Croissants and yoghurt (what will I eat tomorrow?)

Ok, so I’m in Portland after the first day of my training and I’m having second thoughts. That’s how it often works for me: I don’t know how I feel about something till I’m just about to do it. As I mentioned on the blog I used to really like live in care job so I thought it would be a good idea to go back to it. But then, that was over 10 years ago, I think. At the time I didn’t have my flat, I wasn’t going to the gym and probably, most importantly, I didn’t have my blog and my strange, patterned art.

Obviously, I’d never put my blog over the needs of client and I’d never discuss anything client related on the blog but the thing is, people can Google things nowadays and possibly client’s families, when they find my blog and my art, may decide I’m strange and they don’t want me. Maybe not everyone would do that but some for sure. When I applied for this job I didn’t have my art yet and the blog was just starting out, so I wasn’t really sure if I would be able to keep it (although I did pay for yearly subscription to WordPress to keep myself motivated).

I’ll see how things go, I suppose, after I am already here, but I never ever want to be in a position where I have to deny who I am just to keep a job.

Otherwise I’m confused about my ability to read hints. The hotel receptionist said yesterday that the cook is off sick with covid but she’ll ‘cook the breakfast tomorrow’. I remember she mentioned sausages. I don’t remember what she said next exactly word by word but possibly it was ‘but some people may just want croissant and yoghurt’ which for me meant that breakfast is made to order, however, she was hinting I shouldn’t be bothering her with anything complicated, but it’s ok to ask for sausages on the first morning and on the second I should be happy to just have something simple.

Something recent (it looks a bit scary, doesn’t it?)

However, when I came downstairs today it turned out that it’s buffet. More over, there was no croissants or yoghurt around. There were quite a few men in the dining room and all the sausages were gone already even though I only came 15 minutes after breakfast started being served. I managed to get hold of the last slice of bacon though, baked beans and scrambled eggs were also still there. I mean, it doesn’t matter, does it? I don’t eat sausages for breakfast at home so I don’t have to have them here but it is a bit confusing when I expect that something will happen and it then doesn’t. From all 3 choices that were mentioned the day before nothing was there. I think I’d prefer not to have any idea about what to expect at all, I would then go with an open mind. At the end (or rather, the beginning of the day) it’s just breakfast and the most important thing is that I don’t starve myself. Yet, the fact that some items were mentioned to me the day before made me expect them and I then felt disappointed that they weren’t there. I don’t even particularly like croissants, I can live without sausages and I eat yoghurt regularly so I’m not that bothered. While baked beans is actually my favourite British food and there were still plenty so I should be happy, but I was not.

That experience now makes me think whether the advice on telling autistic people what is going to happen so that they can get mentally prepared is the right one. I feel quite anxious now about not being able to get croissants and yoghurt tomorrow! Strange, isn’t it?

That’s what the receptionist said: sausages today, croissants and yoghurt tomorrow and the sausages weren’t there today so croissants and yoghurt won’t be there tomorrow either. Nothing else will be there either – I can’t help but that’s what I think. I know it’s not true but that’s how my autistic instinct is interpreting the situation and it is rather stressful!

Punishment – a bad idea

I had a lovely Christmas with The Boyfriend – I will not be describing how our Christmas are different from neurotypical people Christmas as I think it would not really add much to understanding of our needs, but possibly, when I become an established blogger I may add a few words on that, if somebody asks.

The Boyfriend left yesterday morning and I spent pretty much the entire Boxing Day playing with patterns in PicsArt: I found it really fun and obviously the more I do that, the easier it gets and I am now starting to believe that every Redecor design can be turned in a nice pattern, depending on what tools I use.

Before Christmas I promised I’ll write a post about why I believe punishment shouldn’t be used to get autistic children (or adults for that matter) to behave certain way: it is because we, autistics, fit everything that happens to us into patterns that we already know and also, we instinctively believe that everything around us is connected in some way. I say, instinctively – logically we are perfectly aware that it’s not but our instinct tells us otherwise.

So, as you may remember, I did some shifts in a supermarket before Christmas, it was hard work but I really liked working on groceries when it got busy, which is strange because as a client I hate busy supermarkets.

On 22nd after work I did my own shopping and bought a few items to treat myself. It wasn’t much but I bought things I really fancy. After the checkout I put mulled wine and apples into my rucksack and marinated artichokes, cambozola, lactose free yoghurt and mini courgette in oil went to a canvas shopping bag. It would all fit easily into my rucksack but the glass would all bang with every move and I’d find it annoying.

The entire journey home I kept telling myself to remember about the shopping bag, especially that it was navy – almost the same colour as bus chairs. I could have hold the bag straps actually, but I didn’t. Oh well…

When I got home I realised I didn’t have the bag on me. Can you even imagine how that felt? It really wasn’t about the couple of pounds that I lost, it felt like the entire Christmas has been cancelled for me! It’s been good few months since I don’t have permanent job so I stopped buying those fancy food items and now, when I bought some to treat myself for Christmas, I lost them! Those items were a symbol of having good Christmas and they’ve been taken away from me by the Universe – that’s how it felt.

What is punishment? In its more civilised form is an act of taking away something that one values as a consequence of bad behaviour – as I stated above, we, autistics, fit everything that happens to us into the pattern that we know. And we instinctively believe that everything around us is connected somehow. I was running around a busy supermarket for the entire day so that other people could get what they wanted for Christmas, while I didn’t get have what I wanted!

What was the conclusion that I came up with?: it was the Universe punishing me for not working hard enough. Of course I knew it wasn’t true but that’s how it felt, so please don’t say I shouldn’t be thinking this way (which is an expression a counsellor used once with me) because this is how I think. And why I said the punishment was for not working hard enough? I was really trying, but the truth is, with our black and white thinking it may sometimes be difficult to establish what is and what isn’t good enough. I can possibly say that, if I didn’t pass out at the end of my shift I could have work harder – I guess you can see some logic in this thinking.

So the result of punishing us by taking things or activities away from us could be that we decide that we need to always be on our best behaviour to succeed in life, our intentions have to always be pure and we can never put ourselves first. And then we see neurotypical people who are not like that at all and they get what they want. How does that feel?

Let’s take the example of Home Group again. If you only just started reading my blog, I’ll quickly explain what happened: Home Group is a large housing association and disability confident employer. I worked for them between 2015 and 2017. I was bullied by a colleague and, because bulling happens to autistics people more often than to neurotypicals, I asked my GP for autism referral diagnosis and then the diagnostic centre to bring my diagnosis forward due to work situation, which they agreed to do (big mistake!) and, as that didn’t stop the bulling, I left and took Home Group to employment tribunal where they claimed my diagnosis was private and they paid for it. I could have won easily, if I didn’t end up in psychiatric hospital. Oh well…

I realised that I’m autistic in September 2015, sometimes between my interview for Home Group job and the starting date. The job was meant to require loads of contact with people and, as I applied for it I was hoping to use that to learn how to be more social – which is not unusual expectation for undiagnosed autistics. When I realised I’m autistic, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. But I needed a job and also, I was hoping that maybe, with better understanding of myself I’d be able to apply some coping strategies that make working there possible for me.

At the time I didn’t want a diagnosis and if I wasn’t being bullied I’d probably still not have it till now. But believe me, I used to wonder so many times that possibly what happened to me later was a punishment for the fact that my intentions weren’t pure and I didn’t reject the job offer on realising I’m autistic.

The person who was bulling me got promoted to a manager position and now, Mark Henderson, the CEO of Home Group, doesn’t even bother to answer my emails and I never even heard ‘I’m sorry’ while Home Group continues to take government money to support people with mental health problems.

Yet, it was me who believed that I deserved to be punished. Does that make any sense to you?

That’s why I really do not think punishment should ever be used as a way to deal with autistic people. I don’t know what can be used instead but possibly there are researchers out there who can answer this question.

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.

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.

Yay!

As this blog is meant to describe me, as an autistic person, and I did post in the past about some of my difficult emotions I think it’s only fair to also post when I feel better. So basically, I feel incredibly excited since yesterday afternoon. I have no idea what I am excited about: my shop cleaning job finished two days ago and my DBS is still not back. I received a letter from mum’s bank and they’re not going to refund her any of the stolen money that we have no evidence for, so what she’s going to get is like 10 percent of what was stolen and the bank is having difficulties to even admit their employee was stealing – they don’t even use the word fraud but instead call it ‘this situation’. Fantastic.

Home Group did not even contact me regarding the email I sent two weeks ago – this is, I guess, them saying they don’t really care about what happened to me, as long as their business is intact. It’s really strange that all those big companies create procedures for similar situations, and then, as things happen, the employees never follow them because they don’t want to disturb the internal politics. Would someone working in a customer service department stand up against their CEO – as I already contacted him and he ignored me? As much as I understand that in hindsight, having procedures that state a different behaviour is expected is only clouding my, autistic, judgment – if there was no procedures at all I’d be much better at predicting other people behaviour, or at least that’s what I think. I wonder what Professor Simon Baron-Cohen would say about that.

Ok, moving on from Home Group – I decided to complain to University of Cambridge about Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and his extreme inability to communicate with me. As I stated in one of my previous posts, I felt at some point that it’s getting a bit better but then suddenly Professor sent me an email to say he feels sorry for me, which just totally didn’t make any sense. I do not feel sorry for myself at all. In general it is said that autistics tent to have misunderstandings with people, but I’d expect it will be a bit better when you talk to world famous autism researcher, and instead it’s much worse. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen has an incredible ability to misinterpret absolutely everything that I am saying, therefore what value his research has? I only contacted University of Cambridge yesterday afternoon (Friday) about it so it’s too early to say anything. As much as I am curious about what will happen, I doubt my excitement comes from that.

I managed to secure another temporary job, in a warehouse this time – in a food distribution centre, I will be starting a training on Monday (it’s Saturday today) and it will include… driving pallet truck! I wonder how I’ll get on with that. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. Is it possible that my excitement comes from that? Possibly my subconscious mind already knows that I’ll be ok there, will get noticed for my ability to follow procedures and understanding systems and will keep getting promotion after promotion until I get to the very top? Oh well, probably not, but I’m very curious about how I will cope. I never tried this kind of job before so it will be interesting to see how it will work out.

I was also thinking that possibly I should have two part time jobs instead of one. I used to do that in the past and I quite liked it: the transition from one job to the other helped me to release any tension; while being in one job only makes me feel trapped. I suppose there should be more understanding in the society for having two jobs – it seems like it’s often being seen as a sign of failure, inability to commit or possibly not being wanted anywhere full time. But the question is: do we need to commit? Obviously if you want to progress commitment is needed but plenty of us don’t want that, we just want to pay the bills and have some money left for fun things, so what is the commitment for?

It’s snowing at the moment, and it’s extremely windy. I’m unlikely to leave my flat today. I decided, however, I shouldn’t be spending all day in bed so I moved to the living room and I’m on the sofa… such fun! I don’t suppose I’m excited for that either. As I stay in I may do some updates on the blog: I decided symbols (as a form of communication) will get their own tag, as so Redecor. Redecor is a very important part of my life now, hard to understand how I coped without it, and I’ve only been playing for around 10 months. The more patterns I have available to use, the more fun it is, although again, I don’t suppose my excitement is caused by the game.

Did I mention I baked another lot of beetroot muffins? I used better quality beetroots this time and added some almond essence – they’re much better this time, no beetroot flavour, so this is, I think, the way to go with my baking. However, again, I don’t suppose that is what I’m excited about.

I also realised a little while ago how much better my mental health is now, when I don’t work in a care home any more. Possibly I should never go back to this kind of job? And not because I’m not a caring person. One thing that I found extremely difficult was the need to constantly switch between tasks: I could not do one thing for long enough before a different resident needed an urgent assistance. On top of that all that bitchiness you get there… God help me, seriously! And the problem is I tend to oversimplify everything where people are involved. I can think, for example, that everyone who works in a care home is caring so they will be nice people. And believe me, some staff really are not! And I don’t talk here about scandals like Winterbourne at all; the staff may be actually caring towards residents but bitchy towards themselves – not fun.

Ok, end of post. What am I excited about though? I still don’t know, but it’s a nice change at last.

Life as a cleaner

Tomorrow is my last day of the cleaning job in a popular clothing shop. My DBS is still not back and I don’t know what I will be doing till I get it. Mind you, I didn’t know I’ll be bored with this job that quickly – it’s only been two weeks and I am already feeling meh. I really feel like I need some meaningful contact with people and having the impression that I have impact on somebody life. When I just started work in care, everything was new and interesting and I wasn’t planning how to get out of it. There is so many job advices for autistics where being a cleaner is considered a good fit for us that I’m really shocked I can’t wait till this job is over. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I tried it, and at least I know how I feel about it, but it really is too repetitive for my liking.

Cleaners sometimes face difficult choices at work. Never heard about a cleaner who damaged art exhibition as she thought it was rubbish? There’s been more than one instance of this type of overzealousness (is that actually a word? Correct me if I’m wrong, as you may know English is not my first language) and when I was at my first university, studying physics in Łódź, we had an academic teacher well into his 60s, who only had a master degree. I don’t know how it works in other parts of the world but in Poland staff with master degree are only allowed to do support tasks with students while they work on their PhD; they can’t deliver lectures or be responsible for exams and this particular teacher was doing it all while, due to his age, it was obvious he had more than enough time to do doctorate. It was very confusing to me, until someone said, and who knows, it could well be true, that his PhD work required to grow some crystals and one day cleaner throw them to the bin!

Poor cleaner, I hope she didn’t get fired for that. Anyway, after that happened, the man told his supervisor he’s not doing it all over again, period, and was allowed to stay and enjoy all PhD privilages. It looks like he wasn’t thinking in terms of infinite games, which is quite sad.

Mind you, he was one of the teachers who made me to study extra hard because I didn’t get all the questions right on the exam, and then, when I finally answered everything he asked me perfectly, he only gave me a C. I was thinking at the time that was because I was the only female in the entire physics group, but now I think, even though that must have play a part (‘you only came here to find a husband’ said in front of everyone else was an acceptable comment at the time, I really do hope things have changed since then) I think my autism was probably also at play. One teacher actually told me she lowered my grade because ‘I look like if I didn’t know what was going on’. But that is how I look when I’m focused on something! Obviously at the time I didn’t know this is due to autism and that I’m autistic. I didn’t know anything about it at all, although the first time I’ve heard about Asperger’s syndrome was when I was in a primary school.

It is said that girls don’t get picked up early enough but the first person who I knew was diagnosed with it was a girl from my primary school, a few years younger than me, very bright, she was getting the best grades in her year, but yes, she looked like if she didn’t know what’s happening around her, never spoke to anybody during break times and she used to rock regularly. I didn’t know anything about Asperger’s at the time and to be honest neither me, nor my friends were that interested, it was enough for us to know that this sensation had a name: genius who looked like if she was severely impaired. I really do hope she’s doing ok now, got a good job, where she can use all her strenghts and is not forced to rely on her weaknesses to get by.

I also know she was diagnosed in Warsaw, our capital city, just over 100km from our village and it was possibly 7 years after my mum was told by local child psychologist I’d grow out of ‘it’. Mind you, I didn’t present as severely as that girl, probably because, although quite intelligent, I was not as bright as her, and also I spoke to other kids at school (I never was a popular kid though) so my mum never felt the need to pursue any further diagnosis. Mind you (using the same expression in two sentences in a row!) mum would never get a diagnosis for me, I was just too normal for that time. And actually, when I was in my early 20s I probably appeared like if I in fact grown out of it. I was parting, was confident and knew a lot of people. I just didn’t know how to make friends with them. They all seemed like acquaintances and nothing more. Sometimes I thought a person is my friend and then they always chose somebody else to spend time with, whenever they had a choice. I was only good for times when they had nothing better to do.

Although I used to have A Friend (don’t confuse with The Friend) who however stopped treating me well quite quickly… oh, that is a long story. I’m not sure if I should be putting it in here. Maybe one day, when I decide what details should be left out, partly to protect her identity (strange thing I still care of her enough to think about that), partly to appear at least slightly mysterious to my readers (ok, I only just came up with that reason now as giving one reason only to do something just didn’t feel like enough).

Yes, so, I wonder whether I’ll have enough things to blog about when I discuss everything from my past. This blog is about life as an autistic person so everything goes, even my parsnip muffins (mind you, I already ate all of them, which is a shame as I feel a bit peckish). Parsnip muffins are part of my life and, because I’m autistic, it’s an autistic life so parsnip muffins are part of my autistic life. Makes sense, I hope. Plus, one could think that being autistic I only eat food that I know well and that is not true! One day I need to tell you how I went to Malaysia and on my first night ordered Thai green curry because I liked the taste of Thai green curry sauce that I bought in Sainsbury’s once or twice. Mind you (again!) no one explained to me that they eat incredibly hot food in that part of the world and the Sainsbury’s sauce was our, European version of it. At other times I ordered ‘sweet and spicy chicken claws’ because I didn’t know what claws mean… well, on both occasions I ate the whole of my dinner. What helped was telling myself that I’m travelling so should be opened to all the new experiences. You see, I’m autistic, but I can do it when it makes sense to me.

It was also in Malaysia where I got my tattoo. This one that was meant to cover my self-harming scars, but the tattoo artist didn’t do very good job with it and they are still visible on the sides.

Anyway, I was speaking about food earlier on. What should I have for dinner? Russian pierogi or, possibly, baked beans with toasted potato waffles? It’s strange that I can’t eat chips but love potato waffles, isn’t it?

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.

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.

Flight to Bangkok

I saw an add about discounted flights to Bangkok and thought, let me try to book, just to see how much they are, and return was supposed to start from just over 370 pounds, which is very cheap. However, like it often happens, when I chose my dates and wanted to proceed to booking, the website informed me there’s no flights available. Well, I wouldn’t go anyway, I was just checking.

My resposibility for now is to stay in the UK and wait for my DBS. I was informed by the company that offered me a live in care job, it is still on stage 4, that means at my local police station, and nothing can be done till it’s pass 90 days. 90 days, I didn’t even know it could be that long! Hopefully it won’t get to that. I think it’s been 30 now.

I had loads of energy yesterday and I attributed it to my SAD lamp. I was thinking, if it continues like that, tidying will become my new hobby. Today, however, I feel somehow tired, and I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t use the lamp properly as The Boyfriend was here and socket is on the side of the bed that he normally uses, or maybe we need to get tired from time to time to get rest. I really don’t know, but I also started having the impression that my joints are not as stiff as they used to be. Hard to say if this can also be attributed to the lamp, I never read anything about it.

Yesterday I read an article on BBC about two British female celebrities who admitted to be diagnosed autistic as adults. They were television presenter Melanie Sykes and Christine McGuiness, a model. I am really pleased to hear about those two, even though before reading that article I never heard of them (I’m not interested in celebrities and hardly ever watch TV). I really think this is very important for how autism is being potrayed in the media: neither of them ‘look autistic’, they both wear make up and nice clothes, cope in the public eye and, I suppose, are not obsessed with train time tables. And yet, they’re autistic. I’d like to thank to both of them from here for revealing that. I may later on go on YouTube and watch some videos with them to see how they cope with talking to other people, but I don’t promise that.

I was quite sad when The Boyfriend was here, but didn’t want to tell him anything. I was thinking a lot about the fraud my mum become a victim, and how patronising is the fact that I now have to make any effort at all to get the money back. I was thinking that I don’t deserve it and that it all wasn’t meant to be like that at all. Selling the land my mum owned was supposed to bring us joy, not trouble. It all was meant to be different.

Like with Home Group, I suppose, which was meant to be a stepping stone to a career for me and instead was a stepping stone to madness. Thank god, I’m not mad now. And also not most of the time (I wouldn’t book that flight to Bangkok, I promise!).

I was wondering if I should have a go at making my own Christmas pudding, you know, made of carrots, parsnips, beetroots and zucchini but The Boyfriend said it would need time to mature, but how is this a problem? We could eat it for Easter instead. I absolutely love Christmas pudding and could easily eat it 5 times a week, although, I suppose, if I use the ingredients I mentioned, instead of traditional ones, it may not be as exciting.

I was also wondering lately how come me, with first class bachelor degree in computer science and some other courses in maths and physics, work as a cleaner, even if that’s only temporary. I don’t suppose autism can be directly blamed for it, although I do admit, I suck at interviews, but the fact that I’m terrible with computers, don’t understand maths at all and absolutely hate physics is probably what should be to blame. So how come I got as far as successfully studying those subjects at the university? I guess, that’s where autism was involved: I’m very good at copying what I see and maths, IT and physics are so easy to approach this way! Other people behaviour can also be copied but this is a bit more complicated and there’s so many exceptions!

But the fact that I can repeat even the most complicated sequence of steps to get to the correct solution, doesn’t mean that I know why the steps were there to begin with (although I can see if something fits or if it doesn’t), and then when it comes to apply what I learned this way to a new problem, I can’t do it. I can only do something that is similar to what I’ve already seen. If there was a job somewhere that woud pay for solvig the same type of problems over and over, I would be great at it, but don’t expect me to deal with things that are new!

This is not to mention that every autistic person who seems to be great at maths is going to experience this problem, and I really do hope most of them would cope with new problems too, but I think it is important for parents and educators alike to understand that if we sometimes say we feel we’re not good at something, this may in fact be true, even though what they see suggests the opposite.

As usual my today post is a bit about everything. When I just started blogging I was trying to be organised and only post about one thing at the time, but then it felt like I was trying to become an institution, while I’m most certainly a person, even if an autistic one. And as a person I have a mind that wanders. So now, I’m just about to have a cup of tea. 99p per 50 teabags assam tea from Lidl. When I was working full time I used to get Twinings tea, which cost a bit more. Maybe not as much considering I’d only have a couple of cups a day, but when one doesn’t have permanent, full time job, watching every purchase suddenly becomes important.

Fingers crossed my DBS comes back this coming week. I’m really bored of not having ‘a proper job’ and I guess I’m ready for another challenge.

I do think sometimes though I am really glad I’ve been sacked. I’d never move on otherwise and this blog wouldn’t exist. Not that I have many readers, at least for now…

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.

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.

Deja vu (plus I’m incredibly sad)

I mentioned in my last post that I baked zucchini and chocolate muffins today. I have been doing so called ‘healthy baking’ on and off since the end of 2019, shortly before I had my second psychotic episode and was sectioned, but I was convinced that I never baked zucchini muffins before.

And only several minutes ago I had a look at one of the muffins again and felt like I was having deja vu: a muffin that looks like black pudding? I certainly saw that before, and probably not so long ago, although possibly before I started blogging. I remember now how I complained to The Boyfriend about it! I did eat them all at the end, and the problem was not that they weren’t edible, the problem was that they looked like black pudding and that wasn’t mentioned in the recipe. Unless people in US don’t know what black pudding looks like, or possibly their version looks different to our, Polish one, that is brown with grey ‘eyes’ made of buckwheat. So that’s how my muffins look like: brown with grey eyes made of zucchini.

And don’t get me wrong, I love black pudding. I love most Polish traditional foods, but I don’t like food that looks like black pudding, but it tastes a bit like a cake, but not too much like a cake as it’s not a real cake, it’s a healthy one.

I didn’t decide yet whether I prefer zucchini or beetroot muffins, or possibly I need to keep looking for something else that will give me the cakey kick without the calories.

However, I’m not sad because of the deceiving muffins, seriously, they wouldn’t influence my mood at all. I’m sad because I miss my mum. Obviously I’m unable to go and see her. It’s not very practical to be spending money on travelling when one doesn’t have a proper job, like me at the moment, but also the visits in her care home have been completely stopped. But the thing that affects my mood the most is that she’s not the same mum I used to have. I can’t have normal conversation with her any more. She’s unable to help me with anything, like she used to (provided it was something easy).

I only realised quite a few weeks ago, when I was in Poland, that she used to always solve the problems my brother gave me. Solve wasn’t probably a good word, cover up could be a better expression. ‘Mum, I used to have 100PLN in my purse and now I only have 50. W. must have taken one note!’ – I’d say angrily and mum would get her own purse out to give me 50PLN. It didn’t even cross my mind that it was like if he stole from her. My thinking was: she’s his mum and he’s misbehaving so she needs to take responsibility and mum was playing that role very well.

Later on she’d tell him about that and obviously he would deny anything. He would start arguing if pressed a bit too hard, but I never took part in it, in my head it was my mum’s problem, she had to sort it out.

And now I’m in the situation where my brother is probably telling people in the village what a horrible sister he has, who put mum into a private care home when he has no food and can’t pay the electricity bill. And mum can’t come and tell him off for that. I’m all by myself and I have to cope with that somehow.

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.

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.

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