An Open Letter to my Mother

Dear Mom,

I’ve read numerous great pieces of literature, particularly poetry, about how much the author appreciates their mother. And it really pisses me off. Why? Because I don’t know how to write that kind of stuff. Would it be rhyming or non-rhyming? What metre would it be in? How many syllables in a line? Or would it be free verse? But most of all, how could I possibly explain my appreciation for you in a meaningful way?

The answer is I can’t. I hate writing poetry. I suck at it. So we’ll forget about that idea. I’m really good at answering questions though, especially online, because I have the words and time to really think about my answer. One question I can answer is: what’s your relationship like with your mom?

Well, I think we both know the answer to that. Absolutely terrible…

No, I’m joking. It’s not always been the best but puberty and Aspergers does that, so I apologise. But I do know that you’re probably the person I am closest to. It sounds rather sad of me to admit it but I’m past that. You’ve always been pretty honest with me and I try to be honest with you. That’s how it works.

Would I take a bullet for you? Maybe in the arm or leg, somewhere non-fatal, you know. But I would probably punch someone for you so we’re getting somewhere. I wouldn’t do it just because you’re my mom (I know, hold the applause) but because you’re also my best friend and an inspiration. I’ll tell you what does remind me of you- Disney Pixar’s Brave. It’s a little obvious but it’s near the end of the movie when Mor’Du is about to hurt Merida, and Eleanor, who had been struggling to be released from the ties, suddenly gets up and charges at this bear who is obviously much bigger than her. And that’s the bit that reminds me of you.

Everyone always says how nice their mother is, how good they are. Nearly everyone’s mother is an inspiration to them, for those who have one (or two). I’ve never seen someone take on life as you have. You have three disabled children. When the boys were born, you didn’t even think much about it, you just carried on as if nothing were out of sorts, and you raised me pretty well considering I turned out to be disabled all along. Let’s be honest. Who would give up their time and money to help a charity, to help others, and make sure everyone else is okay to the point where it doesn’t matter if you are? It makes me frustrated a lot when you’re on the laptop or on the phone, or not even in the house when you’re supposed to be because you’re helping someone. And that’s the thing. You’re always helping someone. Sometimes I wish you’d be more available for me but then you wouldn’t be you. You always put everyone first. Then I get more frustrated because I feel like people don’t appreciate that enough. And some probably do but some probably don’t.

And the thing is, if I could be anybody, I would be you. I’d like to know what it’d be like to be so selfless, calm and caring. There aren’t many people like you.

You’re so unique and in my opinion, there wouldn’t be a poem written about you anyway. Because there are no words really. You surpass that. Most of all, I want you to know that you are loved. Greatly and deeply. You deserve to be loved and you are. I know you can feel unappreciated but I don’t think there is anyone more appreciated than you. You’ve done a lot in your lifetime and you’re still here, just about. So thank you for being such a great friend and for being a fantastic mother (apart from the time you punched me in the eye). Just thanks for existing really. I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

Love always,

Hannah Teresa

(I found the most cheesiest thing I could find… You’re welcome)

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Moving In

(I wrote this on Friday but was too lazy to post it)

So I finally moved into my room today at university. People have been asking me ever since I received my unconditional: “How are you feeling about it?” I know they were trying to make conversation and be polite, but I just couldn’t give them the answer they wanted. First of all, I didn’t feel anything. That’s a very common reaction and feeling from me, so I would often get very confused looks when I replied that I didn’t feel anything at all. Because I didn’t.

Was I excited? No. Was I nervous? No. I simply wasn’t anything.

My mother was busy so she would make her own way by train later in the day. Instantly I was a little worried. My mother is one powerhouse of a woman and quite simply, I wasn’t sure I could make it throughout the day without her constantly reminding me of everything I had to do. It was just me and dad. I knew we were stopping for breakfast at some point so I made an effort to not eat anything. Before we had even got off the drive, one of the lighter boxes fell down. Glancing over our shoulder, we exchanged a glance.

“I guess we’ll see how well they’re in when we go round the countryside,” he decided.

Luckily, that was the only box to fall. After an hour, I complained of hunger and we stopped shortly at the Craven Arms. I crammed my bacon, sausage and egg sandwich down and could already feel the beginnings of nerves settle in. It was slowly starting to sink in exactly what I was doing. My tremor in my hands were back, if only slightly, and my heart and chest were aching sharply. They didn’t go away for the rest of the day.

About ten minutes from the campus, my dad had his music on, and decided that there were certain songs we could possibly roll in with. Rasputin, Bad Boys or Buffalo Soldier. I told him to stop because he was embarrassing me. The truth was, the more he drew attention to me, the more my nerves grew. No, I did not want people to see me as the one who came in with Rasputin blasting from the radio. I’m already the disabled one.

I don’t know how but we were able to get all of my belongings to my room. In between I managed to lock myself out to then find out that my door doesn’t lock properly. Good start within the first hour. Dad complained the whole time about his legs, being less fit than he used to be, and the fact that I didn’t have a fan in my room. Once all the boxes had been thrown in, Dad stormed around the local shops until he found a fan in Currys. He was pretty satisfied (for a short while) before we arrived at Morrisons and he complained about his legs again.

Once we picked mother up, she managed to make her way up the stairs with a crutch. I honestly thought she would have died at the bottom and we would have had to leave her behind. But she did well because she was standing moments later in my room, still alive from what I could see.

“Is there not a lift?” she asked.

Oh, yes, of course there is a lift. That’s why we brought all the boxes up four flights of stairs because why not? It was a laugh. After she’d realised there was no lift and complained, we started to unpack. I had no idea what to do first or where anything was going to go. I wasn’t even sure if we had enough room. My room is probably one of the biggest in Aber but I’d pretty much brought everything with me. There wasn’t much left behind.

Whilst unpacking, mother insisted we go look at the shared kitchen. It turns out that I’m sharing it with seven other people, two more than I had originally anticipated. No, I didn’t like that. Immediately I was put out. A girl came in while we were looking at the cupboards. I still can’t remember her name but she introduced herself. She reached out her hand and I realised she wanted me to shake it. As soon as I touched her hand, it was quite sweaty and not being comfortable with touching sweaty hands, I gave it a prompt shake and let go. She told me the people who had arrived so far were going to the Student Union for a drink.

…. I hadn’t finished packing. I would rather get it all done than leave it till the morning. But I need to make friends. But I didn’t want to go out, not yet. Who was going? I had only seen her and a boy. That made conversation harder because there was less of us. I didn’t even know where the Student Union was….

“Well, I’m still unpacking.” “It sounds great.” “I’ll let you know.”

Having avoided that encounter, I stayed in my room unpacking and didn’t come out. I didn’t manage to finish so had to return in the morning. Once it had all been done, I had to admit my room looked rather nice. It was actually better than my one at home. My parents had helped immensely and we managed to figure out space issues and there was actually more room than I had thought.

We went to the different fairs that were happening but they were entirely useless. Someone managed to fix my door so now I can lock it. I somehow managed to get my Frozen poster to stay up after it fell down twice. It wasn’t until I told my parents I’d meet up with them later in the day that it started to sink in. I was sitting in my room, and even with my knowledge that my parents were about five minutes away, I was alone. Only then did I realise what was happening and I started to get extremely nervous. So I listened to Stevie Nicks and eventually fell asleep.

I woke to find a congregation of people outside my room talking. Well, there were four of them. The girl I’d already met, a small girl called Kelly, a tall girl who said she had brownies (???) and a gay guy. They were planning to go to a talk for five and go for a drink after. My grandmother’s sister lives an hour away from Aber and she wanted to come and see us, have dinner. So there was no way I was going with them. How would I say that nicely? I settled for- “My parents are going in the morning so I’ll come with you once they’re gone.”

There. They accepted it and I was relieved. Going back in my room, I got ready for dinner with my Aunt and parents, worried constantly about the social aspect of my life at Aber. I knew one person but Caitlin was living on the other side of Aber so we wouldn’t be seeing each other much. I’m more of a gradual friend. I don’t click with anyone. So I wasn’t too worried but at the same time I couldn’t keep on running home to my mother like I did before. She wasn’t there anymore. I had to stick it out. Woman up.

The last night I spent with my parents, we went down to the seafront. We just sat there for a while and it was incredibly peaceful. That was until my dad started doing impressions of Jabba the Hutt so people were turning round in confusion to stare at him. A man walked past who resembled an Ewok, which meant that dad just had to do his Chewbacca impression. The man heard him and came back to discuss Star Wars. All in all, it was rather embarrassing and amusing.

I only slept about three hours that night. Since I had been out with my parents, my flatmates had gone out, returning frequently between 11pm and 3am. All I could hear was them running up and down the corridor, shouting and knocking on the doors. Safe to say, I did not have a very good night.

And then I was alone the next morning. For the first time in my life, I was finally having to do things on my own. This was my chance to be the strong, independent woman I’d always said I was. But there was still the difficult situation of making friends. Making friends for me was like Tom Cruise on Mission Impossible. Or more to my taste, I was Bilbo on a long journey, slightly hesitant and worried, stuck with people I did not know (Caitlin being Gandalf), where I make lifelong memories, a mixture of good and bad, as well as lifelong friends. Hopefully, none of them are killed by orcs. Because that would be tragic. And terribly unrealistic.

So that was that. I fell back into bed and stared up at the ceiling.

“Welcome to university, Hannah.”

Billie

At the end of last week, I met up with a friend of mine who is also going to university. It was the last time I’d see her until I came back for Christmas. Billie and I have been friends for around two years.

I remember the first time I met her. I’m particularly good with faces. At the time I was in year six and her mother was my teaching assistant. Mama M had always been pretty approachable and I had a sincere question to ask her. There was a certain word I was unfamiliar with, one I needed to know the meaning to. Billie had been with her that day, for whatever reason, so I approached them both unabashed.

“Miss.”

“Yes?”

“What does the word orgasmic mean?”

I could clearly see the amused glances between the two and I wondered what was so funny. Mama M answered with a smile: “It’s when someone gets a happy feeling.”

That was it. I had the answer so I thanked her and left. I didn’t think about it much afterwards and I definitely did not think about Billie again until years later. My mother was running a charity of her own and she asked me if I wanted to work in the café. Mama M’s daughter was looking for a job too. Mother had given it to her.

I wasn’t sure about Billie the first time I met her. She was a few years older, loud, chatty and constantly cheerful. She was too much for me. I don’t like people talking to me too much when we first meet and Billie quickly crossed all the lines. She just wasn’t going to leave me alone.

“We will be friends one day, Hannah,” she’d tell me.

“Not if I can help it.”

For months, I avoided Billie’s invitations to meet outside of work and I ignored her when she was telling me all about her family, friends and other jobs. I was not interested in being friends with Billie. All that time I was certain we would remain colleagues and that would be the end of it.

Then I found myself talking to her more, joking with her more and even paying attention to what she was saying. Since we worked together every week, I was becoming used to her presence and when she wasn’t there, I actually missed her constant talking. It wasn’t the same. We weren’t in any ways similar but we managed to find common ground. I would tell her about my problems, she always had something to say and it was like a weekly therapy session by the sink behind the bar. She was an easy person to trust.

I finally agreed to meet up with her outside of work, after extensive texting and we decided to go see a new comedy in the cinema. She wanted something to make her laugh and I wasn’t going to argue. I can’t remember how, but we’d missed the time or we’d got the times mixed up (don’t ask how), so we sat in Costa for an hour or so before. This immediately was a problem for me. I only knew Billie within the confines of work and I wasn’t sure how to interact with her. Would she be any different? What did she expect of me now we were in a personal setting and with each other for a length of time?

Well, it turned out that there were no awkward silences or forced conversation with Billie; she never shut up. She was relentless. And that worked fine for me. Usually I make friends with people who are similar to me but this friendship was working out better than expected. She never judged me for anything I said, took everything I did lightly and chatted so much that I didn’t have to converse as much as I had thought.

We went a few more times and I started to call her a friend. We had known each other for over a year. Over that time we text more, even to the point of every day for a short while. Working together was natural now and we enjoyed seeing each other weekly. We’d sometimes bicker, sometimes gossiped and sometimes spoke about stupid things. We’d watch people mosh in the hall, watch drunk people grind against each other and watched wrestlers throw themselves around. There was one particular wrestler that caught her fancy.

“We should flash him and see if he notices.”

Erm, that didn’t sound good to me. “I can’t do that. I have my comfy bra on. That wouldn’t look good.”

“True. Maybe another time.”

For me, our presents for each other showed how closer we had become since we first met. Her birthday is near Christmas, and being the poor person I am, I get her a birthday and Christmas present all in one. At first I went into Paperchase and bought anything cute that looked like Billie would love it. And she did. I guess I was pretty lucky in my choice. She kept on telling me that she couldn’t believe how great they were and how well I knew her. Awkward. She bought me a few random things too that she thought I might like and I was thankful for how thoughtful she’d been.

Then the next Christmas, I bought her a guinea pig. She’d been going on for ages about how much she wanted one but her dad wouldn’t let her. So naturally, I got her one. I did ask Mama M first. We picked the smallest one. I got it because it looked completely different to the other ones and was ridiculously small. Mother chose it because she thought it was being bullied by the others. Billie obviously loved it and when it came to my eighteenth, she bought me a printed 18 with various words on it that meant something to me. I loved it. It was packed swiftly away for when I went to university. Then she surprised me by getting a leaving present, consisting of a small angel for good luck and a bracelet that was for sisters. Sisters are like stars, you don’t have to see them to know they are there.

And just like that, Billie had outdone herself and she’d done something in just over two years that I never thought possible. She’d become one of my closest friends and was like a sister to me. On the way home from her house, I told my mother: “I’m afraid that my friendship with Billie has gone past the point of no return. I’ll never get rid of her now. We’re friends for life.” She just laughed and told me I was probably right.

Mostly, I realised that I will miss Billie when I’m gone but I know neither of us will be going anywhere. Not really. We’re stuck together now. I’m glad I got to work with her and I’m glad I agreed to see her away from work. This isn’t anything that I would admit out loud, of course. I am a little upset that I couldn’t get her a leaving present too but I’ll just have to do even better at Christmas.

So, good luck, Billie. You deserve every happiness in the world and I hope you achieve everything that you want. I could not ask for a better friend so please don’t ever change. You are a beautiful person, inside and out. Don’t ever forget it.

With love always,

Your little Asian friend

(P.S. I tried to find something nice but I couldn’t decide which one. So I decided on this one because I have to fit a musical song in somewhere)

C

(This was written on Wednesday. I think this is pretty important, considering that’s when my appointment was).

Today was my last appointment with my counsellor. For obvious reasons, I’m going to name her C. It was the end of an era really but I know it was the perfect time to finish. I couldn’t and still can’t believe that it’s almost been two years, about seven weeks off. Almost two years that I’ve had counselling. And just think, I was told that I would only be there for a six week period.

I was first introduced to the idea by my GP when I was sixteen. My mother and I had been looking for a way to cope with my mental breakdown and apparently, medication wasn’t an option at the time. So counselling it was.

“You have two choices. There’s an online therapy site that you can go onto whenever and instantly connect to a professional. You won’t see them and it will all be done anonymously.”

Hmm… Not sure.

“Or you can go to the What Centre in Stourbridge.”

Hmm… Still not sure.

Counselling wasn’t something that I had ever rated or even thought of using. I wasn’t undermining it, but it just wasn’t for me. I am, to some extent, a very private person. You wouldn’t find me sharing or explaining my thoughts and feelings often. So the very thought of having to do those things was actually quite distressing. No, I didn’t want to sit there for an hour while someone analysed everything I said. It was one of my worst nightmares.

After much discussion with my mother, I knew it was the best bet I had to overcoming my issues. I didn’t exactly like the idea of online therapy. Something about it seemed very off to me. So the Centre it was.

I was sent there initially for a review. Was I bad enough to go? It wasn’t C but another woman who asked me very personal questions that I wasn’t prepared to answer. My mother was there for moral support. What was I going to say in front of her? So I said hardly anything. Yes. No. That’s what my head of pastoral care said at school… I tried to lie, to play it down so nobody thought I was bad enough to be there. I must have been, even with my lying, because I was admitted for a six week session. One hour every week on a Wednesday.

When I got there, no mother this time, it wasn’t the woman who assessed me but C. Immediately, I didn’t want to be there. They had given me a completely different person. She seemed nice enough but I didn’t want to tell her anything about me. Technically, I didn’t have to. She had a note from my GP.

…Some form of depression, severe anxiety issues and occasionally has made herself sick…

Well, C had somewhere to start but I just sat there. I didn’t want to explain myself. To me, counselling wasn’t going to help. I didn’t think it was going to “cure” me or change the way that I was. She handed me a star chart and a list of empty boxes to tick. It was “to check how I was”. Well, not very well, else I wouldn’t be there. I ticked them all, growing ever concerned at how many “Often” boxes I ticked. Low self-esteem, no motivation, doesn’t socialise often. Yes, I sounded like a bundle of joy.

It wasn’t until a month or so later that we got to the pinnacle of why I was there, why I had been sent to my GP in the first place.

“Why do you make yourself sick?”

“Because I want to.”

“Is it bulimia?”

“No. I just don’t want to go anywhere. I can’t go anywhere if I’m sick.”

C didn’t push me for an answer, nor did she ask me to elaborate. She brought it up twice after that. Once when I mentioned it, asking if I could discuss it further (much later after the original conversation) and once when she asked a year later if I still had the same problem. No, I didn’t. Nobody made me go anywhere I didn’t want to anymore. Nobody wanted to upset me that much.

After that, it seemed to get easier. I managed to be much more honest as time went on and it wasn’t until nearly a year later that I was able to cover the issues of why I was really there. Only then did I honestly feel like I was slowly getting better. It was a pretty rocky journey, shown by my charts, but I have definitely improved over time.

C showed me the graphs today since it was my last time there. My progress chart has moved from 4s and 5s at most to 7s and 8s, which is actually considerable progress.

“I didn’t realise how bad I was. I didn’t think there was much wrong with me.”

“That’s usually what people think,” said C.

She was as intrigued as me by how much I’ve changed. I remember one of my charts was off the scale, literally, when I started and had been halved by the end. We laughed about it, but it was eye opening to me to see how two years had made such a difference. Also, how much being at sixth form seemed to really have gotten me down. The only times I seemed to ever get better was when I wasn’t at sixth form. Funny that.

We covered a range of topics, pretty much everything that happened over the two years I was at sixth form, from work, friends, family and my mental issues. There wasn’t much that wasn’t mentioned in that room. C was always patient, considerate and friendly. She was also pretty constant too. Imagine seeing someone almost every week for an hour for two years. You get used to them and I think we became used to each other. She noted that I spoke more now than I did when I arrived. Natural, I guess. I’d slowly grown comfortable with her. There wasn’t much that she didn’t know about my past two years.

Last week we sat staring at each other, smiling rather awkwardly. C admitted: “I’m actually going to miss you.”

Part of me wasn’t yet ready to let go. It seemed strange that we might not see each other again after the next week.

“It’s okay. I’ll probably come back about Christmas time, let you know if I’ve stabbed anyone over milk.”

This has been an ongoing joke for a little while now, since I knew I was going to university. ‘The Kitchen Affair’. The one where nobody touches Hannah’s things in the shared kitchen else she’ll cry and possibly confront you. C had been trying for a few weeks to reason with me. Would you ever speak nicely to them? Would you be okay with sharing? What are exceptions? And don’t forget, these people will be living with you for a year. I didn’t care. If someone took something of mine, I’d be knocking on their door at whatever hour to get it back. She must have realised because she eventually dropped the subject and started helping me prepare for Aberystwyth.

So, yes… It really did feel very final today. I was equipped as soon as I walked through the door with a blue bag, filled with a Cadbury’s chocolate box, a psychology book, a bunch of flowers and a silver enveloped card. I’d even tried to write a nice message, something hard for me. But to my great surprise, it all came very easily. It was so easy to thank her for the time we’d spent together, her support and the immense guidance she’d given me. C has definitely helped me recover from probably the worst time of my life, whether through advice or just listening and talking to me.

Like I’d said, I hadn’t rated counselling. Would I rate it now? Yes! It’s not for everyone and people go away feeling as if nothing has changed. Yet, after two years, the gradual incline of my mental health was incredible. I couldn’t be anymore grateful and I hope she knew that.

Thank you, C.

Posted in CTagged

THANK YOU

I wasn’t going to write another post until tomorrow but first, I want to say an absolute, heartfelt thank you for everyone who read my post. In all honesty, I only expected about five people at most to read it. Anything past that was overwhelming. Not to mention the amount of positive feedback and the people who personally messaged me afterwards.

There aren’t many representations of people with Asperger’s, unless you really look for them. Trust me, I would know. But to all those who have a similar condition or were just glad to have an insight into the life of those with Asperger’s, I’m glad you finally saw something that perhaps made it a little clearer to you.

Hopefully, I will continue to inspire and inform with my posts, and I hope you do all keep reading. Mostly, I hope you all have a lovely day and God bless.

Enough

You’re too lazy. You’re not motivated enough. You’re not intelligent enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not fashionable enough. You’re not funny enough. You’re not laid-back enough. You’re not cool enough. You’re not nice enough.

When was I ever enough?

And to be frank, enough was enough.

“Hannah, have you ever considered that you have Asperger’s?”

No. Of all the things I had considered, Asperger’s wasn’t one of them. Without meaning to sound unfortunate, I always knew there was something wrong with me. Other people didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t make sense to other people. It was a daily struggle to understand how people thought and felt. And it turned out, they felt the same way about me.

I’d considered that I had OCD. No, I didn’t have enough traits. I’d considered that I had ADD. No, I didn’t have enough traits for that either. People joked I had autistic traits, but I was too high functioning for that.

I was a teenager. What was worse, I was a girl. You get all the dismissive things that people say to teenage girls. “It’s a phase.” “It’s your hormones.” “You’ll grow out of it.” I was still waiting to grow out of it. In the meantime, my behaviour and life was becoming worse and progressively more restrictive. Time was ticking by and nobody knew what was wrong with me. Nothing was wrong and everything was wrong.

It was my counsellor that first suggested it. It’d been bothering me for a long time about the way people felt differently to me. I’d had a mental breakdown a year before and I thought it was the result of that. Then she asked me if I’d always felt that way. The answer was yes. For as long as I could remember. That’s when she asked me.

My example had been when I went with my friends to Alton Towers. At the end of the trip, they’d all said they’d had a great day. Most people would probably say the same. Did I have a great day? I don’t know. Was the weather nice? Yes. Did I have lunch at the right time and did it fill me up? Yes. Did I get a thrill from the rides? Yes. Did anything or anyone upset me? No. So I had a good day. That’s how I know I had a good day. But did I feel anything about it? No, I didn’t feel anything.

I don’t ever remember having good days. I have good moments and they are very far and few. The only time I consider having a good day is when I am completely overcome with excitement. Examples include: meeting Mary Poppins at Disneyland, getting new books and films for Christmas, and seeing Julie Andrews and Danny Elfman. Those are some of the only memories I have of having a good day. But that was only because my excitement was extremely palpable.

How many bad days did I have? How about the day my orange juice leaked over my new Les Miserables book? I cried on the way home, I cried whilst at home and I kept on crying till mom came home with a new one. How about the time all of my friends used my colours without permission and put them back in the wrong order? Or when my parents said we were going out for the morning and came back in the afternoon? I can’t even begin to count my bad days. Or my okay days.

“Go home and think about it.”

I did. This was my chance to finally see if there was something wrong with me. A new lead. As soon as I got home, I read all about Asperger’s, from professional to personal perspective. And all of a sudden, everything seemed to make sense. It’s like having a jigsaw for 17 years and knowing there’s one piece missing. Then someone hands you that piece and it fits perfectly. Then you suddenly wonder how you didn’t see the full picture before.

Issues with social skills. Well, that’s always been a problem. Eccentric or repetitive behaviour. I did think I had OCD, didn’t I? Unusual preoccupations or rituals. Well, some things make sense in a certain order, don’t they? Communication difficulties. I’m just shy (sort of). Limited range of interests. I like what I like and that’s not an issue. Coordination issues. I’m just a very awkward person, that’s what being a teen is all about. Skilled or talented. I wouldn’t rate myself in this but I have been complimented occasionally on certain things so I’ll say yes.

Then it was a case of: where do I go from here? Am I serious enough to want a diagnosis? If so, how do I get one?

So I did a whole Google page of Asperger tests just to be sure. After scoring high on all of them, after I retook them all at least three times, I decided that I should probably seek professional advice. Of course, with my mother’s advice first.

“Are you sure you have Asperger’s?” “Do you really need to know?” “You need to think carefully about this.” “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you.”

I hated these kind of questions, ranging from professionals, family and friends. Yes, I am sure I have Asperger’s, else I would never have bothered to go through a lengthy process, would I? Yes, I do need to know. This is something someone should probably know about themselves. I have thought carefully about it and discussed it at length with my mother, my counsellor, and my educational psychologist. And it doesn’t matter what you think.

It was a very straightforward process really… Go to the GP. No, you can’t do that. You have to take the AQ50 test. I’ve already done it…. Well, we need evidence. Go home, take the test again. Screenshot it. Book another appointment with the GP. Great but we’re going to do it again with you. Take the test again. Get the same score again. Ask me extra questions just to be sure. Recommend me for diagnosis. Get rejected by CAHMS. I’m seventeen, nearly an adult. By the time they get round to it, I’ll be too old. Get rejected by adult services. I’m not eighteen yet. This goes on and on until my mom starts phoning people. Now, she doesn’t get named the family bull dog for nothing. She manages to speed up the process and I get an appointment shortly after my 18th birthday.

It was in Birmingham. Mom took the day off to make a day of it. We were meant to see them at 2. We stopped for lunch where mom didn’t realise we’d pulled up at a Harvester. I mean, it’s easy to not notice the big sign on the side of the building, the board by the front door and the logo printed on the menus as we come in, but hey, we all get confused in our old age.

Then it was off to the assessment centre.  We were told to sit in a small waiting area and were offered drinks. The lighting was really bright and the whole space was nearly all white. They were fourteen minutes late. I thought they’d be more punctual, considering they were fixed appointments and they are talking to people with Asperger’s.

When I went in, I struggled to walk a little. I’d burnt my foot the day before on the exhaust of my bike so I was trying hard not to limp. Dr Man was the kind of observant psychologist that sits and watches you. He was watching me walk and to be quite honest, I was just trying not to drag my dead foot behind me (I’d been stupid enough to wear Dc Martins). The other psychologist, Dr Woman, was more the talkative psychologist. She wanted to hear me speak.

They sat us down. They’d asked us to do a 100-question online questionnaire before we went and for me and mom to separately fill in a booklet about me. Our answers had a positive correlation of over 90%. So we talked for three hours, about my childhood, about my views, about my time at high school. My mom made a point of how she had never seen anything wrong with me while I was younger. I was just different. Let’s not think about the time I screamed the place down because a boy had not put my crayons back in colour order, or that I’d always been advanced in reading and writing, or that I never participated in imaginary play or spoke to anyone for the first two years of being at primary. Apart from that, there wasn’t much sign that I struggled with issues related to Asperger’s.

After three hours of extensive talking, they sent us back to the waiting room for ten minutes. The two doctors were discussing whether they should give me a diagnosis or not. They called us back in shortly after and we sat back in the meeting room.

“Sometimes we bring people back because we’re not sure whether they do have it or not. It’s not always entirely obvious. Normally, we discuss it for a while but we didn’t think there was any need.”

Basically, you’re very autistic and it wasn’t really a discussion. I was given a piece of paper with it all written on, given two books to read and plenty of advice. I know they were trying to help but Dr Woman was all for the positive outlook. Plenty of people with Asperger’s live fulfilled lives. Most of them are at the top of their career early. It doesn’t change who you are. You will always be you.

That’s fantastic. I already know these are all true but I had to remind myself that she was trying to be nice. I thanked them, smiled at them and left. I have Asperger’s.

Now, all of my issues made sense. All of those things that I thought wrong with me wasn’t actually something that was wrong; it was a part of me. The expectations shifted and I could finally flourish in a capacity where I was aware of me and the situation I was in. Suddenly I was enough.

A Short Introduction

Hi, my name is Hannah. I’ve tried to write many blogs before, and even though I can’t promise I’ll keep up with this one, I’ll try. This has really been prompted by my mother and even if nobody reads it, I’ll still update it. For me, this is nothing other than an online diary. And if you guys like to read it then go ahead.

For anybody that doesn’t know, I’m about to start a new chapter of my life at university. I’ve only got two weeks left at home. I’ll be studying Psychology at Aberystwyth, which I still can’t spell without auto-correct. My aim for now is to study clinical/forensic psychology, which might change, who knows. Two of the first things I hear from people is: “Oh, don’t read my mind” and “If you ever need anybody to study, we have enough examples”. I haven’t started yet but I’m sure that I can’t read your mind, that’s not possible, and I don’t need to study any of you. But thanks anyway.

Another thing that I should probably outline- I have recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, so I’m an Aspie as it’s also known. It’s been a very recent revolution and for some, it wasn’t really a surprise. It’s explains a lot about me though. Hopefully, as time goes on, I’ll be able to get used to it and this is what it’s mostly about. What my life as someone with Asperger’s syndrome is like, how I view the world and how I manage life’s challenges.

For those who will wonder why it’s called Wheelchairs and Coathangers, there is a very simple explanation. I have two younger brothers, both who are disabled and are twins. Thomas, who is a spastic quadriplegic, is in a wheelchair and Harry, who is autistic, loves films and often smacks coathangers off of the TV to touch the characters. I see both of my brothers as the catalyst between how our life changed and so I feel the blog title should have been named after them.

So that’s it for now.