One of the Songs we used to sing often, always reminds me of the Lihous.
At college my relationships with my fellow students was leagues better than my relationship with my fellow students on my original agriculture course in Hampshire, but even so it was still very difficult and I still had poor interaction skills and found it hard to stay with these students during leisure times.
I have never and will never deny my stunted communication and relationship skills, they are real, I have worked myself into the ground to do better and simply cannot overcome the autistic barrier completely, I am ashamed, and people have made me feel ashamed and have punished me, but I am at the highest level of communication that I will ever reach, and still it will never be enough in the eyes of the world, I will always be called ignorant, awkward, troublesome, unfriendly and selfish, and that is nothing compared to how the church have now labelled me.
Back to the story, my fellow students were all 16-18, apart from a traveller girl called *****-***** who sadly had to leave the course early due to her caravan catching fire, which was a pity because she was in my age bracket and was an individual like me, and was a jolly nice friendly girl, her presence on the course may have helped me.
We were not a large group as the group at the Hampshire college were, the initial numbers were below twenty and went down to below 15, we divided into two groups and I was in group B, fortunately for me because there were a few others in B with various problems, my tutors were aware from the start of my disabilities and the course was suited to people of different abilities, so that was ok, my way of ensuring that I could pass was an extra hour or two of library study before or after college every day, and it did make a difference. I was also extremely surprised how little the 16-18 year olds knew about writing, spelling, maths or anything, they were not high-flyers like the Hampshire lot, so they did not consider me to be stupid, they often asked me for spellings of words or got me to check their work.
I told no-one in L. where I was, much to the dismay of some of my friends, they actually thought I was working abroad, and I was happy for them to think that, because I did not want JM to know where I was, I was sick of her unsolicited and damaging interference, and by the time I started trusting JM again I was towards the end of my course and had been told my predicted grades and was spending my spare time in the channel islands, preparing to move over there, so when JM and her family took to guessing where I was, they guessed the channel islands and I said nothing, so they picked that guess.
JM’s sister said within my earshot as I left the room, ‘She is an odd girl’ and JM’s mother said ‘yes, very odd’, but scarred from them and JM, I did not want them to know anything, I had not wanted my college course screwed up by JM and my memories of her interference at the other college remained with me. And as well as that anyway, when I had prepared to go away to College in Dorset, JM had expressed complete disinterest when I went to see her to tell her I was going away, she had said ‘oh you have decided to spend your time in (your home village) and not come round here?’
As I was leaving after repeatedly trying to tell her I was going away, she came after me and said ‘ you are actually going away?’ but I was fed up by then ‘yes, goodbye JM’.
A month or so later on return to L. she made a huge fuss of me, I was surprised, JM has huge stresses on her, and reacts like that, but it was the other things that she did, not her moodiness that upset me, her breaches of confidence and her unsolicited interference and blackening my name.
Anyway, back to the college situation, Jill got me to go back to them for the weekend EVERY weekend at first, I accepted this completely, doing as asked, and to me it was like having a family to go back to, time with George and Jill meant I did not see my friends in the Winchester area very much, but I did as Jill wanted.
Then suddenly it changed without discussion, Jill said I could not come back one weekend, I was confused, I was settled into the course by now, but not settled in Dorset, and so I was used to going back for the weekend, and the chaotic family I lived with were also used to me going away, we all thought it was how things went, Jill and George did not discuss this change or warn me of it, and continued to refuse to discuss it, so I thought I had done something wrong, I moped at college and sent them an email apologizing for every single little thing I could think of that I could have done to make them shun me, I always feel terrible if I have hurt anyone, especially my friends, and because of what I term ‘autistic blindness’ I do hurt people, and my anger that gets the better of me when I am hurt also undoubtedly hurts me, and people think I am smart enough to control both these things and I am not, so I do end up in muddles.
Anyway, George and Jill explained nothing, and because I loved them, my heart broke. I will change the subject for a minute as my relationship with them still hurts. Anyway, they took to trying to get me to stay with them on weekends when I had farm duties and had to be at College all weekend, and they seemed unable to absorb this or adjust to arrange other weekends for me to come back, so I started to come back to Hampshire when it suited me, and stay with other people and camp out in my car, this started my healthy independence of George and Jill, and I only wish that I had gone further with it, I did try to lose them later on, but failed.
I did not know at first that the Warrens from Jersey had told Jill not to have me home every weekend, and Jill and George simply changed the boundaries without discussion with me.
So that injured me.
On Wednesdays we had study/work experience day at college, and there were no classes, one day the tutor asked how many of us would like a free day out at the southwest dairy show one Wednesday, I leapt to sign up, my fellow students were all committed to work and other things to do, only one of the other students was going, and she was going with her family who were showing cattle at the show, so I went with one of my tutors in his car, he was a nice tutor who taught us beef production.
I love agricultural shows, I was having a whale of a time looking round the show on my own while my tutor went to do whatever he was doing at the show, which was based at the Bath and West Showground in Somerset.
Then I started feeling ill, as I did and do sometimes, dizzy, headache, tired, wanting to close my eyes and sleep. I wandered over to the St. John Ambulance tent to ask if they had any spare painkillers and a place I could rest, they asked what was wrong, sat me down, checked my pulse, checked it again, listened to my heartbeat, and then put ECG pads on me and looked at my heartbeat, they told me my heart wasn’t beating properly and they called an ambulance, I was totally taken by surprise, I often had, and still have these symptoms, but have never been ambulanced for it with a broken heart.
The Ambulance took me to hospital in Yeovil, where I was put on a trolley and wheeled about and then put in an A&E cubicle on a monitor, the sharp noises of the monitor distressed me, and several people looked at the heartbeat and one person tried to explain why what they were seeing on the monitor was wrong, it was something to do with the lines that went sharply down between the lines that went sharply up, I keep disconnecting myself from the machine and trying to escape because the sharp noise of the machine was too much for my autism, eventually they came to see me and said ‘you didn’t tell us you were on…., (Whatever medicine it was I was on).
I told them I had told the St. John Ambulance, and they asked if I had overdosed on my medicine, I said no, and they said that I needed to see my GP about the medicine as it may have been the cause of the problem, they also said the problem could be a heart murmur, so then they put me on a trolley in the corridor for some time as casualty was very busy and they needed the cubicle, I did not know what was happening, but then my tutor arrived at the hospital to see what was happening, and they discharged me, telling me to see my GP and that the GP should refer my for heart tests, the poor frazzled tutor took me back to college and I drove myself home, the GP was vague and never referred me for heart tests, but I started to withdraw myself from the medication not long after that as I was concerned that it was the med that upset my heart.
The hospital incident caused further upset with the Lihous, with Jill becoming emotionally upset, did I understand this and its impact at the time? Not completely, I did feel Jill’s upset and react to it by being upset myself, but I was not aware of how much she got upset until later. The other thing that happened was that Paul, my failing mentor who was doing my finances heard that I was in hospital because I had phoned George while I was there, to ask for prayers and to see if he could somehow let my new part time employers know I was not going to get to work, and he had told Paul.
Paul offered to go to the Hospital and collect me and take me back to Weymouth, before any of us knew that my tutor as going to collect me, this apparently upset his wife, who was not happy with his involvement with me anyway. Paul and the man in L. church who had done my finances, had something in common, they were both retired from finance and had ferocious wives, and they were both tall and thin and went to church and helped people struggling with money, maybe cloning already exists.
My other sadness and worry is that I let Paul down by not completing enough gardening for him, as I was ill from the meds by then.
Home in Weymouth, I was not feeling great, I found I could hardly walk the short distance to the beach, I felt low and lost, I had started going to the CAB for help with finances as Paul was failing me, and about a week after the hospital incident, I was at the CAB and started feeling unwell, I was struggling to speak to a different person from usual and she didn’t understand me, I stared feeling dizzy and blank, kind of unable to move or speak or do anything, they called an ambulance and the paramedics checked my pulse, which seemed fairly normal and this time I started to feel better as they spoke to me, they took me to the GP I think, or the hospital, I am not sure, but they said they thought I was simply overwhelmed from dealing with the money troubles and the situation with the Lihous, and trying to deal with accommodation and coursework.
So they referred me to a mental health nurse, who assessed the situation, asked when I had last eaten and how much money I had, I told her I had no money or food, and she gave me £20 and a sandwich and a lift home, promising to be in touch and see what could be done to help me, brilliant! I was delighted with the £20 because I was hungry and had had no money to get myself to college for the rest of the week, so I ate and I walked along the cliff tops and felt better, though the situation with the Lihous was breaking my heart.
By the Way, the mental health nurse said I wasn’t mentally ill, and spoke to Basingstoke where I used to see the psychiatrist after being diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum, and Basingstoke told her I was ‘normally a cheerful and positive girl’ or something.
Dorset and the Lihous was nearly the death of me, there was a marked deterioration in my general and mental health as a result of the stresses, and by the time I went to Jersey I was still far too stressed.