Life’s a Watch!
Would you have any idea how many parts make up a Rolex Watch? No? Nor would I, but Ricky probably does.
Ricky has a highly analytical mind, and in all probability an IQ that is quite daunting. He also has a passion for wrist watches, so I would not be surprised if he could not only tell you how many parts a Rolex has, he could probably tell you how they all work! Ricky will also tell you that two years ago he was just waiting to die, but not anymore.
Ricky restored and raced Mini Coopers, has a dry sense of humour, is a qualified and experienced IT Specialist and looks after a cat that has a soft spot when it comes to baked goods. However, from an early age Ricky always felt different from everyone else but he did not know why. The patterns of isolation and bullying he experienced in his youth continued to repeat themselves throughout university and then in to his working life. Being made to feel different and isolated is very hard for anyone to deal with. In Ricky’s case that difference led to an increasing sense of isolation that eventually became agoraphobia, with devastating effects. Ricky is now 48 years old was happy to share his story, it shows that even in the bleakest times there can be hope.
Graduating with a degree in Computer Science, Ricky worked for a number of firms as an IT consultant, spending thirteen years with his last company. He bought a two bedroomed detached house in a leafy suburb of Bracknell Forest where he has lived for the past twenty years. He raced his 1961 and 1994 Mini Coopers, both naturally in racing green, in rallies held up and down the country, he also edited and helped to produce the racing clubs competition magazine. Even with all this activity, both at work and socially, the feeling of difference would eventually became clear and relations would begin to strain. He didn’t get the jokes down the pub, or laugh in the right places or respond in the so called ‘right way’. He continued to feel different, he continued to ‘not fit in’, and he continued to feel isolated. He did a good job at work but was increasingly side-lined and then discriminated against, eventually in 2006 his career came to an end.
He did not know why he felt so different or why he had been treated so badly at work, anxiety led to depression and Ricky began to withdraw from the world. He hardly left home, only going to a local shop to buy basic microwave meals and even in his own home he began to withdraw to effectively live in one room of his house, the lounge. After two years of living like this he finally allowed his parents in to his home, they found rubbish piled in every room; the ignored post was in piles, including demands for mortgage payments and the toilets had to be flushed using buckets of water. The phone had been cut off, his small back garden was overgrown with brambles and the Mini Coopers were beginning to rust. He had not been eating well and his overall health, both physical and mental, had deteriorated to alarming levels. His parents intervened and got him to a GP and he was referred to his local Community Mental Health Team.
Ricky then spent two years trying to get help but he was not given any diagnosis, nothing that he could work with to help him understand what was happening, he felt worse than ever. At that time he described his life as a process that starts with birth then ends in death and he was just waiting to die, he had lost hope.
Having an analytical mind is what may have saved him. Feeling that the mental health support he had received was not intensive enough he set about to try and diagnose himself. Describing the brain as a computer, he used his to systematically look at all the information he had received during his support and from meticulously researching conditions that matched his own symptoms, this led him to the Autism Spectrum. He spent the summer and winter months of 2013 learning and testing the whole autism spectrum, using case studies, against his own experiences.
On the 6th of February 2014, a date Ricky says changed his life, he diagnosed what he felt was Asperger’s Syndrome.
On June the 11th, 2014, after trying to get help from several places and teams he asked his Local Authority Social Services department for help. They responded in a way that Ricky describes as steps and steps ahead of anywhere else he had tried get help from. Their Community Team for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder came in to see Ricky and formally diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome.
Seven days later they put specialist support in place for him and referred him to Janine Chard at Sorelle Support. They immediately met Ricky to see what support he wanted and how he wanted to work with his support team. Things then took a different turn.
Together Ricky, Janine and Hayley, his main support worker, agreed on the steps that were to be taken to achieve the well-being outcomes that had been identified. They then began to deal with the issues Ricky was facing.
The house was cleared of years of rubbish, trips to the local dump were made, the toilets repaired; the dilapidated sofa that Ricky had been sleeping on in the lounge was removed and replaced with two armchairs. The garden was cleared and the mortgage lender who was taking Ricky to court was contacted to seek a resolution. Ricky had not wanted to lose his house but could not deal with the mortgage demands, the legal letters and the housing threat he was facing. Together, he and his support worker attended court and faced the situation realistically.
Ricky now happily sleeps in his bedroom, shops regularly, cooking and eating a range of recipes and bakes excellent shortbread, something that Tom, the cat he looks after, is particularly fond of! He attends group activities with others with Asperger’s that he describes with some well-timed and typically dry humour; he collects and takes his medication as required. He has also decided that he has to sell his home, it is no longer something he can afford so he has put it on the market and has found a new smaller flat not far from his parents’ home and plans to relocate and make a fresh start on life.
Together with his support worker he has established a routine that works for him and one that has allowed him to have control over his life. He knows he is vulnerable to depression but is happier and healthier now and takes steps to control it. Having the support he has received is making things possible for him and he feels that independence is getting closer, he feels more resilient too. He has also got more involved in the administration of his support, using his analytical approach; Ricky redesigned his log sheets to allow more information to be written down. Rather than initially talking about elements affecting his support he was more comfortable writing them down for others to read before discussing them. This ability to exchange more information comfortably allowed greater trust to be built between himself and his support worker and has led to his taking more control of his life. He plans to re-restore his Mini Coopers too, with one eye on getting back into a rally!
Just like the 220 parts of a Rolex, Ricky has now been able to find and put the parts of his life together in a way that works for him. In his own words, ‘Sorelle Support and my Local Authority have helped me face the other direction, to look forward to the future again, it’s my own life’!