Complex family dynamics

Trigger warning: mentions possibility of suicide in the family

I didn’t write about my brother for quite a while, I guess I maybe mentioned him once or twice since I had to leave our family home and move to the hostel back in September. He is not a glamorous person to write about: he is a heavy drinker, this type who prefers to spend money on alcohol rather than food (not to mention house repairs), he showers probably a couple of times a year and has a history of stealing money from both me and my mum, although, up to the time my dad died those were mostly small sums.

I really don’t know how to deal with him, now, when mum doesn’t support him any more. He doesn’t cause me any direct troubles like arguments (he argued with mum a lot) because, I guess, I never tell him to stop drinking. I’d like him to stop, obviously, but I know me giving him lectures is not going to help. He was on detox once but only because my mum organised that through court (it took her around two years). If asked he says he likes drinking, doesn’t want to stop and he has everything under control. One of his favourite saying is ‘I’m one level above everyone else’.

I allow myself to write about him because I know he’s never going to read it. Neither him, nor any of his mates know a word of English and people in my village who could actually read my blog will never repeat to my brother what I wrote about him. I believe it’s important to discuss those matters openly because hardly anyone does, certainly not people who are active addicts and their families are reluctant too, and I can understand why.

I don’t know how my brother came to that situation that he is in now. He used to have some mates who would drink every weekend when he was younger, and, quite frankly, drinking was a very popular way of spending free time for young men at the time in Poland, especially men who didn’t have good education. Yet, those guys are not my brother’s mate any more. It seems they moved on. Possibly they still drink occasionally, I’m not saying they don’t but they found permanent jobs and started families. My brother pretty much only works when he needs money for beer, or possibly for vodka. He also buys cigarettes and some cheap food items of course but his clothes are what he got from others and apart from old type of mobile phone he has no personal possessions.

I don’t know what feelings I have towards him, mostly I want him to disappear somehow, but that’s not a feeling, is it? I don’t know if I love him, although I certainly did when I was younger, I don’t know if I’m angry with him, although I certainly was when I had to deal with him face to face or see the state of the house as he lives by himself. But when I don’t get to see him I rarely think of him.

A couple of weeks ago I started noticing strange feelings when doing some of the Redecor designs: dread and fear when I saw freestanding lamp as a part of the design, one where lampshade appeared to be hanging (I will not be attaching any images in this case). It made me think every time that it appeared like if someone hanged themselves. Where are those thoughts coming from, I thought? And today, after seeing another one of those lamps, I thought about my brother.

It was really scary. How will you feel if this is really going to happen to him? I would most certainly feel guilty for trying to delete him from our family dynamic. It seems like life without him would be easier, but of course I don’t want him to die, certainly not this way.

I called him and told him, the first time today, that I moved mum to the private care home in Studzianki due to overcrowding in the government one and mum’s savings are covering the fees. I thought he would be angry and would start swearing but he just said he already knows. He didn’t express any opinions on the matter of money and said he’s going to cope.

I really hope he will. But I doubt I can do much more than that. He became very skilled in twisting every situation into ‘It’s all your fault and I’m going to show you that, whatever you do, I’m going to ruin my life because of you’.

It seems to me that was my brother’s solution for our difficult family situation. When I was planning how to get out of the house for good, he was planning how to make everyone guilty for the fact he’s not coping.

I don’t know if anything can be done about that now. I don’t feel like I’m the person who can help. Possibly he needs to help himself first but… he has no social support. His friends are men who lost touch with reality the same way he did. Btw, they’re not the same people who he used to mixed with when he was a young adult, as I said those moved on. It’s a village. If my brother stopped drinking, his current mates would start laughing at him and it takes time to prove to other people that he changed. So trying to be sober will only alienate him.

I really wish it was possible but I doubt he’s going to make it and the only option I have is to stop behaving like I want to delete him, so that I don’t feel guilty when something happens.

And why the thought came to me when I saw a particular design of a lampshade? Because we, autistics may not understand our emotions, but we’re good at understanding symbols. Have you ever played the hangman game? That’s how the lamp looked to me.

But it only made me aware of certain fears because I already had them in me, I just wasn’t aware of them. If I didn’t have any worries about my brother no symbol would do anything to bring them on.

No image attached.

I cancelled my shift

Around 2am it finally occurred to me that I won’t be able to continue as a hotel housekeeper, at least not in this hotel and not for so many hours. Especially after not having slept properly. So I emailed the guy from the agency to let him know that I won’t be back but I presume the agency opens at 9am and my shift is supposed to start at 8.30 and I haven’t been given any emergency number to call.

I always had problems with cancelling shifts/calling in sick. It always felt to me that I’m putting the workplace under enormous strain so I’d only do that when I felt like I really can’t cope, if I felt like I am somehow managing I always choose to turn up, which was not necessarily appreciated by others the way I thought it would be. I mean I earned myself an image of someone who’s always ready to work and I was often called in on the last moment, when someone else cancelled and if it happened to me that I had to refuse, some colleagues would get funny with me.

During the night I started having the same chest pain that I always get when I overexert myself. I first started having it when I was a teenager and had to work really hard on my parents farm. The farm wasn’t very big and most days we didn’t have much to do at all but when the time came we had to work several hours a day for 3-4 days in a row. So that’s how my chest pain first started. Then it was that bike ride to Łódź that I took in my early 20s, merely 70km one way. Then, later, in my early 30s I was told by my trainer at the gym that it’s best to do exercises without any breaks as they’re more effective and the same thing happened. The pain is specifically on the left side and only appears the next day, it may take 2-3 days for it to go away. I never had it checked up and from what I can read online about chest pain after overexertion, what I feel is not similar to anything else.

I need a bit of optimism today

The pain is also accompanied by feeling of rather strong depressive thoughts that are now all about my inability to keep a job. Quite frankly, I feel, I’d be much better off never accepting this booking as I now have the impression that I am incapable of any work at all.

I wonder if the heart issue can be due to dyspraxia. People with dyspraxia have problems with their coordination but they also have weaker muscles and heart is a muscle. Possibly I should go to doctor but, like with most things, I bet they’d do some tests and all of them would come back fine. Maybe the tests should be done when I actually experience the pain, but I’d rather avoid causing it.

So I can’t do jobs that are socially demanding and also those that are physically demanding. What I’m supposed to do then?

The fact that I actually have first class bachelor degree in computer science feels very heavy now. I didn’t work in IT since I left Poland, which was 2007 but quite frankly I wouldn’t be able to do it either. The constant changes are something that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with. When I was choosing subject to study I didn’t know I’m autistic, but quite frankly even if I knew it wouldn’t change anything as there is such a low awarness of what having autism is actually like. Loads of people, including career coaches, believe that working in IT is a perfect job for an autistic person, and for some it certainly is. But I, personally, couldn’t keep up with the constant changes: you learn something one day and 3 months later it’s already considered out of date. I didn’t know I’d find it so difficult, I learn very quickly so it shouldn’t be a problem to learn new thing every couple of weeks. I guess it wasn’t even that, it was the fact that I was required to reject the knowledge I already had. That was something that I could not do.

Overworked and lonely

I woke up after barely 3h of sleep and can’t fall back asleep again. That means I overworked myself yesterday, that’s what always happens after I’ve been working too hard. I’m wondering if I should actually even go for another shift as it will be very difficult after yesterday and not having enough sleep.

I found the beds the most difficult to do, duvets never wanted to settle nicely in duvet covers and the more beds I did the worse it got. That’s dyspraxia for you.

Yesterday evening, after I came home, I started feeling extremely lonely and I don’t understand where the feeling is coming from. Yes, I spent the day on my own but I spend majority of my days on my own and I never feel like that. Possibly it’s due to the fact that I start understanding that the time is passing by and I’ll never have family of my own. Possibly its because The Boyfriend suddenly developed some health problems, that I’d rather not reveal here to protect his privacy. It’s nothing extremely serious and he continues to work, just taking regular breaks but it may have an impact on him for several months and I suddenly think how fragile we all are.

Also I received a letter from mum’s bank, the response for yet another complaint that I sent when I was in Poland. I don’t want to know what’s in it. It probably won’t be what I want to read. Yet again I feel how insignificant I am: it’s so easy to ignore my concerns.

Too late to take a sleeping tablet. I don’t know how I’m going to cope at work.

You learn something new everyday

I really like this saying, it’s so positive. What I learned today was:

– Hotel double duvet is not square (as you can imagine that has a massive impact on time needed for making the bed!

– The only way to get rid of hair from the bathroom is by hoovering.

– Used linen sack fills up extremely quickly and it’s very heavy to carry when full.

What I would like to pass onto others for times when they’re hotel guests is as follows:

– After the room service there is no need to hide dirty plates under the table.

– Try not to stick used chewing gum onto the furniture.

Overall I suppose it was not too bad. I was doing perfectly fine till lunch time, enjoying working on my own, in peace and quiet, happy that I’m keeping myself fit by making beds and carrying the above mentioned sack. After lunch I was getting a bit tired but thought I have no choice but to continue. Around 2.30 I seriously thought I’m going to tell them I have a back pain and need to leave but I felt a bit silly so I continued. Around 3 I thought I’m going to pass out or, alternatively have a panic attack. Neither of those happened so I just continued. The last two hours I actually felt like a robot, but I guess the fact that I managed is the most important thing.

Also, I didn’t feel autistic in the slightest. I mean, I am autistic 24/7 so just when I feel ok I still ‘feel autistic’, I just didn’t think much about it. What I should have probably said instead is that I didn’t feel ‘peopled out’ and as a result I didn’t feel the need to ignore people, those who met me for those brief interactions today would never thought I have autism spectrum dissorder and, quite frankly this is how I like to present myself. It’s a sign for me that I’m coping, while working in a busy care home where I had to take my colleagues social needs into consideration the entire shift was making me really exhausted.

That’s not how hotel rooms where I worked today looked like, but actually why they’re not designed like that?

Now, even though my legs hurt and I have the feeling I’m going to have back muscle sores tomorrow (how will I survive another shift with them?) I actually feel ok otherwise.

Possibly the job in care, or at least in a busy care home is not really for me.

My psychiatric nurse actually referred me for a service that is meant to find me the ‘ideal’ job – they work with people with mental health problems and autism. It’s good that that service exists because when I enquired after being diagnosed I was told that if I already have a job, there’s no support I can get, even if the job is not suitable for me and is making me unwell. That’s not very good, is it?

If the support was available at the time I’d probably have left Home Group and went to work in a hotel. However, the fact that the job in that place wasn’t a perfect fit for me doesn’t mean it was OK for my colleagues to put fabricated documents in my file and then use those to get managers from other divisions to refuse me support when I was asking for it.

Long story short Mr Henderson didn’t apologise to me yet.

My body doesn’t exist (and how I understand symbols)

So, before I move on to what this post is going to be about, which is a bit embarrassing, I will start with explanation that I don’t really have much of an awareness of my physical body and therefore I don’t worry about my health too much. I don’t know how to explain that but possibly, on a certain level, I don’t really get that my body actually exist. The same like money doesn’t exist: as long as I have enough I’m not really bothered. The fraud that my mum was a victim of is actually a good lesson here – yes, money exist, if it doesn’t I wouldn’t be getting upset about it. But at some point a few years ago I didn’t even know how much I earn. I used to do overtime and get tired a lot, but I wasn’t doing it because I needed more money, I was doing it because no one else wanted to cover shifts and I felt responsible.

So the same like I don’t have an awareness of money, I don’t have an awareness of my body. As long as it doesn’t give me any troubles I’m not bothered. Letters like ‘if you don’t go for a certain check up we’ll discharge you’ I comment with: oh, go on then, one less establishment to worry about (said to myself of course as I wouldn’t actually go into trouble of replying). I do not seem to understand that this approach can give me problems later. I’m fine at that certain moment and that’s all that matters.

What I wanted to write about is I have very bad teeth. When I was a child the only toothpaste that was available (communism, remember?) tasted horrible and was making me feel sick so obviously I avoided brushing my teeth as much as I could or I only brushed at the front (front teeth are fine). The other thing is that we drank loads of tea with lemon, as long as lemon was available (and it was a lot of times, not like oranges) and ate sauerkraut almost daily. I didn’t know that acid damages teeth till I was in my early 20s, earlier on we could only hear that sugar is bad for teeth. I am not sure if the awareness of how bad acid is was not there at the time or if it was our government that was protecting us from it but the thing is, most Polish people of my age have bad teeth, and actually there were two girls in my class that qualified for false teeth at the end of primary school, which then of course made me think that I’m not too bad so no need to worry.

By now most of my back teeth had root feelings done and unfortunately, some time ago (like 4 years or so) infection came back for 2 of my teeth. I didn’t even know that was possible – I thought if root feeling is done, that’s it, the tooth will not give me any more troubles till it breaks!

So basically treatment for those teeth is not available under NHS now, I’d have to go private and it would have to be endodontist. On NHS I can only get an extraction. The last time I spoke with the dentist about it he said the infection didn’t spread yet so possibly I could do those teeth in Poland the next time I’m there as it will be cheaper. And that was it… I’m not doing anything, I thought. Going to another dentist, explaining what the problem is, being sent for an x-ray to the hospital (dentists don’t usually have them in Poland, as the treatment is cheaper they can’t afford all the equipment).

I personally used to know a person who lost all their upper teeth due to an infection that didn’t appear to give him any troubles, and yet, that didn’t make me do anything about mine. In a way, I guess, I’d welcome this outcome as I’d have to get all the teeth removed at once instead of worrying about them individually.

And then, last week, The Friend told me about the trip abroad she took with her students: they had to move to another hotel because there were bed bugs where they were staying. One student ended up in a hospital with an allergic reaction and she had to go with him and spent the entire night there. She said bed bugs like warm and clean environment. Clean, I asked? That means cleaning is not going to help… like with my teeth!

Scary pinkish I don’t know what.

And do I really want to put The Friend in a situation when she comes over to visit and I’ll have a dental emergency? No, not after what she has just been through with her students! She also said that the guy who had an allergic reaction saw some signs that something is wrong (I already forgot what they were) but he ignored it. Typical for a man, she said. And me, I thought to myself.

She said they had to move to another hotel and it wasn’t so nice. That didn’t sound too positive and made me aware I can even die. Does that make any sense to you? How come someone else bed bugs made me finally realise I need to make a dentist appointment? I guess it only worked because subconsciously I am worried about my teeth. If I didn’t, the story wouldn’t have any impact on me.

So I went to the dentist yesterday but was told they can’t give me an appointment without confirming with the manager first as I wasn’t there for over two years (I kind of have this idea it’s actually been longer than that but I don’t remember). That’s a strange arrangement, I thought. Normally they discharge you but if you’re not discharged appointments are always available. And yet I’m here in the situation when I’m not discharged, and yet I can’t have an appointment. As the manager wasn’t in nothing could be done so I left. I have to either call them today ( as I will be working in a hotel so won’t make it before the dentist closes) or go in person when I’m off, which I already don’t remember, is either tomorrow or the day after.

I don’t know yet if I want to get those teeth removed or treated. Quite honestly, I’m fed up with my teeth and possibly having a denture at some point in the future is not going to be a bad idea. I’d like some honest opinion on that. Some people apparently complain that with dentures they can’t eat some food. Well, is that the only problem? I bet I don’t eat those food anyway due to sensory issues. Although I do worry the denture may not fit properly as my mum had loads of problems with her at times.

Blogging – a little sum up

This is my 250 blog post, yay! So I wanted to do this mini sum up: I set up WordPress blog on 11th of September this year so just over 6 weeks ago. Some posts have dates from before that time as I transferred them from my older blog on a different platform that turned out to only allow 99 posts per web page.

My blog doesn’t seem to be listed in Google for now but this can apparently take a few months. I don’t do anything to promote it in any way. I write about such personal stuff at times that any attempts at self promotion just don’t feel right.

I was listed once on a different website where I wrote about communication techniques used by my diagnostician, but the diagnostician wasn’t involved in preparing this text or even informed about it so it did feel a bit odd to me at the end, that’s why I didn’t even add a link on my blog, but if you want to read it, it’s here: https://www.learnfromautistics.com/autism-interview-183-magda-regula-on-communication-open-options-when-possible/

I have a couple of viewers every day, a few more on some days and less on others but not many overall. Still, I’d say it’s more than I expected considering I’m not promoting my blog and I’m not listed in Google.

I post on most days, on some days I post more than once. At one time, I think, I wrote 10 blog posts in one day! That was in Poland though, when I was going through all this drama with my mum and brother and at the same time tried writing about things from the past as it was bringing me massive relief.

Overall I find blogging extremely satisfying. It feels like I finally have been given a voice and possibly I am even more confident to speak up when actually talking to people, although it’s too early to confirm that for sure. Also, confidence is probably not the right word, which I already stated here before: I do feel confident when speaking with someone, it’s just that the right words don’t appear in my head for me to say them and this as a result is being labeled as low confidence. Possibly writing about my experiences is an exercise for my brain that allows me to find the right words also later on, when I talk to someone face to face or on the phone.

No, that bathroom doesn’t match this post. It wouldn’t match any post at all but I like it so I had to fit it in somewhere.

Another of my achievements is revealing Home Group as a real company. They don’t seem too bothered that I blog about them though, which is possibly a good thing.

Do I want to be discovered? Well, I am actually happy where I am as blogging itself is very rewarding and I love matching my Redecor designs to my posts but I guess at some poinf I may want some recognition if only because it would mean that what I write about has value.

I would say an inspiration to starting this blog was my diagnostician. I met her in 2016, so that’s quite a long time ago. We only met twice in person but I was in touch via email with her for a bit after. She used to speak with me in a different way that people normally do – it felt like she was creating forms for me to fill in but the forms were entirely made of words. I found this communication method very easy to relate to and it made me realise how different my thinking process is. I can now observe how my thinking works in variety of situations (like even when bus drivers cannot decide which route they should take) and I think this is what people can find interesting. I guess most autistic people don’t have the experience that I have. So what I am trying to say is, if I didn’t get more readers with time I could end up thinking that what I’m talking about here regarding autistic people way of thinking is not really that valuable, but for now I’m fine where I am.

I am worried from time to time that there will be nothing new happening in my life that I could use to describe how I think, but then if that’s actually possible? Things happen all the time and I’m autistic 24/7, I should get plenty of ideas for more posts.

The other thing I’m also worried about is that someone from my work (when I start working) will find my blog and finds out about things that I don’t normally talk about. It is my choice to not hide my identity on the blog, if I blog anonymously it would feel like blogging is just another experience where I’m not allowed to be myself. But I am aware that some people can get funny with me when they find out about my psychotic episodes. Oh well… I’ll deal with it when it happens. I don’t know how yet and hopefully it will not be yet another situation when I thought that I’d cope but I didn’t. But as I said for now I’m a very happy blogger overall.

Everything is a matter of perception

It is said that we, autistics, can be very fixated on how things should be. Not being able to buy our favourite curry sauce can cause some of us a massive meltdown or at least put us under stress.

I was brought up in a communist country which meant massive queue forming outside of the shop from 8am because meat will be delivered sometimes around 11. The same would apply to sugar, exotic fruits (lemons were quite easy to find but oranges were only available a few times a year) or chocolate. The worst that I remember was when the only product in stock in a shoe shop was… vinegar. Seriously, I don’t exaggerate. Apart from that shops just didn’t have many choices, there was one type of cheese only and plain kefir instead of yoghurt. Possibly two types of biscuits and two types of candies, one type of bread spread and two types of jam.

That started changing when I was aboht 12 but it was a slow process and the first proper, large supermarket was only built in town near to where I used to live when I was in my early 20s. Before that all my family shopping were being done in small convenience stores.

Therefore when I now go to get groceries my expectations are never very high. When I manage to get something reminiscent of what I was intending to buy I’m always happy and if it was on offer, that’s even better! If what I really wanted is not available I’ll just get something different, that is not a problem.

However, I know an autistic man who believes that supermarkets are always half empty. He can drive to three different ones if what he intended to buy is not in stock, even though there are plenty of other attractive products, including those that contain mushrooms (his favourite food ingredient). Why is that? Possibly because he assumed that supermarkets are places that store the food that he wants to buy, which is kind of true but it can’t be true every single time. I wonder how this can be changed?

However, my problem are buses: every time when bus don’t turn up on time I get really irritated, even if I’m not in a rush and the weather is nice.

I was brought up in a village with the closest bus stop 15 minutes fast walk away from my family home. The buses were coming once an hour or so but they were not spread evenly so we needed to have written time table at home or we wouldn’t know when to leave to be able to catch it. I found that very limiting and always wanted to live in town.

Someone will be going shopping on the bus at some point. And of course that is not my hallway.

And that’s what happened: I’m in Swindon, medium size town an hour on the train from London. The bus is every 8 minutes on my bus stop, so when it doesn’t turn up on time it feels to me like everything that I ever wanted in life (well, yes, that’s an exaggeration but you know what I mean) is being taken away from me.

And now, what’s happening is, there are some roadworks a few bus stops away from where I live and buses had to change the route. There is a sign on the permanent bus stop that this bus stop is not in use and passengers need to use the temporary bus stop on the other side of the cross road. However, some buses use a different diversion and end up using the permanent bus stop as a result. I guess this is probably because otherwise residents of a rather long road would have to walk quite far to be able to get to town by bus. But the thing is, there’s no order in that. I don’t know if it’s every other one that use the permanent bus stop or what and asking the driver doesn’t make any sense because every single one says his route is the right one.

Therefore, when I was intending to go to town today, I sat on the bus stop, the permanent one, and thought to myself: the bus will either come or it won’t. It probably will… at some point.

Normally buses are every 8 minutes, why I was being so silly getting upset that it’s 2 minutes late? We can’t control the world around us but perception is everything and if the bus is two minutes late that doesn’t mean I don’t live in town any more.

So it looks like part of my perception has been changed. Let’s see if it lasts long enough for me not to get stressed about minor delays later on when the roadworks will end.

My weight

Ok, let’s get it out of the way: I am like 2 stone (14kg) above what I consider to be my ideal weight. There is so much talk about body positivity now that wasn’t there when I was growing up that it feels like it shouldn’t be a problem but one thing that is never mentioned is that I (so I presume other overweight people too) often experience feeling of mild ache around my stomach area that was never there when I was lighter.

What I don’t like in particular is waking up feeling full. When I was my ideal weight (by which I don’t mean skinny) I used to wake up feeling like I’m ready for breakfast and I also experienced more joy out of my meals, things just seemed to be this tiny little bit tastier.

Yet, the last couple of years I cannot successfully loose any weight. When I buy a packet of biscuits I need to really watch myself so that I don’t eat it all within 2 days, the same apply to chocolate. I stopped attempting to even go on a diet because, although it can be very effective for a while, it never works long term.

Every time when I have less of a control over what goes on my plate (like when I’m on holiday or if I work somewhere where meals are provided) I experience a crisis that completely ruins my healthy habits.

The other thing is, however, my all or nothing, autistics way of thinking: if I want to be slimmer and healthier I can’t possibly have a ready meal for dinner – that’s what I think when I’m at the supermarket. I get home and realise I’m too tired to cook so I am ending up eating biscuits.

Possibly I need more patterns in my dining area?

It’s only been those couple of months recently that I realised that instead of following rituals that may work short term but are in fact limiting my life (like calorie counting or intermittent fasting) I should make healthy eating enjoyable and easy. There’s nothing wrong with having a tinned soup for lunch and knowing that it only contains 160kcal gives me an indication that it’s not going to be quite enough so I need like slice of bread and some fried chicken with it. Being realistic is very important.

Doing this, however, didn’t really make me loose any weight. It seems like there’s still too much food that I’m putting into my digestive system for my metabolism to handle. And if I have to be quite honest I’d like to be able to choose my timing of meals and what I eat based on how hungry I am. But then what happens is, I feel like I’m never going to be hungry again, even if I stopped eating for good, which of course triggers a massive Fear Of Missing Out, which again ruins everything.

I never really had healthy relationship with food. I have lactose intolerance that I was unaware of till my early 20s and my main symptoms is a horrible pain in the stomach that mimics hunger pangs. And, to make matter more complicated, I was brought up on a farm with a milky cow. We were drinking milk around the clock, like some other people drink wine on weekends.

Funnily enough, most of that time I was slimmer that I am now and I really do not know what happened. Possibly I just eat too much for what I need, even though I don’t have any hunger pangs now and possibly I need to admit that. But what really puts me off another attempt on loosing weight is the fact that I’d have to, once again, use mental effort to control my food intake. This is really not working long term and no diet approach seems to even acknowledge that.

I wonder what mechanism long term slim people use to control their food intake but there doesn’t seem to be much research on that or at least I didn’t hear of any. Or maybe they’re just not so bothered about food?

Not everything can be forgiven

You got a chance to see my handwriting again 🙂

So yesterday I made a post where I suggested to Mr Henderson, the CEO of Home Group that he should consider apologising to me. If you only just started reading my blog, check for Home Group in categories, there’s only one post there where I described what happened (and it is pretty shocking).

I was brought up a Catholic and heard a lot about the need to forgive. For our priests everything can and should be forgiven and, in theory it actually makes sense as it prevents us from being stuck in the past. I made a lot of effort to forgive my dad for the fact that he wasn’t the dad I wanted to have, although, ultimately it only happened after I realised he was undiagnosed autistic and never got the support he needed for his mental health problems. Forgiving him definitely helped me to release a lot of tension, although it brought new problems with it: since I forgave him he started following me every time I was back at home. He would start with being nice but then quickly moved on to expressing his frustration with my mum and words he was using are not what I’d like to put on this blog.

For clarification, I never told my dad that I forgave him. I didn’t have any deep, or even shallow conversation with him about that, it would simply be totally impossible. I just forgave him in my heart and I felt loads of compassion for him. He must have felt it and that’s why he started approaching me. It is said autistics can sense other people feelings through their six sense and I believe this to be totally true.

However, should I forgive Home Group? That’s a bit difficult one… as an autistic I’m confused about my own feelings and also about the consequences my actions will have. I believe my story can shed light on difficulties autistics people sometimes face in employment so I don’t want to stop speaking about it. However, the procedure I learned in childhood for being hurt is to forgive every time. So that was what I wanted to do. Mr Henderson would just need to apologise.

And then what happened was, Ashley Peterson, a fellow blogger from https://mentalhealthathome.org commented saying it’s good that I’m speaking up and that comment totally change the direction of my thoughts: I realised that if I forgive it will be like I should talk a bit less about it, maybe mentioning it once in a blue moon would be ok, but definitely not too often.

That also made me realise, once again (I doubt I mention that before) that my though pattern is basically following a diagram.

This one I used as illustration for this post is simple but it can be a complicated one, like for example, when I realised two weeks ago that when I was offered a job by the Polish manager it will be best if I don’t contact her again instead of rejecting the offer.

So basically what happened at the time was: I had an interview for a job in a care company where the manager was a lovely Polish lady. After the interview she gave me a verbal offer of employment and only then she gave me an application form to fill in (in Poland application forms are not used at all so we don’t understand their importance here) and some other documents to go through. I agreed to bring it all back the next day and she said she may not be in as she manages a couple of homes.

I read the papers at home and found out that if I leave within 12 months of doing any training, at any point in my employment, I’d need to pay for that training and all of them need refreshing every now and then, although not all are done every year. And it was adding up to quite a large sum. I really didn’t like it and decided not to take the job, and, being autistic, I wanted to state that explicitly but didn’t know the contact details of the manager.

The application form stated I had to explain all gaps in employment and those have to be discussed during the interview, and because I didn’t fill the application form we didn’t discuss that, so basically the manager made an error in the recruitment process, and quite possibly she did that because we were from the same country. So contacting the head office to say I need to reject the offer could put the manager in an awkward position. I could not do that to somebody who was trying to be nice to me. At the same time trying to find the manager just to tell her why I can’t accept the job could look like an attempt to negotiate terms and conditions, while I’m sure she had no power to change.

Some patterns

Therefore I came to the conclusion that the best I could do in that situation was to just not contact the company again. And it was a precedent for me: the first time when I decided that not stating my intention explicitly is better than doing that.

I came to that conclusion by following a complicated diagram in my head (if I do A it will look like…, if I do B…) that I’m not going to draw here as I don’t have a sheet of paper that would be large enough. I’ve heard that non autistic people just know those things, I’m quite confused about that at times as The Friend sometimes asks me what to do in complex social situation, although she hasn’t do that for a while… probably since I started making an effort to explain my thought process to her.

Yes, so I’m really curious how non autistic person would come up with what to do in that situation. For me it was a couple of hours of thinking and then, even when I realised that not contacting the company again would be best, I still needed time to accept this decision as it just felt so strange.

Ok, so I was meant to write about forgiveness but ended up discussing how I use diagrams to come up with what to do… oh well. I’m really glad I decided to run this website as a personal blog instead of more structured and informative project. I can now allow myself for all those digressions.

I’ll come back to Home Group and forgiveness later. Btw, even if I don’t want to forgive, Mr Henderson should still apologise, don’t you think? He should have done that quite a few years ago.

Being off work – a little sum up

From what I remember, the last time I was actually at work was around the end of April, so it’s approximately 6 months now. Therefore I’d like to sum up this time here, not from the perspective of someone who can’t find a job (I did only start looking recently and received some job offers immediately) or someone who can’t pay the bills or put food on the table (most of my bills are paid by direct debit so that’s not an effort at all and I usually eat on the sofa) but from the perspective of an autistic person who managed to take time off and reflect on herself.

Initially, after I was suspended, but still employed, I took a bit of time to just rest. The year before I was suspended was a difficult one: in December 2019 I was sectioned while having a psychotic episode (a second one) and I spent a month in the hospital and then a few more weeks at home, first off sick, then working part time as a phased return. At the beginning of March 2020 I went to Poland to spend time with my family and that’s when Polish government introduced lockdown. It was all very stressful, while it was meant as a holiday before going back to work full time.

I managed to come back to the UK on one of the rescue flights a few days before I was initially planning to as staying there I was worried too much. I remember than when I was packing I got obsessed with taking all my belongings with me, like some acrylic paint that I was using to do art after recovering from my first psychosis, pijamas that was always there waiting for me to come over, some books I used to read in secondary school or even some not very elegant underwear. I ended up going back with two suitcases, not just one. I remember having that thought while packing that I’d never go back there… and that kind of turned out to be true. I went back there but things were never the same any more.

I came back to the UK, went to work, did like two or 3 shifts and my dad suddenly died. And I couldn’t go to the funeral.

I didn’t have good relationship with my dad at all but I was always telling myself that it’s due to his mental health problems and I really needed to see him that last time to say that I understand and forgive him and love him anyway and that was taken away from me, the same like his entire life.

In the meantime the UK introduced lockdown and all the services that I was intending to use to feel better, that finally were being available to me due to having history of two psychotic episodes (they were not available when I was just autistic) were starting to operate online instead of face to face and it didn’t agree with me. I also was unable to see The Boyfriend for several weeks.

In May I found out mum was taken to the hospital and from there to the care home, without asking her if that’s what she wanted or me what I thought about that. The care home staff was terrible and she was complaining of suicidal thoughts so when government in Poland suspended quarantine for people coming from abroad I went back and took mum out. I then quickly found out that there’s loads of money missing from her bank account. That was in the middle of August 2020.

Then mum and me decided she can’t stay in Poland so she’d come with me. My brother was drinking more severely than before and mum would be at risk of being hurt if she stayed there.

So at the beginning of September mum came with me and almost immediately wanted to go back. She would come into my bedroom on loads of mornings when I was meant to go to work to talk about how she’s worried about my brother and then I had to really rush in order not to be late. While my brother would call us and scream at her. Ten minutes after the phone call finished she’d say that she had a feeling that he changed. She was trying to control my spending and comment on clothes I was wearing and how I arranged my flat.

Rather plain reality

At the same time her bank completely ignored our complaints. At some point they actually changed the subject of complaint from ‘missing money’ into ‘poor customer service’. It wasn’t until I got the police involved that we finally felt someone is listening. Still, things were taking loads of time and we were asked to go there to give witness statement and, pandemic aside, when I was seeing how bank ignored us and our evidence for months, I started thinking that they’re all part of organised crime and when we go there, they’ll find us, kidnap and kill us to keep us quiet forever. It was reminding me the situation with Home Group – that was exactly subject of my delusions during my first psychotic episode (although it’s quite obvious that Home Group would like to keep me quiet, isn’t that right Mr Henderson?) and I started getting somehow paranoid.

Around the same time pharmacy (or maybe it was meds prescription service?) messed up my meds two months in a row so I’d decide to get off them as it was too stressful worrying if I’m going to get them on time…

I was off sick for three weeks around the time, certainly not enough, but then I had mum around the house moaning the entire time (well, I can’t really blame her for being stressed, it’s just that I didn’t know how to deal with that any more) so I just ended up going back to work. And that’s what happened… I ended up suspended and then fired. I’d never expected that’s what would happen to me, but it did.

So, first of all, I took some time to just do nothing and recuperate. Then, I wrote My Story. I’m glad I was off work when I did it as it needed a lot of focus to decide what details need to go into it, what needs to be left out. It took me two weeks to write it. If I was working at the same time I’d need probably like 6 months for that as my thinking process would be affected if I wouldn’t be able to fully focus on it.

Then I had this idea to start a website. At first it was meant to be very informative one and my personal experiences were meant to be left out. I wanted the website to be the a start of my own business – one where I’d be giving speeches to companies about my experience of employment with Home Group (at the time I still called them The Company) and it was meant to draw attention to workplace discrimination in relation to autism.

If you only just started reading now, I was employed by Home Group, harrased by a colleague, asked GP for autism diagnosis referral (that I earlier thought won’t be needed), got prioritised by the diagnostic centre due to my work situation but the diagnosis didn’t stop the harassment so I handed in my notice and took Home Group to employment tribunal where they claimed my diagnosis was private and they organised it through AXA occupational health! Seriously! That’s how bad workplace harassment can be if you’re on the spectrum.

A little bit of optimism.

So, as I was thinking, that was very important story for people to hear but knew that Home Group would likely try to stop me if I try to talk about it just like that so I was spending loads of time planning what to do about that. I was even trying to arrange for a legal advice but at the end decided not to proceed with it. Legal advice felt like I was going for a fight and that wasn’t my intention at all. My intention was to raise awareness.

So anyway, as I was thinking how to secure my right to talking openly about what happened to me in Home Group I realised I missed an important factor: if I approach businesses with my story, they may possibly want to pay for me to talk to their staff, at least initially, and I may be able to get my business going for a while but the end result won’t be what I was aiming for, it won’t be better understanding and inclusion for an autistic staff.

The end result will be that people in charge get that message accross: if you have an autistic employee taking you to employment tribunal you’d better check all the paper work five times!

That wasn’t what I was aiming for. What I was aiming for was understanding and inclusion and therefore possibly from this place in this post I should express that I’m ready to forgive (well, at least I’m trying) and that Mr Henderson can contact me through my psychiatric nurse (he was given her contact details once) if he wants to apologise.

However, I need to make it clear here, this is not something I can keep quiet about. As I already stated million times my aim is to raise the awareness. Being quiet won’t achieve that.