Hello, happy New Year, and welcome back to The Autistic Writer.
New Year is a weird thing, isn’t it? When you consider the arbitrary nature of the setup of our calendar, along with its odd inconsistencies and inaccuracies, like having to have a leap-year correction. It does not sit well with my autistic sensibilities. Despite the arbitrary nature of the calendar and the temporal markers we apply to it, I have always been a sucker for New Year’s Eve, though. I always get emotional, and I’m usually in tears at some point. It seems that no matter what triumphs or successes I experience in any year, I always find myself focusing on what has gone wrong, how awful I feel, and just wanting the next year to be better. Some time ago, I mentioned on this blog about my realisation that I do not actually experience happiness. I believe I may be incapable of experiencing happiness. Pleasure, yes, but that’s not the same thing.
I believe my particular arrangement of coordinates on the autism spectrum mean I have missed out on the happiness thing completely. This is the first New Year I have entered with this knowledge in mind. There appears, then, to be no point at all in making the usual slew of resolutions I normally embark on to try to chase happiness. What I will do is to continue using my wellbeing tracker which does keep me on a more or less even keel. I’ve blogged about this tracker before, but as a brief reminder, it is based on the idea that the more I do things I know are good for my wellbeing, the better I feel, and the better I feel, the more likely I am to do things that are good for my wellbeing. I have boiled this down to a shortlist of nine headings, measuring certain activities along with my level of depression and anxiety on any given day. Every heading gets scored daily as either good or caution or bad, and from this I derive a numerical wellbeing rating for each day. The rating can theoretically be anything from -9 to +9. Usually, it hovers around the +3 to +5 mark these days. I stopped using it when I was admitted to hospital with back problems (see last week’s blog), and also after being discharged to recover at home. I’m in less pain now, have cut back the painkillers significantly, and have some mobility, so things are looking up on that front. Time to get going with my tracker again, then. I don’t expect it to bring that elusive thing called happiness into my life, but it does make me me check myself daily, so that I can see if I’ve put in the appropriate effort in the appropriate areas of my life to keep things stable. So hopefully, it keeps me closer to some kind of contentment, while true happiness remains a fantasy.
This week I want to talk about something that we shouldn’t even be having to think about in a 21st century, supposedly civilised, culture. First, a relevant quote from Ban Ki-moon:
On this New Year’s Eve, I did get emotional, but managed to hide it for the most part from the people around me. One thing I did find hard to hide, though, was how frustrated and angry I was at something I saw on TV. This got to me so badly that I couldn’t shake it off. For some reason, it really touched a nerve. Here’s what happened:
On December 31st, I switched on the TV around midday, and it happened to come on with the channel Sky One. The show being broadcast was titled Football’s Funniest Bits. I watched it for a few minutes, and the show was basically a series of clips of c-list celebrity football fans saying sarcastic things about various personalities in football. Shortly after David Moyes had been given a roasting, the subject changed to goalkeepers, and one of the c-listers said goalkeepers are, “shall we say, on the spectrum.” I could barely believe what I was hearing. It was a comment made in the context of goalkeepers supposedly being odd, different to other footballers, in some way not quite right… and so they are, according to this shleb, on the spectrum.
I get sick and tired of this casual use of the term on the spectrum as some kind of mockery or insult, so I just switched channels. But it kept burning away at me, and I decided to drop a tweet about it:
So I thought, okay, I’ll go with it, and DM my complaint, and see if they’ll pass it on…
In response, I received this DM:
I have zero expectation that anything positive will come of this complaint. But I felt I couldn’t just do nothing. I cannot get my head around what the director and editor of the show were thinking when they heard that comment made and just let it go. It boggles my mind.
As a football fan, I have many time sat through matches feeling sickened by racist, homophobic and misogynistic chanting many fans feel it’s okay to engage it. It makes me ashamed to be a fan of the sport at times. But having heard all that appalling behaviour so many times, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to hear this c list celebrity football fan drop an anti-neurodivergent slur into conversation so casually. But I was. I was absolutely shocked. I still cannot believe the editor and director of the show let it go out with that comment left in.
Every time I hear the term on the spectrum used as an insult, or form of mockery, it makes my blood boil. The level of ignorance about autistic people and autism in general out there is quite shocking when you think of how many of us there are (estimated at 1% of the world’s population).
It’s part of a wider problem in society, that stems from people putting themselves and others into categories, and then deciding one category is superior to another. This is exactly the process behind racism, homophobia and so on. I don’t know what the answer is to get people just to see each other as people.
It will be interesting to see what Sky come back with regarding my complaint; whether they see the issue as even remotely important. I’ll let you know.
That’s all for this time. Thanks for dropping by. Please feel free to comment on the blog; everyone is welcome. You can also find me on Twitter, here.
I’d also like to point you in the direction of another blog, covering both mental health issues and financial independence: Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.