Am I a good man?

feelingsAnxiety levels are pretty high at the moment. Well I think it’s anxiety, it’s hard to tell? I have this feeling in my chest that’s warm but has a hole in it. A twisted empty space that might implode. Is that anxiety? Who knows? Emotions are funny things that don’t always make sense. Why do some people cry when they are happy? Why do some people hurt the ones they love? I have a hard time understanding.

When I am in emotional turmoil and I am trying to make sense of these feelings I can’t help but think about Doctor Who and what happens to The Doctor when he regenerates. Not only does his physical appreance change but his personality changes too. One of the best examples of this was the change from the 11th Doctor to the 12th. The 12th Doctor found himself asking his companion “Am I a good man?”.

It’s questions like this that I am always asking myself. We always like to think of ourselves as the hero. We are fair and just. If we saw someone in distress we would be there to help. However I don’t really see myself as that person. I sometimes find it hard to care and feel empathy. At times I feel like I have a dark passenger like in Dexter. My dark passenger is not a killer, just a side of me which has no compassion, no feelings, no nothing, just empty. My dark passenger really doesn’t care. He is selfish and antisocial. He is everything I hate about myself.

Most of the time I have control of the negative emotions, I ignore my dark passenger. I have the strength to be kind, caring and compassionate. But as time goes by I get the feeling that I am being false and I am aware that I am faking a smile. That’s when my dark passenger wins. He has tricked me into thinking that I was in control when it was really him all along. Other times I don’t fight it and I wallow in the emptiness. It is a constant internal struggle. Is my dark passager the true me? Am I evil, or am I really a good man?

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Lost.

I feel a bit lost at the moment, actually lost is a very good word to use; 

lost/lɒst/

adjective1. Unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts.

1.1 Unable to be found.

1.2 [predicative] Unable to understand or to cope  with a situation.

2. That has been taken away or cannot be recovered.

2.1 (Of time or an opportunity) not used advantageously; wasted.

2.2 Having died or been destroyed.

 I am lost. I don’t really know what I am doing or where I am going. My thoughts and emotions seem scrambled. I am not good with emotions. I have a problem reading them in others and I have a problem understanding them in myself. I have lost my confidence. I feel self-destructive and paranoid. I don’t trust myself. I am a confused mess so apologies if this post doesn’t make sense. So… Where to start? How do I put across to you how I feel and what’s going on in my head without just making short statements and sentences? Why do I feel so lost? Who knows? My subconscious must hate me. Saying that there has been a lot of things going on in my life at the moment which has affected my mental state. I recently bought a house, I’ve been promoted at work, my grandmother died, and my wife is having a baby…. So yeah, I guess I do have a reason to feel a bit lost at the moment. Lots of changes are happening and it’s messing with my mind, heart and soul. I don’t know how to express these feelings and who to express them too. Since cutting myself off from most of the internet I don’t know who to talk to, or what to say.I was having a conversation with some friends the other day about how I find it hard to talk to people. I know it’s not just me. Everyone seems to have this problem. You want to talk to someone but you don’t want to be a burden. Your friends say they are there for you whenever you need them, but what if it’s four in the morning? What if they are out with friends? No one really knows when it is and isn’t a good time to call. Sometimes you don’t want to talk to a friend. Friends can lie. Friends will say things just to make you feel better rather than be honest and tell you the truth. You want to talk to a stranger who is out of the loop. Sometimes you want advice, sometimes you don’t want advice and you just want to off load. You just want someone who will listen.

The solution for this would be a mobile phone app. The app would collect the contacts on your phone and connect you to all other people with the app. When you need someone to talk to you just tap the app. It would then flag your name to everyone on your contacts and alert all other users of the app. everyone will see that you need someone to talk to. Once you have a connection the app will remove the flag against your name until you tap the app again. That way you will never feel alone.

I would only use the app to offload my worries. I don’t really listen to other people’s advice. I think I would also be the worst person when it comes to listening to other people’s problems. This is where my empathy issues kick in. I tend to be a heartless bastard at times. I don’t have much sympathy for people who wallow in self-pity, even when I know that I can be one of those people at times. I don’t really have anything to complain about either. I have a great life, the perfect wife, caring friends, a roof over my head and everything to look forward to. It’s not like I am alone or homeless. I just need to a friendly ear at times.

Like I said at the beginning, this post won’t really make much sense. I think what I am trying to say is that people feel lost all the time and deal with it in different ways. My way of dealing with it at the moment is by writing this. I am not very good at writing but by putting words down on a page it helps me off load some of my emotions and organise my brain. Like I said earlier I’m not after advice. I just wanted to put my words out there.

Where’s RoOkin?

I am not in a good place at the moment. One of the problems with having Asperger syndrome is understanding how others feel and what other people mean. It can be very confusing and frustrating at times. It is hard for me to explain to people who don’t have this condition to understand how difficult it can be.

To help you understand what it is like to have Asperger’s and how confusing it can be let me give you a few examples.

Let’s say there is a comic book character called Wally The Waiter. This is Wally…

wally.jpg

Wally is a clumsy waiter who is always falling over things and getting in trouble. He doesn’t mean to be so clumsy but he can’t help it. Some people are just clumsy. He may be clumsy but he always works hard. He is always busy making sure everyone gets their food and he always makes sure that everyone is happy. He is working hard in the picture below. Can you find him? Where’s Wally?

whereswally.jpg

Now if you are American or from another part of the world you might find this task far easier and less confusing than the British people reading this. I am hoping that the task of finding Wally might confuse you. Not because you are looking for him but because to my English eyes there are two Wally’s. There is my made up comic book character ‘Wally the Waiter’ and there is this guy…

wallyface

So you might be forgiven for being confused. American’s on the other hand might not be as be confused. When I asked “Where’s Wally?” They are looking for ‘Wally The Waiter’, they are not looking for ‘Waldo’ as that’s what Wally is called in America.

This type of confusion is what a lot of people with Asperger’s have to deal with. Something you might find simple to understand, like the Americans looking for Wally, might be really hard for someone with Asperger’s to understand. Just like the British people looking for Wally.

Social interaction can be difficult for people who have Asperger syndrome and because it is not a condition that has any visible signs it can be hard to spot. Like you can’t tell who is a vegetarian just by looking at them. It’s only really when it comes to having a meal that being a vegetarian might have problems. For example…

Imagine you’re a vegetarian. You are far away from home and you’re sat on your own in the only restaurant in town and you are starving. No matter how hard you look at the menu nothing on there seems to be clear if it contains meat or not. There is only one waiter in this restaurant (let’s call him Wally) and he looks like a friendly sort of chap. He comes up to you and asks if you are ready to order. You ask him if anything on the menu is suitable for vegetarians. He looks a bit annoyed and then goes away and brings back another menu. However the menu he has brought back just appears to be the same menu. You find this confusing. Does this mean that he has understood that you are a vegetarian and all the food on the menu is ok to eat? Before you have time to ask him the waiter has gone. So you just sit there wondering what to do. The waiter returns and asks if you are ready to order. “Is this same menu that I had before? So everything on here is Vegetarian?” you ask him. This makes the waiter angry. Instead of answering your question he just gives you a long stare and tells you he will return when you are ready to order. So you just sit there feeling hungry and confused as the only person who can answer your question of what you can order is the waiter. You call the waiter over and ask for something without meat. This makes the waiter very angry and he storms off. Is he going to return with food? Meat free food? Is he going to return at all? You sit there feeling hungry, upset and confused waiting for the waiter to return. You then see the waiter happily chatting to other customers. Maybe the waiter isn’t angry after all and your meal on it’s way soon. You wait, and wait. You try and catch the waiters eye and he finally comes over. You ask him how long your meal is going to be? He starts shouting at you and then kicks you out of the restaurant. You have no idea what has just happened. You didn’t mean to upset the waiter, you were just hungry and waiting something to eat.

So being someone with Asperger’s is like being that vegetarian and dealing with someone with Asperger’s is like being the waiter. They both saw things differently. The vegetarian felt isolated and alone and just needed the menu to be explained to them. The waiter on the other hand just thought that the vegetarian was deliberately trying to make his life difficult, but he just didn’t really understand what a vegetarian was. If the waiter had explained what each meal on the menu was then there wouldn’t have been a situation. The vegetarian would have had their meal and the waiter wouldn’t have been so angry.

Having this condition isn’t something that can be fixed. It is just how the brain is wired. like being left handed or right handed. I am left handed, and no matter how hard I try to write with my right hand it just doesn’t look or feel correct to me. I will never be able to use my right hand in the same way I can use my left.

There are lots of situations in life which can be difficult if you have Asperger syndrome or need to deal with someone with Asperger’s. It can be a bit of a mine field. You think everything is going fine but then one day something just blows up in your face. Social media can be like a mine field. It is full of people who have their own ideas, agendas, and their own way of expressing themselves. Lots of waiters, vegetarians, Wally’s, Waldo’s and you don’t know who is whom. Some people you might feel close to because they say things that you can relate to, they on the other hand might hate you. Some people you might dislike but they think you are awesome. Some people clash, some people connect. It can be very confusing for the average person to navigate the online world of social groups and cliques, so imagine what it is like for someone who has Asperger’s. There are people who find swearing at others acceptable and those who take insults to heart. I find it hard to understand the difference between friends having ‘friendly banter’ and two strangers having an argument. 

I often struggle to understand how my words might be interpreted by others, and as a result can find that I have caused offence when this was the furthest thing from what was intended. I hate to think that I have ever upset anyone. It is never my intention to do so. I don’t like to say bad things about others, I know how horrible it feels. I always feel the need to fix things and make things better but then even that can be interpreted as being meddling and intrusive at times. I have always been a bit of a sensitive soul, and some things said online I will never forget. I have been on the receiving end of abuse there was that person who wanted to set me on fire and dance around my burning remains. I may have problem understanding others at times but I’m sure the person who wrote that didn’t want to be my friend. Either that or they are/were a friend who was ‘just having a laugh’ and this was their idea of ‘friendly banter’. I just don’t know.

Because of this struggle I have with understanding others I have decided to remove myself from some social media sites. Why remove yourself you might say? Why not just leave your account and just not use the sites? I did try that, but I found it hard to let go. Hard to step away. I would just keep going back just to see how people are and what they are doing. I just really need some time off line to sort my head out. Saying that I haven’t gone completely, I still have a online presence, so who knows what will happen. I may return, I may not, I don’t know. But if you look, I’m sure you will find me.

Hello old friend.

I know I haven’t written anything for a while. It’s not that I have not wanted to, or that I have had nothing to write about, it’s just that I have felt a bit detached. I feel like cloud has been following me around for a while, pouring raindrops of self doubt, and anxiety all over me. It has effected every aspect of my life. I have stopped doing lots of things that I loved doing. I’ve stopped writing surveys because a lot of people were abusing it. I’ve stopped playing guitar and other things because I’ve lost the desire to so. It is like I have lost a part of me, and I want it back. Am I mourning my youth? I have always lived in nostalgia and I have a hard time letting go. I don’t like change. It’s who I am and it’s this part of my personality that bother me. My thoughts are always conflicted. I want to be true to myself and I want to be happy but it sometimes feels that I have to fake being happy and this bothers me. However I also don’t want to be seen as being unhappy all the time. Luckily therapy and my amazing loving wife have been the much needed rays of sunshine that keep the dark clouds at bay. This isn’t me saying that I won’t be blogging again, in fact I write every Monday on my myfitnesspal blog. It’s just that when it comes to this blog, the blog I use to share my random thoughts, I need to get my mojo back before I start writing random rubbish again. I know this post has been a bit of a mess and has come out all melancholy, it wasn’t my intention. It’s just me saying sorry for not writing for so long, and that I haven’t forgotten about you. I just wanted get some words down and to say hello.

Why do you follow me?

Since being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome I have had a hard time trying to be ‘normal’. I know I need to accept that I will always be different but when you receive a 4 page report on your diagnoses, it’s a bit like someone pointing out that you constantly pick your nose. I don’t know about you but when someone points out that you do something or act in a certain way, you do your best not to to do it because you have suddenly been made aware of these habits and mannerisms. One part of my diagnoses reads…

“He lacked eye-contact and his spoke with a number of unusual inflections. He had a tendency to include too much detail in his explanations and even when answering questions from me”

Ever since the report, I’ve tried my hardest to make eye contact with people, and to summarise my responses, but it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I know this is because of my condition and I can’t change who I am. But most of the time I just don’t want to come across as weird. It makes me wonder how I come across to people online. I don’t need to make eye contact with people on the internet, and on twitter you can only tweet 140 characters so you need to summerise too. Do I appear normal on twitter?
Twitter can be a strange place, lots of people all talking at once. So many opinions, so many voices. I have always been curious as to why people follow me. I don’t really tweet too often, I am not that funny and I don’t really have anything really interesting to say. I am definitely not part of ‘The Twitter Elite’ as some people call them. My profile says “likes random ramblings” and that’s what I do. I tend to tweet about whatever is on my mind at that moment, good or bad. I would say I am more open on twitter than I am on facebook or even in real life. This can be a bit of a curse at times as I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. My therapist said that most people do their best to hide the darker sides of their personalities or the things that make them vulnerable. I don’t tend to do that because then how will people be able to understand me if they don’t have all information needed.
 Yesterday I posted a question:

“Why do you follow me on Twitter?”

100 people answered my question. It was anonymous so people could be honest. Most people who responded mentioned something about my surveys which I can understand. The survey which started off as my own form of therapy for understanding others has become a major part of my life online, which unfortunately has got a bit in the way of my main twitter account, but I doing my best to balance time between my account and @5urvey. I received a lot of positive feedback. People saying things like…

“I find you interesting, creative, and kind. I like your honesty. You seem open and kind of vulnerable. You rarely (if ever) interact with me but that’s ok. You strike me as needing a cuddle and a pep-talk. You seem to be a good person. Sweet, and loving.”

“Initially because I heard you on the Tell ’em Steve-Dave podcast, but I stay because your funny, post great Instagram pictures and have some similar interests too me.”

“Because you appear to be a nice bloke. You are funny. You certainly don’t deserve all the criticism you get from the twatters. Stay resilient my friend.”

It is always nice to read nice things but I also want to see what else people would write. This would be the chance to see what a lot of people really think of me.

“I follow you because I enjoy your interesting tweets from time to time. However this recent self justifiction bollocks is just needy.”

“At first because you were sweet but the egotism has got ridiculously out if control. See ya.”

I think a lot of these points are valid. I guess I do come across as needy at times, especially at the moment when I am trying to come to terms with my condtion. I don’t think I am being egotisic but I am not the person who wrote that so they must have their reasons too. I think hard part of Asperger’s is trying to understand others.

This response was the one I found the most interesting…

“I’ve noticed that you can be sensitive to certain things, I think it seems to upset you a lot when people unfollow so there’s a little bit of unintended pressure to continue following. Sorry, but you did ask.”

I am indeed a senstive person and so sometimes get upset when people unfollow me on twitter, but it really depends on who that person is. I know that one of the problems I have is to make and maintain friendships, and a lot of people on twitter I consider my friends. I am not too bothered by the number of followers I have. I used to get all excited when I gained new followers and sad when I lost them. I don’t know if it’s down to being on twitter for a while so it has lost a bit of it’s sparkle or since I past my personal goal of a thousand followers, or even down to my condition but I don’t get upset if I lose the odd follower. I only get upset if someone I follow unfollows me, esecially if it is someone I have met, know, and consider a friend. On Twitter I tend to follow people who I can relate too, but I mainly follow people who I can talk and have a conversation with. When someone sends me a tweet and I don’t recognise their picture or name, I normally look to see if follow them and have a look at the photos they have posted. They say pictures speak louder than words and I tend to agree with that. If they haven’t posted any photos then I don’t really have clear understanding of who they are. I am not really interested in food (due to my eating disorder) so pictures of food don’t interest me. The same goes with football or other sporting events as they don’t interest me either. If I see that a person has posted a photo of Star Wars stuff, or their favourite music, comics, sci-fi movies etc then tend to take an interest and follow that person. However I don’t tend to look too much in to what they have tweeted about. I assume we will get on just because we both like ‘geeky’ things. This was also picked up when I was diagnosed too…

“he appeared to choose friends based on the things they owned rather than personal qualities.”

This is not a reference to someones material worth, but if they liked the things that I liked. I have a really hard time relating to people who don’t like the things I like. This part of my condition too. If I don’t follow you on twitter it’s probably because you don’t tick some of these boxes not because I don’t think you are a nice person. I am also sorry if I come across as cold or aloof but it is all part of my condition…

“he can appear to lack empathy and that he is not very good at comforting others or understanding their point of view.”

I try and do my best not upset people but I know that it is impossible to keep everyone happy. It is hard for me to understand others and understand myself so I will always be searching for answers. It is in my nature. I always thought it was due to the scientist in me but now I know it is due to my Asperger’s too. I like order and stucture.

So why do you follow me? Well it’s due all of these things. It is because I am…
‘geeky’, ‘random’, ‘interesting’, ‘cute’, ‘brilliant’, ‘genuine’, ‘nice’, ‘kind’, ‘funny’, ‘lovely’ etc. but also because…

“he is the Morgan freeman of surveys”

and I like that.

Change.

I have a real issue with change, I like to do things a certain way and I like repetition. I love collecting things too. I have always been like this. If you’ve read my blog before you can probably see examples of that. I have an eating disorder. My obsession with bags. My enjoyment of making lists and surveys. I’ve always questioned whether I was normal. I just thought I was always a bit quirky. I am a bit quirky.

Last year my issues with change started to really cause me… well… issues. I was due to be married in August… Married! I have never been married before. What do you do? How will my life change? All these worries started to build up in my head. Everyone said I should be really excited but I felt more stress than excitement. Why was I not excited? Did this mean I was making a mistake? Why did I not feel the same as others? I made lists of positive things but I couldn’t get worries out of my head. Friends told me I wasn’t making sense. I had to get away. Run! Run away from the change. I had a breakdown as I couldn’t see anything positive in my future. I saw a therapist who told me it was just cold feet and not to worry and that my anxiety attacks would pass once I was married. This calmed me and I started to look forward to the wedding.

My wedding day was amazing. I was calm, I had no nerves and it just felt right. Everyone I loved was there. It was a great day. It felt amazing to get married. I was happy… for a few days. The anxiety attacks I thought had gone away didn’t. I was putting on a face for people. I found myself feeling like I was going to be sick. I couldn’t concentrate. The structure of my life was falling apart. I just couldn’t function. I fell into a deep depression.

As my wife is wonderful and amazing she did everything she could to help. In October I saw my doctor who put me on a course of antidepressants and referred me to a different therapist. My new therapist noticed strange patterns in my thinking and behaviour and asked me if I had ever been diagnosed with a Autism Spectrum Condition? I wasn’t sure what to think. When I think of Autism I think of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. That isn’t me, but I was willing to be assessed because I needed answers. I needed to know why I think the way I do. I was sent lists of questions to complete and on Tuesday 14th May I would be assessed by a specialist. I spent weeks wondering & worrying about the outcome. What if they said I am not on the autstic spectum? What does it mean if I am? If I am then I guess it would be closure. I would have my answer.

ASresults

The 14th of May was last Tuesday. I’ve had my assessment. I was diagnoised with Asperger syndrome. What is Aspeger Syndrome you might say to yourself? Well here is an easy read explanation.

The more the specialist spoke to me the more I could relate to the diagnosis and it seemed to tick boxes in my head…

  • They find it difficult to understand what other people think, and how they feel. ✔
  • They can have good language skills. But some people with Asperger syndrome think that people always mean what they say. For example, someone with Asperger syndrome might not be able to tell when someone is joking. ✔
  • They may only talk about their favourite subject. ✔
  • They may be very interested in some things. ✔
  • They may want to take part in games or activities with other people. But they may not know how to do this. ✔
  • They may like to play the same game or do the same thing every day. ✔
  • They can have a good IQ and may go to the same school as children who do not have a disability. ✔
  • They may be good at concentrating on one activity. ✔
  • They may find co-ordination difficult. ✔
  • Some people with Asperger syndrome may like to eat the same food every day ✔
  • They may have mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. ✔

So what changes now? Nothing. It just means that the way my mind works is different to those who don’t have this disorder. I have my answer. I have closure.

You can get more information about Asperger syndrome from:
Autism Helpline: 0808 800 4104
Email: autismhelpline@nas.org.uk
The National Autistic Society’s website: www.autism.org.uk