Alternative Reality – unknowingly living with Autism

Advertisements

Part 2

  • In 2010 I was approached by a mining company in South Africa to work as a Crisis Manager in the Industry. I worked on 23 Shafts managing operations of their Cap-lamp Rooms where they kit underground Miners. I developed a supply chain strategy for them which they still use today. I also worked on their RFID tagging system of miners and equipment to identify when miners lose their equipment underground or do not exit the shaft at the end of a shift.
  • In 2012 we ended our mining contracts at Marikana when all the miners were shot by South African Police, it made global headlines.
Advertisements
  • In 2013 I went back into the Construction Industry and started my own Project Management company. I developed a system to get building plans approved faster than the traditional method by walking them through at the local town councils.
  • I ended up helping a Lady to get her Building Plan approved. She was the private secretary of our former State President Mr. Nelson Mandela. I did not know it was her when meeting her and she pointed out how nice it was that I treated her as a normal person. I did however apologize when she revealed who she was!
  • In 2014 I had an opportunity to move down to the coast and live in the Western Cape province.
  • In 2015 I started working in Insurance in the Financial Services industry by being appointed as a Project Manager with an International Group of Companies.
Advertisements
  • I was appointed to settle the Agile Project Management office in our local Software house. I facilitated and managed over 1000 releases to Production in 12 months. I developed a Change Control Release schedule which they still use today.
  • In 2016 I received the Personality of the Year Award as voted for by the Group Directors.
  • In 2015 I completed a Project Management course at the Nelson Mandela University Business School. This was my first qualification after finishing school 2 decades ago.
  • In 2017 I was promoted to Senior Project Manager and started working on Insurance Telematics. I reported directly to a Group Director.
  • I developed a Crash Detection prediction model with our tracking service provider.
  • I developed an online User Portal.
Advertisements
  • I developed a Crash Recreation Tool for our Investigations department.
  • I developed our Driver Rewards Program.
  • I analyzed our big data with our Actuaries to improve our Risk Management strategies.
  • I studied human behavior to predict future behavior and probabilities.
  • In 2020 I woke up on a Saturday and spent the day with my teenage daughter. During the afternoon I felt depleted mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  • I said goodbye to my daughter, got in my car, drove out into the mountains, and tried to commit suicide.
  • I failed. I survived…
Advertisements
  • I woke up the next morning and with all the blood loss managed to drive to the Emergency Room at the local Hospital where they stitched me up and booked me into the Psychiatric Ward.
  • I was as surprised as they were about what had happened! I was an eternal optimist and loved life! It was one big adventure!
  • When the Psychiatrist entered the consultation room and asked me what happened, I started telling him what I can remember.
  • After 5 minutes he asked: ‘Has anyone ever spoken to you about Autism?”.
  • This question changed my entire life…The Psychiatrist said that this is classic Autistic Burnout behavior, I am in good hands now and they will take care of me.
  • This man saved my Life. It was as if 4 decades of confusion and darkness and the unknown came into focus and fell into place. ALL of my questions were answered.

Read more on:

Buy me a Coffee

If you enjoy following my Story, let’s share a virtual coffee 🙂 The price equates to the days of the year, I hope to have at least 1 cup per day!

$3.65

Alternative Reality – Living with Autism without knowing it!

My alternative Life – Before my diagnosis Part 1

Advertisements

To Neurotypical (Normal) People the definition is:

Alternative: Relating to activities that depart from or challenge traditional norms.”an alternative lifestyle”

Oxford Dictionary

To Neurodivergent People like me, it is the exact opposite – I only visit Normal; I don’t get to stay there…

Advertisements

Part 1

  • I was born at a very young age on 19 August 1978. It was a Saturday.
  • I grew up in a small town. The bank in our town was only open on Fridays. We did not have a High-School, only a Primary School with a total of 127 scholars.
  • My father was a Dutch Reformed Church Minister, he passed away 15 years ago. We did not have a close relationship. My mother was a housewife, we did not have a close relationship.
  • I have 3 brothers and 1 sister, but I grew up alone. I entertained myself by reading Encyclopedias, this was before computers and the internet naturally.
  • My father purchased our first computer when I was in primary school and I would play Space Invaders. This would start my fantastic lifelong journey with PCs, Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones.
  • In 1991 I was selected to attend a Winter School program for Gifted Children at the University of Pretoria. I was 12 years old.
  • I went to High-School in 1992 in a neighboring town 60 kilometres (37 miles) away and had to stay in the Hostel. This was the beginning of living independently.
  • In 1994 I received Provincial Colors for playing the trumpet in our school band at the National Championships. I cannot read music and play by ear and memorizing the tunes.
  • In 1996 I was voted a Prefect at school and I was voted Head Boy of our Hostel.
  • In 1996 I received National Colors for placing first in Individual Performance in Drama in a National Acting competition.
  • In 1997 I studied Method Acting at the University of Pretoria. I did not finish due to an opportunity to travel to London, England.
  • In 2000 I traveled to London with a backpack and a little bit of cash to see ‘if I can make it’. I knew no-one there and did not have a job or a place to stay.
  • I lived and worked in London for a whole year at a 800 room Hotel next to Tower Bridge.
  • I served Sir Alex Ferguson without knowing who he was. He asked me when he settled his bill whether I knew who he was, I said No. He shook my hand and said that it was the best breakfast he had ever had.
  • To receive large tips at the hotel I would challenge tables to test my memory. They could order food and drinks and I would not write it down. I would only memorize it. If I could serve all their orders without double checking anything, they would double or triple my tip! I made zero errors, and a lot of money.
  • I developed a Shift Roster for the Hotel which they still use today.
  • In 2001 my visa expired, and I returned to South Africa and started working as a Project Manager with my cousins in the Construction Industry. I developed a Marketing Strategy for them to increase their sales and exposure. They still use this strategy today.
  • In 2004 my cousins left the group and started a family business and asked me to join them. We were successful until 2009 when the global credit crunch forced us to shut down operations.
  • In 2001 I started training in Shaolin Longfist Kung-Fu with Master Weng Jun-Yi in Pretoria, South Africa. I received 5 Black Belts and retired as a Kung Fu instructor and a Tai Chi instructor in 2019.
  • In 2006 I was voted Time Magazine Person of the Year!
Advertisements

If only…

I wish I knew what Autism was back then, we didn’t have sites like:

Autism Speaks: Home

What Is Autism? | Autism Speaks

Advertisements

We also did not have cool articles like:

3 Saints who may have had autism spectrum disorder

Genetic risk of autism spectrum disorder linked to evolutionary brain benefit

We did not have the convenience of expert advice:

Children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder show unique handwriting patterns: Integrative education system should consider this factor, say experts

Advertisements

Read more on:

Advertisements

Day 12 post failed suicide attempt – How I made money

5:00am

I wake up. Nurse takes my blood pressure.

Breakfast.

Shower.

I get dressed and make myself a cup of coffee. The Psychiatrist will only arrive at 10:00 so I decide to sit and review my career path. How did I make money?

Where did money come from?

The Origin of Money[ii]

There are three major theories regarding the origin of money:-

1 Money was created for trading purposes;

2 Money was created for social purposes;

3 Money was created for religious purposes.

Positivemoney.org

What is money?

Characteristics of Money

Money has three characteristics according to the economists:-

1 Means of Payment;

2 Unit of Account;

3 Store of Value.

Positivemoney.org

What is money really?

Money exists not by nature but by law[ix]

Aristotle, Greek Philosopher (384 BC – 322 BC)

Clearly in the 4th century BC, almost 2,500 years ago, Aristotle understood the nature of money. Money is not a commodity that is to be mined like gold or silver. Money is not a commodity to be farmed like wheat or barley. Money is not an animal like a cow or a goat. The nature of money is that it is a legal invention. Money is a creature of the law. The Greek name for money is ‘nomisma’, which is derived from ‘nomos’ meaning law or binding custom. Aristotle defined money as an abstract legal power, publicly controlled for the common good.

Positivemoney.org

MY so-called CAREER

So,

I have been working for just over 2 decades. I earned salaries and I followed the ‘normal’ path of the Consumer and I bought stuff. It was always confusing to me to figure out what money is and what it does. It confuses me?!

Advertisements

I understand bartering, I also understand that when you create something you get rewarded for your time and effort, which kind of determines the value of said creation.

What I struggle with is that a Seller and a Buyer can decide what the ‘price’ is of anything they wish to transact over. So, to me, the price is not at all tied to the value, because it is subjective.

That’s how I figured out that my intrinsic value is not the same to two different employers. One may want to pay me $1000 per week and the other $2000 per week.

It depends on how much my skill set can help him increase the value of his offering and his ability to get a good price when selling it. I am just a product to my employer, and when I start asking for more money, he can just say no and if I then resign he can just replace me. I do not resign because my life has been set up in such a way that I need the salary to support my life, which I set up. So now I stay in a miserable job and I never get the salary I think I’m worth.

Mmmm……

Things are about to change:

Now that I have been given the gift of knowing how my mind works, I can figure out how to be more valuable and how to earn more money on my terms aligned with how much I value myself. I am a problem solver by nature and I just need to find a problem I can solve. Not just for one person, but for everyone.

I have been in the wrong positions my entire life!

Advertisements

The Psychiatrist arrives and we discuss my epiphany regarding how strange money is to me. He advises me that people with my condition sometimes struggle with the concept and need help to assist them with realizing their potential. He confirms that I look rested, energized and focused today. Nice…

He leaves and I have a cup of tea.

Lunch

The Psychologist arrives at 14:00 and we discuss money and employment and careers. He pointed out that I need to really take a look at where I am now in life and decide whether it would be mentally stimulating to continue with my current career path. He also stated that it gets more difficult to change your career the older you get. Well, I feel very ‘young’ now that my new life has begun, so I will go and think about my strategy to either remain at the company I am working at right now, or to decide on a new path.

Our session ends and he leaves.

Dinner

Shower and coffee again.

“What am I doing with my life?” I think.

I need to start making money based on my value and skill set, not according to someone else’s value they assign to what I bring to the table, which is just modern slavery I guess.

Advertisements

I start to read up on ‘How to make money’, ‘How to make money online’ and ‘Work from home’.

Wow, what a lot of false claims and smoke and mirrors and illusions and delusions of grandeur. And what on earth is Bitcoin?

I give up and decide to get some rest.

I take my medication, get into bed and think: “How do other people make money? Who will help me to make money?”

And I drift into darkness…

Day 11 post failed suicide attempt – familiarity breeds contempt

5:00am

Nurse checks blood pressure.

Breakfast.

Shower.

The Psychiatrist informs the staff to tell me that he would only visit at 19:00 that evening. The Psychologist will only visit me at 15:00, so I have the morning to myself.

I start to work on what the Psychiatrist asked the previous day, and I try to ‘see’ if any of my family members present with behavior which might suggest that they are on the spectrum.

I was never close to my siblings, always felt like the outcast. The outsider, the weird one, the dreamer, the talker, the strange kid. I was always alone…

I have 3 brothers and 1 sister, I am the 4th child. I remember that I always asked questions. I always wondered about things, I was interested in how things worked and why they are the way they are. I hoped to get answers from my siblings but I soon realized that they became annoyed with me asking so many questions. I was told to keep quiet, stop asking questions and I was ignored. I was shunned from the rest of them and kind of dismissed as the creepy weirdo kid. I ended up reading the encyclopedia and books and magazines to quench my thirst for knowledge.

I would then go back to my siblings and would try to tell them about the interesting things I learnt but they would always just tell me to keep quiet, to stop talking.

I felt the distance grow between me and my brothers and sister over the years. I got this feeling that they didn’t like me, and I could never understand why.

Now, 4 decades later with the knowledge that I am actually different in an amazing way, I feel better about the lonely journey I had. I feel better about the fact that they showed no interest in me. I understand why I felt like an only child with absent parents. I am at peace now with myself. It is strange that ‘familiarity breeds contempt‘ in my life was actually ‘being unfamiliar with your brother and his autism breeds contempt‘.

Thinking about them now trying to identify autistic traits is easy, none of them have it, they are as normal as can be. I do see it in my extended family but not in my immediate family, they are all neurotypical, typically typical.

I am glad I never did fit in, and I am glad I can now stand out!

Advertisements

Lunch

The Psychologist arrives and we start talking about my current mental state. How do I feel? Mentally, physically, emotionally, how do I feel?

Physically? I feel rested. I feel healthy. I feel great.

Emotionally? I feel strange. I feel like my effort to match emotions to facial features my entire life in order to read people has drained me. I feel relieved that I can now pay attention to how my emotions affect me and how others and their emotions affect me. I struggle to have sympathy and empathy display on my face, but I do feel it. In fact, I feel more intense than normal people. I feel that I would need time to process my emotional baggage I carry with me after 2 failed marriages and 2 divorces. At least I feel, I actually feel EVERYTHING all the time…

Mentally? I am strong! I have a fantastic mental gift which I never knew existed! I am only starting to discovery the immense power of my mind! I am absolutely overwhelmed with joy just thinking of the possibilities I can uncover with my new super power! My mind is a powerful resource and I can use it to solve problems! I am very very very happy!

The Psychologist tries to warn me that my happiness may be too much. I need to watch out for a relapse. I need to take it easy, I would need therapy for a long time to align my ego-states and to make sure I’m really coping.

I picked up a shift in his voice and his gaze and his body language. The air changed, his mood changed, he became colder and a bit distant. I know, he wanted longevity in this therapy approach between us. He wanted a patient for an extended period of time. Mmm…. He wanted money.

We spent so many hours talking through my experience and I made great progress and I was relieved that I have received an answer to my lifelong question. And this guy sitting in front of me starts to plan his future income stream? Well, well, well, it does seem to me that he became too familiar with me and now I do not like him, so….’his familiarity breeds my contempt’….

We finish the session and he leaves.

Advertisements

Dinner

Shower

Psychiatrist arrives and we talk about the physical sensations of having dopamine and serotonin stabilizing. We double check that we are both happy with my prescription medicine and the dosage and the way I function. We agree that we have found the sweet spot with the pills. We chat about my family and my experience of being ‘different’ growing up. He assures me that my future would now be light and in focus and would make sense. He talks to me, he actually talks to me as if I am worthy of being spoken to. He listens to me and he believes me. He tells me that I need to start thinking about my career history and my current career choice. He has a feeling that I might have never really done what I am actually good at, and perhaps I need to take a look at what passions or interests of mine I had to bury in the past in order to ‘fit in’. I may want to revisit those ideas 🙂

We finish the session and I have a cup of coffee. I like the Psychiatrist more than the Psychologist.

I take my medication, get into bed and wait for the bliss that is sleep…