Autism’s effect on my full time working life.
(The daily grind I had previously undergone is the best possible way I can give you readers an overview of how ASD and specifically, Asperger’s affects me. This particular blog was written during my time working full-time at O2. It’s quite an interesting blog because after reading back through it, I realised how O2 was never able to fully engage with my intellect and challenge me. That isn’t me saying that I believe I’m beyond O2 because in fact O2 gave me so many of the skills relevant to my future career and in fact, it helped me to mature. I’m saying that the job was made to be as simple as possible, just so that it was an easy job and an understandable one. The real challenge came when I had to balance the countless targets placed on me, and I guess this was O2’s way of getting their money out of their frontline. The hilarious fact is that during an average week – I could make the company up to £10,000, and I would only be paid £300 for that. It’s the unfortunate reality of capitalism and it made me realise that I didn’t want to be at the lower end of the ladder. I do hope that you enjoy the blog and that you might get a better insight into the working world of an Autistic person. I will highlight comments made today in bold so that I can reflect on the things I wrote back in 2016).
The daily grind usually consists of the usual suspects – routine, anxiety and sensory complications.
I awake to the sound of my very annoying alarm, and I lay there for 10 minutes and I focus on my plan for the day. I know that I have work and I know that I’ve got a very tiring day ahead of me, dealing with people and general social interaction. Showered, dressed and as silly as it sounds, cue routine, I have to dress in a specific order; underwear, jeans, t-shirt , nd socks. It may not sound very ggroundbreakingbut that’s the beauty of what I am trying to demonstrate – is how small and unique the systems can be. To someone like me, having Asperger’s, if a routine is not followed, then I feel incredibly uncomfortable. Did I mention that the whole time I’m doing this, I’m actually talking to myself, about random babble or perhaps about something I was thinking about during that morning?
I then skip breakfast usually, because I’ve already began to feel the sickening feeling within my stomach, the feeling of anxiety for the bus ride to town and for the day at work. Expectations play a large role here from not only myself but the people I work with and the people I serve.
One thing to mention however, I have been graced with a special disability pass so now not only do the grand-parents get to celebrate the free journey. Admittedly I don’t openly shout about my disability pass – the questions, oh the questions. (BTW, the harsh new government regulations have made it very difficult for someone with Autism to obtain a free pass now  and as such, I no longer have this). Eye contact is totally avoided and I sit down on the bus. Headphones in, they aren’t actually playing any music – but they’re a measure to ensure that people won’t try and talk to me and I leisurely get on with eavesdropping on the world around me.
The day is ready for me; I spend some time getting into my work uniform, again in a particular routine. The day starts and I take a big deep breath, my first customer is here and I feel slightly light headed. I haven’t had the chance to interact with a person yet and they are my practice. This is the time when I slur my words, and make some little mistakes with what I’m saying, its difficult because I feel quite light headed. (The light-headedness is something caused by a sense of detachment from the world. It creates an odd sense of dreaminess).
I explain to the customer that I’m very tired for the same reason every day: “I was up doing work”, that way the customer can sympathise with me.
Gradually as we get to lunch time and my red bull has kicked in, my anxiety levels are a little less than at the start – and I’m starting to show my confidence. I deal with a lot of paperwork and writing on white backed paper, which is difficult for me to read as I also have slight dyslexia, it looks as if the words are moving on the page because the pages are so bright – but I deal with it. I deal with many difficult customers, even customers with Autism, but I cope – my employer is so good to me and gives me 10-minute breaks when I need them. (The 10-minute breaks are now a thing of the past. I guess now that I’m part-time, there is an expectation for me to cope without needing the breaks).
I take my breaks throughout the day, I provide amazing customer service by acting comfortable and confident to the customer and then it’s the end of the day… So, it’s time to go back into the world and to go back home, same bus routine; however, I attend the gym first, where I do a specific routine every day. I find the gym is great for my endorphin levels and I always aim to be better in myself and look more aesthetically pleasing, for my own security. (The gym is now more of a keep-fit experience and less about creating aesthetic appeal).
Sometimes at night when I’m at home, I forget to eat and then stupidly starve myself which isn’t good at all. So I have someone who is always on my back about stuff like that, which is probably one of the best parts about having people close to you in your life. I love the fact that I have someone who I can talk to in the evenings and who will cheer me up when I finally have the comedown from all the acting I had done at work. Its not easy acting as if I don’t have Autism and I try my best to hide it as much as possible. Finally I find myself attempting to sleep at about 12am, and then my imagination and thoughts kick in, which keep me up until 2am… I struggle to control my thoughts and feelings and it is all up in the air from the anxiety build up in the day. I feel negative and I feel as if there’s no one in the world who understands what I have to go through day by day just so that I can be a person who appears normal. I fail to understand my feelings and find myself lost in my thoughts about those closest to me… Depression is a massive part of dealing with Autism and sometimes it can get just too much for me… But I know that in myself I am a very strong guy and I can hold back from any stupid thoughts – I just struggle to understand things in my mind sometimes. Finally, I fall asleep, and I am calm and ready for the next day for the same routine again. I always like to change things up, so I know that I’m going to do something different tomorrow…
“We’ll see what tomorrow brings”.
Thank you for reading.