Tag Archives: mental health

Blimey I nearly fell off the edge! The Asperger Path has been winding a route through some perilous peaks and spectacularly rugged ravines in the last month or two. Here I am on the other side. I am battered and bruised in places but, like any good traveller’s luggage, each scrape is a tale to add to my unfolding history. 

I have been in Cambodia for about six months. I have made mistakes and compounded them by applying bad strategies. I have taken the wrong job in the wrong city and then the wrong job in the right city. I have been thrust into some rather awkward positions to expedite my extrication. 

So here I am. Sweltering under the sun in Battambang. Currently I am working seven days a week but finally it’s the right job in the right city. The seven day weeks are just a blip. It is only for three weeks but I am looking forward to that day when I wake up and realise that I am not teaching. The workload, like the heat, will not be fatal. I have picked and chosen carefully and longer term life is looking rosy as I settle into undergraduate teaching.  

The heat will not last forever. The rains will come and that is the next hurdle I face but my year here is already half over. My big reward will come when the rains subside. I will travel across this amazing country in the cooler months of winter. Then,  as my visa nears expiry, I will choose a new country to explore. 

Like Cambodia, the next country  will no doubt be full of stops and starts as I awkwardly try to fit myself in to my new surroundings. I may be bruised and battered but my, what a path I am travelling down. 

Diana and the Muesli

You have to love Diana Ross. Well, I guess you don’t have to but I do. She was with me at breakfast this morning and asked if I knew where I was going to. Hell no as Oprah Winfrey replied in the film version of The Color Purple. Luckily, not being black or southern, I did not receive a beating for my strident response. Diana just went on, almost as if she hadn’t heard, to ask if I liked the things that life is showing me. This time my answer was a life affirmating smile that wasn’t covered by hand but shared with the morning muesli. 

I am starting to believe that life is a gift. Like all the other gifts and talents I possess, it benefits from a bit of practice and honing. I am just past fifty and feeling fabulous. I have created a life that, right now, plays a rather gentle hand. My skill sets and strengths have been carefully balanced with my, let’s call them, eccentricities, and life is being lived in a contented manner. I have a home far from home and I have found friends far from friends. There have been a few hairy moments over the years but my diploma from the school of hard knocks looks dusty in the bright sunshine of easy street. 

Diana might be worried about my lack of destination but this life is easing on down the road. On my slow journey away from Oz I seem to have found myself a rather comfortable window seat. My name is not Dorothy and I will not surrender. I am somewhere, over my rainbow, living my spectrum disordered life one day at time.  

Do I like the things that life is showing me? Hell, yes Diana! Hell yes. 

Hyper Diversity

When I was young I never really knew what I wanted to be. I was a good all rounder academically so I was not encouraged to make any decisions. People told me I should keep my options open and not specialise to early. I never committed to anything and, as I have made my way through life, I never really have. 

So here I am. At fifty I am still drifting through life and wondering what and where is next. I fell into teaching more than twenty years ago. It was more about escaping the drudgery of life at the town hall than finding a vocation. I now appear to happily richochet between the two, though teaching is my preferred choice. 

My current incarnation, a teacher of English in Cambodia, is going rather well. I am enjoying the challenges and there are plenty of them. My current path has taken down some very new and different teaching avenues and might almost tempt me to stay a while. I have already been here six months and it’s starting to feel like home but then there are so many other countries and they are so close. 

I am a restless soul. I roll and I drift and I don’t gather moss because I can’t keep still. Some researchers say that ADHD and Aspergers are closely linked. I don’t know if it’s true but certainly I can switch my focus from one thing to another fairly easily. It’s what I do best. After all I am a good all rounder. It seems a bit daft to settle down to something at this point. So I will continue along my rather chaotic Asperger Path, passport in hand, and no doubt find some activities that will divert my attention. The only deficit I can see is the judgmental way society labels and classifies its dazzling differences and distinct diversities. 

Perspective 

Everything is relative. Am I rich or am I poor? Maybe I am both and it depends on how you view my position. 

So if everything is relative does truth become less absolute and honesty then a much more subjective concept. Perhaps the problem lies within relativity itself. If you look at something in relation to something else you are, fundamentally, making a comparison. You are trying to fit something into a bigger framework where things can be judged as being within or outside of parameters. You can calculate a standard deviation from the norm and label and classify. 

I don’t so much mind my wealth being measured. My emotions however are something else. I view myself as a happy fellow. I live my rather unremarkable life with pockets of joy which I find, for me, in quite the most expected of places. A random chat with a stranger or a piece of music can lift my mood. The brilliance of the dawn or dramatic descent of the sun can captivate me and leave me feeling awestruck at the grandeur of the natural world. 

So I must admit that I don’t really like relativity. I have found my happiness and I hope that you find yours. My happiness isn’t greater or better it’s just different. I hope only that my happiness is not at the expense of yours. This is my truth and this is my honesty. Is it relative or absolute?  Maybe it’s both and it  depends on how you view my position. 

Small

I lead a very small life. I get up and go about my business and to most I am an unknown. I am a nameless stranger on the streets of a city whose language I cannot read or speak. 
Yet, everyday I feel welcomed. When shopping, the generosity of a smile, when I struggle to communicate, calms me down. The old ladies of the market laugh at me but I can see the kindly twinkle in their eyes as I stumble through buying my vegetables. The toddlers, standing on the footplate of their parents’ scooter even shout hello as they go past. So I may be unknown but I’m not unnoticed. As a foreigner, a barang, I stand out. I am tall, even by British standards, so here in Cambodia I feel as if I’ve come down a bean stalk. I sail around the town on a big old fashioned bike, having eschewed the ubiquitous motorbike, gathering smiles. 
In my small life, these seemingly meaningless interactions are anything but. Each one contributes to a sense of happiness. Here in Cambodia people are shy but they are not wary. Having come from Europe where the single adult male is shunned as potential stranger danger it is lovely to receive happy waves and carefree waves and hear parents encouraging their children to say hello. 
I will never change the world and I have no aspiration to do so. Nor will many of the people I see every day. However, a cheery hello or an open smile can change someone’s day. I know this because the good people of Battambang share their small city and their kind, friendly nature with me, making my small life a happier one. 

Battambang

I’m still in Battambang and I’ve got the small town blues. I’m living in a backwater and it doesn’t matter if I have a paddle or not. This hot, dry season means the creek is a murky brown and my boat is going nowhere. 

It’s time to stand still which is an odd thing for a traveller to do.  I’m going to take a moment. I will count my blessings and realistically that should take a while. My life is charmed and The Asperger Path is rich in experience and diversity. I am strong and healthy. I am surrounded by good people who I should lean on more often. I have carefree days of writing and relaxation and I live life at a slow pace. There’s time to smell the flowers and time to savour my beloved flat white. My young students are interesting and kind and my teaching is going well. Life could be more interesting but it could also be more stressful. 

A new day is dawning and the only blue I should be worrying about is the sky above. The air hangs and that’s not the blues, that’s just the heat. I am still, in Battambang. 

A Bumpy Bohemian Road

We are all travellers. We are born but by the time we die we are in different times and different places. I was born into much unhappiness. My mother thought she had arrived as she had a home and a husband. She ended up barefoot and pregnant, deserted by my Catholic father for a woman who dripped a hard headed, icy sophistication. My mother, leaking milk, eventually admitted defeat and returned home to the helpful but rigidly, judgmental parents she had left on her ill advised wedding day. Her ensuing battles with her mental health and self esteem didn’t leave much stability or love to spare for two boys who had already lost a father. She left us out in the cold for a while but she had to put her own oxygen mask on before she could worry about our care supply. The return to a semblance of normality was a bumpy bohemian road along which I grew to love my shy mother. She was clever and funny and quietly loved her children though organisation and routine were scarce commodities. As an adult I can see my mother has bestowed both gifts and burdens on me. Having no children, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to parent a child while your own life veers off course.  

My mother’s life was short but in her last few years I saw a woman of fifty something years coming into her own with a joy and a confidence I had only ever glimpsed as a child. I am fifty now and sense I am, like my mother, in a very good place. Looking forward, I don’t know where I am going but I am fairly confident it will be great when I get there. I can see where I have been and the path has been a tough one and I have no doubt the future will hold a few surprises yet. My mother taught me that demons can be battled and was an example of how we can change. I have travelled through time and space but it is the internal journey that has been my greatest adventure. It has taken me to places far from my childhood and will continue to do so as long I ask questions of myself and the world I see before me. The inquisitive mind travels far for what is a quest without question. The answers aren’t often found but if you stop asking your journey is over. This restless traveller hopes to live on the bumpy bohemian road and die having never quite arrived.