The Hidden Village of Aspergers

April 21, 2016

An open letter to Roberto Martinez

Dear Roberto Martinez,

I’m not going to lie. Until recently, I fucking hated you.

I attributed Everton’s every failure to you. I read Everton forums and tweets and blogs to stoke my hatred. I built you up into a monster and saw you as a thing rather than a person. The very sight of your face or the sound of your voice filled me with rage. I hated you more than I’ve hated any human being, besides the man I call Itachi. And I wanted you dead.

I fantasised about killing you. I planned how and when I was going to do it. I’m not proud of this, but I had intrusive thoughts, like a voice in my head constantly telling me to kill you. Someone or something was telling me, “Kill this man, and you will be rewarded.” I figured that Everton fans would hail me as a hero or a god. Luckily, the opposite occurred. When I told other Everton fans what I felt, they called me crazy and a psychopath and said I needed locking up. I was banned from two Reddit pages and even the most negative of Everton fans told me I’d gone too far.

I have to thank you, because you made me realise I needed help. I saw a picture of you carrying Luella, your daughter, as you walked round the pitch at Goodison Park last season, and for an instant, I didn’t see a thing, a target, a hate figure. I saw a loving husband and father. I saw a human being who loves Jabugo ham and idolises his dad and dances badly to Jason Derulo and watches TV on his L-shaped sofa with his wife. More importantly, I saw a human being whose death would make many people sad, and the thought of your little girl growing up without a dad – just like I did – made me realise what I felt was sick and wrong. Even if the chances of me acting on my thoughts were virtually nil, I wanted to stop having these thoughts. One Friday, I had enough. I broke down crying and got an emergency appointment with a kind doctor who referred me to the local mental health services. I saw them a few hours ago today, as it happens.

I built you up into a monster and stripped away your humanity in order to make you easier to hate. I no longer saw you as a person, but the epitome of everything that had made me miserable this year. It was not you I hated. It was what you represented. Panic attacks, bleeding arms, and my mum hooked up to drips in a hospital bed, the week before I saw Everton lose to Swansea.

When I saw you after Liverpool’s 4-0 thrashing of Everton, any remaining hatred I had for you disappeared. You looked tired and sad, and older than your 42 years, with your rapidly disappearing hair, the lines around your mouth and the shadows under your big dark bloodshot eyes. You looked like a man who knew his time was running out and his job was on the line, that he had become a joke and a hate figure, and had nowhere to hide. You admitted the match was a disaster. I don’t know what goes on in the dressing room at Goodison, but I wouldn’t want to be you right now. I wished I could put my arms around you and say, “It’ll be OK.” Instead of rage and hatred, I only felt pity and sadness. Sadness that it could have been so different. You came to Everton full of life and promise, and we adored you. Now it’s 2016, and things are looking bleak for you. What goes through your mind when you see banners with ‘Martinez Out’ on them, or you hear the Liverpool fans laughing at you and chanting your name ironically? We’ll never know.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think you’ve got what it takes to manage Everton, but I wish you well in whatever you do. You seem like a genuinely nice person, and an interesting one at that, and your heart is in the right place, and I want you to be happy. I don’t wish harm on you anymore. I don’t see you as a monster, but as a flawed, ordinary human being just like me. Because that’s what football managers are – Klopp, Mourinho, Wenger, Rodgers, Derry, whoever. Just flawed, ordinary human beings with wives and kids and lives outside football.

Having obsessive thoughts is fucking shit, Roberto, especially when they turn me into a person I don’t want to be. Let’s hope that you’re the last person I feel like this about.

Yours,

Lotte

April 4, 2016

It’s me again, in-sig-ni-fi-cant me again; also, Autism Speaks can fuck right off

I’ve not updated this blog in over a year. Basically, a lot of stuff has happened.

– I changed jobs in January last year and now work in a hospital. It’s better than the last place, thank G-d. I’ve also started doing freelance translation work on the side.

– I sang The Ballad Of Tom Jones onstage with Space at the Liverpool International Music Festival in summer. It was one of my proudest achievements and I can’t thank them enough for letting me do it, it was an honour. I got to do it again in Runcorn, where I was dressed up as Anne Shirley (I pretended Tommy was Gilbert Blythe).

– My brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in summer, and has been in and out of hospital having chemotherapy. Thankfully, he is fine now and will be coming to Primavera this year.

– My mum was admitted to hospital in January this year after drinking too much and passing out due to dehydration and lack of food. She’s OK now, but it was…not pleasant.

– I have been having some very disturbing intrusive thoughts about Roberto Martinez, Everton’s manager, which I will detail another time. I’m getting help for it.

On another note, it’s April, it’s Autism Awareness Month, and this means the dreaded blue jigsaw piece and the ‘turn it blue’ meme are going to rear their ugly heads. I’m talking, of course, about the notorious Autism Speaks, the group with THAT ad about autism. Well, they don’t bloody speak for me, or any of the autistic people I know. Autistic Hoya and The Caffeinated Autistic both explain much better than I could why Autism Speaks are bad, bad people, and not an organisation you should be supporting. Be warned: some of the content is very distressing.

May 23, 2014

Quiet Beach

On some quiet beach, we sang songs for the sea
On some quiet beach, lost with the waves we breathe

TW: attempted suicide

It’s taken me ages to gear up to writing this, because it’s not going to be easy to write. I was motivated to write this post today for two reasons. One, a guy I follow on Twitter posted about suicide and selfishness, and it got me thinking. Two, Midland Railway, a band I used to play in, have got back together and are playing in the Retro Bar tonight, and the last time I played with them, I ended up trying to kill myself.

I have three suicide attempts under my belt. None of them have been serious enough to warrant extended hospital stays, though I did have counselling. The first time, I tried to hang myself, but something made me grab hold of the noose. I managed to pull myself back from the brink. I can’t remember what started it.

The second time, I was in my second year of university. It was a tough time. I was bogged down with coursework, my housemates and I were not getting on, I was juggling my degree with student council and other commitments, I was in love with a man who didn’t love me back, and to top it off, my gran had died. Everything came to a head when I found a note on the fridge – my housemates often communicated by leaving notes – about putting single items in the washing machine. It was clearly aimed at me as I’d washed a towel. I slashed my arm. Later, I was in the union and two of my housemates blanked me, and I was pretty wound up. I went to Hulme Hall for practice with another band I was in, but no-one showed up. I sat around crying for a bit, then went the chemist, got some Nurofen and was in the process of wolfing it down when a housemate found me. She made me throw up the pills and called an ambulance. I spent a few hours in hospital, but luckily I was OK and I was discharged. As I walked home, all I could think of was the final line of the poem Mum read at Gran’s funeral: ‘I am not there, I did not die.’

When I got home, the door was locked. I rang the doorbell. One of my housemates answered, gave me a dirty look and walked upstairs without a word. The housemate who found me must have told her that she was partly to blame for my overdose. We later got into an argument and I thought that had cleared the air but things were never the same after – they didn’t buy me anything for my birthday, even though we’d all celebrated theirs, and they’d walk out of a room when I went in. I dropped out of uni and decided to repeat the year. On the advice of a counsellor, I moved out of the house and spent the rest of the year in Richmond Park, before going back to my parents’ house in Chester. Before I left the house, I left a note explaining what I’d done. My housemates never spoke to me again.

Two years later, I was playing at Joshua Brooks with Midland Railway and got into a heated argument with the drummer over some sticks I thought I’d lost, culminating in me threatening to smash him over the head with my guitar, and frantically rummaging around on the floor looking for the sticks, screaming my head off. As soon as I got home, I ate all the pills in the house I could find, and posted a goodbye message on my Livejournal. Sarah, the other female band member and a good friend of mine, came over and kept me company until the ambulance arrived, and my then boyfriend also came and sat with me in the hospital. I was kept in overnight on a drip to get the crap out of my body. Later, the male members of the band kicked me out behind my back (Sarah was kept out of the loop). I only found out because my then boyfriend told me. I don’t want to go over old ground too much, but suffice to say, whenever I hear about Midland Railway now and see them on my feed, I feel sick and shaky. I’m back in the hospital again.

When I told my mum about my first overdose, her legs went. My maternal grandad was mentally ill and had attempted suicide several times. I remember one time when I got a frantic call from the counsellor’s office telling me to ring Mum. I’d made some comment about slashing my wrists the previous night, and she was frightened and had called the counsellor’s office. I rang her to tell her I was OK and she started crying, and I hated myself so much for what I was doing to her. The thing is, as I’ve said before, however much you may love your family and friends, when you’re suicidal, they do not figure. There is no room in your head. All you can think about is disappearing. You cannot go on anymore; you just want to wipe yourself out and cease to exist, and never mind who will have to pick your body off the floor or out of the bath, clean up the blood, make the phone calls. Your entire world is that little box of pills in your hand and you think of your gran and your dad and how you want to be with them. No more pain. No more sadness.

What does this have to do with Aspergers? I think it comes back to emotional difficulties – emotional and sensory overload, not knowing how to cope, and it all comes to a head and when you tend to see things in black and white, you think of extreme options. So many times I’ve had a bad day at work and thought, “I can end this. There’s one way out.” I think of pills, of ropes, of bleach. I had such a moment lately – luckily, Mum and Jack were able to calm me down over the phone.

I’ll be honest. The main reason why I’m not dead is because I love Mum and Jack and I can’t bear to think of what me dying would do to them. Obviously, there are other people in my life who I care about – my stepfamily, my other relatives, my friends – but I know how much my suicide attempts hurt them. Jack even argued with Mum that I wasn’t safe to go back to uni. One good thing that did come out of it, though, was Jack sending me a text telling me that he loved me and he just wanted me to be OK. Nothing brings my family together like a crisis. I’ll elaborate more on this in Guestlist To Hell, the final post of the series.

April 12, 2014

Paranoid 6teen

If you’re getting nervous
Cos all your defences are down
And you’re running through a storm
But there’s no one on the other side
You’ve got to avoid being paranoid sixteen

(Note: I’ve been putting this post off for a while as it’s not going to be easy to write, but my brother turned 28 on Thursday. This post is for him.)

Dear Jack,

You probably have guessed this, but I’m going to come out and say it: I was always jealous of you.

You were everything I wanted to be. You were, frankly, normal. You had friends; you were popular; you were cool; you liked the right music, the right things; and most important, you didn’t have Aspergers and you didn’t get bullied. You weren’t an emotional mess like me (or Mum, for that matter – you’re the only one out of the three of us who hasn’t struggled with some kind of addiction). When Mum yelled at you, you didn’t shout back at her like I did. You were more OK with Mum remarrying than I was (which is pretty ironic, considering how badly things ended up between you and Ex-Stepdad). You did everything before I did. I felt like was the younger sibling; I was so inexperienced and boring compared to you. I didn’t have sex until I was 17, didn’t start drinking till I was in Year 11, didn’t do anything stronger than weed till I was a student, didn’t have a serious relationship until I was in my twenties. You were growing up faster than me, and I resented you for it.

I’m not going to lie and say we’ve always had a brilliant relationship. At times, I hated you and I’m sure you hated me. You were pretty violent to me when we were little, and I returned the favour when I was older. You did a lot of things that made me angry. I hated the way you and your friends would wind me up and laugh at me, especially when I was with R. I hated how you called me a ‘whore’ after you found out about the Krazyhouse incident, how you told me to shut up whenever I sang or played the flute, and how you were clearly ashamed and embarrassed to have me for a sister. When I won the Comic Relief talent contest, kids in your year told you that your sister was a bitch, and one little shitbag joked about us being in an incestuous relationship. However, I also remember that I won a load of sweets, and as you were off sick that day, I shared them with you. Likewise, a year or so earlier, when I was off sick, you gave me a copy of Tin Planet that Danny Melia had taped. (Ah, that album. We fought over it like it was our child, even after you decided you hated Space and that I knew nothing about music.)

But then, I’m going to hold my hands up and say that I wasn’t a very nice older sister. When you and Emily started going out, I couldn’t handle it, I was eaten up with jealousy, and I said and did some pretty nasty things. I scratched you, screamed abuse at you, threatened to knife you. I’m not proud of that. I would never have done it – I’m more likely to hurt myself than another person. Sometimes I’d be spoiling for a fight. I made you cry a few times. I could be bitchy and condescending, and I did side with Ex-Stepdad against you at times, although in retrospect, I wonder if he was trying to play us off against each other.

You’re the reason why I cut Ex-Stepdad out of my life. He used you as a way to get at Mum. When he was angry with me, I’d get it in the neck, but when he was angry with you, he took it out on Mum instead. Maybe he was jealous of you. I hope not, because that would be fucked up. He badmouthed you to the McPartlands one time and I was really angry. Basically, I can talk shit about you because I’m your sister, and you can say what you want about me, but Ex-Stepdad doing it was different. He was an outsider. He called you an arsehole behind your back. Mum told me he didn’t trust you, and he was prepared to leave you to spend the night sleeping in a station in Crewe. Yes, you were a pain in the fucking arse at times, missing the last train home and asking Mum to collect you, but still. I lost my temper at Ex-Stepdad that night, I tell you now, because I was worried something would happen to you. That was why I found it weird that he sent you a card, and I don’t blame you for ripping it up. (I put some sweeties in your birthday package because of that!) You were only little when Dad died, and you needed a father figure, and he failed.

The turning point for me came when I found out he’d asked Mum how I was doing, but not you. He made it clear that he didn’t give a fuck about you. That settled it. We are a package deal. Just as Alice and Tom are a package deal – I mean, fucking hell, can you imagine Mum blatantly favouring Alice over Tom like that? No, you couldn’t. When it came between you and Ex-Stepdad, you won out and I was so disgusted by the way he treated you and Mum that I cut him out of my life. I regret nothing.

It took me by surprise when I found out how upset you were about the overdose, and that you’d argued with Mum, saying she shouldn’t let me go back to uni. I honestly did not realise you cared so much. Then you sent me a text telling me you loved me, and one night you were pissed and told me how much it hurt you when I cut myself. When we were helping you move out of Liverpool halls, you saw the scars on my arms and freaked. I think we became closer partly due to that. You began to open up more; you even started hugging me. We never hugged as kids. The only body contact we had was hitting and kicking and scratching each other.

I have many happy memories of you, before you think that I’m just slagging you off. The Famous Five fanfic we wrote together, the word games we’d play in the car or walking the dog, the Sundays with Dad in Hove Park, dancing to East 17 with Danny and Mike in Southampton, going swimming with Mum. More recently, there’s Primavera 2013. When we were at Leeds 2002, we avoided each other, and 11 years later, we were watching Wu-Tang Clan together with your mates. How times change. You also helped me during the time when Mum was in rehab – you and Richard helped me get over my guilt and sadness and helplessness. She also told me you looked after her when she had a panic attack. I was so proud of you. I only wish I’d been able to go to your graduation ceremony (bloody swine flu). Again, I was so proud of you. Ex-Stepdad never had any faith in you, but I did. I knew you’d be OK in the end.

I do care about you. When I came home from work and saw you crying on the sofa, and Mum told me Emily had dumped you, I wanted to beat the shit out of her, because I couldn’t bear to see you so upset. Seeing you cry at Gran’s funeral in 2005 hurt, as did finding out that you weren’t as confident as I thought you were, that you had insecurities of your own. I’d known you all your life, and yet I knew so little about you. I’m glad that we’re making up for the teenage years now. A lot of damage was done, but we’re getting there. You’re not ashamed of me anymore and I’m not jealous of you anymore. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

I love you, and I always will. You and Mum are everything to me.

Lotte x

March 30, 2014

Suburban Rock ‘n’ Roll

TW: eating disorders

I hate that coward in my dreams
He steps in front of every goal
Life’s a suburban rock ‘n’ roll

In the summer of 1995, Mum, Jack and I moved to Chester. I left home for good in around 2006-2007, when I moved into a small flat in Victoria Park. When I started at uni, very rarely did I go back there, except to catch up with the odd friend or see my mum. Firstly, I was happy at uni, enjoying the new city, meeting new people and getting to live on my own and eat Nutella out of the jar and go out clubbing every week. Secondly, one of my now ex-stepsisters and her kid were living with us in Chester, and the atmosphere in the house was very tense. I disliked sharing my space with them and whenever an opportunity to go out came up, I took it, as did Jack. My ex-stepsister was getting away from her abusive boyfriend, and one time I accidentally let him into the house – I didn’t know who he was – and had to ring the police. Jack and I were hiding in the annexe, and I was in a mess. Another time, there was a confrontation and Jack had to look after the kid while Bastard Boyfriend threatened my ex-stepdad and the police had to be called, again. Luckily, I was at a mate’s house in Handbridge and missed the drama. At the time, I wasn’t very good at empathising with others, hated change and having to adjust to new people, and hated me, Jack and Mum all being sucked into drama that had nothing to do with us.

I don’t want to post too much about my ex-stepdad, except to say that I cut all ties with him in 2009, and a few years later, I cut all ties with my former stepfamily after Mum wrote an angry Facebook post about my ex-stepdad, and my ex-stepsister sent Mum a horrible message. Jack had cut ties with them long before me. He and my ex-stepdad never got on. I wouldn’t say they hated each other per se, but they antagonised each other a lot. My ex-stepdad talked shit about Jack in front of family friends, and took it out on Mum whenever Jack did anything wrong (he didn’t do this with me). He blatantly favoured me over Jack – when he and Mum were splitting, he asked about me, but not Jack, and made it clear that I was the only one he gave a shit about. This pissed me off. I felt he was trying to drive a rift between us (and I’ll talk more about this in Paranoid 6teen). He wasn’t abusive to me or Jack, he didn’t beat or neglect us, and he didn’t hit Mum or anything, but there was a fair bit of emotional abuse. Even now, I don’t think I know the half of what must have gone on, though a lot came out after the divorce. Out of respect to Mum, I will not go into detail, but what I will say is that she has a lot of demons, and he is one of the causes. It took her a long time to get over him. She constantly beats herself up about remarrying so soon after Dad’s death, and while I was angry with her, I understand now that she’s one of those people who just needs to be in a relationship and hates being alone, and he was basically a rebound. She wasn’t to know how things would turn out. None of us did. I had mixed feelings at first, as he was kind to me at my maternal gran’s funeral and he did have his moments, but now I feel nothing for him. Anyway.

I hate Chester. Not because it’s a shithole, it’s quite nice as cities go, but because of all the memories there. In Manchester, you can be fairly anonymous; in Chester, everyone knows your business. Even after I’d left school, people would shout things at me in the street. As I said in earlier posts, I had a reputation as the school’s weird girl. I couldn’t wait to go somewhere where no-one knew who I was. My social life wasn’t great; Foregate Street is one long row of wine bars, and the one club I did like, Love Street, closed down in 2004, with its metal night moving to Rosie’s, our local dive where most of my year went when we got our A-Level results. I started going clubbing in Sixth Form and loved it. Since we lived in the arse end of nowhere, in Christleton, it got to the point where taxi drivers recognised Jack and me. “Big white house, right?” After life in a city, living in a village where the nearest supermarket was at least half an hour’s walk away and buses were hourly was a bit of a culture shock, as was the fact that nearly everyone in my high school was white (there were about four Asian kids in my year, and that was it) and nominally Christian. Coming back from Manchester was even weirder and made me realise how much I wanted to get out. So many people I knew in high school have left Chester, whereas loads of the old primary school crowd are still in Brighton. People at uni said they loved Chester and asked me if it was like Hollyoaks. If only it were that exciting. Some people might think uni is a waste of time and teaches you no life skills, but had I not gone to Manchester and realised that, despite having Aspergers, I could fend for myself, I would have been stuck at home in Chester for years, living with Mum and doing crappy office jobs and learning nothing. No thanks.

Country life was not for us. We three are townies at heart. The endless walks at weekends that I put up with so as not to anger my ex-stepdad, the mud, the renegade cattle, the pavement-less roads with rogue drivers…it was like being on the moon. One thing I did like was the wildlife; the foxes, the badgers, the odd pheasant or weasel. Other than that, though, it wasn’t much fun being cut off, and it had a weird effect on Mum. She became a lot more conformist, always worrying what people would think of her, and by extension, me. A lot of screaming matches were had and at times I felt I was a disappointment and that I was not the daughter she’d wanted; I was prickly and aggressive and moody and preferred books to clothes, and she couldn’t dress me up and take me shopping and squee over shoes with me. I wonder how much of that was my ex-stepdad’s influence. I know he’s one of the reasons why it took me forever to admit I needed help; he despised depressives and thought they were weak. He also hated fat people. No doubt it would have been some consolation to him to hear his stepdaughter vomiting in her sink.

The song after which this post is named, and the album that spawned it, is about suburbia, the cramped and inward-looking nature of it and the goings-on behind closed doors. We lived in suburbia in our first year here, alternating between a tiny rented house in Hoole and my ex-stepfamily’s house in the sticks, and it was claustrophobic. So was living in the village. Jack’s mates all lived in the arse end of nowhere, while mine lived in Vicar’s Cross, in the sticks. Now that Mum and I have left Chester, we’re like Battle Royale characters whose explosive collars have been removed from our necks. We are free to be who we want. She’s got a new set of friends and I’m living alone. We are not forced into little boxes anymore.

March 22, 2014

Diary Of A Wimp

(On Wednesday) I sent you a hundred letters in one day
I bet your friends had a good laugh at them
(On Thursday) Stood there before you all puppy-eyed
It’s my curse for falling in love

On TV Tropes, there’s much discussion of a certain character archetype, the Yandere (it’s an anime thing – the Western equivalent would be ‘bunny boiler’). The poster girl for this trope is Yuno Gasai (pictured), the main female character in the manga Mirai Nikki, who is obsessed with the hero, Yukiteru – and I mean, obsessed. If ‘Yukki’ so much as smiles at her, she explodes in an ecstasy of delight. She’s willing to kill for him, and anyone who poses the slightest threat, who so much as smiles as ‘Yukki’, has just painted a big target on their back. OK, so I was never that extreme, but I can empathise; I too have obsessed over men who did not love me back. The first one was R, my best friend in high school; the second was P, a boy in my year who I’d been friends with for a while; and the third, the most damaging, was a man I referred to as ‘Itachi’, a while back, who I met through the Rock Soc at university. It didn’t help that my obsession with him got serious a few months before my overdose and subsequent breakdown. Bizarrely, I’ve seen some men say that they want a girlfriend like this.

Let me tell you this: obsessive behaviour is not pretty. If you want a Yandere girlfriend, you are living in a fools’ paradise. Even if you’re so self-obsessed that the idea of a woman obsessing over you gives you wood, a woman like that will only make you miserable. I told my last boyfriend that he should be glad I didn’t feel about him the way I felt about certain men, because that was obsession, not love. I’ve never had a restraining order taken out against me, and it’s never gotten into such drastic territory, but it has caused friction, and in one case, turned the man against me. R and P remained friends with me, although I don’t see much of them now, but Itachi hated me.

I don’t know if it’s daddy issues or something, but I have a habit of fixating on certain men and getting obsessed with them. I have learned to recognise the warning signs:

– I google them a lot.

– They are constantly in my thoughts and dreams, and on my lips. I write songs about them. I drive my mates nuts with talk about them.

– I am terrified of making them angry. I make every effort to keep on their right side, because I’m scared of ‘losing’ them.

– If they have girlfriends, as was the case with P and Itachi, I make an effort to befriend said girlfriends, to get over my own jealousy. When I found out Itachi had a girlfriend, just as I was planning to ask him out, I went off to the toilets and cried.

– I get involved in the same stuff as I do in order to spend more time with them. In clubs, I hang around them like a bad smell. I dance with them. I try and sit near them. This is all stuff I did with Itachi, and he knew exactly what I was doing. A friend of his warned me, and I genuinely did try to stop acting like a lost puppy, but it was too late.

– I wander past their houses.

– If I text or message them and they don’t reply, I get panicky.

Do I have a type? Perhaps. The men in question have all been intelligent, tall-ish, outgoing (Itachi and R more than P), had fairly stable home lives in comparison to mine (although Itachi’s parents are divorced), and had the same sense of humour as me, as well as similar interests. Itachi and R even looked quite similar once Itachi got his hair cut, although Itachi is bigger and hairier. Each time, I felt a weird sort of connection with them. In Itachi’s case, I carved his initials into my arm. When he told me on MSN that he didn’t want anything to do with me, I cried for ages. I didn’t know what I’d done wrong and why he hated me so much. A year or so later, a friend of his took great pleasure in telling me that he didn’t like coming out with Rock Soc because of me always ‘following him around’. My obsessive love turned to hate. After the fall-out, when I returned to Manchester, every time I saw him, I’d have panic attacks. I’d feel sick and my hands would shake. I don’t know why – it’s not as if the guy raped me or anything. Perhaps it was because every time I saw him, I was confronted with the results of my horrible obsessive behaviour. I swore to myself that I would never fixate on a man like this again. Admittedly, I did worry that I might be getting like this with Space, and it’s a tendency I want to curb, though luckily it’s not happened, and when I hung out with the band on Thursday, they were as friendly as ever.

In an excellent article in the Times Magazine from April 2012, about girls on the autistic spectrum, a woman said of her young daughter, “I see kind little girls make friends with her and she’s so obsessive in her friendships, she literally wants to crawl under their skin. Eventually, she always loses them all because they can’t handle her intensity.” This is me with those three men. It goes back to the extremity of emotions: when we take an interest in something, we go all out. We love and hate in black and white. I went from wanting to do anything for Itachi to wishing him dead. Luckily, I don’t feel this way about most of my friends, though there are a couple I do tend to put on a pedestal, but I don’t fixate on them.

Love is beautiful. Love is powerful and strong and can move mountains, but love is not obsession and obsession is not love. It is merely a twisted reflection of love.

March 16, 2014

Numb The Doubt

I’m not here to impress
I just want you to confess
I’m not here to confide
I just want to watch you die

I should probably slap a disclaimer on this post. Here goes: I’m not endorsing drug use. I’m not saying, “Wow, drugs are awesome and everyone on the spectrum should do them.” I’m just talking about my own experiences here. If you’re anti-drugs, you might not want to read this.

I used to be very, very anti-drugs as a kid. When I found out that my best friend from primary school had done Ecstasy, I yelled at her down the phone and told her she was stupid and that she could die. I’d seen a film on Leah Betts when I was in Year 7 and cried my eyes out, swearing I’d never touch Ecstasy. I look back and cringe now. Luckily, my friend forgave me. However, it all changed when I got older and became more curious as to what I was missing out on. Most of what I knew about drugs came from music magazines.  It was the same mentality that drove me to try to hook up with men in clubs. Friends of mine were starting to do drugs, and I felt left out. I do not like feeling left out. I felt, perhaps rather stupidly, that doing drugs would make me more ‘normal’. I was still getting over the idea I’d internalised from high school that I was an uncool, goody-two-shoes freak. I had something to prove.

It wasn’t until I got to university that I did anything stronger than weed. I refuse to touch acid, heroin or crack, but I have taken speed, MDMA, mushrooms and cocaine, sniffed amyl nitrate, and smoked weed. Most of the people I hung out with in Sixth Form smoked it at parties, and I had my first spliff when I was about 16 or so. It’s never really had that much of an effect on me, except on a few occasions, such as when I smoked some very strong grass in Germany and had a fit of the giggles all night. During my first two years at uni, I occasionally did mushrooms (they were legal back then, and you could buy them in Doctor Hermans). I’m not going to lie: the first time I did them, it was great. I saw people turning into trees, and I remember giggling a lot. Another time, I took them at a Nightwish gig and thought I was on a pirate ship. Sometimes I wonder if they contributed to the depression, but then it runs in my mother’s family, so knowing my luck, it was likely I was going to end up that way anyway. Coke, I didn’t particularly like; it hurt my nose. I did enjoy MDMA, though I only did it a few times. I didn’t want to get addicted because I didn’t want the novelty to wear off. I’m not going to go into detail as to the effect it had on me, except to say that my boyfriend at the time was pleasantly surprised. However, that was a long time ago, and it was something I got out of my system. Again: it wasn’t a regular habit, it was just something I occasionally did at parties and nights out. It’s also not something I could afford to do now, for the sake of my mental health.

Nowadays, the only drug I take regularly is Venlafaxine. I barely go out, due to a combination of tiredness, working in the evenings and not having many people to go out with, and I think the last time I did anything besides weed was at least six years ago. I doubt I’d ever do any drugs again, save for having the odd spliff. It would be too risky for me and I’d worry about the effect of my mental health. Whether you decide to do them or not, it’s your choice. I know at least one person on the autistic spectrum who does drugs; I also know some who prefer not to. Everyone’s experience with Aspergers is different; some people will be more negatively affected by drugs than others. If you are going to do them, I’d give you three pointers:

1. Go on Erowid and read up on whatever you plan to take. It’s a fantastic site for educating yourself about the effects of various drugs. When I was going to take mushrooms for the first time, I read up on the best circumstances in which to take them, possible effects etc. I made sure I was in a good mood, so that they wouldn’t enhance any negative emotions, made sure not to take them. Bluelight and Drugs Forum are also worth looking into, especially if you’re planning on taking a ‘legal high’ or a relatively unknown drug.

2. Get them off people you know and trust. Emphasis on trust. Whenever I’ve done anything stronger than weed, it has been given to me by a trusted friend. I have been offered drugs in the streets by random dealers a couple of times, but refused to buy them because I didn’t know what I was getting. For all I knew, they could have been pushing aspirin or tablets cut with something dodgy.

3. Make sure you’re with people you know and/or somewhere familiar. As I said on the festivals post, I’d personally advise against doing them at music festivals, especially if they’re as massive as Glastonbury, if you’re on your own and/or you’re nervous in crowds. If you’re nervous in unfamiliar surroundings, it could negatively impact you, and if things go wrong, it helps to have someone there to look after you. When I did shrooms for the first time, I was with Paul and Jilly, a couple of friends of mine, at a metal night in Chester, and other times I’ve been with friends or people from the Rock Soc at Manchester University. I was lucky and nothing went horribly wrong, but it was good to have a safety net.

March 15, 2014

Bastard Me Bastard You

TW: sexual assault / rape

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if I could make you mine?
To own and dress you up, control you all the time

Before I go any further, I feel I need to write this disclaimer: I do not hate men. My father, my brother, stepdad, stepbrother, uncles and some of my cousins are men, I have male friends, and there are plenty of decent men out there. I’m not going to write off an entire sex. But I am nervous around large groups of men, I worry about getting involved with men, and some of the worst bullying I suffered was at the hands of men. A lot of it was sexual in nature. I’d have all kinds of disgusting comments shouted at me in the yard, and one time a bunch of kids tried to get me to feel myself up in a park, and there was talk of me giving one of the guys a handjob. I freaked and ran home. Another time, a guy shoved his hand up my skirt as I was walking up some steps. I was told that I didn’t need a bra as I had nothing to put in it; my developing tits were hidden under my baggy school sweater. In Year 7, a crude caricature of me was passed around English class. One guy had a song about fucking me in the arse to the tune of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ There was a running gag that I liked using sausages as dildos because I said ‘yes’ when asked if I liked sausages. Me being innocent and literal-minded, I had no idea they weren’t talking about food. This went on all through high school. Even when the guys in my year who picked on me had left, it didn’t end, because there were the guys in my brother’s year. I had a reputation by then. Word got around at Christleton High School.

When I was a teenager, I had a nasty incident with a guy in a club. Some would call what happened to me rape, although under British law, it was sexual assault as he didn’t use his penis. He used his hand. Because I had a bit of a complex about being a virgin, and because I worried so much about fitting in and that ‘everyone else’ was having sex and that I wouldn’t be a normal person unless I got laid, I would go out clubbing in the hope that I could pull some guy for a quick fuck in the toilet. It happened once, in the Krazyhouse in Liverpool; another time, I came very close to it, but couldn’t go through with it in the end. I can’t remember when this incident happened, but I was in Sixth Form and I was out with R, my best mate, and I got a bit friendly with a guy he knew and let him shove his fingers up me. We went outside and sat in an alcove over the road, and I wanted to go back into the club, but he wouldn’t let me and I had to wrench myself free. When we got back into the club, he started fingering me again and I told him to stop, as he was hurting me, but he kept on doing it and only stopped after R told him to leave me alone.  I never went to the police or anything. It didn’t occur to me. I doubt they would have believed me anyway. After that, I was a bit more careful. At uni, in second year, I lived in a dodgy area of Fallowfield and one night, as I was walking home down Moseley Road, a man slowed down his car next to me. I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast in my life, not even on Sports Day.

Some people with Aspergers are easily taken advantage of. With me, I’m the opposite. I used to be taken in by men who hit on me, but now I’m hyper-paranoid around most men. I am genuinely surprised when a man finds me attractive and isn’t taking the piss. When a man hits on me, I assume he’s doing it for a laugh or a dare. After all, who’d want to fuck a fat woman with messy hair and bad skin? Years of being told you’re ugly and treated like a freak and a sexless creature and the school joke can do bad things to your head. You internalise all the things people say about you and believe that you are so hideous that no-one could possibly want you unless they were desperate. I’m not fishing for compliments. I genuinely do believe this.

This leads me onto catcalling and street harassment. Not only beautiful women have to deal with it, sadly. We ugly women do too. I don’t take catcalls as compliments. I know the men catcalling me don’t mean it and that if I do take their word for it and give them my number, they’ll laugh in my face. I really doubt any of the men who catcall me are chubby chasers, as a friend of a friend claimed. If so, there must be a hell of a lot of chubby chasers in Manchester, is all I can say. I used to hate walking into town in Chester, because I hated being beeped at. I don’t get why men do this, if I’m honest. Do they genuinely believe that I find their behaviour a turn-on, that I’m going to fall in love with them if they beep and jeer at me? Of course they don’t. It just makes me feel humiliated and small. I don’t project confidence when I walk. I walk with my head down. I have a general fear of strangers coming up to me as it is: when beggars ask me for change, and I get it a lot in Manchester, I freak. One time, I screamed in fear when a small group of them came up to me, and another time, I jerked my body away, resulting in a sarcastic ‘that’s nice’. I even slashed my arm up in front of one beggar because I felt ashamed of not giving him money, and because earlier, I’d thought he was going to rape me. I must have been feeling ultra paranoid that day. Ah, paranoia, my old friend.

I get nervous around large groups of men because it reminds me of the Chester days, basically. I can get lost in my own head when I’m walking to work or wherever, and being shouted at disturbs the feeling. It makes me scared and self-conscious and nervous. It doesn’t make me feel empowered or sexy.

March 3, 2014

Mister Psycho

All these people are laughing at him
And although he tries, it’s getting to him
And if he sees just one more grin
He won’t be held responsible
The city’s closing in on him
And everywhere’s getting smaller and smaller…

I might be many things, but one thing I am not is emotionless. I love. I hate. I can be happy or angry. I get excited, although I don’t jump up and down and squeal – I’m more like a human pressure cooker. I am torn apart by sadness. I feel immense loyalty or devotion towards people and want to do everything I can for them.

One thing a lot of us on the spectrum can’t do is read emotions via facial expressions. In Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, which I cannot recommend enough to people on the autistic spectrum and/or their friends and families, the hero, Christopher, talks about how he can recognise basic emotions and the facial expressions that go with them. However, while a simple smiley face is easy for him to interpret, more complex expressions are not.

Sometimes emotions get too strong and I can’t find the words to express myself, or I can’t hold myself back. Recently, I’ve had a lot on at work and I seem to spend an awful lot of time sitting at my desk crying until my head and eyes hurt, while my colleagues generally ignore me. I’m not good at managing stress levels. When things get too much, the floodgates open.

There is a scene in the anime Hellsing where Seras Victoria, a young fledgling vampire, is swarmed by Hellsing soldiers who have been turned into ghouls. Trapped, pressured and terrified that they are going to do something unpleasant to her, Seras snaps. Her eyes turn red, and blood and limbs fly everywhere as she rips her way through the ghouls. Her rampage ends when her boss, Sir Integra Hellsing, hugs her and begs her to stop. OK, so I’m not a vampire and none of my meltdowns have resulted in carnage, but it’s the same principle. Pile too much on me, push me too far, and I snap. Sometimes I just have a cry. Sometimes I hurt myself. I might reach for a knife, a shard of glass or a razor blade and slice up my arms, or occasionally, my face. Sometimes I bang my head against a wall, punch a wall, or – like today – bash myself over the head or arms with a heavy blunt object. To paraphrase Richey James of the Manic Street Preachers – another band I love – I can’t shout or scream, so I hurt myself to get the pain out. Having said that, sometimes I scream until my throat hurts, or until some kind person – my mum, a friend, or in one instance last year, the lead singer of Space – hugs me and brings me out of it.

Very rarely do I attack other people, though when I was a teenager, there were instances. I slapped a guy’s face in a club after he told me, in front of a load of people I thought were my friends, that no-one liked me. I hit and scratched my brother plenty of times. One time I lost my temper in Germany when a guy I fancied snogged another girl, and threw a pretty little shot glass to the ground, smashing it to tiny pieces. When a load of kids ganged up on me during a school newspaper session, I grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed a guy in the chest, though I didn’t seriously wound him, and went for another girl. I’m amazed I didn’t get into more trouble, but the teachers probably realised I’d been provoked. I got a bit of a reputation for being a psycho. The guy I stabbed threatened to sue me! The funny thing is, I am not a violent person and I hate fighting. I hate being out of control – when I have meltdowns or crying fits, it feels like an out of body experience, almost. I feel ashamed almost immediately after, to think I could behave in such an unseemly manner. I still cringe of how I threatened to stab my brother after one particularly nasty fight, and I made him cry, and when I apologised and tried to hug him, he pushed me away.

Women and girls are taught to be quiet. We’re taught to keep our heads down and not make a fuss, not shout or scream. Keep calm and carry on. It’s unseemly to show pain or anger. Be nice. Be sweet. Be gentle. Do not, do NOT act up in public. Just smile and take it. Sticks and stones, blah blah fucking blah. Funny how words have caused me so much pain, whether it’s them being used to hurt me or my inability to use them when I need to. I don’t suffer from selective mutism like some of my fellow Aspergics, but I can’t always articulate myself and express my needs and wants orally. This is one reason why I write.

Another emotion I have a problem with, incidentally, is love, but I’ll be talking more about that later. I will say, in closing, though, that anyone who thinks people with Aspergers are emotionless is talking out of their arse. We can and do feel. We just don’t always know how to deal with those feelings, and at times, trying to keep a lid on those feelings is like trying to erect a very fragile dam.

January 29, 2014

Anatomy of a panic attack (in the style of Katniss Everdeen)

Filed under: mental illness — kankurette @ 10:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

(Note – I’m a fan of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series and was recently reading Mockingjay, which gave me the idea for the style of this post. Also, I’m going to warn for mention of self-harm and eating disorders.)

This is what happened last night, and I’m still recovering.

I’m at work. 8pm: Everton are playing Liverpool at Anfield. I check the score on the BBC website: 0-0. Half an hour later, we are 3-0 down.

Something snaps.

I am crying and cannot stop. I am the only person in the office. On Facebook, my mates ask if I am OK. I tell them that I am alone, reassure them that I am not going to do anything stupid, even though right now I want to go to sleep and never wake up. Thoughts flash through my mind. I am surfing the web, looking at TV Tropes, and the pictures of cute anime girls set something off and I am thinking of my dad and high school and everything is getting too much and I just want to hide under my desk. The office is warm and I am too scared to go home. Scared of what I might do. I am trapped in the office. Should I just go to sleep here? But I am out of coffee and shampoo and I need to go home. I remember how I broke down screaming and crying at the Space gig in Birmingham, and how Tommy Scott hugged me and calmed me down and made sure I was OK. I wish he was here, or someone. Dad. Mum. Richard. Anyone. I don’t want to be alone. Not like this.

It takes me fifteen minutes before I am able to leave work. I am not kidding when I say I have to force myself to walk to the door. Turn off the lights, set the code, lock the door. Then out into the open. The air feels cool on my face. Every step is heavy. I briefly consider flinging myself into the canal.

Panic. My chest suddenly goes tight and I can’t breathe. I have some kind of air hunger – something is sitting on me. Crushing my chest. I take shallow breaths. Still crying. Cross the road, walk past the building site, up Whitworth Street, onto Oxford Road. Pull my hood up on the bus so no one can see me. See the crazy woman crying. I flick through songs on my iPod, but am unable to concentrate. My eyes are red, my hair is sticking to my face. At Sainsbury’s, I buy batteries, shampoo, other things including cookies which are going cheap. I need comfort food.

I get home, and check the score. 4-0. I am almost numb with misery. I pick up a kitchen knife. Better get this over with. Slash my arm four times, one for each goal, the last wound being deeper than the rest. Blood streams down my arm as I hunt for plasters and bog roll to stop the bleeding.

I cannot go on Twitter. They will be laughing. Laughing at me. The stupid bitch who supports the wrong team. Telling me to cry more. Kill myself. Look, the blues are quiet tonight. I must be quiet or I will say something stupid. Something regrettable. I cannot let them see me like this. I know my friend Gina will be worried, so I make sure to tell her on Facebook that I am OK. At least, I am alive. Whether I am OK is debatable.

Blood is dripping onto the floor. I throw away the bits of paper from the plasters, the antiseptic packet. I grab a j-cloth and wipe the blood off the desk, off the floor. The wound is still bleeding and I have to change the dressing. I get antiseptic. Wipe off the blood which is streaming down my arm. It stings, but I must endure. Then I peel the plasters off the largest wound. They are red and wet, soaked in blood, and the sight of it makes me cry even harder. The wound smiles up at me. I rip off pieces of bog roll and hold them against the wound. I want my mum, but she is in Cambridge.

I mindlessly shove chocolate cookies into my mouth and vomit them up. Eventually, a kind of numbness sets in. I feel nothing. I am hollow and empty. Emotion has drained out of me with the blood. I start to feel exhausted and weak. I just want to go to bed and forget today happened.

The next day, I wake up with a headache that doesn’t go away with codeine. I eat the rest of the cookies and vomit them up, and try to sleep but the man who does my garden is here. I ring my mum. I eat lunch. I call in sick to work, pick up my meds and go back to bed.

I am still in a bit of a daze. Still unable to believe that I did something so stupid over something so petty. But then it’s the littlest things that set you off. Sometimes things build and build. And then you snap. Even now, looking at football things makes me feel sick and shaky. I don’t want to add it to the list of things that set me off.

Now I am waiting for the Nytol to kick in. Not enough to kill, but enough to help me sleep.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.