The Hidden Village of Aspergers

March 10, 2014

Life Of A Miser

Filed under: routine — kankurette @ 10:25 am
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Now he’s living the life of a miser
He once played a life of Russian Roulette and it paid up in the end
And he don’t care cos he’ll put up with the stares

One thing I am very grateful for, and amazed about, is the ability that I can live on my own. I own my own home and I work part-time, earning just over £800 a month. Most of that goes on bills – water, gas, electricity, internet – and food. I donate to a couple of charities – Oxfam, Greenpeace and Mustard Tree (one reason why chuggers do my head in is because they can’t seem to understand that I can only give so much, and if I gave to every single charity that asked me, I’d be skint).

One of the hardest parts of living on my own and earning my own money is managing it. Money makes my head spin. I am, it has to be said, a bit of a tight arse, though I’m willing to treat my family to nice presents, and gig tickets are my main luxury, though I try to stay with friends or family when I’m in other cities. Hotels and travelodges aren’t cheap. I refuse to get a credit card, as I’m worried about splurging and debts which I will never be able to pay off (I still haven’t paid off my student loan, and there’s no chance of that happening while I’m in my current job). When setting up a new bank account, I refused to get one that had extra ‘perks’, as it would mean a monthly charge. One good thing about being extremely paranoid is the fear of getting mugged off, and thus treating any potential scam with suspicion, such as the phone calls I got claiming I was owed money. I smelled bullshit and did a bit of research and sure enough, it turned out to be a scam. (I wondered why there was so much noise in the background, and why the woman on the phone seemed hesitant to answer my questions, and why she kept asking me about my bank.) I used to be very gullible as a kid, due to my tendency to take everything literally, and it is something I have to beware of. There are a lot of sharks in the water. I did get ripped off by a scam once, although fortunately, it wasn’t as much as it could have been. I have a gut instinct which is very reliable sometimes. Even back in 2002, when I was in Sixth Form, I got a Nigerian scam email and thought, “Who is this person and why do they want to give me their money? Why me of all people?”

That said, I developed a bit of a gambling habit last year, though fortunately it’s under control. I also got rid of Candy Crush Saga for the same reason, after realising that I was never going to complete it and that it was a huge waste of money. To be honest, I feel guilty about any kind of splurge, like with food – I barely get takeaways or ready meals, except the Covent Garden vegetable soups for when I just can’t be arsed cooking, or when it’s a 5:2 diet day (more on that later). Thank G-d I was taught to cook when I was a kid, and that I have enough energy to cook most of the time.

Most of my bills are paid via direct debit – I made the decision to do this after I kept getting warnings from the Council in my previous place, after I forgot to pay my Council Tax bill on time. Incidentally, one of the many things I found out the hard way was that when you move house, you are supposed to inform the Council. I got the fright of my life when I got a phone call at 9pm one night informing me that I owed the Council £1000 for unpaid Council tax on my last place, despite the fact that I had not been living in that flat during the designated period. I freaked and phoned my mum, and between us we managed to sort it out, and at least I’ll know the next time I move. Then there’s all the admin stuff revolving around the freehold in the building I live in, the signing of forms, the sending of letters and paperwork. I fucking hate paperwork. There is so much of it and I do file it and keep that which may become important, but sometimes I lose track of it. Plus with repairs and things, I forget, because as I said ages ago, stuff gets pushed out of my head and I can only contain a few things at a time. Right now, for instance, it’s gig month, and next month is my birthday and the month after that, Primavera and Barcelona. I still haven’t got round to having the lights in my kitchen checked out, though at least I got my boiler fixed. My house is not a rubbish dump, but it is as chaotic as my mind.


January 1, 2014

And 2014 begins.

I am sitting here, in my kitchen, playing Farm Heroes. The happy, smiling faces of the cartoon fruit and vegetables make me sad for some reason. I think it’s because I’m feeling a little flat and empty after spending time with my friends and family. Post-Christmas comedown and post-exertional fatigue (I’ve not been exercising, but I have been busy) has kicked in; I just want to sleep. I’m amazed I even can sum up the brain power to type this. I didn’t go out last night because of it. I just stayed in and watched Wayne’s World.

So, 2013. It’s been hit and miss. On the plus side, I met new people, went to Barcelona alone and had a fantastic time at Primavera. I became a lot closer to my stepdad, not that we weren’t in the first place, had a fun time with the family at Ness Gardens (rain notwithstanding), got to see a football match for the first time in years (it was Cambridge United, not Everton), and saw more Space gigs than you can shake a stick at. The last gig I saw was on Halloween in London, and after talking to him backstage, Tommy Scott got me to come onstage with him for The Ballad Of Tom Jones. We both hammed it up, and afterwards, he gave me a hug and told me I’d done the song proud, while Franny Griffiths smiled at me and Phil Hartley also gave me a hug backstage, and the audience were great. I still can’t quite believe it happened.

On the down side, my best mate moved to Oxford, I had a horrible panic attack at a Space gig, my mum went into rehab, I stopped going to synagogue because choir stressed me out, and I had to deal with problems at work, delusions and paranoia. A good deal of it is to do with Space. I find some of the band very hard to read and worry that they dislike me and do not appreciate me coming backstage, although Franny did say at the Hebden Bridge gig that he was cool with it. Then again, they haven’t told me to fuck off, Franny actually got somewhat irritated with me when I called myself a ‘dumb whore’ and told me to stop putting myself down, and the one time I did get kicked out of the dressing room, all the other fans who were there got kicked out too as the band were getting changed, which is fair enough. I also rely on alcohol as a coping mechanism. It’s not a case of being starstruck; I know Space are only human. It’s more a case of worrying a lot about appropriate or inappropriate behaviour and how other people might see me.

Communication is a problem I have in general, and when I’m able to gather my thoughts more coherently, I’ll blog on it, because sometimes it’s like trying to navigate my way through a forest, blindfolded. I’m not always good at expressing myself, I can’t always detect nuance and like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, I instantly suspect the worst of people and find it hard to trust others. I have to remember that just because some people hated me behind my back, and were only afraid to tell me how they really felt to my face because they knew I was mentally ill and feared I would flip out, does not mean everyone is like that.

I have plans for this year. I’ll be going to Space in March, at London, Liverpool and Manchester, and aim to get over my fear and paranoia. I’ve also got Nine Inch Nails and Primavera Sound coming up – I’ll be going back to Barcelona – and I plan to go down to Cambridge for my birthday, as well as visiting my auntie Chris, my dad’s sister, at the end of this month. I may well be going to Berlin as well – I haven’t decided yet. Hopefully there will not be a repeat of the unpleasant experience at Schonfeld Airport.

Also, I had a bit of a meltdown at Christmas when I got into an argument with my mum. She wants to get me a cleaner, as I have trouble taking care of my flat. I admit I have mixed feelings about this; I’m worried some of my friends will hate me for it and call me a spoiled brat, and I feel guilty for not being able to clean as much as I would like. I admit it; I am not a tidy person. I put cardboard and plastic in the recycling bins, I cook and wash the dishes, I change my sheets weekly and do my laundry regularly, I hoover, I clean the lav (again, not as much as I should), but it’s not enough. I haven’t cleaned the skirting boards, I barely wash the floors or dust. Mopping makes my back ache, as does any work on my knees. I think it’s a case of feeling like I can’t be that bad, that I’m not disabled to the extent that others are and I’m privileged and it could be a lot worse…and then the tiredness hits and I can barely think straight and I just want to crawl into bed. There’s a lot of internalised ableism and foolish pride going on as well. I’m still ashamed to admit I need help in some areas. When a lot of your friends are mentally ill and/or more understanding than most people, you become so used to that world that you almost forget how the majority of people see you. Cutting my arms and pouring boiling water over them at work seems normal to me, as does throwing up in the toilet after a binge…but to other people, it can come across as a bit scary.

I’m staying on the Venlafaxine for the time being. I’m not 100%, but let’s be realistic, I’m probably going to be on meds for the rest of my life. Still, I have some control over the delusions; when the Liverpool fans on my Facebook and Twitter sneer at Evertonians, I have to force myself to remember that it’s not personal and they’re not trying to get me, for instance. Hopefully it will get better. Fingers crossed.

September 19, 2010

My brain is a small cupboard

Filed under: routine — kankurette @ 8:05 pm
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In my living room, where I am typing this, there is a piano. It belonged to my mum and has been handed down through her family, and as I was always playing it whenever I went over to see her, she passed it on to me. As well as being my favourite instrument out of all of the ones I own (a trumpet, a flute, a bass guitar that used to belong to one of my cousins, a Squier guitar, a keyboard, and assorted bits of drumkit), it also serves as a handy surface on which to put things, as does my kitchen table. As well as various music books, there is also a pile of paperwork on there that varies in size. There’s a similar one on my kitchen table. It is comprised of everything from bank statements and bills to bumf from Manchester City Council about the cute little green bins for kitchen waste and a ticket for the High Holy Days from my synagogue.

I surprise myself at how messy I am. You’d think a woman with Aspergers would be extremely houseproud and tidy, a place for everything and everything in its place, etc. This one isn’t. My mum has some kind of weird compulsive habit of tidying my house whenever she comes over. I don’t think she realises she’s doing it. At least she doesn’t move the furniture, she just tries to make some order out of the chaos. Maybe it’s a genetic thing – my dad was messy as well and you could always tell which side of the bedroom was his, i.e. not the tidy one. My brother is even worse than I am. I have my books in vague alphabetical order and categorised, but that’s it. I can’t be arsed re-sorting my CDs.

I have a problem with paperwork. When I put my mind to it, ticking off things on a virtual to-do list, I can sort stuff out. I make sure my bills are paid on time, I set up direct debits and standing orders so that the Council or whoever won’t have to keep sending me arsey letters going “GIVE US YOUR MONEY OR WE TAKE YOU TO COURT, BITCH” (or words to that effect), but when it comes to other bits of paperwork and mundane tasks, I forget. It took me weeks to get my garden sorted out, as I don’t have the energy to maintain it myself, to donate to the synagogue Yom Kippur appeal, to take over the freehold for my flat, to write back to someone who’d found info on my family tree. I am admittedly terrible about getting back to people. It’s a good thing I’m only a legal secretary and not a lawyer.

I think the problem is that I cannot concentrate on too many things at once. I tend to do the mental equivalent of shoving bits of paper into a to-do tray and then ignoring it as the pile builds up. Forget what people say about women and multi-tasking; this one is crap at it. I can Google stuff or type when I’m talking to a client or a colleague or a barrister or whatever, as I have to take attendance notes on important phone calls, but when it comes to dealing with all the paperwork, or indeed, the housework, I forget. My mum was not happy with the state of my last house, as I nearly always forgot to hoover, dust, wipe surfaces etc. It wasn’t laziness or sluttiness so much as the fact that it just didn’t occur to me to do these things. I’d be so preoccupied with my dissertation or my research for uni or whatever that housework would be pushed out of my mind. If my brain was a storage space, it would be a small cupboard. There is only so much crap that you can fit in a small cupboard before things start to fall out.

I don’t know whether this is an Aspergers thing or not, but it’s a frustrating one. My mum has offered to pay for a cleaner in the past, but I feel far too ashamed to hire one. I guess I just don’t like admitting I need help. I hate being made to feel like a dirty slut who can’t take care of herself, but maybe this is what I am. I guess Mum sees things I don’t see. The dirt does not register on my radar. The last place had a damp problem and the amount of cleaning it needed was ridiculous, so at least the new place is easier to look after, but it’s still messy. Apparently it’s also depression related. Indeed, when I was at my lowest, I was dependent on my family for everything, including contacting the NHS for a referral for therapy, which I could not do as I was in too much of a mess.

I try and keep up with housework these days – at the very least, I wash up, I do at least one wash per week, I clean the toilet and change my bed, which I only did once a month back in the old place (sorry), but I don’t always hoover, wash windows, dust or clean the kitchen and bathroom floors, although now it’s because I don’t have the fucking energy to do housework most of the time. Even though I only work four hours a day, and in a desk job at that, I spend most of the rest of the day resting up and recovering. Probably due to the nature of my job, I am getting better at organising stuff and prioritising what needs to be done, even when it’s not flashing on my screen in red type marked ‘URGENT’, but it’s a pain in the arse trying to fit everything in the cupboard. Housework, job, synagogue, bills, sink, floor, bathroom, exercise when I have the energy, blog, return library books, transfer direct debits to new account, and so on, and so on…but the paperwork isn’t letting up any time soon.

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