I suppose that all along I thought I was owed something or wanted something I couldn’t have, maybe that is just the way things are when your parents don’t have a great deal of money. Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, things were expensive. China wasn’t the huge superpower it is now and not everything was made there. This happened to be the times that I grew up in.
Most of my memories of childhood are probably about being told that I couldn’t have x or that I should save up to buy y. I suppose that was a good thing, trying to teach me the value of money or that I couldn’t have everything I wanted should have given me a good grounding. But I thought I knew better.
I was 12 when I heard on the news one day that a kid in America divorced his parents. Through Google I can now tell you that this child, Gregory Kingsley, was more or less the same age as me at the time and that basically his mother was an unemployed waitress with a history of drug abuse and promiscuity and his father had been out of the picture for some time. Kingsley befriended an attorney whom he met at the boy’s shelter he was staying up after his mother placed him and his brothers into the temporary care of the state because of her drug problem. George Russ, the attorney whom Kingsley had gotten to know empathised with Kingsley, having not had a great childhood himself and he and his wife agreed to adopt Gregory.
I picked up on this and decided I wanted to do the same, my parents were not unemployed promiscuous drug addicts or anything or that kind, the problem was mostly down to my idolisation of America and American life and the fact that I wanted things (mostly computer equipment) that my parents could not afford. At this point of my life, my parents and I were seeing a child psychiatrist who rather than pick up on the fact that I might be Autistic, chose not to label and told my parents and I that I had “normal teenage problems”.
Do normal teenagers write letters to social services and council chief executives trying to blackmail them into finding a new family in America? I also had an American maths teacher when I was 13/14, I wrote a letter pouring my heart out to him and asked him and his wife to adopt me.
The letter writing didn’t stop when I left school. At age 17, having been asked to leave the family home and ‘existing’ in a hostel for the homeless with virtually no money, I wrote another letter to the city authorities in Southampton, this time I didn’t want to go to America. I wanted to be self-sufficient, I wanted a swanky flat, laptop, car, driving lessons, etc…. of course this came to nothing again.
By age 18 I had a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and was living in a specialist college in Sunderland. Apart from getting to see the North East of England and meeting fellow people on the spectrum, it really didn’t help me. Having spent months living alone in hostels, I had my street cred. I had come face to face with drug addicts and people with serious mental health problems, but they wanted to treat me as if I was an insurance liability, I was not supposed to go off alone, even crossing the road was a big deal. I will admit I had fun some of the time, sneaking into university computer labs, using the Internet before most people really knew what it was (this was 1998); but the experience of living under one roof with such a mix of abilities, despite all being Autistic, we were not all the same.
I suppose I have always had plans for myself, who doesn’t? I was 19 when I first started working in IT and I liked it pretty well, so I decided I should keep going. However, none of the jobs I had really lasted much more than a year, either through my own doing or because the company had issues. I went to University for the first time aged 25, having given up at least 3 times on getting A-Levels or equivalent qualifications to get into University, I decided to take the route of a “Foundation Year” in which I would gain that level of knowledge prior to starting the first year of a degree. It took about 3 months before I got behind, couldn’t turn in my work on time and then became suicidal because my whole plan had shattered. I would never finish this course and I would never get my degree. I battled with this kind of depression many times over since then. I tried again to re-take the modules I had failed in the foundation course, I tried to do the foundation work for a different degree (electronics rather than computing) at a different university, but again got behind and dropped out.
I then moved to London at the age of 30. My first job in London and my first proper IT job for some time lasted 3 months. This has lead into a succession of situations where I have gotten jobs, for some reason given up or gotten fired, then had a huge breakdown where I became suicidal because my whole plan lay shattered again.
I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t think counselling will work, in my head, I am doing everything right, it’s the other assholes who get in my way and mess it all up. I have tried CBT, it didn’t work. There is documented fact to show that CBT does not work for Autism and a single book about how you can possibly adapt it for Autism!
All I want is a normal life: a driver’s licence, a car, some kind of house that I actually own (I don’t care if this actually a shipping container that I transformed into a house). These are simple demands, I don’t want thousands of pounds worth of Mac computer equipment or a family in America any more.
So every time I start a new job I think to myself, yes, this is good, I will use this money to do the stuff I want to do. But somehow it all goes wrong, usually leaving me in debt of some kind.
So, can you see my frustration? Is my attitude so wrong? That I want things that nearly every other person has? These are the problems I can’t fix and the cause of my current depression.