One Small Step For Man…

I had my first session with Pyschologist to determine whether it was worthwhile me having further assessment for Aspergers.

It was a very strange situation as it was recommended that I took someone with me who knew me well or who knew me from childhood.  As a single person, the logical person to take was my mother.  There were somethings I remembered about my childhood and somethings she did.  It was was a very straightforward session in some respects, asking very basic questions.  I have no idea where my answers sit on the Autistic spectrum.

 What is the make up of your family? How did you achieve at School?  Well, my family is very ordinary, I have two parents and a younger brother.  I always achieved well at school, particularly in English based subjects.  I was the highest achieving female at English in my entire year.  I was well above average and the only girl to achieve exceptional for a 15 year old.

What are my hobbies? Reading.  Books are the love of my live.  No contest.  In fact, my ex boyfriend couldn’t cope with my love of reading.

Do you like fantasy? I am a massive Star Wars fan.  (My mother describes this as an understatement).  That weekend I went to see Rogue One. (I LOVED it).

What was my last holiday? Book shopping in Hay on Wye.  Why else would I want to go on holiday???

What are my biggest issues? Definitely my eating habits.  I can’t eat green food and I’m very sensitive to texture, which is why I can’t bear pasta or rice, amongst others.  I hate being touched which causes problems with other people.  I also can only cope with people for a certain amount of time, which has resulted in me locking myself in cupboards to get away from people.  I have obsesses signs (an entire session in itself) and wore my Sherlock hoodie, which says I’m not a physcopath but a high functioning sociopath, to the mental health unit. That’s what happens when your appointment is so close to the latest series of Sherlock.

The final question was what didI expect from a diagnosis.  Certainly not a cure, this is so much a part of me now that I can’t Imagine my personality without it.  However, last year I had ended up in a very dark place (another story for another time) where my coping mechanisms had failed me. And as a result I became very ill.  I never wanted to be in that position again.  

I had no idea what the phychologist was looking for, but at the end of the session he said it was worth me getting a full diagnosis.  To here someone completely impartial agree with my suspicions was nothing but a relief.  So now I’m on the waiting list for a full diagnosis.  Already though, just somebody listening has made me feel that I’m not abnormal as someone I had never met took my concerns very seriously, so imagine what a formal diagnosis might do…

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Tale as Old as Time

The vast majority of people will know the fairytale ‘Beauty and the Beast’: a handsome prince falls victim to a curse which turns him into a hideous beast, beautiful girl sacrifices her future to spare her father from being a prisoner of said beast, girl and beast fall in love, beast turns back into handsome prince, everybody lives happily ever after.

Beauty and the Beast Movie Details
Going to see the latest Disney film at the cinema was an annual event in our family and Beauty and the Beast was no exception.  Funnily enough as much as I enjoyed it as a child, it did not make it into my top three Disney movies as I was somewhat of a tomboy (another post for another time, but in short I was always a little different).  As soon as I hit my teenage years the Disney videos were consigned to the cupboard, or worse still the charity pile, I was far too mature for childish cartoons.  However, at university one of my closest friends had still got her entire childhood video collection which she brought with her.  So with the help of my friend (along with a smattering of wine) I rediscovered Disney.

This time though things were different.  First of all, I appreciated the beautifully crafted animation from an adult perspective and revelled in feelings of nostalgia.  Strangely, I enjoyed the princess movies more than I had the first time.  In part, this was probably due to the slow disintegration of my relationship at that time.  It was if there were a few missing jigsaw pieces, which I put down to it being long distance but was in fact because we were gradually turning into very different people (yet another post for another time), and I tried to plug the gap by gorging on romantic movies.  Incidentally, quite a few of those DVDs outlasted the boyfriend.  Random fact time: Beauty and the Beast was the first movie I bought on Blu-Ray.

Beauty and the Beast rapidly became my favourite fairy tale move because of Belle.  The outsider in her small French town who didn’t quite fit in, she had a passion for reading which she vastly preferred to finding a husband.  The short scene when she returns the book she borrowed the day before and exchanges it for once she’s already read twice could have been written about me.  Books are my life, always have been and always will.  As it happens, the ex boyfriend had issues with the amount I read, another reason why it was never going to work.  I struggle to think of anything more romantic than the moment when the Beast introduces Belle to his library.  Belle is brunette like me, rather than a blonde bimbo, and has a bit more character the earlier Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. She is bright, articulate, loyal and brave, as well as prepared to stand up for herself and others.  Rather than being prepared to settle she wants ‘adventure in the great wide somewhere’, though I’m not sure if that’s what she get.  Most importantly, she’s not afraid to be herself.

Next year will see the release of the live action version, which I have to say I secretly looking forward to.  This time Belle will be played by Emma Watson, an actress I admire greatly for her campaigning on women’s equality.  She is also best known for playing Hermione Granger, who is another favourite of mine.  In a world where so much attention is played to how women look, it is wonderfully refreshing for women to be recognised for intelligence.

Me and My Shadow

This week it was my best friend’s birthday.  We don’t see each other very often as we do not live close by to each other but we speak often on the phone and text regularly.  I have always been very lucky that I have always been able to find people who accept me for who I am though I do find it hard to maintain these friendships after a change of circumstances, such as leaving university, but the few exceptions become friends for life.  I met my Best Friend about seven years ago at work, I had only been there a couple of weeks before he arrived so we were ‘newbies’ together.  On paper he did not match my usual requirements from a friend so I was nothing but myself, it didn’t bother me whether we got on or not, but as it turned out that was the best thing I could have done and here are just ten reasons why:

  1. We have an identical sense of humour.  I have not yet found anything that only makes one of us laugh.  Despite this, he has never watched such programmes as Blackadder and so thinks I’m incredibly witty if I make an appropriate quote.
  2. Unlike me, he is most definitely a people person.  If there was ever a situation where a group of people were stuck in the lift, he would be the first to break the silence.  Attending a function together makes socialising less stressful as the part I find hardest is starting a conversation as I never know what to say, but he always does.  He is also very good at helping me join in.
  3. He is the most patient person I have ever met, and there are times when I can test the patience of a saint.
  4. We have an overlapping taste in music and there isn’t a CD in his collection that I dislike.  He also has a favourite song on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.
  5. Not only was he brave enough to buy my books, he did so without access to my bookshelves.  Not even my family will attempt this.
  6. We can literally talk about anything.  I don’t have to worry about reading body language because he will tell me if he happy or sad.  This, in turn, means that over the past seven years I have learned how to read his moods.  I can tell from a short text message if he is having a bad day.
  7. He knows me very well, sometimes I think even better than I know myself.  This means that at times when I am struggling to communicate, he still understands what I am trying to say.  Silence can sometimes say more than words.
  8. We both like Sherlock and can still have indepth discussions, even though he doesn’t feel the need to watch it as much as I do.  However, he hasn’t read the books so he is always impressed when I point out all the references.  He also texted to tell me it was Benedict Cumberbatch’s birthday.
  9. We have a lot of different interests which gives us more to talk about.  He likes football and I like history but he always appreciates it if I make the effort to talk about football.  In turn, he shows an interest in things I like because they are important to me.
  10. He has never done anything in seven years to make me question my trust in him, and I do so implicitly.  He been unwavering in his loyalty, has stuck by me through thick and thin, and any advice is always given with my best interests at heart.

When I told him about being autistic, my best friend was surprised to say the least.  He hadn’t even noticed as he had accepted my personality and quirks exactly, without wondering why I might be the way I am.  It was only afterwards when he went away and thought about it that he recognised the attributes, even though he had been privy to thoughts and feelings that I had never shared with anyone else.  It just goes to show you can find friendship in the most unexpected places in a form you never imagined.  To quote the latest Bridget Jones movie, sometimes you just love a person just because they feel like home.

Life In The Inside (And Sometimes Middle) Lane

Attending job interviews has meant that recently I’ve been driving to lots of new places.  This would not be an issue for most people but I have a sense of direction that makes James May look like a homing pigeon.  Just today I attempted to drive somewhere without the aid of sat nav, taking a turning that I didn’t think was the right one, turning round to take the next, only to discover I was right in the first place.  My first driving instructor once got so exasperated about my sheer lack of internal geography that she asked how on earth was I going to manage once I had a licence.  I told her I would buy a sat nav.

I didn’t feel ready to learn to drive at seventeen.  It seemed a very grown up thing to do and I most certainly didn’t feel like I was an adult.  I was quite happy to watch my friends pass their tests and the more that did so, the more potential chauffeurs I accquired.  One of my friends had an identical timetable to mine and we would go off driving in our free lessons.  On one occasion we went over to his and accidentally locked the keys in the house.  Queue one grovelling phone call to his Dad to come drive over and let us in…

I eventually took up lessons when I was at university, inspired by my current special interest at the time which was Top Gear.  My coordination had never been great at the best of times so it took me longer than most to get to grips with the clutch and gears but I was determined that I wasn’t going to let it get the better of me, as well as prove my then boyfriend wrong as he insisted no one could pass a test without understanding the inner workings of a car’s engine.  Incidentally I’ve had a licence for over five years and you could still fit what I know about gears on the back of a postage stamp.  I also neglected to tell said boyfriend I was having lessons for several years.

My biggest problem on the road is that I struggle to judge speed and distance, including my own.  My car only has a small engine so I worry that if I pull out I will not be able to pull away quick enough to satisfy the car behind.  One of my regular routes involves crossing two lanes of traffic at a motorway junction.  I would rather hesitate and cross safely than take a chance that someone is not indicating correctly, as I’ve been stuck in a queue of traffic caused by someone who took the chance and made the wrong decision.  I also hate feeding onto busy roads.  Once I’m on, I’m fine, but. It’s that initial thinking about whether I can slot into the gap.  There was one incident at Christmas where the traffics was so bad that I (along with other drivers I hasten to add) had to come off at one junction and get straight back on because other cars refused to allow us to feed on.  

I also get anxious if a car follows me for too long as my mother had an incident where another driver followed her home.  She was driving home when she came across a car in front which stopped without any sort of indication.  My mother waited, but when this car failed to move she eventually drove round it and carried on her way.  The other driver then followed her all the way home (at least 5 miles) to have a go at her because apparently she had been waiting for her electric gates to open when my mother overtook her.  I have been paranoid ever since.  I would find driving so much easier without other people.

PS.  I bought a sat nav less than six months after passing my test.  He is affectionately known as Jeremy as it is the Tomtom Top Gear special edition.  He has only got me lost once in five years.

The Meaning Of Life, The Universe and Everything, or, Why I’m Writing This Blog

Having always been a particularly private person, it might seem strange to those who know me that I’ve decided to start a blog.  Well, it certainly surprises me.  I rarely post on Facebook, never add an original tweet of my own and am not a member of Instagram.  However…

Relatively recently it came to light that I am on the Austic Spectrum.  I’ll admit that it wasn’t a shock but it is now official, rather than a collection of unrecognised traits.  I spent most of my life wondering why I wasn’t like everyone else who found it so easy to socialise, make friends or communicate verbally.  Certainly no one else seemed to get tired of mixing with people or preferred to spend so much time on their own without feeling the need for company.  Autism has given me an understanding of why I am how I am and provides an explanation for the way I process the world.  So many of my quirks and eccentricities (many of which I was ashamed of) suddenly made sense.

I did much research into the condition and read about the experiences of other women who felt as I did.  In some cases it was as if someone had been listening to the inner workings of my brain and tthoughts that I had never shared with anyone were written down on the page.  That was when I decided I wanted to write down my ramblings, because if I could just help one person find it easier to accept themselves for who they are, just as those books did for me, then my work would be worth it.  It is my intention  to share my observations about life, Autistic Spectrum Disorder as well as share my Special Interests (apologies in advance).

So therefore, as the blogging fundamentals course suggests, I say, “hello, world! This is me!”

Never Expect the Spanish Inquisition…

Never Expect the Spanish Inquisition…

For reasons best left for another time and place, I have been looking for a new job.  I must be doing something right as there has been a steady stream of interview requests over the last month or so.  However, when it comes to the actual interview you never quite know what they’re going to ask and coming up with the right answer is easier said then done.  I never know how much to say so I just keep talking, with no idea of how much is too much and worrying that I might have just talked myself out of a job.  Reading body language is not my forte so it is difficult to tell how well an answer has been received.

“Name your three best points”

I’ve never been good at blowing my own trumpet at the best of times but the things I think I’m good at are not necessarily what a prospective employer is looking for.  I’m a very fast reader which to me is an invaluable skill, but it’s not going to be much use in a cafe.  I’ve yet come across a job where being able to recite the complete score of Jesus Christ Superstar is an essential attribute.  The kind of answers they’re looking for are ones that can’t be measured so it’s hard to tell if they are something you are actually good at.  I have adequately mastered the art of talking, I open my mouth and words come out, but am I better at it than others?  I couldn’t say.

“What is the one thing your enemy would say about you?”

There are an awful lot of things my enemy might say about me but they’re not necessarily true.  If they want to know the answer to this, I can give them a phone number to ring for a detailed answer.

“What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of your life so far?”

Normally I go for something connected to my degree as this always goes down well, or I have a couple of stock examples from work.  Collecting a complete set of Agatha Christie books doesn’t sound so impressive even though it took me nearly ten years.  Neither does fulfilling my ambition to Robbie Williams live.

“You come across as someone methodical, we need someone flexible.  Do you think you could cope with this?”

This question is my biggest stumbling block and I’m not sure if I have yet found a convincing answer.  I know I can be but this is because I’ve had to in order to survive.  Nevertheless I find it very hard as I am at my happiest with a set routine to follow with deviations kept to a minimum.  I have an intrinsic need to know what is happening next.

“Why are you leaving your current job?”

I’m more than happy to explain why I want to work for my prospective employer but this question requires explaining what is wrong with the old one and nobody wants to open that can of worms in an interview.  It is even more awkward when they add the phrase ‘be honest’, because they only want you to do that within reason.  They don’t really want to know how desperately unhappy you are or how you just want to pay your bills.

“With your qualifications, why on earth are you in this job?”

This is possibly the most common question I get and I have come up with an answer which is both true and keeps the questioner happy.  I did fall into this profession  by accident whilst I looked for something more suitable but I was very lucky with my manager.  He saw that I was capable of more than my job required and took it upon himself to teach me about the inner workings of the business, which I found fascinating.  What was intended as a temporary stopgap lasted over two years.