Johan’s Isolation

With his permission (and at his request) I’m posting about Johan today.

Johan is my husband. We met in Second Life, introduced by a mutual friend, and we met in real life during a Plurk/Second Life meetup in London. At the time, everyone there (except Johan) could tell that we really liked each other and were going to get together. I asked him out in the Science Museum in London when we met up again (he was there to see Eddie Izzard, and I went there as he was) and we became a couple. Luckily for me, he’d been wanting to ask me out but was too scared to. I wasn’t wanting a relationship at first, having just come out of a long term one with Sammie’s father, but I liked Johan too much to pass him up. As we’re both autistic, it was probably the most awkward event ever, but it turned out great πŸ™‚ (By the way, Johan is the name he used in Second Life. His real name is John, but even his family are okay with me calling him Johan.)

Johan moved in with me during the summer of 2009, as I needed someone to live with me as I can’t manage living alone (my friend Vicky had lived with me up to then, but had moved to be closer to her job) and although he wouldn’t admit it at the time, he couldn’t manage living alone either. He understood that I needed help and care, but at the time it was for mental health reasons. He’d previously been at Hull university, and decided to take some time out of uni to get settled living with me (I was at college) and was going to go back the next year, as at the time I needed more care at night than during the day. Unfortunately I then went and got M.E, my needs changed and he’s not been able to get back to uni.

So we fell in love, Johan moved in, we got engaged (my brother Martin asked us when we were getting married when we were eating in Wetherspoons, and we mutually agreed that getting married was a good idea as it was obvious to both of us that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together), then we got married. During this time my mental health improved but my physical health got worse. Johan’s caring role had to change as my health did. Lack of help (despite asking for it and warning social services and the mental health team that it was coming) meant that in early 2011 Johan had a breakdown, I went into care home, got neglected, but then we finally got carers to help out (which eventually became more of a problem than they were helping, but then we moved again and it’s going a bit better this time, for now).

With Johan moving up here, he had very few friends in the area. Initially Colin spent quite a bit of time at ours, which meant Johan had someone to play video games with and chat about men’s stuff, but now Colin is married with children and we’ve moved quite far away. I’m happy talking to my friends on Twitter and Facebook when I’m well enough to, but for Johan that kind of interaction isn’t enough. I’m also more outgoing of the two of us so make friends a bit easier (we think it’s probably because I’m a girl :P).

The isolation is getting to him. He likes going to the Linux User Group when he can, and the people there are really friendly, but none of them he’s become the kind of friend he’s wanting (to play video games with and go out with when he can). He goes to the Autism North East social events, but he got involved with the committee side very quickly and again, hasn’t met anyone that quite clicks with him, even though most people there are friendly and pleasant. It doesn’t help that he’s rather shy, and his autism makes socialising and making friends really difficult. University would be great for him, but at the moment we don’t have the right support for me. Most of his close friends are elsewhere in the country, so he rarely gets to see him.

I don’t know how to help him. I’m not sure where geeky late teens/early twenties men who like computers and video games hang out. His limited time because of looking after me doesn’t help much, as I can’t be left alone for long (I’d like to change my respite to something that would fix this, but that’s quite low on the list of priorities right now). Ideally his friends would be in our local area, so they could hang at each other’s houses and he’d be close enough to get home if I need him if he wasn’t here, and they’d be able to come here.

Any suggestions? He does like his Twitter and Facebook friends, and those he met at school and university and elsewhere, but none of them live here so he can’t pop over. A teleporter would solve all these problems (and more) but they don’t exist yet. He doesn’t drive and so he’s limited to the Newcastle/Gateshead area. He enjoyed Newcastle Barcraft, but that’s not happened for a while, so anything like that would be a good starting point. He’s also terrible at keeping in contact with people when he has met them, so that needs to be taken into account (I try bugging him but it doesn’t work very well πŸ˜› ). One note- he doesn’t want to play Call of Duty πŸ˜›

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