As an Aspie (apparently that’s the term) or a person with Asperger’s, I have never been the best at making friends. This goes as far back as I can remember; spending my dinner breaks with the lunch ladies because I didn’t have any friends, and the ones I thought were friends got me into a lot of trouble. I knew it wasn’t the best situation, but when you become lonely, even in primary school, you try your hardest to fit in with other kids. This continued all the way through school: playing by myself, not wanting to speak out loud in class, or be partnered up with anyone, and even becoming an assistant librarian, due to spending all my time alone in the library. Its weird to think that I was diagnosed at 27, when there were a lot of signs prior.
In university I was still incredibly shy and introverted, but the things that had caused me to be an outcast, made people appeal to me more at an older age. I liked games, crafts, silly things on the internet, and being on a fine art course meant that I was able to express myself through my work and people felt that they knew me better because I was in a place where I felt happy to be myself. This was until I realised what university was all about. Drinking.
Everyone on our course was familiar with one another, and would go out on bar crawls weekly. This would lead to house parties and university trips around the country with nights out on the town. I was never really the drinking type, as I have very little common sense and would find myself in bad situations a lot of the time. One instance of this was holidaying with a friend, who took a man home to our hostel, meaning that I had nowhere to sleep and camped out on the stairs. Luckily I knew a group of men from my hometown who were visiting and they offered me a bed for the night and my mother wired me money the next day to travel home alone. A lot of these things could have led to a bad situation, but I was none the wiser.
Back to university, I realised that as my entire group would be going to these social events, if I were not to participate, I would be the odd one out again, and I did not want this to happen. From the start of my first year I would go out on these binge drinking nights weekly, using up a lot of my student loan on alcohol and transport, thinking that it would make me feel more included. The one thing I didn’t count on was a gluten intolerance and an allergy to alcohol. This would cause my face to flush and burn red and become itchy, and I would have week long hangovers, turning almost into flu like symptoms. You would have thought this would deter me..but no. I continued to go out, trying to fit into this group of people, to be just like everyone else, and in turn missing many days of my course and becoming very ill.
I almost failed my first year at university, and my parents were certain that I wouldn’t have gone back after my first year, but thanks to a small set of people in that very large group of students, they made me realise what I was doing to myself. I decided that, I could go out at times, but not if it effected my course schedule, as well as rarely drinking. This meant that I was able to have some sort of balance. It also helped that I met my partner Adam, as rather than going out binging on alcohol, we would have quiet drinks with friends who were in couples, or nights out, but I knew I would get home safe.
Some people however, were not happy in my lifestyle change, including my best friend, who seemed to think that if I didn’t go out drinking I was no longer a friend, and would blackmail me constantly. She was able to work two jobs and do her university degree, while I struggled with ill health and barely passed my assignments. I still however bowed down to her, as I didn’t want to be that person who was left alone on a course with no friends. So again my health and course took a turn for the worse, as she would ask me on nights out before assignments needed to be handed in, and attack me verbally if I declined. It wasn’t until my final year that I realised what kind of person she was. She was a taker and was never there for me. It almost cost me an important time in my life but I tried to move on from it.
I started going to support groups and meeting people with similar ailments to myself, knowing that these people would have more of an understanding of what people could be going through, hoping that this would be a place where I wouldn’t need to be someone I wasn’t and do things that I wasn’t capable of doing. The only problem with this, was that I had done a whole 360 on myself, going to people that needed more support who felt that I was that person they could unload onto. I began struggling to look after myself with the amount of support others wanted from me. It felt like I couldn’t function in a group but I also struggled on my own. I didn’t realise how difficult socialising could be.
In 2016 I started having seizures and wasn’t given any support for them. I was also diagnosed with Asperger’s (who would have thought eh?) and several other conditions. These left me mostly housebound, with support offered, but no way of receiving it. Yesterday, I found out that one of my oldest friends, who I haven’t spoken to in some time, is moving to live in another country. He has always been the type of person I aspired to be, and I knew that I wanted to see him before he leaves. I started to become unwell and struggled with a lot of things, feeling like I needed to put it off but knew I couldn’t. It was only then that I realised..I haven’t seen anyone, apart from my family, in over a year. It was an absolute shock and it clicked, the unwell feeling was my anxiety. I have been locked away with my health for so long that I had completely forgotten about my need for other people, and now I have practically become a hermit.
There is noway I will miss the opportunity to see someone I care about before they leave, but I know it is going to be a huge struggle. It just shows that although certain people can be detrimental to your health, you need to social to keep sane, and to keep yourself aware of your surroundings and yourself. It just seems that I struggle with balance. I have been unlucky in the people I have met and in my own choices, but I want to be the independent person I was, and do that alongside friends. If anyone has any tips or things they do to keep in touch with people and maintain that social balance, I would love to hear from you.
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