Adult With Autism: Writers block and Potential Self-Employment

I would like to be able to say I have been working hard this week but I can’t. This week I have been ill with a bout of headaches, ones that got so bad I had to take ridiculously strong co-codamol tablets to take away the pain. The knock on effect was that it has given me writers block. My mind is a fog that I can’t seem to see through at the moment.

And writers block is a bit rubbish when you have a weekly blog you need to write plus scripts for your YouTube videos. Luckily I have a script I had already done a couple of weeks ago and filmed then to tide me over for a few days. I had to skip my weekly vlog as I didn’t have the energy left to edit it and get it online (plus I couldn’t see straight by this point).

And so I have had a week where I feel like I don’t have much to contribute to the online world but I have been having some ideas about my life floating around in my head.

I keep constantly thinking about my financial and employment status and how I can (and need to) improve it. My ultimate goal is to have a mortgage within the next ten years and I have moments that sway between this being an impossible goal to feeling like it is achievable if I stay on task. Currently I am unemployed and on disability benefits as it is deemed that my ASD, and the anxiety and depression it has been causing, is too bad for me to be able to work. I hope this won’t be the case forever, mainly because there is no chance of me getting a mortgage on benefits and I would need some form of steady income. A full time job appears to be out of the question as I end up back were I have no quality of life anymore and I will just end up in the same position I am in now.

And this brings me to thinking about self-employment. If I earn enough by being self-employed I could still get a mortgage but I can make the hours work for me and could even work from home if it was the right kind of job. But what self-employed job could I do?

I would have liked to have trained to be a dog groomer but a) there’s already established dog groomers in my area, and, b) I would need to invest money I couldn’t afford to lose if it didn’t work out.
There’s a potential for me to buy stuff online to sell on for profit and I have a couple of places to be able to bulk buy things at low cost that wouldn’t require as much money being sunk into it so I wouldn’t be risking as much if it didn’t work (even then I could probably still make my money back in the long run). This does require a lot of work being put into it and the profit made, if successful, wouldn’t be particularly high for the amount of energy required. It’s definitely one to stick a pin in for now.

I also thought it could be interesting to work as an extra on film and tv. It’s not regular work (but that’s fine because then I wouldn’t be burnt out too easily from it) and it’s something I could do around another potential job for a little extra cash.

My dream job would, obviously, be to write for a living. I have ideas, I have some projects started, but I don’t know we’re to go with it. I don’t know the first step into being able to turn what is in my head into a viable income.

I do have some things I do for extra little bits of cash and vouchers but that’s just to help pay the bills or save up for Christmas but, at the moment at least, I’m only keeping my head above water with my finances because I’m having to use my savings to pay for my food (benefits don’t cover all my outgoings and even if I didn’t have to pay for a cat as well it still wouldn’t cover my rent and bills).

I haven’t made a decision on what I want to do yet but I have some more time to think about it while quarantine carries on. There are some other issues going on that make the situation more complicated, including losing confidence in myself and my abilities.

For now, I’ll continue to ponder and maybe try to get some kind of project finished and try and see if I can find that first step to something.

Employment

A couple of months ago I made the decision to quit my job for the sake of my health. Due to the fear of not knowing what would happen in the next few months it was a very hard decision to make but, in hindsight, it was the right move for me.

There were a few factors that went into me making the decision that I did but had I been employed somewhere more understanding things might have been different. The job that I had was the same as when I first scored in the spectrum so it has been my only experience of what it is like to be employed by managers who have knowledge of what’s happening in my life. The first manager appeared to have no understanding of what it meant to be on the spectrum and just carried on as normal, which I was happy with as working there wasn’t exactly hard and I had a lot of shifts in charge so I could get on with my work, but he also was a little ignorant in the matter. When I told him I had been put on the waiting list for assessment his response was ‘everyone is a little bit autistic’, I would be here for hours ranting about how much I hate phrases like that so I’ll leave that for another post.

My second manager was a whole different ballgame. Due to moving location I transferred with my job as well and I made the manager aware of my situation before I was even offered the transfer so that there would be complete transparency about it. She was completely understanding and told me about someone close to her also being on the spectrum and this gave me hope of working with someone who might understand more the way that I work and my thought processes. I could not have been more wrong. I was constantly suffering with sensory overload by being given 15+ hours on top of my contracted 30 every week. I was belittled in front of other staff in the staff room, told I was rude and insensitive and was told that I irritated her. I was made to feel completely worthless, paranoid and on edge all the time and I got to a breaking point were I couldn’t face going back into work, I couldn’t face another shift not knowing what I was going to be yelled at for next. I do admit that I feel a little like I took a cowards way out by going to the drs, getting medication and going on sick from work but, at this point, I had no confidence or fight left in me. I spent my time looking into if it was viable for me to never have to go back and I, luckily, discovered it was and so I handed in my resignation letter and never went back. I can’t describe how brilliant the feeling was walking out of there knowing I would never have to be subjected to treatment like that again.

But then the worries of the future set in. I’m not someone who can just sit around all day, I need to be doing something. Temporarily I can manage as I have my house still to sort, a load of ideas for writing to do and other little jobs. In the long run I want to get back into work but worry about ending up in another workplace we’re there is no understanding about autism and how it affects people day-to-day, I worry about the rigidity if having shifts again and having to go into work mid-meltdown and I worry about going downhill again due to the constant sensory overload I tend to get when in a workplace.

For the moment I’m trying to concentrate on the here and now, I have my assessment coming up that I hope will finally lead to an official diagnosis, which in turn will lead to support with my everyday living.

It would be interesting to know if anyone else has had workplace problems due to their autism or the opposite, has anyone found employment somewhere that is understanding and helpful?

It’s been a while…meltdowns, illness and changes

It has been some time since I wrote but I’ve had a lot going on and some pretty long lengths of nothing happening at all (which needed to happen!).

Its currently about 2:15am so I’m writing this through tired eyes but with a wired brain, another autism thing so thanks for that brain. The main reason for not writing in a while is illness in various forms. Autism illness and non-autism illness have both hit me hard and my energy has been spent just getting through the day recently.

First bout of illness was autism related. I was being pushed way too hard at work and it caused me to meltdown worse than I ever have before. The manager is fully aware that I have sensory issues and all about my situation and I wasn’t supposed to be working more than 30 hours a week regularly but I ended up doing 40+ hours a week. On top of that I was yelled at for making mistakes that were due to being overworked, I was being spied on by members of staff (not paranoia, I was called by the manager while I was on shift because a staff member had text her to get me in trouble so I know it was happening), was told to do tasks which I didn’t know how to do and had never been shown to do, berated for not volunteering to even more extra time on my days off, was told I was rude and insensitive and told by the manager that I irritated her. It broke me in the end. I had a booked week off so I spent a couple of days working things out and then went to see the dr, given tablets and a two week sick note.

That was about six weeks ago and I haven’t been back to work since. Last week I handed my notice in and quit the job as there’s no way I am ever going to be treated equal there or given any respect from most of the team (one member of staff actually told me they hated me more than I could ever imagine).

I could say it’s been a rough few weeks but it hasn’t. The weeks preceding all this was the rough few weeks. Those weeks I was constantly breaking down, couldn’t do anything once I left work due to lack of energy and my whole life was being affected negatively. Since I went on sick and handed my notice in have been the easier weeks because I’ve not had the biggest cause of my problems in my life anymore, I’ve been able to start working through it.

The tablets I was given didn’t help me though and that’s a big reason why I haven’t written anything. I was given anti depressants to help with my anxiety and panic attacks, which they didn’t really help with, but they made me extremely lethargic so I didn’t have the energy to do much and was constantly fighting to stay awake.

Just as I came off the tablets and was about to start a different type I was hit with physical illness. I got myself a lovely viral throat infection, yey. I went to the drs a week ago after being in agony for two days, couldn’t move my jaw, fever etc but couldn’t have antibiotics so I was using ear drops, antibiotic throat lozenges, decongestant nose spray, ibruprofen and cocodomal for three days to try and kill it off. Good news was the throat infection eased off but the bad news was that it gave way to a mild bit of flu that I still seem to be suffering with.

And this brings me to why I’m sitting here after 2am writing. Whenever I am physically ill I find it hard to sleep as my body doesn’t seem to want it or need it, it just wants constant rest instead. I’ve still managed to do a couple of things, like forcing myself to get dressed and have a wander out for food shopping, which have helped in the long run.

All in all I’m currently still achey, bit sneezy and lethargic but I’ll take that over the state I was in two months ago.

Also, during this time, I finally received the letter to say I was near the top of the list for my autism assessment so I have contacted them to sort out an appointment and am waiting to hear back. I’ve decided to wait until after my assessment to look for another job as it’ll give me more insight into my limits and what I will be able to cope with and spend some time focusing on making sure my mental health is in the right place.

Hopefully I’ll get an appointment soon and this ball can start rolling again. I’ll also try not to leave it so long to write again.