I have a storm in my tummy.
I have tasted a lot of bad-feelings this week, and I wish I could spit them all out.
I have tasted shame, disappointment and rejection, with a side of public-humiliation. I think those are the right names for the feelings I have tasted… I don’t like them. Whilst Autism can be a gift, this week it has been a punishment: it has ruined my relationships, mired my motivation, my progression; distressed me, depressed me, shocked me, isolated me. The more ‘neuro-typical’ and sociable I have tried to be, the more Autism has punished me and pushed-me-out. The more I’ve tried to fit-in, the more Autism has reared-its-ugly-head, distanced me, and reminded me (and the unfortunate people around me) that however much I try to disguise it, my brain functions differently.
This week it has barely functioned at all.
I wish I wasn’t autistic.
Autism makes my depression worse, and depression makes my Autism more obvious.
It’s just ‘one-of-those-weeks.’
I had been putting-off going to the bank for eight days.
I needed to pay money to my psychiatrist, and to a friend for a ticket to a show. Banks are my nightmare, along with doctors’ waiting rooms, public toilets and trains.
I take out my Autism card, (which is there to help me alert people that I need extra-help in social-situations) and loiter by the entrance to Natwest for fifteen minutes.
Finally, I walk in and suss-out the environment: the place is purple and empty. I sit down in a chair to triple-check the details for the payments, then edge over to the queue. A sign says please wait here, and I am grateful to the bank for giving me an instruction. I know that one of the bank ladies has seen me, but she is not inviting me over. I have already practised what to say when she does.
“I need to pay money into two different accounts.”
Without looking up, she tells me that they have been “having lots of ‘problems’ today.”
I didn’t expect this.
I am not sure what this means because it is not clear. Do I need to respond? Does she want me to say I will come back another day? There is an awkward-silence in which I notice her neat-black hair, her flawless-olive skin and her, (what I have heard people describe as) resting-bitch-face. I decide not to show my Autism card, because it feels all wrong: I already feel inconvenient, enough.
Life would be easier if you could just see Autism.
She asks me for the details for the first payment, but now there is a queue of people behind me, and I don’t want them all to know that I see a psychiatrist.
“I have written all of the details down for you,” I say, as I try to post them underneath the glass.
“Be easier if you just read them out to me…” she replied, “…my eye-sight is terrible today… what is the name of the account please?”
I didn’t expect this.
My insides fizz-up like a shaken-lemonade, and I have the urge to leave the bank, but I am fighting it. I glance over my shoulder at the long queue of people, then down at my notes. “Please make it payable to Living Well Clinical Psychology Limited,” I said.
“Living… what? Can you speak up, please?”
I fizz-up, again, pressure builds.
“Living Well Clinical Psychology.”
I am hot and bubbling. I am not sure what my body is going to do next. I can feel the eyes of the people in the queue staring at the back of my head. I can feel my own eyes fizzling with red-hot water, the way they do when I am reaching-my-limit.
I give her the account-number and sort-code and she asks me to “check them, then press enter on the machine.” I realise that I am swaying back-and-forth, in an effort to quieten all the bank-beeps, and to quieten my anxiety enough to double-check the numbers: I clutch the counter to steady myself; she flashes a peculiar look; I am embarrassed.
“You have written Living World…” I tell her, “but it is Living Well…”
Even though it was her mistake, her rolling-eyes tell me that it is my fault. She looks beyond me at the queue as if to say, you are really holding me up now. I apologise for myself, but she doesn’t hear me, because she is now slagging-off one of her colleagues to another colleague. “You and I have a system,” she says, “but if I ask Callum to do anything it’s a bloody-nightmare, I just may as well do it myself.”
I don’t think I was supposed to overhear that, so I am now trying to unhear it, whilst giving her all the payment details again, and worrying about what the people in the queue are thinking about me. I can barely recognise the numbers when she asks me, again, to “check the details on the machine:” I am trying to match them to my piece of paper, but I am overloading. I cannot hold the information in my head long-enough to be able to “check it,” so I just press enter and pray.
“And the second one?” She says, handing me a ‘payment confirmation slip’.
But I have had enough now. I need to leave now.
I am so shaken-up that I am about to spill all of the pressure all over the floor.
I had planned to do a few jobs after my trip to the bank, but I couldn’t do any of them. I drove home and got straight into my bed to hide from my own incompetence.
Two-hours later I woke up with a storm of bad-feelings in my tummy. This week has consistently added to the bad-feelings.
There isn’t a single part of me that doesn’t feel unlovable.
I feel guilty for being autistic.
I am sorry for being autistic.
I can’t express bad feelings to my friends, but I know that the world makes other people with Autism feel like this too. I’ll write for them, and the friends and families that want to learn how to help autistic people in social situations. I’ll write also because I am learning that this ‘badness’ is temporary, and that perhaps next week something great will happen, or I will find someone that will make me feel grateful for my Autism.
I wouldn’t be me without it.
I’ll keep on trying my best to find ways to ‘live with it,’ and for others too.
But I won’t be going back to the bank.