Each and every one of us changes – by the moment, by the day and the week, by the month and especially by the year and l am no different – this whole year has been about deliberate change, last year was about life changes and for the last 13 or so years l have been learning to adapt and change. It started with the arrival of my diagnosis of Asperger’s in 2008. I had been identified as being on the spectrum by friends the previous year, who simply thought ‘l knew and was okay about it all’. The truth was a bit harsher than that .. aside from the film Rain Man, l had not even given thought to autism let alone Asperger’s, so l was not in the know, l was just me and at that time and for many years previous – all the way back to as young as l could remember – my parents saw me as odd or quirky or in my father’s case – stupid or much much worse …. backward and dumb.
Growing up in Australia and Malaysia between the years of 1965 – 1977 didn’t help my plight either … l was teased and bullied at the schools l attended and making matters all the more complicated at home l was terrorized and abused by my father principally and as much as my mother loved me, at times she was just as guilty if not on the occasion – worse.
Whilst receiving the diagnosis when l did at the age of 44 going on 45 was welcomed, it introduced to me one of the biggest personality shifts my life had ever seen, it was the first of many identity transformations l would undergo and here l am 13 years later still experiencing those evolving’s in the quest to try and understand who l am.
Today many who receive a diagnosis of autism when young, are l think very lucky, way luckier than they might think ….. whilst their childhood may have obstacles ahead, they hopefully will also have parents who care enough about their diagnosis and allow them to develop as the individuals they are. But many who received a later diagnosis of their autism, Asperger’s were not lucky, we had to grow up with more demeaning labels and less awareness than the world today has.
Our world today is STILL far from perfect and awareness whilst 100% more informed and promoted than it was twenty years ago – still has a fair distance to go to be greatly efficient and more effective for those who live with autism personally and for those too who live, love and care with those who live with autism.
Upon receiving my diagnosis in 2008 a giant can’o’worms was also opened at the same time that the “Thank goodness I am not going mad!’ rocket shot upwards in elation towards the skies … that CAN made me dig very deeply into who l was at that moment, who l thought l had been in my yesterdays, who l now was in my todays and who l was to become in my tomorrows and rather unfortunately at the same time l was in the process of being in a very rocky relationship and experiencing the beginnings of a breakdown as well as being in a suicidal position and l had in fact hit rock bottom in my life and wasn’t even sure if l was going to emerge again and if l did, who was l going to rise from the ashes as?
I spent the years from 2009 – 2012 in a forty-foot metal box otherwise known as a caravan, out on the fens of rural Lincolnshire with my only two trusted friends in the whole world – Dora and Scrappy – my two dogs slowly going mad, contemplating death, and trying to recreate my identity.
I was successful, but it cost me, and it aged me at the same time, but l got to see the light at the end of the tunnel. During those three and a half years l wrote a very dark autobiography that was fuelled by anger, depression and high levels of morbidity as well as a very cynically and aggressive look at my parents and of course my coming to terms with my newfound diagnosis of Asperger’s.
I am not one of these people who say, ‘Oh l am proud to be an Aspie!!” I tried it for a while and dropped it like a lead balloon because it felt false. I don’t lay claim to superpowers either which some do on the spectrum. I am just me ……… but l did fall right through that spectrum, that spiral of kaleidoscopic nightmare and l beat myself up, l beat my brow hard, l whipped me into a frenzy and l battled demons that were unforgiving and l have the scars of self harm that lay upon my body displaying to those who look closely that when l emerged from the other end of that tunnel, l had been through hell to get there still in one piece!
I have Asperger’s, l am autistic – but more importantly – l am me and l proud to have battled me to win the true me back – but it was not easy and still every day l have to fight with conflict.
In 2015 l sat down and created a collection of environmental and autism designs that best described my passions and personality at the time. I then placed these designs into a Redbubble shop called Classic Eggshell [Moments] In addition to that, many of the original designs had articles written in support to explain how the design came about. The articles were submitted to my Redbubble Journal, but not many people saw them and l then created a blog [September 14th 2017] and posted the articles and the designs to that blog … my first ever WordPress blog actually – called The Tee Shirt Blogger which no longer exists.
The second blog l created was literally a few days later [September 17th 2017] was A Guy Called Bloke and in 2018, the TSB closed and was deleted and all the design articles were transferred to this blog [April 2018] to make my life easier and way less stressful. A third blog – The Adventures of Doodlepip – [my dog Scrappy’s blog] – was also closed and the content was relocated in this blog in May 2018.
As the autism articles were transferred from the TSB blog, l reposted them for the first time to this blog and they were generally well received. They received a repost a year later in May 2019. They have been sitting in archives since then ……… until now.
Earlier this week l raised the point that l would be reviewing and rewriting these articles from my perspective today – which will be 6 years and some on from when l first ever penned them in 2015. My whole outlook as a person has changed considerably since l first created the collection itself, l have changed and aged as me, and as both an autistic and Aspergic man – l see things differently these days, l am not as brash, or as angry or thankfully as confused as l used to be.
I am just me.
The series will start next weekend and this will be a weekend series only.
Till then, thanks for reading, see you next time!