Locked In

I’ve just come across an article online about a man who is spending 50 hours inside a glass box to raise awareness of autism (via Specialists UK on Twitter). Speaking from my own experience, this is a perfect metaphor for having Aspergers.

I have often felt like I am stuck inside a glass cage, looking out at the world and wanting join in but unable to do so. I want many of the same things as anyone else, but my condition creates an invisible barrier that tries to stop me before I can even leave the front door. I have striven hard to overcome this barrier with some success, particularly during the last two years of my degree at Southampton but, now that I have finished my degree and moved back to Somerset, that glass barrier has reasserted itself and is holding me back again.

It doesn’t help that I’m struggling to find things to do here in Somerset. In Southampton everything is closely connected: I lived only a few minutes from campus, a supermarket and a busy high street was only a few minutes more away and the city centre was a short drive or bus ride away. Now I’m back home in Somerset everything is at least 15 minutes away by car, and that’s assuming that I have somewhere to go (and something to do when I get there).

This barrier effect has cursed my life. There are so many things I had wanted to do that I have not been able to do, in particular at university where there were so many clubs and societies I wanted to join in with, but while I was provided with support in getting my degree I found that there was little room in this support for my extracurricular ambitions. Perhaps I need to acknowledge that I was facing far bigger personal challenges than most other students: I often forget just how hard it was to cope in the first year of university. Nevertheless, I was able to achieve some success in my final two years through the surfing and skydiving clubs, and that’s something I hope to continue, but I also want to broaden out, to try out more things like the things that I wanted to try at university but couldn’t. I’ve started to wonder what I might have tried out if I were still at Southampton, and whether there is any opportunity to try that here.

This transition I’m going through is proving to be hard work: emotionally draining, confusing, scary, and with an uncertain outcome. I’ve spent the past three days cooped up indoors with nowhere to go and it’s messing with my head. Tomorrow I’ve promised myself that I’ll at least try to get out to a café in town and I’m going to make sure that I don’t let myself get cooped up like that again, but I need something more to work towards. I’m reaching out to my friends for help: to keep me grounded, to keep a sense of connection and to suggest ideas for ways forward. I can beat this, but I can’t do it on my own.

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