Positive Turning To Negative Yet Negative Turning To Positive Once More

As a person with Asperger, I see the world differently at times and may also not see a logical point of view since my method of thinking is wired differently to others who do not have Asperger. That is probably what led to a depression; one where I did a personal development course for the counselling service known as Youthline which has been in existence since 1970. I was unable to make it onto the next level and I was really sad about this, especially since Youthline meant a lot to me and I liked the people who were part of the course. Although the end result was greater than I could have ever imagined it to be, and it was events along the way that contributed to this result. It has helped me to grow and learn (a lot) and I would like to share it with everyone


Vikram Wagh


Starting Youthline and the first Verdict
When I enrolled into Youthline in early March 2012, I was sceptical at first because normally when I am enrolled in or join groups, I do not fit in completely because of having differences with other people which sometimes causes discomfort between them and me. Yet at the first session, I met some lovely people which immediately changed my mindset about joining a group. I fell in love with the place immediately and grew fond of my fellow participants as well as the facilitators. Sessions included why we joined Youthline; we shared our personal experiences and each underwent some transformation in our own way. We shared various ways that we believed was the best way to help others. It is perhaps a ticklish notion that while the facilitators were one man and one woman each, our group consisted of seven women and two men, one of whom was me.
My participation in the course brought out something new in me which was an interest to socialize which I did not have earlier. I wanted to meet the group socially outside of Youthline. I was disappointed when my request to meet them outside was declined by them as they said they had other commitments and would be unable to meet me. While I tried to understand that they might have been telling the truth, I also began to suspect that these could be excuses. At the same time, eleven weeks, which was the timeframe of the course, just flew by and a day came where we had a private meeting with the facilitators regarding our results for moving onto the next level which was known as the Basic Youth and Community Counselling Skills and I anxiously awaited the results. However, when my name was called to talk to the facilitators I was told by them that I had not made it. I was devastated and at the end of the session could only convey the results to my parents and my counsellor when I got home and on email respectively. As the days passed I was consumed by sadness, due to the fact that this was yet another disappointment having been declined on previous occasions elsewhere.
With a heavy heart I attended the final session which was a good experience and where we wrote to each other what we enjoyed about the group as well as our experiences working with each other. When the session ended, the facilitators took me aside privately as they had two times earlier for different purposes and asked me how I had been since given the verdict that had broken my heart. I explained that I had had many bad dreams related to tragedy concerning the Lion in Kenya, given that this big cat is an inspiration to me. Popular examples included
  • A Lion being killed by Masai Moran (warriors) as a rite of passage into manhood
  • A female white rhinoceros fatally injuring a Lion who tries to attack her calf
  • A buffalo herd storming through a Lion pride to chase them away from them and one of the cubs is killed in the process
  • A pride of Lionesses confronting an elephant herd, only for their leader to be tossed into the air and trampled, causing her sisters to flee
  • A leopard tries to kill a litter of Lion cubs whose mother is away on a hunt. When their mother returns and sees her cub’s predicament, she is successful in saving them by mauling the leopard but is forced to check on them causing the leopard to escape
  • The death of Lion advocate George Adamson at the hands of Somalian bandit-poachers in 1989 during his attempt to save tourists who were hostages of those bandits Despite his death, the tourists he came to save were rescued and after some of his killers were arrested and his funeral took place, Lions he helped to release into the wild, gathered by his grave, as if to say goodbye


The facilitators were able to relate to the above and encouraged me to carry on and find an organization that I could join the same way as Youthline.

I tried getting involved in the theatre group at Youthline but was told that I could not because I was not associated with Youthline anymore. I also tried to get involved in fundraising for them but was not selected. My parents who saw my mood drop day by day tried to console me. They said that they would attempt to contact Youthline and find out how else I could get involved with them. Unfortunately, they could not help since either Youthline did not return their calls and even when my facilitators told me they would contact my parents, there was always a difficulty from my part in choosing whether or not they could discuss the feedback they gave me at the end of the group with my parents. For the next few weeks, my emotions were the same; I would cry frequently and spend a lot of time in my room by myself in bed. I was consuming sadness (like anything) and its digestion resulted in anger. I would have dreams about my favourite animal in sad situations. Arguments between me and my family were not uncommon as I struggled to manage my emotions. They suggested that I do not delve in these thoughts and move on. Since I would talk about it to people I met, my parents suggested that I do not speak about it to others. This led to arguments which were born out of the fact that they were not able to help me and understand me. I disagreed with their advice not to talk about it to others and would often go to Youthline, where while having a cup of tea, I became emotional while catching up with those there and I had to be taken aside to be consoled where in another room I would speak about what happened to me in the personal development course to the person who had taken me aside to speak to me. At that stage, my parents considered that moving back to India may help in alleviating my depression, but we knew that was neither a solution nor answer, especially since I never want to return to India. To make matters worse, my parents were thinking about getting a divorce which I now know to be ludicrous given that their bond is one of the most successful marriages in my entire family and I am very glad that it never happened. They felt the pressure however in terms of trying to manage my well-being and sometimes my brother felt like he had to be the older one and me the younger which is what family friends learned about from them.
One night, one of the people who did the course with me hosted a dinner for all of us. Most of us were at the dinner and we had a wonderful time sharing our interests and taking photographs. When I heard some of them saying to each other that they would see each other next week, I knew they were going to the next level of Youthline’s counselling services. I shared that with my parents who attempted to tell me that I was a good person and all I could say was that Youthline failed to see that in me. Eventually, my mother contacted the person who had recommended Youthline to her and asked if I could get involved with Youthline in any way. Before that, I was suggested by those who spoke to me during my distress at Youthline to ask my mentors to email me the reasons for why I could not go ahead but still for some reason, that was still unsatisfactory at which my mother had to contact Youthline more directly. Either there were times that they were unable to answer her calls or if my mentors asked if they could discuss with her the feedback they gave me at the end of the group, again there was always a difficulty from my part in choosing whether or not they could share that feedback with my parents which was a frequent reoccurrence. At that time, I had a habit of posting quite a lot on Youthline’s Facebook page and most of these were unrelated to the organisation. I approached an only friend, Nick Hardley (who I had known for five years up to that point) to contact Youthline to see if anything could be done for me. Around this time, I spoke to the person who hosted the dinner about not being able to go onto the next level like she and the others did but after a few responses, she made no real understanding by not sending a reply of that kind. My counsellor, like my parents, advised me to move on from Youthline. I wanted to witness the next session where the group I was part of were going to be in, but could not as that could amount to stalking. I would post frequently on the Youthline Facebook wall and some of these posts were unnecessary or unrelated to the organization.
For a short period, I became suicidal for not being able to do what I enjoyed. However, it was the encouragement from family and Nick that prevented me from doing anything foolish. I wanted to try out the course again although both my counsellor and my parents pointed out that there would be new people and not the faces I was familiar with. My parents also helped me to reunite with the social groups of Autism NZ also known as Asperger Network, an organization which brings people on the Autism spectrum together. While I first went during my last year of high school, I stopped going for this after I graduated and kind of forgot about it. It was great to go back and be reunited with people there, promising them that I would continue coming to the get-togethers.
Following my 22nd birthday which was attended by two members of the group and one of the facilitators, it became evident that for a person with Asperger, counselling is not a good option, something which one of my group’s facilitators told my parents when they got in touch with my parents about my disappointment in not passing personal development. During counselling, one has to be careful about what is said to the client. An Aspergetic person tends to say what they see which may not help in delicate situations; not to say that there were other people with Asperger who made it onto the next level but they presented themselves differently to me. Mum conveyed it to me after her message (regarding how I was unable to proceed with Youthline) reached one of the facilitators who replied to her and I was ready to accept it although at the time, I still wanted to do personal development again to go onto the next level. A few days after I turned 22, I paid a permitted visit to the group shortly before they began the next programme but it still aggravated my unhappy emotions especially when I tried to explain to the facilitators that I wanted to try PD again and they told me it was an unlikelihood that I would pass it again. Following the meeting which was followed by the typical round of an argument between me and my parents the facilitators responded to my parents’ message (concerning how I was not able to go ahead with Youthline and not being allowed to do other programmes there) a few days later and like my counsellor stated that it was important for me to understand that my brain was not a match for PD and that it was important to find other organisations.
After a few days, I was invited to a camp where people associated with Youthline get together. Even though I had not made it onto the next level, I was still allowed to participate in the camp given that since I had done the PD course, I could come for it and I really felt good about that. However, at the camp, it made me feel kind of sad that the facilitators still maintained I would not pass personal development again. When the camp was over, I got in touch with several people from Youthline who were at the camp group and shared with them how I was not able to make it to the next level. A few months later, the facilitators of personal development got in touch with my parents to voice concerns as to whether or not it was really a good idea for me to try personal development again as it was not their decision to choose it for me given that they would only tell their superiors what I had been like so they could assess whether or not I could do it again. They also noticed that I was unhappy about their opinion that I would not pass personal development again. At that stage, my parents wished that they had never enrolled me in Youthline although they did not belittle or overlook the fact that Youthline had taught me the importance of socializing. Because people who did the course with me still turned down my offers to catch up, I convinced one of the facilitators to hold a get-together at his place which he mainly did for my sake and a few of the group came over as did two of my other friends. While I was asked not to talk about not passing Youthline by the host mainly due to the fact that it would only make me sadder, I did share with the others in private of my sadness in not being able to pass the course.
For days altogether, my spirit had been pretty much crushed; I felt alone, I felt denied and I felt that my whole life was the way it was and that the Youthline experience was a re-enactment of what I had been going through all my life when it came to being denied what I wanted to do. One day, I booked an appointment with one of Youthline’s counsellors and told him what happened. I have never met a more empathetic and understanding Youthline counsellor. Surprisingly, he supported my wanting to do personal development again and did suggest that I try to apply again, although I should be prepared for either not being selected or for not making it to the next level. I was discouraged by both my family and former counsellor who kept trying to point out that Youthline appeared to be pushing me away and I kept wanting to be involved with them even though doing it and not passing it only saddened me further. That did not deter me however, I signed a form (to redo personal development) that I was given by a facilitator who told me that personal development could sometimes be re-done and I also spoke to Youthline’s officials about redoing the course shortly before signing the form. It was a long and anxious wait.








The Second Verdict and Transformation
It came as no surprise to me or my family when I was declined from doing Youthline’s personal development again. At that point I was saddened again and felt bitter about being denied the opportunity to do what I always wanted to do and contacted one of the group to share my disappointment which was understandable. She was concerned for me when I displayed symptoms of wanting to hurt myself again, but they were not as severe, especially when she contacted Nick to check up on me by when I had calmed. Previously this person did not seem to understand how much it hurt not to join her for the next level but now she seemed to understand. But be that as it may, after the second verdict I had a completely different change of mind from the first verdict and thus did not feel as sad as when I did not pass personal development. So, after I again told a few people about not being able to make it (followed by another visit to Youthline where I displayed sadness at not being able to do the course again though fortunately without crying) I decided to give up trying to appeal Youthline’s decision and with good reason. I decided to do my best to accept what was happening and trusted it was done for the best of reasons. I directed attention to focus on myself and paid attention to a notion that I had almost in parts forgotten, what was important to me in life and that it should be brought back. (In greater and more inspiring terms) I set out to find out who I, (Vikram Wagh) really was. In this I knowingly realized through the birth of a new thought in me that that if I did not get rid of this anger or sadness or if I did not learn or find a way to forgive (members of) Youthline for having done what they did to me, I would end up nowhere and for once, like all my well-wishers I did not want that.
I decided I would concentrate on finding inner peace and commit myself to doing so as that could be a way to find answers for why I was unable to go further with Youthline. Being a Hindu, I prayed to my favourite God Narasimha, an avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu who is one of the Supreme Lords of the Universe, to give me peace. I also started to do spiritual activities such as meditation. It helped me to revisit my experience at Youthline from the very day it began to the day that it ended, and I started to realize why the first verdict was given to me; Youthline were completely justified in the results that they gave me, especially since some of my contributions to the group were not probably the best. Examples included unrelated comparisons and associations and my choosiness to work with certain people (it is unknown where that came from, but the possible predication is that I was shy of them as compared to those I chose to work with) so Youthline had not done anything wrong by giving me the results that revealed I could not go onto the next level. I realized then that my sadness in not going onto the next level seemed to say that I chose not to see the reasons for why I could not go ahead which was wrong on my part, especially the day that the facilitators talked to me about my results and following them telling me that I had not made it, I said that they expected me to cry at that point. They replied that they understood but I said that they did not otherwise they would not have said I did not make it although thankfully, at least twice, in person and over email, I did apologize. Such a (seeming child-like) pattern showed that I was not taking any responsibility for understanding why I had not gone onto the next level and while no one was at fault, (except perhaps me on unintentional terms), it was certainly a mistake I had made in having that kind of reaction. It was also a mistake in thinking about wanting to give up my life which is no solution. I have so many wonderful things to look forward to and so many aspirations so it is angering (but in a disciplinary way) to me that I thought of giving up my life and I wish I had not entertained that so it felt great not just to give up suicide for this situation but anything drastic or saddening in the future which could easily be resolved without any (physical or verbal) harm to myself. I personally believe to this day that my 22nd birthday was a foundation for everything getting better. These wrongful feelings of unfairness were destroyed thanks to realizations that they were never unfairness at all. One of the exacerbators of the depression (which was mistranslated) was that I once thought not being selected for Youthline’s next course was similar to my school days where I was never selected to be a mentor or tutor like my contemporaries even if they did a programme that required them to much like I had done (although they were allowed to pursue those roles and I was denied). However, Youthline had done all the right things, not a single wrong thing unlike the schools which were not fair in denying me the rights that they gave other students in mentoring or leadership. When my mentors spoke to my mother about how not passing the course came about, they did mention that it was not because of my Asperger that I could not go ahead with the course because other Aspergetics had done the course but passed it only because they functioned differently to me and thanks to that realization, it made me discover that some Aspergetics also may not have passed and I may be one of those and even if I could not go onto the next level it should not have been taken as failure (or because I was disliked) which was not a right viewpoint. In the days since I finished Youthline’s first session, I started acupuncture that my mother recommended to me since she had a good relation with the doctor who did it and after hearing about my struggles in life, his medication and acupuncture practice that he gave me slowly started to take shape in the success of being free from my worries at not going ahead in Youthline. I slowly came to understand that Youthline was not the ultimate way of making friends and there were other avenues. I could have the same level of enthusiasm towards joining other organizations as I did for Youthline. I owe it to my mother for years of spiritual teachings (and never giving up on me much like my father) and even after the first verdict, her teachings of spirituality and meditation to me increased and this I believe provided the foundation for understanding and accepting the second verdict, heralded by me telling myself (during the depression itself) that one day, I would accept and understand what was happening (and I did). I also came to realize that it is always important to respect a person’s decision as to whether or not they chose to be friends with me (and this applies to everyone). Still as long as we are polite and acknowledging of each other, this is good enough and we can at least share some kind of positive relation even if we are not close since closeness comes in all shapes and sizes. This was instrumental in helping me to let go of the craze I had with wanting to catch up with those who were in the course with me and was able to understand and respect their decision not to meet me and that seeing each other when we encounter (on seemingly rare and co-incidental occasions) each other was fine with me (wherever they are, whatever they are doing, I wish them well and I am proud of them for going onto the next level). I slowly began to remove the unnecessary posts I put on Youthline’s Facebook page and contributed to it meaningfully as long as it had to do with Youthline. My interaction with friends at Autism NZ convinced me that I did not feel the need to reach out to Youthline again unless Youthline chose to do so. I also began to focus more on my university studies.
It was over time that I realized my true friends are my family friends and those at Autism NZ and they were and still are the ones who really matter in life. By the end of the year, while it took some time, I felt I could let go of my worries surrounding Youthline although I cannot deny it was only by Christmas the following year that whatever remained of it was swept away. Certainly remaining symptoms of it showed themselves from time to time but that must be overlooked since what matters is wiping it out. In 2013, when I thought about the “Youthline conflict” as I call it, it was with a new mindset. Normally when I thought of it, I used to get emotional and that did not happen anymore. Instead, it was regret in having brought depression upon myself and it was not just me that suffered alone but so too Youthline which they did not deserve. I thought I would get involved with Youthline again and the way I was meant to have done it, this time without the need to get ‘so involved’ with people there and instead get involved with Youthline as an organization. The following year, a girl who I met at the Youthline camp came to know of how I could not make it past Youthline’s PD and assuming they were not listening to me by not returning my calls or emails and appearing as if they did not want me to be a part of them, contacted them asking if I could partake in a fundraising for them although it is quite regrettable to me that much like Nick, I asked her if she could talk to Youthline to ask them if they could give me a role. Putting that to the side (while I take full responsibility for all of my actions), Youthline amazingly gave me permission to do the fundraising (despite during that there was still some seeming sadness about not doing PD surprisingly though that too can be approached with a seemingly overlooked level) and little did I know that this would pave way for other fundraising for them and slowly, they started to open up to me, giving my applications for their fundraising events consideration, although I believe to this day that by letting go of wanting to be a part of them all the time, they would still have allowed me to be part of other non-counselling events even if I had not spoken to the girl who I met at the Youthline camp. Following this, shortly before I graduated from university in Christmas 2013 with a degree in Creative Writing, I started with a new counsellor, one Dave McMillian, who has been great for me. He has helped me to understand where my feelings came from and how I can process such feelings in similar situations. I have come to realize that if I had seen him after the first verdict to discuss my sadness when I first encountered it, the whole situation would have been short-lived although he is impressed that I managed to avoid another sadness over the second verdict. Over the years to come, people who have heard about how I struggled from recovering from the first Youthline verdict have been excited on hearing that the second verdict was easier to understand than the first and that understanding it from the second should have been there in the first is what I feel (and know).
Meanwhile I made a new group of friends along the way. They have great faith in me and understanding that I have Asperger, have connected with me on a special level; we go to bars together, we do karaoke together and we attend parties together. They accept me for who I am, appreciate and encourage me with my interests. The following year, I paid a surprise visit to the main facilitator of the personal development group I was part of to tell him of both my graduation in Creative Writing from Auckland University as well as the fundraising for Youthline that I had done the previous year in addition to some news that it inspired; doing the fundraising made me think about redoing personal development again in the year to come although this time, the intention was not to pass it but to come out with a positive feeling; one that I was meant to have come out with when I first did the course. I often believe that when I first did the Youthline course, it was probably not the right time for me to have done it and now with a new mindset I was prepared to do my best and be happy with any outcome. I knew very well (as much as all those who had something to do with Youthline) that I would probably not pass the course again, but I would not feel the way I felt when I first did it, thanks to a new mindset of revisiting. He was very happy to hear that and supported my decision, especially when I joked with him that even if he said that I would not pass it, I would not take it personally because I had finally come to agree with him and he was already aware that I was no longer troubled by not passing the course so he might have realized (by) then, that the course would be for my own personal development even if it did not mean going onto the next level because that was not my intention; my intention was to come out with a feeling of joy, gratitude, pride and respect which I feel I should have done when I first did not pass the course. Having said that, I did not want to say an all-out no to passing the course and believed passing it would be good too but wanting to pass it for its next level was not what I hoped for. I wanted to pass it for the above feelings instead and did consult him for suggestions as to other areas that were similar to Youthline that I could join in case I was turned down in doing the course again. He had earlier done this, but it was my carelessness that did not allow me to open up to his other offers and I owed him a debt by doing so when he was happy to help me in attempting to do the course again after feeling that the time was right for me to do it again since I was happy with whatever the result was.
In early 2015, three years after I first heard about and was enrolled into Youthline by my parents, the organization came back to me and told me that they could not offer me the Personal Development course again. I was not unhappy with their decision and also supported the notion that those who had not been exposed to Youthline should try it out which is something that Youthline told me as they wanted to look to offering the course to those who had not done it. I can proudly say now that it has been a pleasure doing Youthline and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I am not bitter about having been told that I could not continue with it. I do regret, however, that I became depressed about the outcome when I was told the first time that I could not make it and that it took a long time to see why I could not make it in Youthline. It was quite uplifting to be able to accept and respect Youthline’s decision a second time which I feel should have been there in the first place. I am happy though to take part in their fundraising whether or not they call me as I feel that is how I am going to be associated with them and was supposed to be associated with them. It felt good that I took the second declination of my application to redo personal development positively and this established a good feeling about Youthline which had not been there earlier. I continue to support them as they have been helping New Zealand since 1970. If I am distressed or in panic, I always turn to them for help, and they are great in understanding and helping people in need as much as Dave. That I feel, much like the fundraising as well as seeking open advice from my Youthline mentor after working on myself is a debt I am happy to owe to Youthline (and continue to do so) when I need help and after Dave, they are another source of help for me. My family and friends who had earlier been witnesses to how much it distressed me not to pass Youthline were so happy that after all my troubles, everything had worked out so well in the end, thanks to a new mindset from me. To this day when I look back at this series of events, the Youthline conflict is not something I can empathize with or relate to because I could have been more responsible and more aware of why what was happening was happening and wrongly mistaking my circumstances for unfairness as well as not seeing there were other better paths in life which I now know. I also realize that it did not just put me through pain, it put so many others through pain and I wish I could take that all back although I believe that with my pain gone and having learned from this lesson, others who went through the circumstances that presented itself when I was depressed would also have been absolved of their pain since some of them have seen me doing so much better now. Yet I will not deny or ignore the fact that Youthline is one of the many elements that changed my life (by helping me realize the importance of socializing and making friends) and I thank them for that and as gratitude for that, I am happy to be at least part of their fundraising as mentioned before, whether or not they call me, and I am sure they are happy to have me as part of their fundraising. (As mentioned before) I feel that by doing this, it is a debt I owe them for seemingly giving them a bad image but indirectly they have assured me (mostly nonverbally that is not and will never be the case and they are always happy and grateful that I seek out their help when I am in distress).
At the same time, my calling was helping me focus more on my future plans and I am sure Youthline is respecting of the reason for it (I like to think not being allowed to go forward from Youthline’s counselling course was a way of guiding me onto what really matters in my life which is my goals and it was almost as if consciously or perhaps unconsciously in a great way I know it is that they were saying that it is much more important to pursue a path that is important to me). As a fan of traveling, in 2013, I came across a YouTube channel known as Expoza. Unlike many noted travel companies or organizations such as Lonely Planet or Insight Guides (the former of which I collect more than the latter as far as my favourite Exotic destinations, Kenya, Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand, South Africa, Namibia and Ireland are concerned which I love as much as I love my country, New Zealand and I consider them my country as well), they do not write books about travel destinations. Instead, they make fabulous and informative documentaries on travel destinations. I came to rank two of top travel destinations based on how they were made by Expoza Travel as well as their pattern of filming and releasing them according to year since they were all released in 2007 but filmed in 1999 (which is by co-incidence when I first visited Singapore in the latter but did not realize how much I love it until the former, that too when my trip to Kenya celebrated its 10th Anniversary). They are:

It was these places that inspired me to go and have a life and career in either (one) of these destinations, since they are strongly associated with the Lion (and the Tiger), both physically and spiritually as well as historically. I decided that it would be either of these destinations that I would focus on having a life and career in as a future plan. I humour myself sometimes by thinking that when Youthline told me I could not proceed further in the path of counselling, it happened because they were telling me to follow my heart in terms of what mattered to me the most (in life).
Although I am not sure why I took it so hard when I was first told that I could not continue with Youthline, what matters is the positive reaction I had the next two times on being declined and understanding and accepting not just the reasons but what really matters to me in life. Releasing myself from the worries I have had regarding being associated with Youthline has given me a positive view on Youthline and has helped me to focus more on my future plans which are related to the King (and Lord) of the Animals.

I am proud to be a man of Asperger and Paradise and I am truly proud of everything in my life (and very grateful for it)

                     The End

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