Well hello! Sorry for the 7 month gap – I think I must have been rather busy. I’m writing now because I’m about to be even busier! I think when I last wrote on here all was well with my job, but since then it’s been getting harder and harder until now, when I am about to start something new – a new challenge, with more hours but hopefully less stress. Let me briefly recap…

Just over a year ago I started a new position – my first office job since giving birth to my second child, and my first office job where they actually knew I had Asperger’s! Double happy! But as time progressed, little problems popped up, and they got bigger and bigger until I thought “Yikes. I need to leave!” Then I had a stressful period of, maybe a month and a half, trying to find a good position that worked for my childcare arrangements. (That was HARD! I have never felt so penalised for having children as when I was job hunting.) And now, hooray, I have a new job and I start next week. Eek!

I should point out, the problems with my job had nothing to do with my Asperger’s, which is perhaps the most surprising and joyful part of it. I’ve made friends at that job. I’ve managed to stay on good terms with everyone. I’ve been able to be myself and it’s been glorious. This is the first time in my life where I’ve left a job and it’s NOT been about my inability to socialise, or form relationships, or deal with sensory overload. Do I hear a “Whoop whoop!”?

So, on to pastures new as of next week. My new team don’t know about the Asperger’s – I must admit, I chickened out of mentioning it at the interview because, let’s face it, it didn’t hold me back in my other job so… why risk it? But, the new team did see me being myself, and because it’s a small team, that should continue.

Fingers crossed! And hey, sorry I left it so long to update you. It’s still my intention to promote the positive side of Asperger’s. I hope you’re all having a good year.

Today’s topic has been intriguing me lately. I’m wondering how much can be attributed to the Asperger’s, and how much is ‘normal’. I’ve been wondering if you just get used to different activity levels and the exhaustion just goes away. I’m also wondering how much is down to work, and how much is down to family life.

This last week the baby has finally let me have some lie-ins, so I’ve been getting up at 6.20 instead of 5.20. This is absolutely a dream come true, and yet when I wake, I still feel utterly exhausted. Friday’s are the worst, because I know I have the baby at home that day. On work days and study days, I’m happy. Sometimes stressed – and frequently drinking too much coffee at work – but happy. But does my Asperger’s mean my social schedule is too much? By trying to have it all, am I compromising my physical or mental health irreparably?

I’m sure I felt this way when my first child was very small, so perhaps it’s just an unfortunate combination, Aspie mother, small child. Incidentally, my eldest is also wearing me out now. Almost every night for several weeks she’s been waking me up because of a bad dream. Aside from putting her back to bed, I have no idea what to do about this.

Even so, I know for a fact that many other parents are having a much harder time. That’s why I feel the Asperger’s must play a part in my exhaustion. If it didn’t – then what the heck is wrong with me? All the NT mothers are out there battling lung infections and night waking; working more hours; going out drinking… I just want to be in bed, usually from about 8.30. I don’t have time for romance. I don’t even have the energy to stick jacket potatoes in the microwave once the clock ticks past 7. We end up getting more takeaways.

I like to think I’m pretty competent. I like to think I can handle this thing called ‘life’. Perhaps I just have to accept this limit. I have recently decided to retire from my volunteering, so that’s one less thing to worry about. I don’t want to cut anything else though, except maybe baby-time!

Is this a common thing for people with Asperger’s? Especially parents with Asperger’s? Is this something you just have to ride out? TIA

OK, whinge alert!

I’ve been with my husband a long time now, and I’ve always accepted that his social skills and way of seeing the world are more likely to be ‘right’, or less offensive, than my own. After all, only one of us has Asperger’s, so it stands to reason he (as the non-Aspie), will better understand what emotional responses are more in tune with whatever’s happening. He reminds me that it’s important to remember people’s wedding anniversaries – for close family members at least. He advises me when it’s best to keep my mouth shut about something. When I have a tricky work dilemma, I like to get his take on the situation. All this is good but…

Sometimes I think – is it SO wrong just to be me?

When my husband proposed, he knew my brain worked differently. I didn’t understand it as fully as I do now – and I have no idea how much my husband really ‘gets’ the Aspie thing. But he DID know that I have different social skills and some of the things he thinks are important just make me roll my eyes. I’m sure his influence has improved me, but did he marry me thinking this was just a phase? Did he marry me thinking he’d always be a kind of ‘carer’? Should I always be expected to bow to his opinion on anything related to social interactions just because I’m wired differently?

I don’t think of Asperger’s as a disability. So why would it be so wrong to let me react naturally to things? Would I suddenly alienate everyone around me?

To be fair, I have alienated plenty of people in my time, but not (I think) for more than a decade. I’d like to think that’s not solely down to the supervision of my ‘carer’.

Aspie’s in relationships with non-Aspie’s (or vice-versa), what’s your take on this? Do you get ‘corrected’?

It was about 5.50am when I realised I had forgotten to tell someone at work something extremely important the day before. Luckily, because this is 2019 and I am never more than about a foot from my mobile phone, I was able to send a quick email with an even quicker apology. Hopefully this reached her in time and mitigated what would be (in my view) disaster. I’m actually talking about a typo in a marketing email.

So, how did this happen?

I gave my feedback to her verbally.

How, after so many years practicing talking to people, do I still suck so much at this? I talked her through a few other things that needed to change, was happy that I’d finished, and walked quickly back to my desk.

Ordinarily for proofreading tasks, I’d mark up a Word or Google doc, secure in the knowledge that my typed communications are so much better than when my brain tries to come out through my mouth.

It occurred to me that having Asperger’s means I use more mental faculties to communicate verbally and face-to-face, which effectively sucks up valuable resource from the rest of my brain. I may have planned a conversation before I start it, but when it actually happens my brain is effectively put on a rollercoaster with no seatbelts and asked to hold on. I could also liken it to having static interrupting your radio station – making you miss valuable bits of information, or making you forget which questions you needed to ask.

I’ve had several work conversations where I’ve needed to go back later for more information. Sometimes as soon as I walked away I’d realise I meant to ask something else. So, another day, another face palm. And it doesn’t even help to know this – because how do I know what I’m going to miss next? I won’t know until I realise I’ve missed it.

I feel a strange urge to bang my head on the desk, but perhaps a decaff coffee would be kinder.

I hope you’re all having better days.

Another post, and I still haven’t found time to be a whale. But I was encouraged by lots of positive responses to that post. I think talking about being busy and stressed out has struck a chord with many of you, which is simultaneously sad and pleasing, as if we’re all in some kind of crazy club.

And the first rule of crazy club is… you definitely CAN talk about it. In fact you definitely SHOULD talk about it, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. These feelings may seem like a normal part of everyday life, especially if (like me) you have Asperger’s but you’re still trying to get lots done. But these feelings can also be dangerous. They can separate us from our loved ones. They can snowball into something so big you can’t sleep properly and you struggle to leave the house. I suspect a lot of my readers have already been there and done that, so let’s not go back!

Anyway, this isn’t exactly what I was intending to write about when I sat down. The title of my post refers to a James Acaster sketch, which I really like, so I’ll try to find a clip of it to link to. Just in case I can’t – or for anyone who doesn’t want to follow a YouTube link, I’ll summarise…

The sketch is about how we define our day by all the jobs we have to do. When we go to bed, it’s not explicitly to sleep. It’s because “no more jobs!” – either we’ve finished or we can’t stand to do anymore. This has been my life for much of the past few weeks. I enjoy most of the jobs, but I still get overwhelmed sometimes and a bit stressed trying to fit everything in. And yet, I’m really stubborn, so even things like my volunteering, which only happens once a month but always stresses me out because it takes time away from more important stuff, I don’t want to quit. I don’t want to let my team down. I know I enjoy the recording sessions when I get there, and I like seeing my team mates. So, I have lots of good reasons not to give that up… and it’s the same for everything else I have to get through each week.

I can’t cut work – that’s too much fun, plus the money!

I can’t cut play dates – my daughter’s social life shouldn’t suffer just because I’m frazzled!

I can’t cut yoga or book group – they’re actually good for my physical and mental wellbeing!

I can’t cut studying – I’m enjoying that and it’s good for my career!

I can’t cut shopping and laundry – because we’d starve and stink!

So, I guess I’m stuck with all my jobs. But that’s OK because I can come and vent here – at my crazy club.

Right. Time for more JOBS!!!!

PS. I’ve not forgotten the clip – I’ll try and add it in later. It’s worth seeing!

If you read my last post, you’ll have some idea of why I’ve been quiet lately. My feelings may have fluctuated, but the busy-ness has been constant!

Today, I’ve been inspired to take time out to talk about regrets, and holding onto negativity, which is something that affects everybody in some way, even if you’re (lucky to be?) neurotypical.

The festive period was certainly joyful in our house, but I found the sheer quantity of guests, engagements, and ‘things I needed to do’ really overwhelming. By the time I got back to work I was frazzled and stressed, wondering where my holiday went.

Luckily my emotions have evened out a bit since then, but I realised I’d been holding onto negativity when I really didn’t need to. Just a couple of days ago, I realised I’d been going to bed feeling stressed, almost every night. From 8pm, I start looking at my watch, wondering when is early enough to get to bed just in case one of the children gives me a bad night.

I’ve been a mother for almost 6 years. Almost 7 if you count ‘brewing’ time. Those years have taught me to cling desperately to my sleep, because children can go through so many phases, and so many bugs. But my two are relatively good sleepers. Sure, there have been plenty of nights where I just wanted to be unconscious so badly… but there have also been many more nights that were good. Yet for more than half a decade, I’ve been holding onto this idea that if I’m not in bed between half eight and nine, I might be an emotional wreck by morning.

When you contextualise the worry like that, it seems ridiculous. And maybe it is!?

So – what does this have to do with whales? I hear you ask. Well, I thought if I started to practise mindfulness that would help, and a friend of mine recommended becoming a whale. The idea is, you have to imagine all the negativity being blown out of the top of your head – like water from a whale’s blowhole.

When she told me this, my first instinct was to laugh, and maybe that’s the point. It’s hard to be negative and stressed out when you’re really laughing at something.

I actually haven’t tried it yet (because I’ve been so busy) – but just knowing that I’ve been holding onto stress has made me a bit less worried. I think dealing with stress will always be a work in progress. Knowing that it’s there is the first step to fighting it.

Do you have a good mindfulness tip to share?

I’ve been really enjoying my new job – in a way I didn’t know was possible! The team is good, but the best bit is the work itself. I never thought I’d find a job that really fitted my intellect. As an Aspie, with chronic social-skill failure and lack of confidence, I got stuck in a loop of taking crappy low-paid customer service roles that made my brain feel like it might as well go on permanent vacation. And the stress levels were horrendous! Now that I have FINALLY found an interesting role in finance, I am starting to get excited about the future again.

Of course, my career choices weren’t just based on the Asperger’s. As many women will know first hand, I also felt it sensible to put my husband’s career first (as he was the higher earner), and focus my efforts on child raising, housework, and all that other valuable yet often underappreciated and mind numbing stuff.

Now, part-timer and relative newbie though I am (at the grand old age of 36) I am starting to get ideas. Ideas like “hey, I could actually finish that CIMA course!” and “maybe I could bring in a decent wage” and my personal favourite, “I’m actually good at something despite having Asperger’s!”.

So, how does this relate to the title of my post today?

The truth is I’d almost given up on having a career. I took time out for child rearing, and when I was ready to get back into an office I struggled so much. It was hard to find something that matched my hours. It was hard to find something that matched my skills and experience. But I kept looking because it was important to me to try. The interviews were as painful as you’d expect for someone like me, and the failures were demotivating. And all along, I wasn’t even sure if it would work out well for me, even if I could get a job.

So, in summary, if you’ve written something off that you were hoping to achieve, maybe it’s time to revisit that, and give yourself another chance. We only get one life.