Me and The Lady

I’ve been watching Rebecca Zung lately again as I found her videos really informative. Rebecca Zung is an US divorce attorney and ‘narcissists negotiator’ as she calls herself. She seems to know a lot about narcissists, definitely much more than me, however, she’s focused on divorces and not on working with one so it’s hard to say what her advice would be.

I did say, when I just started blogging, if you are autistic and find yourself being targeted by narcissist at work, get out of there as soon as possible. I am wondering now, whether that is a good advice, as it only allows narcissists to get away, one more time, with their malicious practices. But then, after I found out what they are capable of, I would not feel comfortable to advice to anyone to stay and fight. We’re just not equipped to win this fight, unfortunately, and we need to remember that neurotypical people also loose in the fight against narcissists.

I never discussed the situation in Home Group in more details here (and I will not be emailing CEO or their customer service after I post this, as they’re clearly not bothered) so I’ll do that now.

The person who was giving me troubles was senior to me but she wasn’t a manager. I called her The Lady in my story and I’ll keep this nick name for her, as she indeed was a real lady, when she wanted to. She could, however, also play ‘the girl next door’ if she decided that would suit the situation better. That’s why, I think, it could be so difficult for people to pick up on her issues, as one just don’t expect someone who is so friendly and familiar to have nasty intentions.

As you may, or may not know, after a long period of feeling that I was being bullied but had no evidence, I left my job in Home Group and took them to employment tribunal. In the response to my claim Home Group stated that my autism diagnosis was delivered through AXA occupational health and it was them who organised it while in fact it was on NHS and they never got involved. How come that lie got as far as into official document for employment tribunal?

Nice, isn’t it?

NHS waiting time is normally really long but my appointment was brought forward when I made the diagnostic centre aware of my work situation and as a result I only waited three months. Bringing the appointment date forward was really not a good thing: not only it made me believe that diagnosis would protect me from bulling but also it made it easy to believe for other staff that my diagnosis must have been private, that’s why it was so quick.

When me and my diagnostician discussed my employment support plan she at some point emailed me almost ready version as a word document and I then forwarded it to my manager, just to give her something as she seemed really eager to solve the issues between me and The Lady. It was in May, as far as I remember, or possibly beginning of June. I now believe that word document was used to make it look like it was provided by AXA and The Lady made the manager do it. The manager was going to retire in September the same year so she was probably hoping to get away with it. And why she agreed for it in the first place? Believe me, The Lady could turn anyone’s life into hell, she could get tenants to give other staff trouble (that’s what Rebecca Zung calls flying monkeys) and those two knew each other outside of work too.

Obviously at the time I had no idea what was happening, I was just getting disappointed that the diagnosis was not a solution I was hoping it would be.

At some point I actually wanted to leave, but then a combination of factors made me decide to stay and fight for my rights. One, very important factor was the fact that I started feeling terribly sorry for my dad. He had mental health breakdown in his 50’s and never recovered. I believe the breakdown was caused by sensory issues – he was undiagnosed autistic and worked as a welder. Going on disability, however, didn’t bring him peace. I think it was because he never understood why he couldn’t do the things that were coming easily to others. I believe he’d be much better off if he was supported to find himself a job that he could actually do. I was getting angry with all those psychiatrists who saw him over the years and no one would ever suggest he was autistic, but then, psychiatrists at the time weren’t trained to look for it, and the thing was my dad was atypical autistic, a lot like me: cravig for social interactions, telling jokes and driving loads of attention to himself while in bigger group of people and yet not having even a single friend.

So my dad was just one of the factors, but there were other too. Around that time The Lady started talking about people who are unhappy at work and yet, they do not leave. They should leave, she woud say, and I knew she meant me. So I thought, I won’t leave. I’ll stay and I show her she shoud have not been starting that silly game with me.

Well…

To make myself looking like a desirable person in the team I contacted a couple of people within the company and as a result I wrote a short article about Asperger’s syndrome (that’s how I used to call it at the time) to the company magazine and I also gave a speech about it during our away day, in front like 100 people – all when I felt badly bullied and when I had to take antidepressants to survive.

The speech went well, however, and I had people congratulating me. The result? A few days later another manager that I used to get on well with and trusted her started being nasty to me. What caused it, I really don’t know. I can only imagine that it was The Lady who got it organised but what it was she said, I really don’t know.

As that was our area manager I doubt she was told my diagnosis was private, as she would have to authorise the payment for it, so I guess The Lady must have come up with something different for that particular occasion. It was all too much for me and I went off sick for a couple of weeks.

Rebecca Zung says in her videos that to make the narcissist stop doing nasty things to you, you need to hint that you’re ready to expose some uncomfortable truth about them. I didn’t watch her videos at the time, possibly they were not available yet as it was 2016, but the problem would still be, I didn’t have anything that I could expose about The Lady. We worked together for a few months only and, despite the fact she was very chatty and craving social interaction all the time, she was actually very private person, only telling you what she wanted you to know about her. There was no way I had anything to expose.

So that is my question for this post: to leave or to stay and fight? I’d advocate leaving and yet, I know it’s unfair.

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 myself

It’s Sunday morning now and it seems to be rather cold. I will not be visiting mum today as there are no buses to where she’s staying, which is a village called Studzianki. Mind you, the care home is not actually in the village but in a field over one kilometer away from it.

I was having second thoughts yesterday whether I did the right thing moving her. The previous place was not suitable but this one seems to have different issues, like, well, being difficult to reach. There’s not many choices of care homes in Poland, unfortunately. There’s not much I can do about that.

I do occasionally worry what I’m going to do when mum runs out of money but this is not an issue for now I guess.

I was wondering also if I’m doing the right thing posting publicly about my problems. It does make me feel much better and especially one of my last posts about self harming was really helpful to relieve loads of tension. But then I worry, what if… what if prospective employer will find it and decide not to give me the job based on it. What if I’d be trolled by nasty comments on the blog. What if… I don’t even know.

But it feels like being publicly authentic is exactly what I need. I don’t need recognition, I don’t need to become autism activist, I just need space to be myself and this blog gives me exactly that. Before there were so many things that I didn’t allow myself to talk about that it’s unbelievable. It always started by others not allowing me to talk about something, it could be an innocent comment made by a therapist that I shouldn’t think about something the way I thought or something more direct like my mum telling me not to mention my dad’s mental health problems to anybody. It translated into me not being able to be myself, ever.

Now I think this is exactly what gave me that feeling of a glass jar being put over me that I later felt like I wanted to break.

Redecor

Now I don’t think I need to do that anymore. I have a history of self harm and a suicide attempt (mind you, I didn’t really want to die) but I feel like I’m also a creative, caring, curious and brave individual and I don’t want to hide my shadow any more only to create another illusion that would serve a purpose of advocating and giving me false hope that when people notice me for my advocating effort, I’ll be finally able to be myself.

At the same time I don’t want to bring all the attention to my problems: I didn’t self harm for years, I’m not suicidal now, I’m coping with life somehow and I’m in a supportive relationship with an autistic partner who helps me a lot to be more authentic with myself. I often feel like I want to praise and celebrate him (even though he’s certainly not perfect, but who is?)

So I guess being authentic requires me to talk about both my struggles and my successes. Successes can be small, like, for example creating colourful design on Redecor that didn’t end up on the last place. Not waking up with anxiety about my family situation. Keeping my flat tidy and going to the gym on a regular basis, cooking a nice dinner, and yes, blogging. Those are all part of me. And The Boyfriend of course, he’s the most incredibly caring individual that I’ve ever met. He’s been with me through all those years of struggle and confusion, talking to me calmly when I needed that. I don’t know what I would do without him.

Current mood (bipolar?)

So, after my second psychotic episode I was told I’m bipolar. I don’t fully agree with this and it makes me sad that I can’t just be ‘myself’: a person with Asperger’s who is so bad at managing emotions that she ended up so upset and unable to calm down and sleep that it caused her hallucinations.

Sometimes, what can easily be interpreted as bipolar, I just feel angry because I noticed that someone took an advantage of me and I had no idea till sometimes later. I mean, some people take an advantage of the fact I’m socially naive and I only notice that when they proceed to break procedures (I’m very good with procedures and information so I notice that). What happens then is, I feel extreme anger and want to punish them somehow. I believe I in fact behave at times like someone who’s bipolar. But if I was not taken an advantage of, that wouldn’t happen at all. So possibly I’m not bipolar?

Tomaszów

I also never make any risky decisions and don’t overspend. I actually asked for my bipolar diagnosis to be evoked but somehow it didn’t happen yet. Possibly I need it to have this little bit of support I’m getting from my mental health team, that I can’t get for Asperger’s (and actually why not? Can someone explain that to me?)

My dad was also diagnosed with bipolar. I can’t fully comment if he had it or not but meds never seemed to work to calm him down and he was on loads. As I already mentioned, I believe he was undiagnosed autistic.

My current mood is stable. I just need to get my ID card and find a job and all will be well. And blogging also helps, putting myself out there with the truth about myself is something I really need. I shpuld have done that ages ago, but somehow I didn’t.

Feeling guilty

Hostel is pretty busy the last 3 days. I think every room is taken now, but still it’s a small place in general so it’s not like there’s loads of people here.

I’ve heard a lady speaking on the phone in the hallway that she needs to have a rest and that’s why she’s here. I understood it quite literally, that she left home to have rest here. I suppose that could work for certain people, possibly for soneone who’s also autistic, although what I think is more likely is that I misinterpreted what she was saying.

For the last 3 days I’m on a strange diet: I have sweet bun from a cake shop on the way to town at around 10am then main meal around 12.30 in town, from the same cafeteria where me and mum used to eat when I was here and we went out shopping (I doubt I ever go there with her again) then ice cream shortly after and this is it. So I eat all my calories within like 3.5h gap and then just have drinks with a little bit of sugar. From what I know that is very similar to one of the form of intermittent fasting, but I don’t do that to fast, I do that to make my life easier and avoid evening trip to the kitchen that is in another building.

Lunches in cafeteria are rather large so I’m not hungry although I doubt that diet would work for me when I’m back at home. Eating a meal is a fantastic way of having a break from whatever I’m doing so if the kitchen is nearby I wouldn’t give up on that.

Traditionally main meal in Poland is eaten around 1pm and it contains soup as a starter and another dish called a second that could contain meat, potatoes and, what I already mentioned here ‘Polish coleslaw’ (shredded vegetables in vinegret dressing), braised cabbage or shredded beetroot. But second can also be a pancake with cottage cheese filling and a sprinke of cinnamon.

Redecor

Two course meal would be too much for me so, depends on how hungry I am I either take second or just a soup.

I remember that when I was in psychiatric hospital in Poland, due to my suicidal tendencies after my first psychotic episode, I really liked their cottage cheese pancakes. I ate very little at the time as I felt I didn’t deserve to be fed after all those problems I put myself and my family through (not that my brother took any notice, although my dad asked at some point what was wrong with me). I lost quite a lot of weight but I was overweight to begin with so I looked normal despite not eating. But I often think about that time and suspect that if doctors didn’t put me on olanzapine at the end (it has a side effect of increasing appetite), I’d end up developing anorexia. I just really, really didn’t believe I deserved to eat.

But somehow I always ate those hospital pancakes.

Sometimes I feel like that now, like I don’t deserve to eat. Not too often, like at that time, and not when I’m hungry but when I just ‘want’ something, like let’s say my favourite yoghurt that’s not available in the UK or purple ‘Hungarian’ plums that I can only get now. I put myself through so much problems, I think, I don’t deserve those things.

And then I asked myself, what problems? I’m not responsible for the fact that my mum was a victim of fraud and she can’t live at home due to my brother’s drinking. I only lost my job but then I think, everyone would understand. I’ve been through so much… And yet, I continue to feel guilty for the fact that I’d like some well ripened Hungarian plums.

Noise

I was woken up by some noise, like if someone was walking (there’s another person in the hostel) and I thought it was my dad. He used to walk through the house at night when other people were sleeping.

And then I realised I’m not at home and my dad died a year and a half ago. It was in lockdown and I wasn’t able to go for funeral. It was very difficult for me, probably even more because I didn’t have relationship with him. Funeral was, in my head, an opportunity to say goodbye on my terms and that was never given to me.

Redecor

The person making noise must have came back to their bedroom but it seems like I’ll stay awake. It’s 6.08am here so practically a daytime.

I also wake up at 2am for a bit and I felt really worried my mum never gets her money back but I fell asleep eventually. So I’m not in risk of developing psychosis. I only took olanzapine once while I’m here and zopiclone 3 times. I’m coping.

In bed

I miss Redecor a bit but don’t feel like it’s the right time now to focus on the game.

I finally start feeling that I’m on the right track, even though I don’t know where I’m going exactly. I don’t know if I need to go to town tomorrow or not. I’ll decide in the morning. I need to decide what I need in the Power of Attorney, but this can be passed on to the solicitor over email.

I will feel sad giving up my share of the house, this is where I was brought up. It’s like giving up my roots, but I suppose roots are only a symbol, I need to be able to move on from that thinking somehow.

My dad was also very focused on his roots. Totally obsessed. There was nothing there that was of any use, and yet, he wanted to own the place. I think it’s an Asperger’s thing. Symbols, we’re very good at understanding symbols and quite poor at understanding emotions. We’re focusing on what we’re good at.

I’m still managing without any mental health medication, I think it’s a success already. I know that taking it may help with stress levels, so I may need it at some point, but it won’t help me move on from being attached to a symbol. I don’t really know what will.

I’m Polish, and always will be, even though my home is in the UK. It will be difficult not to have even this tiny piece of land in here, something that is mine, even if I have no use of it.

Redecor
%d bloggers like this: