Many people have asked me whether I regret having Aspergers Syndrome. The answer to that is a complicated one and I will answer it in this blog.
For me and many others with Aspergers Syndrome one of the detrimental impacts of the condition is communication and socialising. We do not do socialising very well. We can be seen as being socially awkward and eccentric. To be frank I was plainly rubbish at making friends when I was younger. I was a loner. People with the condition can be viewed as “different” by people due to how they behave and the lack of socialising. That can result in bullying. I experienced that. I was viewed as different by many of the people in my age group in Fife. They lacked understanding and were ignorant. They viewed difference in a negative way. If you weren’t drinking buckfast (or as some people say “Buckie”), partying, having sex, playing football etc then you were seen as an outcast. I felt that. When I was younger I did not have many friends. All I had were my family, the smallholding, my music, politics and books. I wasn’t a party goer. That sense of being different did make things hard for me. I felt the odd one out. Even today in Fife there’s still that feeling of not belonging in the community where I come from. That sense of loneliness has impacted on my mental health and it can cause problems for many other people on the autism spectrum. The pressure to try and conform to how others behave and the desire to try and be “normal” does cause autistic people like me huge problems. We can become very vulnerable trying to be someone we are not in order to impress people. I’ve been there and got the t-shirt. It ain’t fun. It brings Insecurity and unhappiness. I’ve felt like screaming (in fact I have screamed my head off) at the efforts I have went to to try and be seen to be normal in eyes of people in Fife. That is why I want to move to London by 2017 and be in a place where I can be true to myself and be my most relaxed.
I wish people of all ages can take notice that behind the social awkwardness lie individuals on the spectrum who have a lot of potential and talent to do well. I truly wish people would educate themselves and see autistic people not as loners but as people who can succeed in fields such as science, mathematics, music and sport amongst others.
For me being autistic has brought dark times. There’s been times when I’ve been in tears, when I’ve felt lonely, when I’ve been bullied amongst other things. I do suffer still from anxiety. What has stopped me from going off the rails has been a huge determination and fighting spirit within me to show all these negative people out there that people like me who are autistic can do well. We might be seen as being “geeks” “aliens” etc but I’m bloody determined to show these nasty people that they are wrong. That’s why I do not regret having Aspergers Syndrome. It’s part of who I am and nobody can or will ever change that.
I’m very lucky that over the past few years I have made friends with some of most outstanding and most caring people imaginable. They have helped me adapt a more positive attitude in my life and to be happier with the real me. I don’t have hundreds of friends but the friends that I do have in a Edinburgh, London and elsewhere throughout the UK are the best friends I could ever wish for. Genuine Friends and companions can bring autistic people real pleasure that is for sure.
At the age of 26 I have had my battles with socialising but now I’m now more comfortable networking etc. I’m at an age where I want to put past struggles behind me and move forward. I move forward with the determination to be true to myself and to do want I want to do regardless of what others think. I’m not going to apologise for being a geek, a musician, a stamp collector, a Christian, a Conservative, a small holder, a countryside lover, a train lover amongst other things. These all make me who I am. I will not change these for anyone. I also do not apologise to anyone for being straight (yes, I thought I was gay because I thought no girl would go out with me. That was bad), aspirational and fiercely driven. I would urge everyone on the spectrum to celebrate being different and to be happy with the gifts and talents that they have. Do NOT try and be someone you are not.
I do want to say that one of the huge benefits of having Aspergers Syndrome has been the ability to focus intently on three key interests that I have: music, politics and rural affairs. Music in particular has hugely helped me through the good and bad times. Playing my fiddle/violin has brought me real joy and has allowed me to communicate my real emotions at their rawest. Music is a lifelong companion to me and I will never ever neglect it. Music can be a great tool to those with autism and special needs and I sincerely wish music could be seen in a more positive light by some in society for the the great things that it can do to bring joy to those most vulnerable in society.
I finish by saying that in the question people have put to me about regretting having Aspergers Syndrome then no I do not regret it. Yes, there have been challenges but these have made me stronger and more resolute. Having the condition has also enabled to enjoy some wonderfully joyful moments especially on the musical scene. I may be a loner to some but to me and to my family and friends I’m simply David. Long may that continue.