Things have been getting to me a lot lately, I have far too much coursework to do which is exacerbated by the fact that I can’t get things to stay in my head; my maths lecturer set a coursework that I don’t understand (due Monday) and then promptly went on a research trip to Canada (lucky for some!). I am also having some issues with my friends after being called obsessive and stalker-like on Monday.
Now, if you were a NT (neurotypical) person, you would probably just shrug this off, you would knuckle down – finish the coursework, beg and pled your course mates to help you with the maths and then try and patch tings up with your friends.
Sadly, this is not the method of first choice for me! Yesterday lunchtime I got up, I should have gone to an electronics lecture at 2pm, but instead I packed up a few clothes and my laptop and ran to get the train to Newcastle. After spending the best part of 8 hours on the train because of delays in the Sheffield area, we finally arrive in a cold and very foggy Newcastle (so foggy I couldn’t see the Tyne Bridge!). After calling a few places I find a hotel and get some food in Maccy D’s!
I went to a pub and hooked up my laptop to their wireless, I chatted to an old friend who tried to help me hatch a plan to get home in time to hand in my Electronics assignment, but sadly I don’t think he understands. I went to bed about 1am.
This morning I woke up and went out to find a Psychologist friend of mine who lectures at Northumbria University. Sadly she only works part time and has no office. Her lectures are on Thursday but this week she is presenting to an Autism West Midlands seminar in Birmingham. I doubt she is in Newcastle.
So here I am, in Starbucks near Grey’s Monument, contemplating my life as it collapses before my eyes. I am booked on a FlyBe flight back to Exeter at 12:25 – looks like I’ve missed that one!
I came here to find a solution to my problems, but I doubt I will find one. I don’t see much point carrying on with my studies back in Plymouth at the present time – I know this will just keep happening. Friends come and go, courseworkâ€™s get handed out and are due back in, but I will always be me!
Basically I can divide my problems into a few main areas:
- Lack of concentration and motivation, caused ostensibly by ADHD. Very little professional help is available on the NHS for adults with ADHD, the only clinic is in London and the waiting list is as long as the BFG’s arm! I sometimes sit there trying to understand something and I could probably read it a 1000 times and it still won’t make sense; my brain is constantly trying to concoct new ways to avoid doing it.
- Problems with social situations, caused by Asperger Syndrome (autism). I lack a general understanding of how relationships work, particularly between men and women. I get too involved with things I shouldn’t do, when I think I might have found a friend I try to find out as much as I can about them, searching Google, 192.com, etc… Sounds very stalker like, I know, but when you are sitting there next to someone in a pub and you can’t think what to say to them, how else are you supposed to get to know them better?
- I often feel very depressed about the future, many would say the world is going straight to hell, and I would agree with them. Companies focus too much on profits rather than helping people. Governments don’t care because they are getting throwbacks from said companies. We invade countries and start wars which lead to more bloodshed that if we have just left them alone to get on with it. I know I shouldn’t worry about these things, but they just make my life worse.
- I also have a few medical problems, including diabetes caused recurrent chronic pancreatitis. I have mostly learned to live with this, but it does depress me that I can’t go out and drink alcohol like a typical student!
So anyway, my simplistic problems must seem like nothing to other people, but they are problems to me. I have spent the last 3 years doing basically nothing, eking out a meagre existence on state benefits. I enrolled at University this year because I thought I could finally do something worthwhile in society, find a job, etc. I have worked before, but it has never worked out properly, I start off with very good intentions, but then it gets boring or I can’t stand the people I am working with or they expect more than I can give. I had hoped that studying a degree would at least make me more employable – an official piece of paper that says “I can do this”.
So you see, all I had to live for was doing that degree (I had originally considered BSc Computer Systems and Networks, but recently discovered BEng Communications Engineering). If I can’t understand the maths I need to pass the foundation year, then how the hell am I going to get the 60% I need to even be considered for the BEng degree? Let alone understand the maths modules I will be doing then?
I would like to think that my brain could be fixed, that I could somehow be helped to do this stuff. As of last October the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) applies to all aspects of Education, including Higher Education; you would think that would help me, but sadly no, the support I have been given at Plymouth has not been much help at all. It certainly didn’t stop me getting to this stage, which I had hoped it would!
Since even before I got a diagnosis of Autism, I have felt an outsider and looked for some kind of escape from this cruel world. I know that suicide is a waste; lots of people say that I am intelligent, and I believed that for a long time, but I could never help feeling very jealous of the successful people with jobs, money and brains that don’t leak like a sieve.
In 2001 Helen Rogan found a way out. She was convinced her autistic son was going to be taken into care. Mark’s support needs were growing as he got older and there would probably be many battles with Education and Social Services over what the right provision for him would be. I have seen time and time again the struggles parents have to get the right kind of help for their autistic children and adults. It is a David vs. Goliath type struggle – the local authorities who are holding the purse strings have very limited budgets and very little understanding of autism. Parents are left with the wrong kind of support or no support at all, and then when it all goes wrong (as invariably it does, for parents are only human after all) then the autistic offspring are often taken into care, by shadowy social workers. The parents often have to do battle once again with the courts to get their kids back, if they get them back at all.
I can’t sit idly by and watch this happen, but on the other had I can’t do much to help. This is a closed world and the last person those in power will listen to is the autistic person. I have often wanted to start some kind of “Fathers 4 Justice” type campaign but I suspect that this will make things worse.
The longer things go on without help, the greater the chances of me getting into real trouble, perhaps I will get sectioned and spend time in the mental health system, probably drugged into submission or worse, sent to prison.
So I feel that I must take charge of my life for one final time, if you want me, you will find me on the viaduct.
To all those who I have left behind, I am so very sorry, but you just can’t understand what’s going on in my head.