Some time later…

So… It’s been a while since I last wrote anything. I’ve been meaning to post, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and do it. As you can imagine my life is a lot different now.

So what have I been up to? Well a lot and a little.

I have given up on maintaining a social media presence.

I’ve never really been a Facebook person and Twitter wasn’t making me happy. I had lost touch with the people I felt close to and it just wasn’t the same place it used to be.

I think the nail in the coffin was when I discovered that someone had stolen my identity on Twitter. They were using my photos for a twitter account where they claimed that I/they were born in the wrong body and wrong skin colour. So I/they were actually a black woman born in a white mans body? I didn’t really understand it. I contacted the person and asked them remove my photos and they complied. I didn’t take the matter any further but after that and the issues I’ve had in the past with online bullying I felt like I had had enough.

I’m almost 40.

I keep thinking that once I reach 40 there will be an chemical change in my brain and I will suddenly become an adult and know how to do adult things. It seems only like the other day when I wrote 36 things about being thirty six so I am not going to write a list of 40 things about being forty but here is a short list of things that I assume will happen once I turn 40;

  • Being able to change a tyre and do basic car mechanics
  • The ability to do household maintenance and repairs.
  • Make responsible decisions.
  • Know what I am actually doing in life.

When it comes to life I just wing it. I know you will say that everyone does that but I really have no idea what I am doing. I just plod along hoping that I don’t upset of offend anyone on the way. So I am looking forward to the time that I become a responsible adult and then everything will just click into place.

I’m a Father.

What can I say? I’m the father of an amazing little boy. He has helped me understand exactly what unconditional love is all about. Any news story or film which involves a child getting hurt or killed affects me like never before. Your whole world changes when you are parent. For me it is a change for the better. I am so proud of him. Seeing his little smiling face warms my heart. I love watching him learn and grow. Being a father is amazing. I love it.

That’s about it really.

I will try and write more in the future as it is nice to look back and see how things have changed. I also find that writing can be very cathartic. I could have written a whole article on how I am almost on Level 31 on Pokemon Go for example. As you can tell I like to live my life to the fullest. So till the next time, take care.

UPDATE: I reached level 31 on Pokemon Go on 13/10/16

Rowan

I have been sat at the keyboard wondering how to start writing a blog post of a life changing event and I am at a loss. I am a father. It’s amazing. I have a little boy called Rowan who was born on Wednesday 21st January 2015 at 3:26am, weighing 7lbs 2oz. He was due today but arrived 5 days early. He is such cute little thing. I have taken so many photos of him that I think I might have exceeded my iCloud storage space. I have to stop myself from becoming one of those people on Facebook that posts 1000 photos of their child online. I can see why people do it. I am so proud of him. If you do want to see more photos you can view them here.

So how did this miracle happen? (no not that bit). The story of his birth started a week ago. Sally started having pains while we were watching Broadchurch. We weren’t sure if things had really started or not. For the last few weeks of pregnancy Sally had found it more comfortable sleeping on the sofa, so I went up to bed early that night as we knew something was going to be happening soon. At 2am Sally woke to me to say we needed to go the hospital and so I got myself up and ready. We arrived at St Richards Hospital at 3am but discovered that Sally wasn’t ready, but was allowed to stay until she was. I was sent home to get some sleep but knowing that I might get a phone call at any time sleep was far from my mind. When I arrived in hospital Tuesday there hadn’t been much change. Sally was in the Bassett Room on Tangmere Ward. still in pain and having contractions but things weren’t really moving along. At 6pm Sally was moved to Room 2 of the Labour ward where she had an epidural as she was in so much pain due to the baby being in the occiput posterior (OP) position. We waited, and waited, but there was still no sign of the little one moving round into the correct position. As time went on this started to be a bit of a concern as the contractions were squashing baby rather than pushing. At 3am Wednesday morning the consultant spoke to us about options. We could wait till he moved round, which could take a few more hours or deliver him via C-section. He gave us a few minutes to think about it but we all agreed that it would be safer for the baby to be delivered as soon as possible. They prepped Sally for theatre and a few moments later Rowan was born…IMG_0951 His first little cries were beautiful to hear. They cleaned him and wrapped him up in a towel and gave him a little hat knitted by Friends of St Richards Hospital and put him in Sally’s arms. We were so happy. There he was, little Rowan, who truly is little bundle of joy. Sally was then stitched back together and moved from theatre back to Room 2 to rest before being moved to Executive Room 7 on Tangmere Ward. We spent the rest of Wednesday at the hospital where Sally and Rowan had regular check ups. We had to cancel our Tesco home delivery as there was no chance of us coming home that day. The man on the phone from Tesco was ecstatic to here our news as well as everyone else we came in contact with. The day and night became a blur. Neither of us had really slept since Monday. Thursday morning arrived and it was another special day. Not only were we told that it was ok for Sally to go home but it was also more importantly Sally’s Birthday. Rowan was the best birthday present anyone could ask for. We put clipped him into his car seat and set off home to start our new life as a family.IMG_0990 When we got home there were a large bunch of flowers on our doorstep. Who could this be from? Family? Friends? When we read the card we couldn’t help but be moved. It was from Tesco. Let me clear this up. The flowers were from a local florist, paid for, with well wishes from Tesco… The supermarket!  How lovely is that? It must have been from the man on the phone. Thank you Tesco’s, you are amazing. It’s been 5 days now and what can I say? Things are great. Ok, he isn’t the best sleeper at the moment and likes to fill his nappy just as I have finished changing him but who cares about those things? That’s the sort of things that babies are meant to do. Most of the time he is just being cute. When I look at him I imagine all the things he must be thinking…RowanI could just watch him, hold him, cuddle him, and love him forever. In fact I think I will.

I love you little one. x

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?

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.

Bullies and Buddies

This is probably not the right move and is probably what they wanted, but yesterday I read something that upset me…

burn.jpg

I’m a bit of a sensitive soul, but I’ve been fortunate enough never to really have to deal with bullies. I’ve always had people who would be looking out for me. I remember at school I was friends with a big Scottish boy called Jim. He is probably the world’s strongest man now, but he was one of these kids who didn’t take crap from everyone. I’m sure being friends with him protected me from harm. I still had the odd run in with someone, but that’s school. In fact I was surprised that didn’t get targeted more. As some of you might know I have spastic diplegia which is a form or cerebral palsy. I had to wear an eye patch when younger to try and help correct my eye problem and I was also in a wheelchair for a while because of problems with my legs, so as you can imagine a kid with an eyepatch in a wheelchair is hard to ignore. I always wondered if there was a secret playground code which I was unaware of that scared off the bullies. I remember one of my teachers even had a dressing down from the deputy head in front of half the school because the teacher had told me to stop fidgeting. I guess fidgeting & involuntary muscle spasms are the same thing to some people.

Anyway, I digress. I guess my point being that I’ve always felt protected by someone, there was always someone there to watch my back. As you may know I love making surverys, but before I started @5urvey I knew it wouldn’t be for everyone. In fact the whole reason why the @5urvey account exists is because I didn’t want to annoy any of my followers who weren’t interested in my constant tweets about surveys. The surveys now have their own home, and have proven to be quite popular for some. However the more popular something becomes the more people take notice and this can attract people who like to use this as their way to anonymously express their love or hatred for others who they know will also read it. It will get a reaction and they want a reaction, and I guess this is my reaction.

I’ve seen my name appear a few times on the survey, along with other names that always appear, even if the answers are completely unrelated to the question. Some of the comments are positive some of it negative, but you can’t please everyone. I tried to ignore comment left the other day about someone wishing they were me just so they could shoot themselves. Everyone tells you to ignore it and that is the best thing to do I guess, but the comment above about setting me on fire hit a nerve. I don’t know how others would react but it made me feel uncomfortable. I started to put walls up. I started to question myself. Who is it? What have I done to upset them? Is it someone I know? Should I lock down my account? Should I leave twitter? Is it because of the surveys? Should I stop posting surveys? Etc. On and on… I spent most of the night worrying.

However like I said when I started this post I have always had people looking out for me. My friends & twitter have rallied round me. I received so many nice messages from so many people who worry and care for me. I didn’t really know how much love and support I had before this happened.

support.jpg

So in conclusion I am not going to change. I am not going to lock my account down. I am not going to leave twitter. I am not going to let this get to me. The surveys will contiune. I am still going to post randomness. I am still going to be me. So to you who wanted a reaction from me, well done you have it…

I don’t know if this is the reaction you wanted.