Part 2- High School, College and Autism
I went to various high schools as my Dad got a new job, which mean’t we had to travel across the country. One minute we in East Anglia (which is on the east side of the UK) in the Fenlands, a district which is flat and has dykes. The next minute, we travelled over 100 miles to the west to Mid-Wales, which was full of hills!!!
In both cases, I made a few friends, fell out a few times, cried some more (nothing new;-) and travelled with my family.
One thing that did persist, was that people kept on misunderstanding me. Perhaps it was sometimes the quick waffling that was going on, or that I sometimes got a bit aggressive (I was at times, extremely frustrated), but other kids didn’t always see the funny side.
When we decided to move to Wales, I wasn’t that concerned. Sure, I had made a few friends, but they wern’t close friends and moving wasn’t a problem (compared to my sister, who did make friends, and was understandably upset).
We moved on June 1st, 1996. I remember it clearly, as it was the day before my birthday, and I was excited! It had also snowed the previous easter, and very heavily (which was a nice changed, as I loved snow, and the snow was always small).
So we were leaving on a high (as far as I was concerned) to better things. I went to the high school there, and made a friend that would be true with me to this day!
But it wasn’t always plain sailing, and bullying wasn’t too far away. Some days were nicer than others, and the misunderstandings came back. Still, I was trying to focus on my GCSE’s (examinations for high school) and spent the summer holidays with my friends, including sleep overs and FIFA 2000 (God, I loved that game…).
Focusing was to prove one of my weaknesses, but if I had fun while doing homework, it would prove to be a winning formula.
But bad news came, as I began fancying a girl, and was told I had to move to Sheffield to go to boarding school. I had just settled down, and didn’t want to leave! But my parents were stubborn.
I dreaded the following 6 months…the summer of 2000 would go down as the summer of gorgeous weather, fun with friends… and dread for the up and coming college season. But my autism allowed me to think more clearly in exams (you were allowed 25% extra time) and therefore my answers wern’t so rushed.
So I went to college, and quickly got homesick!
I just missed my friends, and missed the girl that I fancied! I had a real crush, and she was so smart (I think she was aiming for 3 A’s in her A-levels). But I was in Sheffield (well, just outside) and I had to quickly re-focus on my courses!
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life! Something involving acting, or Drama, something creative or using imagination. The best i could do, was do a course in Politics, Geography and I.C.T (not that there was anything wrong with them, but they were too analytical for my liking).
Having said that, when the emotions did calm down, I did make a few friends, including the Head boy of the following year. He would later show me the ropes of boarding college, and I have him to thank for keeping me sane in the first year while other lads, at times, were simply messing around! My misunderstandings wasn’t too far away, and I managed to upset a guy living opposite me. We were, ‘enemies’ for about 6 months (despite me apologising for going into his unlocked room to play a game, twice!). I was nervous as hell but he left me alone, and I left him alone. It wasn’t until I saw a girl have a bad seizure about 6 months later (which frightened the hell out of me at the time) that I spoke to him about my fears, and we became friendly again.
The following year was an emotional rollercoaster! I began fancying another girl (surprise, surprise) and my concentration levels plummeted. I was just too tired. I went to bed extremely late desperate for some fun, and listening to CD’s until the early hours of the morning. I waoke up early to have a good breakfast, but couldn’t concentrate throughout the day. The college was either really stressful, or really boring. I kept myself to myself, living in my own world (where there wasn’t too much stress) and trying to joke with the boys. Sometimes it would pay off, sometimes it wouldn’t. They quickly realised that I was a natural born worrier, and tried to ease off the jokes (although some took advantage…).
My fears were increasing, and my OCD wasn’t getting better (I kept shutting the bathroom door a few times, as I thought it would stop a, ‘bad’ thing from happening, much to the annoyance once of the house master). My inner world was becoming more and more like a prison, and even some of the other lads thought I was strange.
I had to keep a grip on reality, and my crush on a girl was a good way of doing it. We became friends, and at one stage, I tried to explain my feelings…but the words just didn’t come out!
Total disaster, but she was sweet about it, and we tried to remain friends, or that’s what I thought. The truth was, this couldn’t have happened at a worst time, as I wasn’t going to have a chance to speak to her ever again, as for the last 3 weeks of my boarding life she simply wasn’t there! The only thing I could do was to sent an email wishing her success on her hockey tour (she loved hockey) and best wishes for the future. I anxiously waited for a reply…
To be fair, when my Dad arrived to pick me up, I was more relieved than sad to go, although I was going to miss the people (and her, dearly). When I arrived home, It was with a big sigh.
But I was under pressure to get a job, and my anxieties were going to get a lot worse when I took a job helping people with their queries. What would happen there would almost take me out!