY different experiences to me.

For example, I think of those without a safe home to recover in, or who are in hospital, or make-shift hospitals, or lodging with others temporarily – all with an uncertain future ahead of them.

I think of all those looking out of windows with broken glass, devoid of glass, and voids where windows and walls used to be - demolished by ear-shattering blasts that rocked their once peaceful World.  

I think of looking out of windows onto landscapes that once embodied a united community, busily getting on with day-to-day life.  Except now all they see are terrifying scenes from the bleakest, most realistic CGI-enhanced war movies or virtual-reality computer games. 

I think of shattered buildings, shattered lives, shattered dreams and shattered futures that will take many, many generations of construction workers and trauma therapists to repair and rebuild. 

There are no squawking crows, chirping blackbirds or sounds of children playing for them to listen to.  Instead, they hear sirens, gunfire and explosions, and the screams of wounded innocent victims. 

No views of brightly coloured parakeets and Wood Pigeons sitting in a mighty two-hundred-year-old oak tree for them to look at from their window.  Instead, all they see is smoke from burning buildings and flashes from explosions.  In the street they see craters, barbed wire and barricades and citizens attempting to find food, water and shelter. 

If they’re unlucky they’ll see uniformed young men exhausted by prolonged resistance from what they'd been told was a colony that needed rescuing from Nazi sympathisers. 

Just how difficult must it be for the members of that youth army - and the nation they represent - to come to terms with having been duped by the President, Chiefs and Commanders who sent them there?  Power crazed leaders sitting pretty in their lavishly decorated mansions, viewing the World through blinkered lenses (based mainly on the experiences of one person’s family during WW2), being nourished by sumptuous confirmation bias being served by obedient minions who have spent decades being programmed to fear incurring the wrath of their masters instead  of looking at things from a different perspective and considering what the consequences of their actions might be on others.   

I thank The Universe for allowing me to recover from COVID,  and giving me the time to help me consider these recent events from a different perspective, and compare them to my late father’s experiences of being a victim of an horrific war that genuinely did involve Nazis.  

During WW2 he was one of 1.37 million children evacuated from London to the country.  The traumas of war affected his life, influenced his views and the decisions he made as a result – decisions that continue to affect his family 80+ years later. 

The traumas my Dad experienced during the war (now referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences - ACEs) were nowhere near what others of his age went through, and what victims of conflict, famine, drought or injustice continue to endure today. 

My Dad was one of the lucky ones.  And so am I.  

Because what happened to my Dad has empowered me to become an instrument of change – and directly influence decisions that helps change lives. 

It never occurred to me that one day learning about ACEs and how it can seriously affect the health and wellbeing of those affected by it (especially if conditions such as PTSD aren’t quickly diagnosed and treated) might directly affect my understanding of what may have contributed to the decision my Dad made about buying his neighbour’s house when she moved, and then expanding to fit the space. 

Learning about ACEs helped me personally (for example):

  • Feel less angry about having been brought up in a chaotic home that I was embarrassed about taking people home to
  • Feel less frustrated about my Dad’s refusal to get rid of things that most people would consider to be rubbish
  • Reconcile my frustrations at having to spend many MANY hours over two years clearing his house after he died
  • Want to understand how best to help people (like me) affected by issues related to clutter, disorganisation and hoarding behaviours
Who knew that just one person’s Adverse Childhood Experiences might one day lead me to create a whole new career for myself in 2011, leading to becoming:

  • The Marketing, PR & Partnerships Officer of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (2011 – 2013)
  • A Dementia Friend
  • A Time To Change Champion
  • The Creator of the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form (2017) – a tool that empowers people to start a conversation if clutter, disorganisation or hoarding behaviours has affected your health
  • A Trustee of the Fastminds Adult ADHD Support Group (since 2019)
  • A trail-blazing trainer, consultant, campaigner and contributor to the acclaimed book “Understanding Hoarding” by my friend and esteemed colleague Jo Cooke of Hoarding Disorders UK CIC
  • A Member of Hoarding Working Groups:

o   The National Fire Chief’s Council (since 2013)

o   Surrey County Council (since 2017)

It just goes to show what re-framing someone’s perspectives can do!

As a result, I’ve been able to change the perspectives of and the decisions made by countless others, including clients, prospective clients, concerned relatives and friends, colleagues, Social Workers, Social Prescribers; charities, medical professionals, fire fighters, Environmental Health Officers, police officers, housing associations, solicitors, care home managers, teachers, tv production researchers, PR agencies, etc – to name but a few.

I won’t say that re-framing perspectives is always easy – far from it!  

It grieves me to learn that decisions have been made despite me pointing out the likely benefits of making a different decision, and the potential consequences of their actions - especially when it’s directly related to addressing issues related to a person’s safety, wellbeing, activities of daily living, mental health and possible reasons for their impaired Executive Functioning.

It would be lovely to think that folks will one day look back and say how grateful they were that because of me they learned to see things from a different perspective, and that the informed decisions they made as a result enabled them to live a safer, healthier and more fulfilled life as a result. 

Admittedly it’s highly unlikely the decisions I manage to influence will directly put an end to things like wars and global warming – although who knows?!

If nothing else, perhaps a few more people will regularly make time to be mindful and thank to The Universe for the little things in life that they can see and hear outside their windows - hopefully without being distracted by pandemics, war or global warming…..

Oh, and in case you're interested, the round images above are manipulations of photos of the crystal rainbows - a most surprising perspective, thank you PowerPoint!

Cherry Rudge is a Professional Hoarding Practitioner, trainer, mentor, consultant, activist, campaigner and creator of the Hoarding Icebreaker Form.

Her late father had hoarding behaviours, which is why she now specialises in working with people with hoarding behaviours and complex needs.

For further information please contact Cherry Rudge - Phone/Text: 07931 303310 - Email:

Saturday 19 March 2022

Time to change the understanding about Neurodiversity amongst medical professionals

The March 2022 issue of "The Psychologist" magazine featured a BRILLIANT article entitled "Neurodiversity is not just for those we work with".

It was written by British Psychologist Joshua Muggleton (who is Autistic) and 33 other Neurodivergent (people with Neurodiverse conditions) colleagues, who drew attention to the negative affect that ineptitude can have on both professionals and patients.

Muggleton et al gave examples of how they'd been poorly treated by some colleagues upon discovering that they were Neurodivergent, and how it had affected their own mental health.   

I suspect this may perhaps be the first time (to my knowledge) that Neurodivergent medical professionals in the UK have aired their views so publicly directly to colleagues within their own profession, as the magazine is published by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

I wholeheartedly applaud and support Muggleton and the other authors of the article for "unmasking" themselves publicly, and diplomatically and unpretentiously laying down the gauntlet for the BPS to transform its attitude towards Neurodiversity in general.

Because many people with hidden disabilities encounter these types of issues - for some it can be easier (and require less energy) to mask who we are than be honest and transparent with our employer...

Regular followers of Rainbow Red (my company) and the Hoarding Icebreaker Form (that I created) will know that I’ve said on numerous occasions how I’ve come across many people with Executive Dysfunction who have issues related to clutter, disorganisation and hoarding behaviours who have been let down or abused by professionals - not just psychologists, and not just medical professionals.

Even now, in the 21st century, far too many of the most vulnerable members of our society are still being abused by or allowed to slip through "the system".  

Some may be diagnosed with (and potentially prescribed medication and/or therapy for) mental health conditions they don't actually have - most commonly the one with possibly the worst name:  Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), also knowns as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Whereas conditions such as Autism and/or ADHD (co-morbidity is common) are far more likely to have explained the underlying root causes of a person's anxiety, and often some of the surprising - and what some might say are irrational - lifestyle choices they may have made along the way.  

Individuals with hidden disabilities are unfortunately vulnerable to abuse, manipulation and exploitation, and serious mis-treatment and/or abuse by (so-called) professionals happens far too frequently.

Some (like me) may not be granted shared care by their GP once they've receive a private diagnosis (because it wasn't done by the NHS), and end up paying hundreds of pounds a year for prescription medication whilst waiting years for an NHS diagnosis because of the ever-increasing waiting lists.  

Tragically, some might be victims of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or other traumas.  How many exactly we will probably never know.  Nor will we ever know how many went undiagnosed or felt so violated, unsupported, and broken that they chose to end their misery by taking their own lives.

In the case of Joshua and his Neurodiverse colleagues , had all medical professionals (not just psychologists) received more in-depth training about impaired Executive Functioning and Neurodevelopmental conditions (which now includes Long COVID), there would have been:

  • a far greater chance of them being diagnosed, treated and receiving appropriate support and reasonable adjustments/ adaptations as children, instead of as adults
  • a reduced risk of being stigmatised and bullied (especially as children/teenagers), leading to low-esteem issues and having to try and mask their symptoms in order to fit in
  • a far greater chance of them being offered reasonable adjustments by their employers, and applauded by them (plus colleagues, employees and clients) for the special insight they have into the types of difficulties experienced by others with hidden disabilities
  • far greater likelihood that they'd develop a stronger connection with their Neurodiverse clients, and achieve quicker, longer lasting outcomes for them as a result

In most cases, professionals genuinely believe they are doing the right thing in order to improve a person’s quality of life.  

However, they – like everyone else – are restricted by the training they have received.  Training that is flawed, inadequate, out-dated or recommends obsolete best practices that don't take into consideration people the challenges associated with activities of daily living experienced by people with impaired Executive Functioning and Neurodiverse conditions, and are proven to have done more harm than good.  

All of which begs some fundamental questions for BPS and other medical bodies responsible for training future generations:

  • How long will it be before ALL professional medical bodies (not just the BPS) make in-depth customer-focused training  about Executive Functioning and Neurodiversity part of the core curriculum?
  • How long will it be before Neurodiverse individuals can feel confident that their health and care needs will be  met (promptly and appropriately) by legitimate law-abiding professionals who have a good understanding of Neurodiverse conditions and the types of reasonable adjustments required to accommodate individuals with hidden disabilities?
  • How long will it be before Neurodiversity is being discussed in the way that mental health is now, thanks to fantastic campaigns such as Time to Change and The Royal Foundation?  It took about 10 years for the Time to Change campaign to really make an impact, let's hope conversations about Neurodiversity are common-place a lot quicker than that....
  • How long will it be before ALL public and professional organisations (including schools, hospitals, solicitors, etc)  catch up with some of the most famous IT companies in the World and recognise that employing individuals with Neurodiverse conditions such as ADHD and Autism HAS to be part of their future if it's to be sustainable.
  • How long will it be before discussions about the potential need for reasonable adjustments become an integral part of an induction process for new staff?
    • How long will it be before hospitals, care homes and nursing homes revise their business models and strategies so that ALL medical and care facilities are specifically designed to meet the needs of our aging Neurodivergent population?
    • How long will it be before we see and hear media and social media coverage damning organisations that DON'T embrace Neurodiversity?

    THANK YOU Joshua et al for giving the BPS (and the World) an insight into what success could/should look like for Neurodivergent medical professionals.  

    Now is the time for the leadership and training teams at BPS and ALL the other professional bodies (not just medical ones) to stop avoiding the elephants in the room and:

    • accept that Neurodevelopmental conditions are not going away (they're genetic), and that making people with hidden disabilities fit in with out-dated broken processes and environments that are too overwhelming for them doesn't work - it makes things worse. 
    • make people like Muggleton et al and myself (ie. people with ADHD and/or Autism etc) part of the process of change.

    It's the common-sense, best-practice, customer-focused way to run a sustainable business.  

    So please BPS and other professional organisations responsible for training future generations - please take the hint that Muggleton et al have given you, and start re-training mental health professionals to become specialists in Neurodiverse conditions instead. 

    Start creating processes and environments that are Neurodivergent friendly, not Neurodiverse minefields.  

    An empowered workforce is generally more productive, more energised, more dedicated and healthier - all of which has a direct effect on the local communities around them, and the nation. 

    With staff needing less time off work due to less work-related stress, people will need fewer appointments with health professionals, and psychologists and other professionals who haven't embraced Neurodiversity will end up out of work!

    Let's watch this space with interest and see how long it takes.....

    Cherry Rudge is a Professional Hoarding Practitionertrainer, mentor, consultant, activist, campaigner and creator of the Hoarding Icebreaker Form.

    Her late father had hoarding behaviours, which is why she now specialises in working with people with hoarding behaviours and complex needs.

    She has been:

    For further information please contact Cherry Rudge - Phone/Text: 07931 303310 - Email: