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Emma - Interview 14

Age at interview: 21
Brief Outline: Emma is 21 and in her 2nd year at university. She was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when she was about 2. She's experienced depression on and off since she was 13. Emma hasn't been given a diagnosis for depression but would like to see a doctor to find out more. Her hobbies - music, computer games and societies ' and talking to her girlfriend or her mum help her feel better. (White British).
Background: See 'Brief outline'

More about me...

Emma is 21 and studies French and Japanese and is in her 2nd year in University. When she was about 2, Emma was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. She says being ‘Aspie’ has affected some areas in her life more than others, particularly school, university and relationships.
 
Emma says she’s always felt her brain is “wired differently” to most other people and that; “I’m not completely straight in the head”. She says this could be to do with Asperger’s and that she finds it very difficult to deal with emotions, particularly negative ones. She first experienced depression around the age of 13, when an aunt who she was very close with died. Emma says adolescence can be “a really painful time for a lot of people”.  She’s experienced depression again when starting university and is planning to go to speak to her doctor about it.
 
Up till the age of 16, Emma was in special needs education. She said her teachers tried to get her to play with the other kids but she didn’t really feel she got on with them. In secondary school, Emma felt a bit of a “loner”, and enjoyed writing her novels more than hanging out with the other pupils. Also, being in an all girls-school meant a lot of “cliques, pettiness and rumours” which Emma really disliked.
 
Emma came out as gay to her mum when she was 13 and says her mum has been really supportive. She’s active in the LGBT society of her university and involved in awareness raising campaigns. She says the best way for her to battle low moods is to keep herself busy and to find like-minded people with whom she can feel comfortable and free to be herself. Emma also likes music, gigging, shopping and playing computer games. Emma also says quality time on her own is really important to her, because being around people can “get too much” sometimes.
 
Emma lives in a shared student house, and one of her housemates also has Asperger’s. She’s in a long term relationship. Her girlfriend also has Asperger’s and Emma says it’s really great they can talk about their experiences and her low moods together.
 

Emma has found likeminded people from the LGBT and Mental Health societies at University.

Emma has found likeminded people from the LGBT and Mental Health societies at University.

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We do socials as well. We do a lot of going out on the scene as it were. And drinking, pub crawls, the odd day trip to Manchester or Amsterdam, here and there.
 
But, yeah, I quite enjoy it in the LGBT most of the time. But I actually went on the nationwide conference last year, it was like a parliament thing, I’m not quite sure how to word it.
 
We kind of voted on LGBT issues, like parenting, the use of the word queer, which is actually more controversial than you think. Parenting, queer, health education and keeping in contact with other LGBTs throughout the UK. And, it was a pretty draining experience I have to admit, but it was kind of an honour as well because I was one of only, I was one of only four people who were elected to go.
 
I’m also a member of the Mental Health Society which is open to anyone, it just basically depends on, well basically each of the members has like, the mind, or brain trauma like, we’ve got people who’ve got brain damage from drugs, people with depression or possibly schizophrenia, or other things, I don’t know what anyone actually has because I think it’s rude to ask, but yeah. And I think they organise little outings and campaigns for mental health week, but I don’t really know that much about it because I only went to one session last term, and I’m not sure whether they’ve started sessions again this year.
 
But I’ve also done as part of the university Cheerleading and Karate. And yeah, they sound kind of odd, and like this geeky uncool Aspie doing Cheerleading where it’s all pretty preppy blonde girls yelling Ra Ra Ra, but it’s not like that with Cheerleading, or at least I don’t think it should be like that. I was in the junior varsity squad technically, and we were more like a dance troupe, like we danced with pom poms, but we didn’t cheer for football teams as it were. We did a lot of performances at the Carling Academy. 
 

“Adolescence is a painful experience for everyone. Find someone you can talk to.”

“Adolescence is a painful experience for everyone. Find someone you can talk to.”

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Get yourself as good a network as you can. It it’s online then so be it. If it’s parents so be it, if it’s pets so be it. Just whoever, or whatever, as long as you have someone you can talk to. Life does usually get easier after the teenage mark, and I would say that it doesn’t matter who you are, adolescence and puberty and teenage hood is a very, very painful emotional time for everyone. Some people might mask it with the good life like having luxury and stuff, but they still feel angst inside somehow I think, like wanting to fit in, wanting to be popular and so on and so forth. Keeping busy is the best way to find out about yourself. And if there’s a an obsession you’ve got, if you’ve got Asperger’s try and get involved with it in a society if you can, or make your own society, if there isn’t one already. Try and find people like you.
 

Emma’s has always felt her “brain wiring is different” from other people.

Emma’s has always felt her “brain wiring is different” from other people.

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You said that you’ve always felt that you’re not quite straight in the head, is I think the expression you used.
 
That was what I said.
 
Can you explain what you mean by, what is it like?
 
Straight in the head. I mean it feels like, obviously everyone experiences different emotions. It feels like my brain chemistry and my brain wiring’s different from most other people. I think that might be just because I’ve got Asperger’s but, often, often thought that I find it quite difficult to deal with some emotions. Like, I hate conflicts and arguments, and I’m not too keen on anger.
 

Secondary school helped Emma “develop as a person” and gain some independence but didn’t prepare...

Secondary school helped Emma “develop as a person” and gain some independence but didn’t prepare...

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I would say secondary school was harder because, although it meant you could have more independence and more freedom, not that there was very much of that at [school name] I have to admit, it was quite sheltered but because I’m going through puberty, and all the other girls are, some have got, some you wouldn’t even know had special needs. They’re like really street wise, pardon me, and they take the pee out of the uncool kids such as yours truly, and others. And it’s just difficult in an all girls school when you’ve got, “Miss, [friend’s name] won’t be my friend. [friend’s name] looked at me funny. I hate you. He stole, she stole my boyfriend.” Kind of thing. It’s just so petty, and rumours and stuff, oh Jesus.
 
But I would say I would say that my best friendships of all, thus far, have been at school. And in a lot of ways I’d say the High School helped me develop as a person, but I don’t think it prepared me enough for the world. The real world as it were.
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