Another long gap between posts – and I already used the last one to apologise!

The truth is, I’ve spent the last few weeks feeling totally overwhelmed. I suspect this is a common Aspie feeling, after all we are prone to stress, at least partly because (I think) we’re also prone to over-thinking everything. But first, (well, second now) the good news.

I got a job!

It seemed to come together very easily, and if any of you have read some of my previous work-related posts, like this one, you’ll know how astonishing that is to me.

So, now I have an office job 2 days a week, plus I still do some freelance work from home, plus the kids, plus the housework, plus plus plus…

So you can see why I might be a bit overwhelmed. I am very pleased to have my new job – I really enjoy being there! But at the same time it cuts into what was already a busy week for me. I am at least 70% staying on top of everything, but it always feels like a stretch and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get really good at spinning all these plates.

Fellow plate spinners – how do you manage? Does it get better with time?

 

Advertisements

OK, it’s been a long time since I posted and I feel a little guilty for that. I don’t imagine there are people out there relying on my updates, but when I started this blog it was with the intention of being a friendly voice for other autists. I wanted to be a positive influence and offer encouragement, not just to fellow Aspies, but to anyone suffering from social anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, etc. And how can I be that encouraging friend when I don’t even bother to put a post up for over a month?

The truth is I have been struggling. I have been wondering what to do with my life and trying to decide between going back to college or job hunting. I have been trying to keep up with life’s demands with my eldest girl on summer holidays and my youngest getting up in the night with teething pains. The intense heat has stopped me exercising as much, and I have felt a general malaise. A tiredness.

But, life never stops just because we’d rather bury our heads in the sand for a few weeks. I have been forced by the sheer will of the world to keep going, worries and all. And life has been improving.

Last week I had a job interview, which I’m still feeling very positive about. Getting through it was very stressful – to the point where I wondered if some of my insides might fall out during the interview! But it’s done now, and even if I don’t get it, I now know that I am still attractive to some employers and I can present myself well in person as well as on paper. It is nearly always worth pushing yourself to do something scary like that!

And if you fall and fail? Dust yourself off, and carry on regardless. You are worth taking a risk.

It’s nearly time for my second little bundle of joy to start nursery, which means life is soon to get a lot more expensive. It also means I will have more time on my hands, which I was hoping to fill with more work. Maybe a real job, like I used to have when I was trying to fit in with all the ‘neurotypicals’. But it’s been a few years since I worked in an office, and I keenly remember how hard it was to fit in, and how I never really managed it.

Over the last few days I’ve been searching for a job that meets my available hours, skills, experience, and level of bravery. It turns out this is quite similar to squashing a sofa into an envelope. One job matches my skills but they want somebody full time. Another has the perfect hours but they want me to have a specific qualification, or experience with a specific piece of software that I’ve never used. Ooh – here’s a good one! No wait, it’s so far away I’d never make the school run. And so on…

I also found a website for freelancers… but I’m not very good at being a freelancer. I have one client and my relationship with him is brilliant. He loves what I do, and I don’t have to talk to him on the phone or video chat. The freelancer site talks about web chat and video-link interviews. I suck at interviews and I suck on the phone. My confidence is close to zero and the thought of my income relying on this is literally making me feel nauseated.

When I spoke with my husband about these options he suggested I go back to my finance studies and wait for his side project to kick off. Then there will be lots to keep me busy. This certainly solves a problem but it feels a bit lame. I have worked, on and off, with my husband and his companies for years now and it can be very enjoyable. But at the same time I feel that it’s a cop out. I can’t get a job with another employer, so I end up working with my husband.

The joblessness is not merely a result of lack of opportunity (although that certainly doesn’t help). Before I got pregnant I had a few interviews and everyone said the same thing. They were happy with my skills and attitude but they didn’t think I’d fit the environment, either because it was too busy or too changeable. One interviewer also commented that I didn’t speak enough. This is the most frustrating part of Asperger’s for me now. (Apart from being unable to make playground conversation). I know I can do the work, but I can’t get past the interview. Even when they understand that I have Asperger’s, I don’t fit the team.

One company was going to hire me, but then things changed and the job never became available.

And of course, with each passing month and year, my confidence wains. It feels like a very long time since I was in a busy office. It’s a very long time since I had colleagues that I could see 5 days a week. A lot of mums will know this feeling, because it’s nearly always the mums who put their career on holdĀ  to have a family. So now I feel doubly cursed. Once because of my children, and again because of the Asperger’s.

I will probably go ahead with my husband’s plan. Perhaps completing my studies will give me more confidence?

If any readers would like to share a story about your employment woes or successes, please post a comment!

I used my last post to ask for some advice and, I must admit, I was a little disappointed. I got a few likes, but not the answers I was hoping for. However, it was a timely reminder that I shouldn’t let the internet influence my major life decisions. Whatever I end up doing, it’s all me. My choice. My actions. Or lack of.

As it happens, soon after I posted that, I did tell my mum-friend about my Asperger’s. (Obviously, this happened via text, I wouldn’t do something that momentous face-to-face, or worse, on the phone!) Her response was quite positive and since it happened we are still friends, we have spoken in real life, and we have made more play dates.

I was so excited by the freedom I felt that I decided to tell someone else when we went out for drinks! She took it quite well too. It did not end the conversation. Neither did it dominate the evening.

Since then I’ve felt happier about being me again, which ironically has made it slightly easier to socialise in other situations.

I’m not planning to tell everyone, but I’m happy now that I know I can tell someone (other than my wonderful husband) without it spoiling the relationship.

If anyone does have a coming out story to share, either from an Aspie, NT, or other perspective, please leave a comment!

I have a question for you today and I’d really appreciate some answers, whether you have Asperger’s or not!

Since my last post, I’ve been thinking more about Linus’s video (see link in last post) and the impression I make when I’m at social events. For example, at the weekend I went to a child’s birthday party with my husband and both children. There were people there I vaguely recognised from the school run, and one of my (very) few mum-friends. I struggled so much to look at people and make conversation, I felt really awkward!

Luckily my eldest ran off to play with her friends and didn’t seem to notice me floundering. I started at a table with some other mums but quickly moved to the next table where my husband had struck up conversation with another couple who (luckily) probably hadn’t seen me being awkward and not greeting anyone in the school playground.

Now I am contemplating being more upfront with people about my Asperger’s. This is a horrifying prospect for me. How on earth can I introduce this into a conversation? Can I just get a t-shirt saying “I’m not really rude – it’s my Asperger’s”? Or maybe with the slogan “Kiss my Asperger’s”?

Hmm, probably not.

But I might be able to introduce the topic to my mum-friend who saw me being awkward at the party. Maybe?

Is it worthwhile? Or am I better off just trying harder to make eye contact and greet people at school? Should I carry on as I am and not worry about other people potentially thinking I’m rude?

Please help!

I realised as I published my last post that I’ve been quite negative lately. This is not what I wanted when I started writing Acceptable Face*, but with my post-labour hormones all over the place and my continuing failure to just wake up one morning and find everything super-easy, I was feeling low.

Depression, and the low moods you get before life gets that bad, are part of many people’s lives and not limited to those with Asperger’s. This means I can’t blame it on the Asperger’s – which is actually a good thing! I do get fed up of it always being the limiting factor, the differentiator. “I’d be like a normal person if it weren’t for the Asperger’s…”, “I’m mostly able, except for the Asperger’s…”, “I’d love to do that! But I have Asperger’s so I can’t…”, etc.

Today, the weather is sunny and my baby is mercifully with my parents, so I’m able to get some work done and even treat myself to a new blog post! Other things have improved my mood more significantly.

For example, I recently read The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge. Not only is it an extremely good book, it also reminded me of the best bits of being a teenager. It’s so easy for me to look back and remember the depression and anxiety, but I hardly ever think about the good bits. The truth is that alongside my crushing anxiety, I also had close friendships, parents who would give me enough money for trips to the cinema, and an appreciation of beautiful summer days, which is exactly what today feels like.

This morning, while I was eating an early lunch, I watched a couple of YouTube videos from people with Asperger’s, and the first one in particular made me laugh. I used to watch this guy’s videos all the time before I had children. Linus’s comment near the end, about NTs caring about social rules more than they should, made me laugh – maybe it’s just the way he says it. But that video reminded me that it’s easy to worry too much. Yes, it’s nice to fit in and other people do appreciate it, but how much does it really matter? We will always be ourselves, no matter how much we pretend. Does it really have to be the end of the world if we can’t pretend all the time?

*While adding the link here I noticed I’ve been writing this blog since 2011. Wow I feel old! Also, where’s my book deal?

At the weekend, we had another children’s party to go to. My eldest claimed she had a good time, and I hope she enjoyed every single minute. I was ready to cry before we’d got half way.

A children’s party is one of those occasions where it’s really obvious that my child and I take a different approach to socialising than, ooh, say…EVERYBODY ELSE. All the parents were mingling, standing around in pairs or threes or fours. All the children were running around in similar groups. All except for me, my husband, and our daughter. Our baby slept, I wasn’t worried about her, but watching our 5-year-old sitting by herself colouring made me wonder…when will she perceive the gap, and how will she feel about it when she notices?

This gap is one problem I cannot fix. I cannot make her fit in with the other children. I can only do my best to bolster her confidence and support the friendships she has made. Now I feel what my own mother must have felt. A kind of hopeless sorrow, driving me to encourage all sorts of pursuits for my daughter in the hope that her life will be easier than mine was.

I still believe my daughter is not as afflicted as I am when it comes to self-confidence and social skills, but I can see the echoes of my own behaviour in her now. The tendency to be quiet and shy is still with her, and I know I make a sucky example of how to make friends and interact with the world.

Maybe the lack of sleep is making me feel worse about my Asperger’s. Maybe it’s a touch of PND. This week I am stuck with the fact that there is no escape, for me or my family.