30 Apr 2011 22:30 The undiagnosed autism in me?

I know many people who met me after I have started my master degree probably never knew what kind of person I really was and who I really am inside me. Before I started my master degree, I made many many changes to myself through the help of my friends and my teachers. Now, sitting comfortably in front of my computer, I feel that I could not have come this far if without my own realization and my close friends. And I had always felt that I had some difficulty in being with anyone, but now, not anymore. I feel that some part of me has been opened up like a tin lid being pushed opened and there I am. I have made up my mind to change and I am changed.

Being not with other people around me was what made me felt comfortable when I was a little girl, I can say that this kind of behavior started since my 1st day in school, the day I met the most people in my young life. In kindergarten and then from primary school onwards, I did had close bond with a few friends. My state of mind made me difficult to make friends with girls, so I always had strong bond with a few boys in my class. Now as I recall, I cannot remember how or what was I thinking that made me difficult to be with the girls, all I can remember is that I had only male friends to run around with, to play tag-games with, to play basketball with, to mess around the school with all through my childhood. And I still cannot understand why. Most of the time while I was with these specific boys in my class, I did not talk a lot, we would just say name of a game, and then started running around, playing, just like other kids. When I`m not with these boys, when I`m in the class, when I`m at home, or when I`m in my dad`s car on my way home, I didn`t have anything to say most of the time, I was really really quiet. I remember I spent most of my time at home drawing/ sketching.

I have an elder brother and sister and one younger sister. I used to have some great time with my elder brother around the age of 5 to 7, when I had just started school until primary one or two. After that, I was never again close to my brother as he grew older he became more closer to my elder sister. One reason maybe because of their age gap was closer to each other`s. And I was never close to my younger sister either since I had always been a very independent kid and always wanted to be on my own. While I was on my own, all I would do was to make creative drawings in my notebooks. I never took any professional art training lessons, but I knew I was extremely talented in arts. I even made several volumes of Garfield comics that I still keep to this day. I made countless portraits of people I knew and I even hung some of them in my bedroom. When my brother saw what I did, he was in awe and said that it`s crazy to hang up so many portraits. Now I don`t remember what happened to the portraits, all I can recall is that I did put them all down and kept them in a file, I think they`re still around in my house till this day. Basically, I did not like my childhood, apart from frequent quarrels between my parents in the house, as a young kid, I felt that I had nothing interesting memory, nothing to keep or to protect from being destroyed, nothing.

As I grew up and went to secondary school, aged 12 to 17, I recall myself as a resentful, anxious, out-of-place, out-of-this-world teenager. At school, I never had a good friend to turn to, I felt that everyone was equally abominable. I use the word abominable, because that was exactly how I felt and I still cannot comprehend why, there were no specific reasons for any of my feelings as a teenager. I was totally indulged in arts, I won many prizes for local and international art competitions every year. I won twice the Lidice children art contest, something that noone had ever achieved in my country.  I found myself extremely, utterly interested in philosophy and literature, something that none of my classmates knew. I kept it a great hobby since then, a hobby which I pursued when I was not in school. I was very very passionate about metaphysics, the topic on duality, the opposites of all things in nature, the physics of all things, the rotation of planets, the existence of matters, in brief, I was all into the universe, I felt I had a strong feeling to understand where I came from, why I was there, why I needed to do this do that…. I was basically, what people called, a troubled child, over the calm waters. Everything around me seemed so normal and I was never never fitted into any of these norms. Around the age of 12 to 13, I recall this was when it all started, the thoughts about time, death and god, the three items which I wrote in my own notebook in capital letters: Time, Death and God. Now, at 26, I am still unable to understand why I was so into these topics, to be frank, I just don`t know why. Instead of the daily huge quarrels at my house, it was these thoughts about time, death and god that haunted me, it didn`t stop, not until only around 2 years ago. All I can recall is that I knew my family was very poor, that my parents were unhappy and I was an unhappy child, not because of my family, but because of the thoughts that troubled me from nowhere.

Again, being so much dissimilar to my peers who loved what they learnt in class, who loved the kind of examination system/education system they`re given, I was totally a tragically awkward figure in my class. I didn`t fit in anywhere, like a child mired in thick black coal from head to toes amid dozens of neatly cleaned kids. I despised, I hated the examination system, I hated almost everything in school, and I totally loved and only loved philosophy and arts. I was an even more gloomy, silent youngster in my school. However, when I`m not in school, when I`m not seeing anyone, that was basically the only time I felt comfortable and felt like this was where I belonged: silent and didn`t have to say a word. My reading of books on philosophy increased and I began to have interest in scientific novels as well. My first scientific novel was Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, a book borrowed from my secondary English teacher which I still haven`t returned. Through immense readings, I felt totally safe and calm, as if all my troubled thoughts were gone all in a sudden. That was basically the happiest moments in my life compared to my earlier childhood. I was always quiet, but I felt safe through sketching and reading.

Then, at age 18 and onwards, I was basically on my own. I went to a pre-university institution in Malaysia but then I changed my mind and came to Taiwan for further study. Nothing changed when I was studying in Malaysia, I was even more silent, I never bond with any of my classmates, I shunned when any of them came to me or wanted to chat with me. I felt more comfortable while I`m on my own. By 19, I started my life in Taiwan until now, I`m still pursuing my degree in Biotech right here. Since then, I have met some friends who had truly guided me and helped me to go out of my own shell. To these friends, I was just a normal person, a very quiet and shy person, not that I had problem in my head. I never talked to them about my past, about the thoughts that troubled me, never. But they knew I had problem dealing with or being with other people. They guided me, they taught me how to socialize with certain people, how to cope with my loneliness. Compared with the time I had with my friends in my past, they had spent more time on me than any other. One of these friends whom I truly feel comfortable to write down her name here is Christine Lee, a truly amazing figure in my life. I can say that part of me, part of me that led to my mind-opening moment really was because of her. I believe now that I have become a person with many things to say in open is because of one thing: because I realized that I have a friend who cares about me and therefore I realized what is love. And that moment of this simple realization was enough to set my soul free.

But, it was a slow progress. My life in university, even after I graduated and got my bachelor degree, a few years after I met Lee, I still hadn`t really found myself, my focus and destiny in life. My soul was still deeply upset by the society, the cultural and education system I`m in, I still didn`t fit anywhere, above all, I was still a very very quiet person. The change was slow. In university, I spent most of time working for money to support myself than on my study. However, I managed to stay on the 1st position in my class, and I graduated at top 1 in my class. My best academic achievement is evidenced by my winnings of the highest Taiwan government scholarship for overseas Chinese students, and I won twice in 2 consequent years. The amount for each winning was 20 000 NT, and I got it twice, something that noone I know has ever achieved. It was in my university years when I thought about it every single day, about not being upset so much by the society. I frequently thought about friends and one teacher who are very good to me, I learnt to meditate on love when I`m all alone. Gradually, I set my goal to reach out to more people, to break the barrier that set me back from others. I began to watch plenty of information about our society`s problems through internet only lately. I owned my 1st computer at age 22 and actually was the 1st time I knew how to turn on the PC and knew how to surf the net. I gathered plenty of information from the internet and compared some of these to my thoughts in the past, it helped me find out why I was so upset in the past and gave me relief in knowing that our society really is having big, serious problems such as global warming and many conspiracy theories.  It was the 1st time in my life when I felt that I could fit in this world, this society if I wanted to. I felt I had to fit in somewhere since I didn`t want to be all alone as I grew older. As time went on, this feeling became stronger and I tried many ways to reach myself out, to try to befriend people, try to talk a bit here a bit there, to be frank, mostly I felt my conversations were totally sucked and stupid. I usually had no more than 5 sentences, that was the best I could. After years of self-correcting and soul-searching way of life, I came to understand more about friends and about myself. I realized that all I needed was courage and the love which my special friend has given me.

Now, it is hard for anyone to understand me without knowing my past. Right now, I am a person who talks, not a lot, but I do talk a lot more than I used to 2 years ago. I`m now a person who loves my family deeply, who cares for my family above all things and who loves to help others, a person who always smiles and always in good moods. Above all, I am a person who seeks the truth and still think that something is wrong with our society and the problem could be all leaked out anytime, anywhere. Only recently, I have realized that what happened to me in the past could have been something I never expected, something natural which I still have no explanation to it. The only thing or term to relate to my behavior is: not-liking-to-be-with-any-people, could that be autistic? Maybe, I don`t really know. Could that be precocious? Having very creative and self-haunting thoughts at very early age? I don`t know. Could that be thoughts related to an Indigo-associated gene in me? I don`t know. However, through recent understanding of autism and the Indigo children from some news articles, I have certainly understood many things in my life were meant to be. All I needed to carry on is to have a good heart, to have love, then I`ll be able to shake off my not-liking-to-be-with-any-people kind of behavior. It was also because of this recent realization that I made a surprise trip back to Brunei, to give my family a huge surprise. Because, it was around that time when I finally realized my situation and I eagerly wanted to change, to have more love.

For all the things which I`ve said, these things are all very real to me, these thoughts, these behaviors that kept me from others and still do sometimes. One thing is now clear to me is that: the truth is still out there. Thoughts on time, death and god are still my constant preoccupations but not my concern anymore. Instead, they have been my guidance since a very young age, these thoughts directed me to where I am right now. I still believe the truth of ourselves have not been told by mainstream media and that is why I am still upset by our society. But, I have learnt to meditate more, not just being angry like I used to. I feel that my soul has to learn to evolve in this lifetime, otherwise, I cannot understand I had any other purpose in this life. The purpose of documenting about my past experiences right here is to tell people that the strange/odd kid that you might have met in school could be just like me. They are not strange, not that they don`t like to talk or what, it`s because there are these thoughts which even I myself don`t know where they came from, these thoughts that could haunt the kids from a very young age. And that these kids needed someone to talk to, but do not be afraid to talk to kids about time, death and god if that is what the kid want to talk about. I do not know anyone who had the same experience as mine,  I have never sought help from physicians or expert, therefore, I am still unable to relate my experience with anyone beyond myself.

This is my friend Lee (L). By age 17, I`ve kept more than 7 sketch books and several volumes of notebooks with contemporary comical arts, I`ve tried every type of drawing and sketching styles, including black & white color pencil, the touch of old using only brown color pencil, paint brush, crayons, oil pastels, lead pencils, then when I came to Taiwan, I started the raw inks style. Because by using raw ball pen inks, any mistake would destroy the sketch, so I would avoid all mistakes at all cost. That`s the philosophy I have for my raw-inking-style-of-art.

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