Hope you are so far enjoying, as well as getting a good insight into my experiences as an Aspie! Well, for those of you who have not yet read the parts 1 and 2; it’s never too late – here are the links: https://ashwinkumar1989net.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-one/ and https://ashwinkumar1989net.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/my-experiences-as-an-aspie-part-two/ .
My employers at my first organization were kind enough to send me (as well as some of my colleagues) for a psychological assessment at a reputed sports and medicine centre in CIT Colony (in January 2014); as mentioned in part 1. It was a very detailed assessment – it included the 16 PF Test, a Psychometry Test (Raven’s Progressive Matrices), Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Sentence Completion Test(SCT) and the Rorschach Inkblot Test(RIT). It took me a full day to complete all these tests. Meanwhile, one day when I was driving home; as I took the left towards Pondy Bazaar from Panagal Park, I braked and a car crashed my scooter from behind. Luckily I was not hurt and even my scooter was not impacted apart from a few scratches, thanks to the metal guard.
However, the gang in the car made a mountain out of a mole hill, since there was a dent in the car(the dent might have been there even before this crash!). They demanded a hefty sum of money as compensation;the alternative option being going to the police station and settling the matter. Frankly I was low on confidence at that time, and did not feel like I would be able to convince the police that I was not the guilty party; and there would be questions asked about my employment etc. So, I took the coward’s option out, and went to an ATM and withdrew Rs.8000 to hand it over to these rascals. At that time I felt I had saved the situation, but now I thoroughly regret it – these toerags had the temerity to suggest that I should “go to the playground and practice driving”; and as the great Albus Dumbledore says (in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) – “You must make a choice between what is right and what is easy”. I definitely chose the easy path here.
As mentioned in Part 2, I was staying with my grandparents. However, they went to Mumbai in March so that they could make the trip to Nepal (which they had wanted to do for years) along with my mother; and also spend some time with my sister after the trip. So I was to be alone for about two months. It was a challenge for me, and I think I barely passed it. I did two train trips in the night (one involving taking 16859 Chennai Mangalore express on a Saturday night to Villupuram and returning by 22624 Madurai Chennai Mahal express; and the other involving taking 12664 Trichy Howrah superfast on another Friday night to Nellore and returning unreserved by 12604 Hyderabad Chennai “Sambar” express). However, otherwise I was lonely and plagued by self-doubt; I would frequently call up my mother and reach out for support, lamenting about my insecurities and my feeling “unwanted” or “unimportant”.
In April, I finally got the results of the psychological assessment I had undergone in January- the tests showed above average intelligence and latent psychotic features; stating that I may benefit from medical management, supportive psychotherapy and family psycho-education. My parents in addition told me that the clinical psychologist in charge of the sports and medicine centre felt I may have Asperger’s Syndrome. It kind of made sense to me; since, based on what I knew about Asperger’s Syndrome; the symptoms were inability to make small talk, understand unsaid things and certain repetitive behaviours – in my case twirling my hair, fiddling around with things around me constantly etc. I also felt I could relate better to and empathize better with characters in books (for instance the Harry Potter series) or TV shows(like The Big Bang Theory, Not Going Out (a British sitcom) etc.), than with people in real life; except when it came to my family and relatives.
However, my counselling didn’t start even then, and I kept requesting my parents to take the steps to arrange a counsellor; but they (and my uncle) felt that more time was needed and that it was best to take a “slow approach”. Eventually, it was October by the time it finally happened; and I was also given medication to take daily. Meanwhile, I had developed a close friendship with one of my colleagues – she would eventually become a family friend. She deserves a mention here, because in all my tough times; she has stood by my side like a sister. She has been to my home in Chennai quite a few times (starting from February 2015), and has a good relationship with my grandparents.
However, my counselling in Chennai was not very effective; because their approach was wrong(as explained much later by my counsellor in Mumbai). There was a consultant psychiatrist(with whom I started sessions in October), and a psychotherapist(with whom I started sessions only from April 2015). The psychiatrist would usually brush aside the issue of Aspergers, and the psychotherapist (though well-meaning and a nice person) started too early with social interaction skills(required to deal with Aspergers), without focussing on my present mental and psychological well-being; and the issues I was facing. Both people did not invest enough time to understand me completely as a person. There was also a lack of communication (or co-ordination) between these two people – with the end result being that it was their client who suffered.
The medication was the only thing that kept me going all along. My behaviour would usually be “fine” for a few days, and then an outburst would come all of a sudden. One Saturday in June, I was to board 12759 Charminar express to Hyderabad – which was to depart from Chennai Central by 18 10. That day I was in a really good mood at office and my excitement about the trip motivated me to work hard; however, the flip side was that I left office later than I should have. My second mistake was to walk some distance and look for an Ola auto, instead of taking the regular auto to Central; or taking the regular auto till Kodambakkam (since it was close to my office in Virugambakkam) and then taking a local till Park (opposite Central). Eventually, I got the Ola auto; but by then I was really cutting it fine.
We were delayed by traffic and it looked like I would barely be able to make it. Just as we neared Central, we crashed into two guys on a bike. In our opinion it was their fault but they blamed the poor auto driver for it. In all this ruckus, I ended up missing my train (obviously!). In the heat of the moment, I vented my feelings by sending messages scathingly criticizing Chennai to my family, relatives and friends. Missing a train is something that brings a lot of emotions for me; so I was seized by a crazy desire to travel unreserved in 12615 Grand Trunk express to Vijaywada and then take another train to Hyderabad from there. Thankfully, my father managed to persuade me to return home and let that trip go as it was.
In my first job, I had some good experience in the field of HR Services, including some exposure to Recruitment – but mainly sourcing. However, a lot of the work involved mainly documentation and back office work. Also, the growth prospects were not great, and there were certain recruitment portal sharing issues with my colleagues. My parents and uncle felt that it would be best if I returned to Mumbai, and started looking for another job there; especially so that my counselling could be better looked after. I also agreed – I missed my parents and sister anyway. Thus, I resigned the job and came to Mumbai with my parents and sister at the end of October; after our annual Deepavali visit to Kodaganallur (near Tirunelveli).
When I started writing this blog about my experience as an Aspie, it seemed unthinkable that it would have to be split into three parts. However, going by the flow; I am afraid there will be a part 4 as well. Hope you are not getting bored! Stay tuned 😉