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Chapter 22
Telling Rosie my life story was not difficult. Every psychologistand psychiatrist I have seen has asked for a summary, so Ihave the essential facts clear in my mind.
My father owns a hardware store in a regional city. He livesthere with my mother and my younger brother, who willprobably take over when my father retires or dies. My oldersister died at the age of forty as a result of medicalincompetence. When it happened, my mother did not get outof bed for two weeks, except to attend the funeral. I was verysad about my sister’s death. Yes, I was angry too.
My father and I have an effective but not emotionalrelationship.
This is satisfactory to both of us. My mother is very caring butI find her stifling. My brother does not like me. I believe this isbecause he saw me as a threat to his dream of inheriting thehardware store and now does not respect my alternativechoice. The hardware store may well have been a metaphorfor the affection of our father. If so, my brother won, but Iam not unhappy about losing. I do not see my family veryoften. My mother calls me on Sundays.
182/290I had an uneventful time at school. I enjoyed the sciencesubjects. I did not have many friends and was briefly theobject of bullying. I was the top student in the school in allsubjects except English, where I was the top boy. At the endof my schooling I left home to attend university. I originallyenrolled in computer science, but on my twenty-first birthdaymade a decision to change to genetics. This may have beenthe result of a subconscious desire to remain a student, but itwas a logical choice. Genetics was a burgeoning field. There isno family history of mental illness.
I turned towards Rosie and smiled. I had already told herabout my sister and the bullying. The statement about mentalillness was correct, unless I included myself in the definition of‘family’. Somewhere in a medical archive is a twenty-year-oldfile with my name and the words ‘depression, bipolar disorder?
OCD?’ and ‘schizophrenia?’ The question marks are important– beyond the obvious observation that I was depressed, nodefinitive diagnosis was ever made, despite attempts by thepsychiatric profession to fit me into a simplistic category. I nowbelieve that virtually all my problems could be attributed to mybrain being configured differently from those of the majority ofhumans. All the psychiatric symptoms were a result of this, notof any underlying disease. Of course I was depressed: I lackedfriends, sex and a social life, due to being incompatible withother people. My intensity and focus were misinterpreted asmania. And my concern with organisation was labelled asobsessive-compulsive disorder. Julie’s Asperger’s kids might wellface similar problems in their lives.
However, they had been labelled with an underlying syndrome,and perhaps the psychiatric profession would be intelligentenough to apply Occam’s razor and see that the problems theymight face would be largely due to their Asperger’s brainconfiguration.
‘What happened on your twenty-first birthday?’ asked Rosie.
183/290Had Rosie read my thoughts? What happened on mytwenty-first birthday was that I decided that I needed to take anew direction in my life, because any change was better thanstaying in the pit of depression. I actually visualised it as a pit.
I told Rosie part of the truth. I don’t generally celebratebirthdays, but my family had insisted in this case and hadinvited numerous friends and relatives to compensate for myown lack of friends.
My uncle made a speech. I understood that it was traditionalto make fun of the guest of honour, but my uncle became soencouraged by his ability to provoke laughter that he keptgoing, telling story after story. I was shocked to discover thathe knew some extremely personal facts, and realised that mymother must have shared them with him.
She was pulling at his arm, trying to get him to stop, but heig............
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