How to say the right thing

First of all, I just realised that giving my post proper titles, instead of numbers or dates, is actually beneficial. I am about to add a link to one of them and I remember the post I’m after was titled ‘Wrong answer’, so it was quite easy to find, while if they only have numbers, I’d need to read a couple of them to find it. Funny thing, isn’t it, that what doesn’t seem natural to me actually turns out to be beneficial.

Last night I slept approximately 9 hours, I’m up already (I mean not up up, as I’m still in bed) for almost an hour (it’s 5.25am) because I collapsed to sleep before 7pm. Funny thing, the sleep app I’m using to improve my sleep, Sleep School, doesn’t address this problem at all – when you learn how to fall asleep, you’ll be drifting off just because you’re bored. And that goes against one of the principles of Sleep School – going to bed and waking up at the same time, if possible. However, the most important thing for me is that I managed to sleep.

This post is going to be about what to say to sound appropriate and caring. Or at least what I think we should say, and in one situation only, the situation I described in my post https://autisticandme.com/2021/12/01/wrong-answer-i-feel-absolutely-exhausted/

I’ll just copy and paste the relevant paragraph here. I do apologise but I guess we can all agree that my blog is not a sophisticated form of literature so it’s appropriate to do that.

So it goes like this: ‘So basically, at the end of the day one our trainer said that for people who want to work hard it’s very easy to earn money in that company. He mentioned a guy, who’s Polish, like me, who has trained to drive every single piece of equipment so he’s on the highest warehouse pay rate, but doesn’t want to progress to management or anything. However, he does loads of overtime, works every single day a week and as a result takes home three grands a month.’

If you want to see examples of not one but three inappropriate things to say to that, that my brain came up with on the spot, follow the above link. In here I am going to discuss what I think is an appropriate response, that shows off we are respectful of that worker circumstances even though we don’t advocate such a hard work.

Just a few patterns

Mind you, I actually came up with that on the same day, just a few hours later, but I was busy writing about different things. How funny it is though, that I still have something to write about even though I spent entire three days in bed. I really hope that I’ll be well enough to get out and get some teabags today as I only have two left. I was meant to drink camomile yesterday evening instead of tea, but as I already stated, I collapsed to sleep so I saved teabags without making any such sacrifices.

After writing ‘Wrong answer’ post I was so pleased with it that I emailed the link to The Boyfriend and he advised me to think what a neurotypical person would say in a similar situation. But the problem with this approach is, it is too general – neurotypical people can say an entire range of things and sometimes also say things that can be seen as inappropriate, although they do that for different reasons than us, like for example to manipulate the situation or to put someone down, while for us it’s just genuine inability to find the words that are pleasant enough.

So first of all we need to ask ourselves a question what we want to demonstrate with our response, and for me it was that I want to say something that shows that I can see the situation from another person perspective. And I don’t mean here, the trainer’s perspective, but the hardworking Polish guy’s perspective. So what is his perspective? He works so hard because he needs money for something, quite possibly for a deposit towards a house, but I’m sure this is not something he wants to do forever.

After this brief analysis I came up with, what I think woud be the right thing to say: ‘I hope when he earns enough for what he needs he’ll have better work-life balance’. I think this is good enough: it shows that I respect his situation (needing the money) while also care about the fact that he needs rest.

As I said I actually came up with this statement on the same day towards the evening, I was just wrapped up in other ideas (is that actually an expression? If it’s not, let me create it), and that’s why I am only posting about it now.

It’s only 6am now and I already wrote a post. I wonder what I will be doing for the rest of the day. I may give parsnip muffins another go. After parsnip worked so nicely in blinis yesterday it feels quite encouraging. And of course, I need to get more teabags, and some other stuff like lactose free milk and washing up liquid. OK, I’m off, I’m sure reading about my shopping list doesn’t really interest you. All the stuff that I buy are ordinary ones. No one so far came up with an ‘autistic washing up liquid’, if someone did, please let me know, I so much want to try it out.

Blinis

I keep having difficulties with coming up with titles for posts, I feel like I should give them numbers instead. I guess this maybe an autistic thing. Possibly I’ll change them later, I will see.

I’m still tired today, although not as bad as yesterday. I am also quite hungry for some reason so I made racuchy, Polish pancakes similar to blinis. I just had 3 of them, with sweetened apple sauce.

I’m surprised that sensory issues can have such a massive impact on my energy levels. I am telling you, when I was in the warehouse I thought I was copying. I mean, obviously I didn’t like noise and cold but I felt significantly better than towards the end of my hotel cleaning shift, when at some point I thought I’m going to pass out. That’s why I’m so suprised that I need so much time now to get my energy back.

I received response from Cambridge University regarding my complaint about Professor Baron-Cohen and his impaired communication skills. I was explained that although complaint can be looked into there is no other person who is better specialist on autism than him.

I started my response to that with ‘I am not really sure how we’re going to move on from this if Professor Baron-Cohen doesn’t have anyone who supervises his work.’ And only a little bit later I realised that I used an expression that neurotypical people use when they mean ‘I’m not going to let this go’ so basically I used hint, totally without thinking. Two years ago I’d say what I mean directly. I’m really surprised how easy that was.

After that I asked the person dealing with the complaint to ask Professor a riddle that was going to be part of today post. Now obviously I can’t post about it in case Professor has an idea to head to my blog to look for answers.

No no, that was a joke of course, I’m sure Professor knows the right answer already as he is seen as the best autism specialist in the UK.

Ok, that’s it for today I think. Nothing more to report on my autistic life for now. I’ll go and eat some more blinis. I don’t now why I’m so hungry today.

Wrong answer! (I feel absolutely exhausted)

I think it’s funny how tired I am today, even though I didn’t overexert myself yesterday. The training didn’t require using any physical force but I was exposed to cold and noise for quite a few hours – I thought yesterday I could cope with it, but now the exhaustion is a result. Even the use of therapy lamp doesn’t touch it.

I said yesterday I would write today about a particular statement the guy who run the training made on the first day and I’d better do it, even though I am so tired that need to make an effort to think properly, but the thing is, if I just post today that I’m really tired (as I try to report on everything that is autism related and this is how being in a sensory challenging environment is affecting me) so I’d write about it in another post, readers could end up expecting it’s something very excited and I don’t think it is, although it’s still interesting to see how quickly my autistic brain can come up with inappropriate things to say, and not just one of them, but the entire set.

So basically, at the end of the day one our trainer said that for people who want to work hard it’s very easy to earn money in that company. He mentioned a guy, who’s Polish, like me, who has trained to drive every single piece of equipment so he’s on the highest warehouse pay rate, but doesn’t want to progress to management or anything. However, he does loads of overtime, works every single day a week and as a result takes home three grands a month.

As I said yesterday, I do hope that is exaggeration, but when the trainer said that, I didn’t see it like that at all, I took it absolutely literally and what came to my mind first was ‘Yes, Polish people often work long hours’ and then I immediately thought I can’t say that because it increases prejudice towards us. Yes, some Polish people work very long hours because they need to earn money quickly, but that doesn’t usually happen for long. As soon as they have money for deposit towards the house they remember they need better work-life balance, the same like everyone else. So stating that Polish people work long hours would not really be true but make us look like slaves, especially that the rest of the people on training and trainer himself, not being Polish, would think that I know more about Polish people than them.

The second thing that came to my mind was ‘I’m pretty sure working every day a week is illegal’. I don’t want to say that to the representative of my prospective employer, do I? I hope that is clear.

Too tired for patterns

The third thing that came to my mind was ‘this money is not worth such a hard work’. That would show that I don’t respect another person’s circumstances, expecially another Polish – not good, is it? If that guy works that hard, possibly he really needs this money and I know nothing about his situation so it would be really rude to say that.

I managed to stop myself from saying every single one of that statements but it’s shocking how my brain can produce one inappropriate thing after the other, isn’t it? I wonder where this is coming from. Possibly from time when I was being prompted by people to ‘say something’ to show off confidence. Well, if anything, the above statements show off arrogance, not confidence. I wonder now, however, if I could be trained the same way to say something that would show off I can see another person perspective.

So far I haven’t been so I ended up just saying ‘oh’. Much better than stating anything of the above, and, does that imply I’m not confident? I don’t think so. I just had nothing to say, that’s two unrelated concepts!

Another funny situation was, when the trainer brought test books with him. He said they have two different test booklets and, raising one stated ‘this is test number two but today I’m going to give you test number three’. That’s strange, I thought, what about test number one? And anyway, if there was test number one, they’d have three different test booklets, not two, so that didn’t make any sense.

I was thinking about it for a bit and then, finally, decided to move on. I then came up with the idea that, possibly, that’s what I should be doing in any situation that doesn’t make sense to me, like sometimes when people are involved.

I don’t know if I mentioned here, but before I realised I’m autistic, I had this, very good coping strategy: if I don’t understand what someone means, I ignore them. It didn’t even come to my mind while speaking with such a person who I didn’t understand, that possibly he/she is deceitful or manipulative, I just ignored them. I’m now sure this way I saved myself a lot of drama.

Or looking for a different set up

Since realising I’m autistic I started getting involved in those little games, thinking that I either don’t get something due to my autism and need to give this person another chance or, possibly that there is something going on there and I may benefit from working it out. So far I didn’t.

The above is unfortunately experience of a lot of autistic females diagnosed as adults who either tried to work out other people hidden motives or learn how to make face expression suitable to the situation. I really would like someone to tell them this is not going to work or, possibly, can even put them in troubles.

What I did in the above situation, with two test booklets? Did I go after the trainer two hours later to ask him what he meant as, for a joke it was a bit too strange? No, I did not. I just moved on. Yes, I’m posting about it now as I think it illustrates a certain phenomenon but I wasn’t obsessively thinking about it.

Funny thing, it just came to me that possibly what happened was, the company used to have three test booklets and they later decided the first one was not up to standard so it has been removed but the second and third booklets numbers hasn’t been changed to avoid reprinting them and the trainer was just trying to be sarcastic about it?

It would be really silly if I followed him to ask what he had meant, wouldn’t you agree? If you don’t understand something, move on – that’s a good advice for an autistic person, I hope you can see that now.

I’m still exhausted, but at least I wrote a blog post, and ta da! it’s about communication!

I’m all freezed up!

So, basically, it turned out my training for the food warehouse job is full time, even though the job is part time. The agency staff didn’t inform me of that, but also, I didn’t ask. It obviously makes sense that part time staff gets the same training that full time staff, but I just didn’t know the training will be that long. I mean, I don’t have a big problem with that – it’s paid and I have no other commitments, plus, it’s good that they’re so throughout about training, not like in the last warehouse job I had, where I was told to move pallets ‘over there’ using manual pallet truck, even though I never used one before. It was really funny when I tried to operate it and it just wasn’t behaving at all how I expected and there was no one next to me to ask what to do.

So yes, I’m not complaining about the extensive training, I am just saying I’m a little bit surprised.

Other than that I am curious how I’m going to cope – tomorrow I’ll be learning how to drive electric pallet truck called LLOP (who knows what that stands for, training didn’t cover it so far). If I pass I’ll become qualified Christmas Reindeer and will be rushing around so that people in the area could get their Christmas food on time. It is partly exciting, I must admit, but I wonder how I’m going to manage with working in such a large space (I don’t like large spaces), exposed to sudden noises and without heating. I wonder if the limited contact with people and lack of exposure to workplace politics is going to make up for all the other factors I am not so keen on. It will be interesting to see actually, so keep your fingers crossed for my LLOP training tomorrow.

After finishing the training today I waited 50 minutes on the bus stop as two buses didn’t turn up and that’s why I’m all freezed up, even now, two hours after getting home (of course the central heating is on and I also have an old type of gas heater in my living room that I have on at the moment). I sometimes wish to be like The Boyfriend who copes with cold really well, but it’s oversensitive to heat, so when it’s summer I’m glad I am myself. Oh well.

My latest achievement – pattern display

Tomorrow I need to get there by 7am, which means I need to be up around 5am and I still won’t have enough time to use my therapy lamp fot the same length of time I normally do, I hope that won’t affect my excitement levels (oh, actually, I’m too freezed up now to feel excited but I had very good mood during the training).

Nothing new to report regarding communication, although there was this moment when I found out that ‘high visibility vest needs to be fastened’ is called 360 rule – that’s really fun, exactly something that I could come up with and that wouldn’t be understood by my colleagues in care.

Goodnight. I need to get up and switch that gas heater as I’m suddenly getting hot. I may sleep on the sofa again today though.

What comes next

I really didn’t want to go to work today in the morning. I am sorry to say that but this is probably the most boring job I’ve ever had. Who said that autistic people want to do repetitive tasks over and over? I mean, ok, there is something calming in the fact that I know that when I go there again, hoovering will be the first thing to do and will take me one and half an hour, but… if I want to do things a bit differently, there’s no space for that.

When I was a housekeeper in a hotel (mind you, I did it for one day only), I felt there was something magical in the fact that I enter a room that a guest just left and I’m preparing it for another guest. It felt like for those couple of minutes (well, it was probably more like 3 quaters of an hour) I was part of their life. Well, ok, after a day of this work I had such a terrible back pain that could barely move, so no magic could make up for it, I’m just summing up the general experience.

Cleaning in a shop is mostly removing dust, and believe me, there’s loads of it. Dust can even settle on a vertical surface, did you know about that? I only found out a few days ago. So it is really boring, after a while. Well, I can probably say, that I am cleaning so that people can come over and buy some new, fancy clothes, but – this is probably what is a big problem here – I am a no logo girl. So, in my head, there’s no reason for people to come to this shop for clothes.

By being no logo girl I don’t mean we should all start buying all our clothes from Primark from now on (for those from outside of the UK: Primark is a chain selling extremely cheap clothes, sometimes badly made), I do understand that logo reflects quality a lot of times and that we need good quality clothing so that we could donate them to charity shops when we’re bored with them while lower quality clothing is going to end up in landfill much quicker, however, I still do not fully understand the purpose of brand.

That’s not too many patterns

I mean, I get the fact that business owners want to differentiate themselves from competitors, but still, the fact that they use brand to do that is something I don’t fully get. Brand is something totally made up, isn’t it? You can’t wear it, can you? So why people put so much attention to it, I don’t really know.

Another part of the problem is that I really don’t understand what this particular brand is actually selling. Grunge clothing on one hanger, a cardigan that my grandma would be proud to wear to church in the 80s on another… That doesn’t make any sense to me.

It is said, sometimes, that autistic people don’t understand fashion. Mind you, for some of us fashion is our special interest, but as you probably guessed correctly, I’m not one of those people. I’m one of those people who could argue that fashion doesn’t really exist or, at least, is overrated. I mean, ok, I just mentioned grandma style cardigan in an on trend clothing store, but possibly you know what I mean.

When I was 12 and I went to town with mum, I’d knew within 30 minutes what was in style: I saw 3 ladies wearing white buttoned, slightly transparent blouse over colorful, floral bra, so this must have been on trend. It was not on trend the next year or the year before. Now, when I am at work, I see a very nice satin top just by the entrance, and it’s almost identical to what I bought in M&S 3 years ago, just in a different colour. I’ve never seen anyone wearing anything similar on the street, so I find it difficult to believe those tops were ever on trend, although certainly they were in stock in more than one clothing shop.

So that is my understanding of fashion: trends are just unnecessary distraction, especially when there’s so many of them. I wonder if anyone has similar views, whether you’re autistic or not.

If it was up to me I’d created a universal clothing brand that companies could sign up to and the clothes created for that brand would have to meet strict quality criteria. Then people would now that what they’re buying is not going to fall apart after wearing twice, won’t shrink in a wash, won’t shred and even, possibly, was made of recycled plastic bottles, yet it’s fully breathable.

Even less patterns

I made parsnip muffins today and they’re ok, although have strange parsnip aftertaste and I really don’t know where this is coming from, any ideas?

Tomorrow I’ll be having a day off, possibly my last one, as my last day of cleaning job will be Thursday. So from Friday I won’t have any more days off, I’ll have days of full time unemployment. You could argue those are pretty much the same thing, I will insist they really are not!

I had this idea a while ago to go to a cafe one day and ‘work’ from there. I mean, write a post while having a coffee and a slice of cake on a commercial premises, which I think I already done once while in Poland (and the cake was not great). Obviously blogging is not my job as no one pays me for it, I suppose it’s more like a hobby, a way of creative self expression, where I imagine that what I really have to say is finally being taken into consideration by people who read me (normally I’m being ignored when I try to be myself and no one ever understands my jokes). Writing from a cafe could be a way of making the moments with my blog even more special and also would give me the opportunity to photograph the cake I’m eating, I will think later on if that’s worth splashing out as it could be my two days food budget or even, possibly three. Also, another problem that I could encounter could be that the cafe will be too noisy for me to focus enough to write anything sensible (Polish cafes are usually much less busy) but I’ll definitely think about it again before Christmas.

My DBS (criminal record check needed for a job in care) is still not back. I’m wondering, what I will be posting about when I work as a live in carer. Posting about clients is not permitted of course and I’d never do that. I suppose, at a push I could disclose whether I work for a lady, a man or possibly a couple, but then that would make all the boundaries blurry for me so it will be better to stick to only disclosing which town I am based in, or even only a general area in case I’m sent to a village. I’ll see if I’m creative enough to come up with anything new to post at this time, as most interesting stuff from my past has already been discussed here. Oh wait, I forgot about one exciting thing: how I got sectioned in December 2019 (feels so strange to think that’s only two years ago) and dragged out of my flat in handcuffs by police (I always count that towards ‘been arrested’ on all of those Facebook games) while my deputy manager was a witness!

I will definitely come back to it one day, I promise, but for now I’ll just try not to eat another parsnip muffin.

To say or not to say (that is the question)

So, I had a couple of situations at work today that I didn’t know how to handle. I guess that’s quite a lot, considering I’m just a cleaner, working on my own and only 3 hours per day, but yet, they happened.

The first situation was just after I mopped kitchen and a little dining area at the back of the shop and then moved on to hoover meeting room. A lady who, I suspect, may be a manager, but I didn’t have a chance to get that confirmed (should I just ask her? Would that not be rude?) approached me and said it would be nice if I stayed with them for longer. Well, I thought, what do I say? I do admit some areas at the back of the shop were not very clean when I came there the first time, and even on the shop floor there was a bit too much dust in corners, but what do I say?

‘I can’t stay because I’m about to start a different job as soon as my DBS comes back but maybe you should just tell your regular cleaner off?’ No, that doesn’t seem right. Thank god, I didn’t say that.

Suddenly I had a breakthrough idea: to mirror the information that I am being given.

The lady I spoke with only said it would be nice if I stayed, didn’t comment on previous cleaner work at all, didn’t even comment on my work. So the right response would be to explain I’m about to start a job in care and that’s what I did. What I realised later, I wouldn’t know how to use this approach if I in fact wanted to stay. It seems like a different strategy should be used in that situation. Or, possibly, it would be ok to say ‘Oh, thank you, that would be nice indeed. I really like being here’ and then see how the situation is progressing.

The second situation was, when a different staff member, a young girl (girl for me is any female under 26), complained about having dry lips. ‘Did you try vaseline?’ I was about to say when I realised that she probably knows about that trick. Would I sound bossy and boring if I said that? I really don’t know, but that’s what people seem to think about me when I offer them a piece of information (I can read face expressions up to a point, I just never know what to do with what I found out). ‘It’s probably the cold weather’ I finally said. Hard to say if it sounded any better, but maybe it did as I wasn’t telling her to do anything. And, after I said that, I continued cleaning. This is what I like the most about cleaning job: it’s so easy to make myself busy and avoid long conversations.

Some Redecor patterns. They look very clean to me.

And, to be perfectly honest, it’s not that I don’t like talking to people, it’s more that they seem not to like talking to me so I try to spare them this effort. You see, I already stated multiple times here: I think about other people the entire time!

The third situation was, when a lady, a bit older than me, told me she had a bad cold and she feels worse now, on the forth day, than when it started. The first thing that came to my mind was to tell her this may be COVID and then laugh. But then, I realised, that would not be appropriate towards somebody I don’t know well. But then, how do I know if I know someone well enough for this kind of joke? Only after realising I’m autistic I found out that some jokes are appropriate in some situations and not in others, but I still don’t really know how to tell one from the other.

Before my self diagnosis my default mode was to just say it and only later I’d be like how come other people are not laughing and why I get things wrong so often? Now I’m more like ‘don’t say anything that you think may be funny, don’t say it just in case’ but then, I’ll be like, am I not becoming the most boring person ever? Boring cleaner, what can be worse than that?

Anyway, I had another of my chocolate and zucchini muffins today and it tasted and even looked much better than yesterday, so I will consider making them again. I also have plenty of energy, which must be due to the SAD lamp. Straight after work I went to town, not because I was desperate to get anything, but because I decided I didn’t want to sit at home on my own. After coming back home I started cleaning and tyding and washed my bedding and towels. I actually had to force myself to sit down, which is what I’m doing now, drinking tea while burning some essential oils in my oil burner.

Having this tiny bit of rest, I keep thinking, what I’ll be doing before I go to sleep. Normally I’d be on my mobile, but it feels I have too much energy for that. Fingers crossed my flat will become clean, tidy and well organised from now on. I trully recommend the lamp to anyone.

Oh, BTW, I spoke with my brother and he said he’s planning to pay electricity bill but didn’t know what to do with the meter reader to report on his usage, but he got this sorted already. This is what kind of overprotective neighbours we have, although I take it, my brother was probably panicking while speaking with them.

I also had a phone call from my mum’s care home. She’s apparently not very well, very weak, however her parameters are not bad and she says she’s not in any pain. It’s really sad I can’t even go and visit. Hard to say how much life she has left. At least good that I moved her to a nicer place, I would really regret now if I haven’t done that.

Dear neighbours (and a bit more about my diagnostician’s communication methods)

The beauty of living in a village in Poland is, that you have neighbours. Well, obviously, people who live almost anywhere in the world, also in the cities, have neighbours but Polish village neighbours seem to know everything about each other. My Smardzewice neighbours still have impact on my life even though I moved thousands kilometers away. Google map says it’s 1098 miles, I actually thought it will be a bit more than that, but it’s still far enough.

So, basically, two neighbours contacted me today because they were concerned about my brother not being able to pay the electricity bill. I was, however, informed that it will be ‘our’ electricity that will get cut off. Our? I permanently moved out from there 18 years ago and was only coming to visit because of my mum. The neighbours also knew that my mum’s pension hasn’t reached her account – it’s partly my fault, being in Poland I could have easily gone to the pension provider and make sure it’s sorted but I just assumed it will automatically be delivered to the same account that mum was using before she was taken to the government care home. How come the neighbours knew about it, I am not quite sure.

I managed to speak with a nice lady in mum’s pension provider office (that is a government organisation btw) and she informed me I have to write a letter regarding where mum wants her pension, however, she didn’t know how to approach the fact I have Power of attorney for mum and finally she told me to just write that letter like if it was my mum writing and then sign it for her. It’s shocking to me that those kind of practices are being used by government agencies, but it’s not unusual in Poland, I guess. The lady also informed me that she never came across anybody staying in a care home and paying for it privately. Oh well.

Regarding the neighbours, I told one of them – the second one, this one who was involved to speak to me by the first neighbour – that my brother stole large amount of money from my mum, used to create arguments, was probably the one responsible for her accident, believes he’s one level above everyone else, the electricity account is 55PLN in credit (I sent her relevant screenshot) and I asked her not to contact me again regarding my brother’s problems as I need to take care of my own mental health first and stress can cause me another psychotic episode. That should hopefully shut them up for quite a bit.

Swindon to Smardzewice. No matter how far or close it is if there’s no reason to go there.

In general I am very good at shutting people up, which is good if that’s my intention but when it also happens when I want to speak with them again and create meaningful connection it’s not so good.

I baked chocolate and zucchini muffins today, they seem to be slightly too moist but hopefully they’ll be better tomorrow. That’s often the case with the healthy bakes – they taste better the next day. For now I had the last of my chocolate and beetroot muffins. It is an overstatement to say the beetroot flavor was totally gone. And mind you, I love beetroot, but maybe not in cakes.

I was wondering yesterday how to make my blog ‘more autistic’. Should I review articles from Spectrum News? But then, I’d have to read them first and this may prove difficult! The fact that I’m autistic doesn’t mean I enjoy reading about autistic mice or even autistic genes. Meeting my diagnostician, who was excellent when it came to my autistic communication needs makes me feel now like I want to reject all the other autism related information and I want to focus entirely at researching how we, autistics, communicate, but the information that I need is not available anywhere.

I mentioned here already, I think, how my diagnostician used to create ‘sentences with a void’ that I used to fill in with whatever I had in my head. I already worked out one type of this void before (to remind everyone: if you say to an autistic person ‘There are some good films in the cinema but going on a trip would be interesting too. It would be nice to do something interesting together’ then ‘something interesting’ is a void that the autistic person will most likely fill in with their preferred activity without feeling the stress that is often accompanied by the need to answer a direct question).

The second type of void was described in a post https://autisticandme.com/2021/09/17/is-my-mum-hinting-me-detailed-explanation/ but I didn’t work out yet how to use those type of voids, hopefully it will happen with time. I could then use this on The Boyfriend. I’m sure he would be thrilled. What I realised about it later, that is not in the original post, was that my mum not only told me that she’d rather be in a care home than living in a foreign country with me, but also it was like if she was telling me that I need to take care of her because my brother won’t do that.

Wait a minute, how come my mum got herself into the part of the post about my diagnostician? I suppose, she must have used the same communication method my diagnostician did, or possibly it was just something she said without much thinking but that’s how I understood it as it reminded me how my diagnostician used to speak with me.

Seeing the pattern?

Next type of void is a bit easier to use but somehow I didn’t notice it till very recently. I don’t know how to explain so I’ll just move on to relevant examples:

‘You’re second’ (me wondering who’s first).

‘On this occasion you won’t face any consequences’ (and on what occasion I will?)

‘I may support you in the future but it won’t be with this’ (and what it will be that you’ll support me with?)

I recently tried that with The Boyfriend when we were discussing cooking Christmas Dinner (which may not take place at Christmas). The Boyfriend always wants to follow recipes in every detail while I use them as guidance only and usually don’t even use a recipe. The Boyfriend gets very stressed if he doesn’t have even one ingredient from a long list, he’ll rather not eat at all than cook without it. So I explained it has to be him who has to make sure we have everything he wants to use and then I said ‘I don’t think our cooking styles are compatible as I’m a relaxed cook’. The purpose of that was to get him to ask himself a question what kind of cook he is: ‘our cooking styles’ implies there are two but only one was named so the second one was void. If this communication method worked on The Boyfriend the same way it used to work on me when I spoke with my diagnostician, he would want to fill in that void. However, he would not tell me that, so only with time I’ll see from his behaviour, if he decided to be a bit more relaxed in the kitchen.

That was a long post, wasn’t it?

Feeling pressured and ways to relax

Good few weeks ago I was referred to an employment support service by my psychiatric nurse and I now feel pressured by my consultant. I did tell her I would want to change career and now I feel like she wants that more than me. I don’t know, possibly she’s trying to be energetic to make me feel confident but it really doesn’t work. It feels to me like I’m not allowed any second thoughts or doubts. I did like her decisiveness to begin with, now it feels like it’s getting in the way of me communicating my real thoughts and feelings.

I don’t know how to tell her that without sounding rude and ungrateful, so I will possibly not say anything, but it comes to my mind from time to time that this service is there for me to benefit from, not for her to demonstrate how effective she is in placing me in a job that I won’t like but once thought I could enjoy.

Today is probably a first day that I actually miss my old job, this one that I got sacked from. I did like most of it’s aspects – I say it even though I realised I needed a change. I even started missing some of the workplace politics and ever changing team dynamics. In my current job I manage to avoid all of that, which is very easy as I’m ‘just a cleaner’ so there is no need or even an opportunity for me to participate in any team work, plus it’s only temporary agency placement. However, after being there for a week I realised I still don’t even know who the manager is, so this is probably as far from workplace politics as one can get and I decided I don’t particularly like that either.

My DBS (criminal record check needed for work in care) is still not back and this is the longest I’ve ever waited, I think. Me and The Boyfriend decided that if I get live in care job placement for Christmas, I’ll take it. He’s concerned about the fact that I need to earn money, I’m more focused on the fact that I wouldn’t even enjoy Christmas after having so much time off already. Therefore we will be eating various Christmas food over the next few weeks when we meet, so that we don’t feel like we’re missing on anything.

Despite having said that my SAD therapy lamp is working and giving me energy, I had to have a nap in the afternoon today. Also, I haven’t been to the gym since I started my cleaning job, but I may go tomorrow.

Bizarre

I came back to my habit of baking ‘healthy muffins’, recently I baked chocolate beetroot muffins and they had such a lovely texture and were very moist, better than any regular cake I ever tried, however they really smelled like beetroot! Today, two days after I baked them most of that smell disappeared and they are lovely, so I had two of them (not at the same time) with some sweetened apple sauce on the side. Next time I’m going to try zucchini muffins, hopefully they will be as moist but without any strange smell.

I use mixture of gluten free flours in my baking, but not due to any health reasons but because, apparently, gluten is what makes cakes go stale quickly and I don’t want to have the feeling that ‘I need to eat those muffins’ and indeed, they keep very well in the fridge and are always soft after I warm them up gently in the microwave.

The above reminds me, I was meant to write a post about how I’m managing my eating habits, but this needs to wait till when I get an urge to write about that, and possibly, after I loose another tiny bit of weight (yes, I lost some already).

It feels quite cold out there every time I’m outside, but yet, I’m managing without heating most of the time, which is not like me. I am oversensitive to cold and I was told it’s due to being autistic, but I didn’t really have this problem till my early 20s, so possibly it’s something to do with hormones or maybe stress levels. It would be nice not to feel cold that much any more, however, I would then be tempted to wear short sleeves much more often in summer and my scars on my lower left arm will be easily visible. They are from a couple of episodes of self-harming that I had when I was younger. I used to wear silicone patches that really helped to flaten the scars and I have a tattoo, but the tattoo artist didn’t do very good job and some of the scars are still visible, which will obviously only make people think the tattoo is covering the rest of them. With all the talk about mental health awareness, and even me writing about it here, I don’t feel like I’m ready for people to see my scars and have an opinion on them, an opinion that they will obviously not share with me.

After having a good few days away from Redecor, when I only did challenges that I found particularly interesting, I’m back on it and I did a couple of unusual designs again. This app is such a good creative outlet for me that I stopped doing other arts and crafts projects. Which is probably for the best as, with my bad executive functioning, I used to end up with loads of mess. Once I even damaged my bath enamel with some art experiments (I was trying to remove some paint layers from canvas and thought I’d do it in the bath to avoid mess everywhere else. How the enamel got damaged in the process, I don’t really know). I may try looking for other ways to create digital images out of patterns when I’ve got time.

Things change all the time

It’s been good couple of days since I last posted. It’s not like me to take a few days off from blogging, but then, I am a beginner blogger and my habits may change, especially after I state everything about my life history (you know, all the Home Group stuff and such) but this time the reason for not posting was that I sensed change coming in my circumstances and I didn’t want to bore my very few readers with every little details while at the same time agonising over what is and what is not appropriate to be discussed on a public blog and what consequences it can bring if I decide to include something.

I guess the biggest change is that I managed to finally find some common ground with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. It does look like what happened before between the two of us, that I moaned about in here at least twice, was a miscommunication. It’s not good, obviously, when an autism researcher is unable to communicate with an autistic individual, but the truth is, he’s not the only one who has difficulties with that and if he wasn’t famous, I wouldn’t blame him for that at all.

So finally, after we both managed to see the other person’s perspective, we agreed to move on and leave things where they are.

The other thing is that last week I spoke with the lady who was my advocate a while ago. I initially asked her to speak with Home Group on my behalf but at the end I realised I’m better off to do that myself. If she reached out to them, she’d probably get better results, but then I’d end up agonising over the fact that Home Group only tries to be nice to me because my advocate works for a an organisation and they’re worried about their image only and not my wellbeing. So, last week I emailed Home Group on their general email address. I briefly described the situation, I stated that I post about it on my blog and that every time I do, I send an email to their CEO, but never got any reply. I asked if they have any comments regarding that.

It’s only been a few days and technically they could still reply but so far they didn’t. It’s a good exercise on trying to predict neurotypical people behaviour I suppose. What I would do if it was me who was working there and read similar email? I’d pass it on to my manager, that’s for sure. And then, what the manager would do? This is what I am not getting because on one hand they have all those procedures that state how to behave in similar situations, on the other, they would have to challenge their CEO, and what for, if I’m just a beginner blogger.

I guess we can safely assume there will be no response to that email, even if I email the link to this post to the CEO again. But then, that makes me wonder, what does he really think? Is he actually reading my posts? I find it impossible to work that out from my statistics.

If he reads them, does that mean he’s worried? Did he ever discuss the situation with anybody or he pretends it’s not really important? I find it so absolutely impossible to understand what neurotypicals really think in similar situations, especially that they have loads of procedures for everything but then, they hardly ever follow them, so the procedures only make it more confusing for me.

Ok, moving on from Home Group drama to ordinary life: I started using SAD therapy lamp within the last couple of days (SAD it a type of seasonal depression caused by lack of sunlight). I don’t think I have SAD but my energy levels are extremely low in between November to March. At times I can spend the entire day in bed, doing absolutely nothing and I’m not even bored. I started thinking lately that it maybe due to lack of light, especially that I find artificial light irritating and try to avoid it as much as possible. I have a couple of salt lamps at home and so far I mostly used those if I needed light on, but yes, they’re not very bright.

Apparently spending time in the dark is what causes the body to produce melatonin, that as a result makes us groggy. Why no one told me that before?! I thought spending time in the dark causes us to relax and when we had enough rest the enery will come back naturally!

So last week I bought that lamp online and I’d say it works. It is hard to say 100 percent how big the improvement is as on the weekend I had two jabs: flu and covid busters, and I felt quite unwell the next day, including having a fever, now I seem to have my monthly migraine, but yet I do get to do things without the feeling I have to force myself to get them done, my kitchen is tidy, washing up is done and I even started doing deep cleaning, so fingers crossed things will stay like that.

Apart from that, I also spoke with my mum’s care home manager and she wasn’t scary at all. Possibly ‘act normal’ is really best advice that can be given at some situations.

I also work as a cleaner in a popular clothes retailer, it’s only a temporary contract for just over two weeks, 3h a day, 5 times a week. Half of that time it takes me to hoover. It is slightly demanding physically, but then 3h a day is not much and I enjoy the fact that I don’t need to talk to anyone. I mean, I obviously answer questions if customer approaches me, but apart from that I just clean. I must admit I am slightly frightened of all those shop staff. They seem like a different species to me as they must obviously be interested in fashion.

My DBS (criminal record checks) is not back yet and I sometimes wonder whether I’d be able to start a job before Christmas. I’m ok for money for now but would not want to dive into my savings just to buy food, that feels pretty depressing. Regarding buying food though, I seem to find the reason why I used to eat so much and it’s something really surprising. However, I’ll leave this for the next post.

What I know about workplace politics

First of all I want to avoid the term office politics – after hearing it multiple times, we, autistics could assume that as long as we don’t work in an office we will be free from that. Believe me, care homes can be full of workplace politics too.

So, in a comment under my last post I, quite naively stated that people must do workplace politics because they’re bored. Only then another blogger’s comment made me think that possibly I’m wrong so I went to check it on Wikipedia and I found out the purpose of workplace politics is personal gain! I was quite shocked by that and needed time to process it, that’s why I didn’t post for a few days.

Obviously it wouldn’t be right to state that I don’t understand the purpose of workplace politics at all. I understand, and even appreciate some of it, like for example if someone wants to get promoted and they behave professionally at all times – that makes a lot of sense to me and it is certainly a behaviour that needs to be encouraged, even for people who don’t want a promotion.

At a push I could say I understand laughing at your boss jokes, even if you don’t find them funny. This is probably not something that I would do as I find pretending on demand difficult, it’s also possible I wouldn’t even get the fact my boss is trying to be funny but I am OK-ish with the fact that other people decide to react this way. I say OK-ish because I believe if everyone stopped laughing at crap jokes the boss would eventually stop making them and that would make everyone focus on work, but I kind of understand that neurotypical people may want to handle the situation differently.

What I don’t understand is more complicated than that and I really thought it’s done because of boredom, at least in situations when one doesn’t want a promotion. I always imagined it like that: the person wakes up on Monday and thinks to themselves: OK, so this week I’ll be nice to A and will be ignoring B. Next week I’ll do the opposite and see what comes out.

Because, seriously, what can be achieved by this type of behaviour? Only, possibly, a label of a person who’s difficult to work with. But here you are, Wikipedia states those behaviours are always for personal gains. What makes it even more difficult to understand is that this is never discussed openly: even if I talk to a colleague who knows what’s going on, they won’t tell me so I won’t be able to understand the situation at hand and also to use that as experience to understand similar situations in the future.

What is very disadvantageous about being autistic, in comparison with other disabilities, is the fact that no one can be requested to stop using social skills only because we don’t understand what they are doing. That is really not nice.

Workplace politics

Regarding other things in my life, I feel like a bad daughter again because I didn’t call my mum’s care home, when the manager asked me. She asked after I transferred some pocket money for mum without agreeing with the manager first (I thought I didn’t have to, it’s a long story, you can read it here https://autisticandme.com/2021/11/03/who-would-you-call-an-excellent-communicator/ but only if you really want to as it really is long and, if you’re not Polish, you may have difficulties to understand some parts of it, although if you’re neurotypical, you may actually understand it well and it’s only me, the autistic one, who underestimates you).

So, the manager emailed me to say the money I transferred over have to be allocated towards the care home fees and asked me to call her. But she already stated what she wanted so what was the purpose of that phone call? I’ll just reduce the next payment accordingly, there’s no need to talk any more. So I didn’t call. Quite frankly I am scared of that woman. I was even seriously considering moving mum somewhere else, just to avoid the manager for the future, but this is quite silly, so I abandoned that idea and instead decided to just feel like a bad daughter.

The Boyfriend already started wondering what we will be doing for Christmas but I think, if I get a booking as a live in carer, I’d rather work. Honestly, I was off work for quite long so I don’t even enjoy the idea of celebrating Christmas, it seems like just another day, the only difference is loads of food so we agreed that if it comes to that we’ll just celebrate on a different day.

It took my three days to recover after my two warehouse shifts and I only started having normal energy level yesterday around lunch time, although I am now wondering, maybe it was the thinking about workplace politics that took all the energy away from me, who knows? Trying to understand other people behaviour is tiring at best of times.

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