Monday, June 18, 2007

Forks in the road or "whosever diggeth a pit shall fall in it."

Those of you who know my main website will know the poem that introduces it which really sums up my life.

I am at another of those forks and don’t yet know the consequences but it reminds me of the way my life and career has been shaped by all those forks in the road going way back.

What brought on this bout of reflection was the necessity of filling in the same questionnaire I filled in back in 99 before being diagnosed in 99 and here I am, having been referred back again to the same department filling in the same questionnaire (of which more later)

Any way it has been a tortuous path to get to this particular fork, but each turning has confirmed the direction I would inevitably go.

Right now I have given up the chance of completing a Masters degree because of the cost. That leaves another pathway, either nowhere back amongst the plains, or a steep path up in the mountains barred by a high stile. If I get over the stile I go on to a PhD but if the stile is too high I end up back in the plains, whereas following the Masters route might have possibly got me to the PhD eventually via a longer route but without the particular obstacle I do not yet know if I can surmount.

But enough of that. My ways had actually been set long ago. I know more than ever where I want to go now and what stands in my, but back when I was eleven or twelve how was it?

Back then I thought that one day I could become an architect, my passion then being for drawing plans of houses, shopping malls and whole cities, never mind the odd cathedral or skyscraper.

Even before then my destiny had been set for I went not to a grammar school but a comprehensive. Well I don’t think I would have survived in the hothouse atmosphere of a grammar either, but that would have been another story.

And so it was that by the time I was twelve I was already being pushed in directions that were not what I wanted. I was not allowed to take Art beyond my second year or Technical drawing as I was not considered to be technically accomplished for either of them.

Even so if I had followed those courses I would still have been frustrated further down the line by a failure in A level maths since entry to a technical subject like architecture would have required something more than my dyslexic creativity alone allows.

Indeed I took a path that avoided A level maths and because I was a good mimic and seemed to do well in French and German I was pushed along the path that led to failure in languages instead as they became more advanced and bogged down in grammar.

I took a notion, then that I would be a lawyer and I might have been a good one for all I know, but by the time my A levels came I failed to get the grades necessary to take me to a good law school. It was already too late, so even though I got to Uni by the back door, through clearing for a subject that was related neither to law nor architecture, I was still without a maths A level in a subject that really demanded one. I got by on the condition being that I took an equivalent maths course at Uni, until you know what? I failed it L

So there you go obstacles were waiting there for me whatever road I took. Would I have passed my law exams if I had managed to get on that path? Probably not any more than I was able to pass my finals for politics and economics, the time wasn’t right.

Well so you see, decisions made on my behalf without understanding what my educational difficulties or strengths really were and the lack of knowledge regarding how dyslexia and unrecognised autism impacted my education governed so much of the future.

It could not have been much different I suppose for any of my generation of less obvious autistics. Society had got it in for a lot of folks and school was not so much about education than about being forced into social conformity whatever conformity was expected of your particular class, race, gender or neurological configuration.

And so fast forward to another fork in 1999 when I had to fill in that psychological questionnaire, that eventually led to recognition and diagnosis. I was in different situation than I am today, I was broken under the weight of circumstance and clutching at straws. I had managed to persuade my GP that I should be assessed by a psychologist rather than a psychiatrist, but I had the feeling he was only humouring me, expecting I would be back for a more conventional dx of sommat narsty in the woodshed.

I am cognisant of Amanda’s recent post about power relations and inequalities. Back then in 99 I was still afraid of what the system might intend for me, I had the spectre of Schizophrenia to afright me. Yes I remember all those old forgotten posts that others have affected to find, about Amanda’s past too, no big secret.

In the interim of awaiting a diagnosis I allowed myself to be prescribed an antipsychotic (Risperidone) and nearly succumbed to allowing a cocktail of psychotropics as it was suggested I supplement Risperidone with an antidepressant since it was doing nothing for my depression (and what else would have been a chaser to the side effects of the antidepressant I wonder if I had given in and not said enough is enough)

Well it is interesting that this time I have reached the same point via the psychiatric route and have been referred back to the same psychological services who diagnosed me with AS.

To be honest I do not think the diagnostic process back then was a good one, I was very afraid of the system and not as open to talking about things as I am now It was not the psychologists pronouncement that finally convinced me I am autistic at all, but what I have learned since from my peers and from my studies that convinces me that in spite of the provincial ignorance of one Digby Tantum's disciples (he is no friend of mine I can assure you) the dx was not wrong.

Today I feel the power relationship is different, even at my lowest ebb having been temporarily admitted as a psychiatric emergency and communicating via my laptop, I still had more credibility than I had as the flotsam of the system I felt myself to be in 1999, a lot has happened in between.

But what of all those who are still the flotsam and jetsam in this turbulent sea of psychiatry and psychology? What of all those who are wrongly diagnosed with psychotic conditions which then become an iatrogenic self fulfilling prophecy like the case of Piers Bolduc?

Now we have (not so) new mental health bill being debated in the commons in the teeth of opposition from nearly every mental health charity where the Lords amendments will be rejected because of nothing more than a Government's fear of the fear and prejudice of the people who they think elected them to make our country safe from "psychos and Muslims".

And who will it be tomorrow, cyclists and vegetarians perhaps?

Will the new mental health bill when it is inevitably made into (bad) law like the dangerous dogs act, prevent injustices like that suffered by Piers Bolduc, or will it make it all the more dangerous for all of us.

Does anyone care, when the autism debate seems to have trivialised itself and been caricatured into lame arguments about chemical causation?

Who is blogging about our human rights?

Never mind forks in the road, someone is digging bloody great holes and pitfalls in it.

We are a small axe up against a very big tree. But when it falls let us hope the sound rings around the world.



3 comments:

ballastexistenz said...

Today I feel the power relationship is different, even at my lowest ebb having been temporarily admitted as a psychiatric emergency and communicating via my laptop, I still had more credibility than I had as the flotsam of the system I felt myself to be in 1999, a lot has happened in between.

Same here. I remember you (and the V person, among others) from back then too. Seems strange the ways things have gone. Last time I ended up in a psych ward (suicidal), a couple years back, I was able to get out quickly, because of the autism thing, they didn't want me there. Very different from before, when even at times when I had autism diagnoses I still had a very psychiatric tinge to my "services" because of additional dissociative and/or psychotic diagnoses.

But what of all those who are still the flotsam and jetsam in this turbulent sea of psychiatry and psychology? What of all those who are wrongly diagnosed with psychotic conditions which then become an iatrogenic self fulfilling prophecy like the case of Piers Bolduc?

I worry about that too. And I worry about the autistic community distancing itself, playing those little word games, etc. I know it's partly done out of fear of the same fate I've had, and you've had, and some of us have escaped, and some haven't. But it has to stop. Somehow. Wish I had a clue how beyond yammering constantly in people's ears about it until they get sick of me. But I'm tired of the we're-better-than-'crazies'-and-'retards' elitism and the complacency about how people classified that way ("rightly" or "wrongly") are treated, even the furthering of the goals of that system by autistic people who seem to have no clue what they're furthering.

Vicky said...

Larry,

You might want to cite a link to this law you are speaking of..
I think we have to separate out some of the things that we speak of to some extent. The impact that each issue and its weight in effecting change ect.
The cause issue will continue to hold significant weight among scientist and researchers driven by parental concerns..
The housing , employment and mental/instituional concerns will impact parents as well when there children are old enough to be impacted by them..
It seems as though parents who are seasoned in autism.. Those that have children maybe from the 20 to 40 year olds may not be that involved in issues on the surface..
Perhaps they have settled into orgnisations directly concerning the issues of housing employment and mental/ institutions and there for they seem to be less visable..

As far as Visiblity of those on the Autistic Spectrum themselves.. Yes.. In a way adult autistics have more or less been endoctrinated by the younger less seasoned parents in where they focus there energy towards..
This is merely a opinion of mine,, and perhaps it needs more scrutinizing..
Anyway,,,
Right now it seems on the surface that autistic human rights are being funneled off or channeled into too many diverse areas....
Again that maybe more of a trend of who is the most Visable..
It seems to me that there is some sort of dampering down of autistic views once you add this element of hmm,,, what shall I say,, pleaseing and not alienating the Status Quo..

( I will add the disclaimer that my opinions are subject to change without notice but more likely due to more information)
:-)

laurentius rex said...

There was a link in the text I thought. However here is the latest news

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6762355.stm

The debate continues and it is not good.

I don't suppose anyone else cares, too wrapped up in there own anti mercury games and pantomimes.