Mr. Cellophane

There is something I understand as being quite common amongst autistic individuals: namely, the feeling of being openly ignored. Looked straight past. In discussions, I have heard it suggested that we do not, perhaps, have a natural presence, nor natural body language and so are overridden in turn. Which is painful realisation to make, and one that was plunged home to me yesterday, at a doctor’s appointment.

It was, to be frank, actually a therapy appointment, which made it sting all the more that the experience I had there was not befitting of a bastion of dependency, trustworthiness and professionalism.

My appointment was at 9.30am and I arrived ten minutes early, having checked the SMS and letter five times to make sure I had the day, date, time and place correct. The Receptionist was pleasant and said she’d inform them of my arrival. I took my place in the waiting room.

At 9.35am, someone who I was fairly sure was the gentleman I had seen at my last appointment, poked his head out of a door and scanned the waiting room – but not in my direction. Ten full minutes later, at a quarter-to-ten, he walked past me, wearing his coat, and leaves the building.

Between my uncertainty of it being the gentleman I required, and my inability to process quickly enough (because, I mean, it surely couldn’t be him – I had an appointment!) I did not speak out and stop him, meaning all I could do was go back to Reception and confirm I did, indeed, have an appointment. The lady assured me I did and I had to, embarrassingly, explain that I had just watched the man walk right by me, missing me completely sitting in full view, and leave. Three people spent thirty┬áminutes trying to contact him, until they sent the Practice Manager to apologise to me and promise a rearrangement.

I was, and am, livid.

I spend enough of my daily life feeling downtrodden, dismissed and downright invisible and now, even in an institution supposed to be helping me with those issues, they manage to find a way to heap on the misery. My distrust of such services is currently resolute.

In order to make myself feel better, though, I have drafted an incredibly strongly-worded letter to the Manager. Who said I can’t express myself – hmph!?

There may be trouble ahead

I’m not sure why all of my blog titles come to me as a song title, but there you have it. Enjoy this Nat King Cole classic.

The point of it, though… Well these last few weeks have been hard – personally, yes, but also, and mostly as a result of which, within my relationship, too.

“Turbulent”.

It seems, at every turn, another of my autistic traits comes under the microscope – or is placed on trial, depending on the context – and I find myself arguing in defence of it; a defence most often founded on the “but I can’t help it” principle. It holds little sway usually and it becomes apparent to me just what my poor partner is truly faced with.

On the face of it, at least, it appears that I am asking for a free pass to be infinitely selfish, unwaveringly rude and duly entitled to rant, rave, sulk and storm out as I see fit, all at the expense of his own feelings and any notion that he might be right and I, wrong. In truth, though, this is, of course, never the intention. In my own mind – and with my limited self-knowledge – I can piece together exactly how autistic traits lead me astray and into a dead-end minefield from which I cannot return.

To begin, I fatally misunderstand something he has said – because I have taken him too literally, and it doesn’t compute. Then I expend my energy on trying to make him see why I would take it literally. Usually I am adamant it could not be taken any other way. As such, it is either black or white. He either meant it the way I took it, or he didn’t mean it that in which case he shouldn’t have said it at all. There is, despite his protestations, never a shade of grey in my sights, in which he could have, of course, meant it differently to how I took it.

Once he has not backed down, though, or seen where I am coming from and why, then I am simply immovable from my position until he humbles himself and attempts to repair communications and my feelings – such is my stubbornness. Add to this a perfectionist level of expectation, and it is little wonder he feels he can never win.

That said, there are ways and means to combat this system, and if I can figure out how I work and what I need and don’t need, then so can he. Though he shouldn’t really need to, as he has been told multiple times.

But there, in a nutshell example, is evidence of how difficult I, personally, can be to live with. I am lucky to have someone in my life at all, and though, at the moment, he is not quite capable of supporting me through my condition – and especially not in episodes like the above example – it is enough for me that someone wants to try.

I will always be thankful of that at least.

That’s Not My Name

By which I mean, of course, Sheldon Cooper. Off of that ‘Big Bang Theory’ on the telly.

Yes, I now have a personal stake in the debate that rages about the benefits of mainstream visibility and its drawbacks. It is an issue I have seen – and faced – before with the LGBT community (of which I am part only in name. Aspie = no social, remember?)

So yes, while it is heartening to see someone, somewhere on TV entering into people’s hearts and minds whilst displaying many of the typical traits of the autism spectrum, it is equally damn frustrating when, in response to revealing my own diagnosis, people say, “Oh like Sheldon Cooper, you mean?”

To which I can only really say no, not like Sheldon. Not at all “like Sheldon”. And begin a long and impassioned rant on the subject until they are under no illusion that I do not appreciate having my personal experience of autism – and living with it – overshadowed by a fictional TV character whom, were he officially diagnosed as being on the spectrum, would have a hugely different experience and many of his own traits.

In short, I am my own person. We are all our own people. Autism or not, we remain individuals and we do not like being lumped in as one quirky group of “otherness”.

So stop it, please.

I’m a problem-solver, a twisted problem-solver

Which is better in a way than being a firestarter. Though, in my own, way I start fires every damn day.

No, this is a topic that has only really come to make sense to me, in a broad kind of way., lately. I do not consider myself a problem-solver in a typically autistic way… Science and numbers are beyond me, as are puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku and Rubik’s Cube etc.

Instead, I can examine the pattern of my life – and analyse my own perspective – and see that it is all based, fundamentally, on trying to solve a problem. It explains so much of my past, and why I encourage others around me to just.. Give something a go. Because you just keep.. Trying. Whatever it takes, y’know… To solve the problem.

And I like it. On reflection, it has been misconstrued as resilience, or optimism, when in truth, I am an infinite, crushing mess inside. But still I like it. It is perhaps one thing about myself, and my journey, that I can say I am proud of and I like. I wonder if it is the case that others give up more easily in the face of things, but I – in my determination to solve the problem – keep plodding on and trying something else…

I wonder if that is my general fascination with people… That I don’t understand them and they are a constantly-evolving problem to try and solve…

Interesting…

Jane and George went to the supermarket.

George spotted a packet of biscuits that he fancied. They weren’t on the list, but he felt he deserved a treat so put them in the basket. That night, George opened the biscuits and had a few. They were very nice and he enjoyed them. He looked forward to returning to them another day.

Some days later, he went for the biscuits after dinner. There were half as many now as when he last had them. Confused, he asked Jane if she’d eaten any of them. Jane said she had. Jane said she thought they were for both of them.

George was very irate and spent almost half an hour telling Jane, in a very upset voice, that the biscuits were his. George explained that, in the supermarket, Jane had shown no interest in the biscuits and did not indicate that she would ever want some. George also tried to explain that he had chosen them and put them in the basket thus meaning they were, obviously, his.

Jane said it was fine, she would never eat biscuits ever again, and asked him if he was happy now.

Up, Down, Fuck You Up

For some time this is genuinely what I thought Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars were on about in their song, but no.

Instead, I’ve decided it’s an accurate portrayal of my day. Especially because I am now in a funk from which I have no idea how to recover. Every word or action from my boyfriend has exacerbated it and I have now alienated him for the evening too.

Not ideal when I need him to reach out to me and fix this.

Not ideal when I blame him almost entirely for triggering this mood, but he still can’t understand why.

As such we’re sat in silence; I at the table, he slumped on the couch like a sad, pathetic shadow. Whatever his deficiencies, I know I am responsible for driving him to this state, just as he is responsible for mine.

Some would say we’re probably not meant to be…