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Christopher - Interview 14b

Age at interview: 17
Age at diagnosis: 14
Brief Outline: Christopher, 17, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 14. Family is very important to Christopher and he will soon start college to do A-Levels in history and law.
Background: Christopher, 17, lives with his family

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Christopher, 17, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 14. He describes how he feels that he is “highly specialised” because he has Asperger syndrome. Christopher believes that more people should be educated about autism to increase awareness and challenge the assumptions which may be made due to films such as Rain Man and Mercury Rising.
 
Family is very important to Christopher and he feels protective and loyal towards them. He enjoys living with his family and does not intend to move out. He finds it difficult to trust people and although he feels a yearning to have more friends he also enjoys his own company and being alone. In his spare time Christopher enjoys using the internet to research topics which interest him and it is not uncommon for him to start exploring the internet in the evening and continue throughout the whole night without noticing the time.
 
Christopher remembers a happy childhood and enjoyed primary school. He found secondary school difficult and describes the experience of transition as “like trying to step over the Grand Canyon”. During secondary school Christopher experienced bullying, this led to his attendance being low and he chose to leave during 6th Form. In spite of this Christopher achieved very good GCSEs. He does feel he would have done even better with more support from the school and a higher attendance rate. Christopher plans to start college to do A-levels in history and law and eventually he intends to go to university. 
 
 

Christopher prefers to stay home as he finds going out scary.

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But you know, you know, I’ve had bad experiences with people my own age, so I don’t, I don’t like to be round them. I don’t like to go out where I could get hurt. This is where I’m safe. This is where I like to stay.
 
So would you go out at all at the moment?
 
I would. But I’d only do it if, for example, I was with my mum. Because I have to face facts, if someone ever tried to attack us, it would be her who would end up defending us, not me. I’m not good in that kind of situation. 
 
Does it bother you that you can’t really go out?
 
I suppose it does. But then it doesn’t. I like to be on my own. I like, you know, solitude. But at the same time I ache for companionship, saying that actually sounds like euphemism. I ache, I want, I’d like friends, but I don’t want friends. Is very confusing.
 
 

Christopher says finding a decent mental health service is like trying to find the Scarlett...

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 Oh everything really. Everything bad is like a little, I don’t know it’s like, ingredient into a cake, everything’s an ingredient and it makes some kind of evil cake that’s trying to kill me, kind of thing. It’s not very good imagery, but, that’s how it supposedly feels. It feels like they are two people inside of me. One is, both are intelligent, but one’s kind of evil and angry and delights in pain, and is a bit of a sadist, but, and the other’s like all sweetness and light. I think they kind of fight and that’s what makes me like I am. Very strange.

 
Do you take antidepressants?
 
No.
 
Is this a sort of ongoing thing or is it just occasionally?
 
It’s been ongoing since about year ten, kind of like first, mini breakdown slash meltdown. The problem is I’m just not very good at dealing with emotions of any kind. I’m good at dealing with happiness, yes, I’m good at dealing with happiness, it’s just any other emotion I’m not that good at, dealing with
 
Have you found sort of strategies for dealing with this?
 
No. We don’t really have any strategy of any kind. Probably because we keep on being messed about by mental health services, they’re here, they’re there, they’re everywhere. They’re nowhere. Finding a decent mental health service that will actually stay with you, is like trying to find the Scarlett Pimpernel.
 
 

Christopher is unhappy he is autistic, but also glad that he is.

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And can you remember what you thought when she said that you had autistic, you were autistic?
 
Christopher' I’m not sure. I was a bit unhappy. And I was a bit pleased. Because I was unhappy because at that time I thought that it meant that I was disabled whilst I still think I’m disabled. But it made me think that I’m stupid, that’s the best I can come to. But I was also pleased, because it made me different, well more different than I was already.
 
Mother' You mean unique?
 
Christopher' I’d say unique now but at that time I’d have felt different. Hm. Well over the last couple of years, I’ve felt that I’m more unique than just different. I’m like… Yeah. But, I’m just special. Not in the way that we use special to describe someone who’s not very clever, like that, I’m not sure. But occasionally it makes me unhappy because I don’t, because there are times when I don’t want to be different, I just want to be like everyone else, but then again I, whenever I think like that, I always rationalise that, that would make my life boring. You know, I wouldn’t be as interesting as I am now. I’d be just like everyone else, listening to the same rubbish music, not doing anything, getting drunk, you know, for no reason. You know, and so it’s kind of a 50/50 thing. I’m unhappy that I’m autistic. But I’m also glad that I am.

 

 

Christopher wants more awareness about autism and feels it is like 'the cancer of the mental...

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I want in my opinion autism is like the cancer of the mental health world. Like cancer is the worst illness you could possibly have. In my opinion autism is probably the worst you can have. Because it’s like ever changing. There’s not, it just doesn’t stay the same ever. And that’s why I think doctors need to be really… all doctors in fact, all doctors, nurses, anything, need to actually be trained in dealing with mental health issues. Because any mental health issues, because it’s just the lack of understanding, and ignorance, ignorance breeds hatred.

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