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.

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.

A little update on Home Group drama

I believe it was a week ago when I requested Mr Henderson, the CEO of Home Group to apologise to me. So far he didn’t. I find it difficult to assess if I really believed he would – as an autistic person I find it difficult to predict other people behaviour, although at times I get it right. I guess, it could actually be easier if I always get it wrong as I’d not attempt to influence people in any way. This is exactly where many of my problems come from: trying to influence people.

What may also sometimes happen is that the person I attempt to influence do what I expected them to do but gets angry with me and I have no idea why. My understanding of social situations is that if someone would get angry because of doing something that I asked them to do, they would simply refuse to do it and I have no idea why people are more complicated than that. Therefore when that happens I end up feeling manipulated, even though I got what I wanted.

So yes, I am not sure I really believed that Mr Henderson would apologise but I was certainly hoping for it. I’m also not sure how I would feel about such forced apologies but I guess that depends on what words he would use.

Hope. That’s what I need.

I guess, if he offered to publish my story on the company website with a sensitive comment, I’d really believe then that he’s not just trying to shut me up and I’d feel my suffering has been acknowledged, so that would certainly make me feel so much better. He would still have to explain why he didn’t apologise since 2017 and that could prove to be difficult but I guess not impossible. As a neurotypical person he should have much better social imagination than me so possibly he would come up with something suitable, he could also ask other people in his team, so pretty much everyone working there, for some ideas. Or, possibly he could even as an autism specialist how to talk to me.

Yesterday, when I got very upset about it, I emailed professor Simon Baron-Cohen and asked him to negotiate between me and Mr Henderson and he bluntly refused. I’m not sure why, this is a total mystery to me. I’m an autistic person going through some unusual life events relating to my condition (autistics are much more likely to be bullied) so it seems to me like not only he should be willing to help but he should also want to find out more about my situation for research purposes. Quite frankly it appears he’s not interested in either.

My request for apology made me realise however, I should also apologise to somebody in relation to Home Group drama, but I won’t reveal here who that person is. I do behave strange at times, as we all know, I’m autistic so that is some kind of explanation but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be expected to learn from my mistakes.

You learn something new everyday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being off work – a little sum up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rather plain reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little bit of optimism.

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

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

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

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

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

Meaning of dreams

For a few years now I keep having this dream every now and then that I discover another area in my flat that I was not aware of. Sometimes it’s just one more bedroom that needs a lot of work, at other times it’s a massive lounge and a swimming pool (that wod be nice, wouldn’t it?).

The entrance to that area is not obstructed in any way and it’s never revealed in the dream how I actually found it and why I couldn’t see it before.

A few times I have a different version of that dream: that when I bought my flat I also bought one more, somewhere outside of Swindon, that I have a married couple as tenants and, of course, they pay me rent every month but I somehow forget the entire thing and one day it comes back to me and I decide to go there and see how it looks like. It always feels a bit strange at first because how could I forget about such an important thing but then that feeling gets replaced by feeling of content: I have two flats, not just one, and I’m a landlady. Life is better than expected.

Last night the dream revealed to me a single bedroom in need of work. Old window and rotten floorboards didn’t look very encouraging, I almost forgot to be happy that I found that extra space and instead I was focused on the work that it needed doing, now, when I don’t have a job.

I certainly prefer the version when I find swimming pool.

I can certainly see a pattern. More than one.

I wonder whether those dreams mean something. It seems to me that the explanation should be that there’s something going on around me that I’m not aware of and it’s mostly a good thing. But then, what it could be?

I try to remember whether I had those dreams as well when I worked for Home Group. At the time certainly something was going on around me that I was not aware of, but it wasn’t a nice thing at all. I said it’s been a few years since I keep having those dreams and I dropped my employment tribunal claim at the end of 2017, but I really don’t remember when the dreams started.

Do you believe that dreams may in fact be reflection of reality and tell us something that we don’t know?

Let’s hope, whatever those dreams mean, they’re not Home Group related.

Talking about difficult experiences

So today I had my second day of an online training for live in carer. When we were about to discuss dementia I decided to share my recent experience with mum: I said how I had to finally accept that she has dementia after her state deteriorated rapidly but just a few months ago her memory seemed to be perfectly fine. She would go to the shop without a shopping list and bought exactly what she needed, she remembered (and still does) what bills need to be paid and when for her house and if I agreed with her we will be doing a certain thing in a couple of days she’d remember it. She had problems with more sophisticated thinking but then, as she always was somehow disorganised and absentminded, I thought it’s just her plus normal aging.

And yet, when I was visiting her in the care home recently, where she had to be placed after a serious fall, I realised she at times talks nonsense. It was very difficult to accept the fact, that yes, that must be dementia.

And then the trainer thanked me and said it must have been difficult for me to share that and I felt rather invalidated (again – being invalidated is not an unusual experience for an autistic person).

No, talking about that was not difficult. If it was I wouldn’t even start. Experiencing it was difficult, but talking about it was easy and I was really eager to raise awareness of the fact that yes, it is possible to have dementia even if one’s memory seems to be unaffected.

The trainer’s comment was meant to make me feel better but instead made me feel worse. I felt like I should be experiencing the situation in a different way, like the fact that I didn’t find talking about it difficult meant that I don’t care about my mum.

Similar situations happened to me so many times before: people trying to sympathise with emotions that I don’t experience make me feel really bad about myself.

I would prefer the world to look like that.

At other times people ignore emotions that I do experience and that is equally bad. I’ll make sure to post about that too when it happens.

As the training progressed I found out that in fact there is a type of dementia where memory problems are not the first sign, frontotemporal dementia, that usually affects younger people but can happen in elderly as well. Pointing this out by the trainer would be a reaction much more appropriate for how I felt, but then, again, there wasn’t any point in saying that. I just had to carry on with my feeling of being made wrong by the trainer’s good intentions.

I’m wondering now whether I in fact never heard about all those types of dementia? I was working in learning disability sector of care, not elderly but we had trainings about all aspects of care so possibly it was mentioned at some point but I forgot about it. As ironic as it may seem: forgetting about dementia.

Overall, realising that your loved one is affected by this illness is difficult. But then it would be difficult for any illness, but possibly in a different way.

I was talking to The Friend yesterday that now, when I’m back in the UK and I’m on my way to being employed again I’m glad that I moved mum to the private care home. That it has to be paid for? Oh well, people pay for care all over the world but at least mum has some more space to move around in her wheelchair, instead of spending entire days in bed, like in the government care home.

That brings me to this question: should we trust our feelings?

As I was organising mum’s care home transfer I was getting extremely stressed and worried, focusing a lot on the fact that one day her savings are going to run out and what I’m going to do then. On the day when the transfer was meant to happen I woke up with a strong urge to cancel everything and tell the nurse in the government care home that mum would have to stay there. The only reason that I didn’t do it was because I hate disturbing other people order of things. Avoiding that was far more important than listening to my feelings.

But now, when I’m back, I’m really glad I moved her. It’s her money after all that pay for that and I’d feel bad if I inherited it while knowing that I didn’t give her the best quality of life that she can have, considering the circumstances.

That’s how confusion looks like.

But yet, I can think of at least one situation when my feelings were warning me: when I was just about to start my empowerment with Home Group I was getting extremely worried and having the feeling like I wanted to escape the entire thing. At one time I had an anxiety attack on the bus only because a lady sitting next to me was using strong perfume and I was by the window so I couldn’t change seats. That was my first anxiety attact in my entire life.

But then, I explained to myself, that’s possibly because I just realised I’m autistic (I used to call it Asperger’s at the time) and it was absolutely life changing: it meant I’d never learn to fit in, no matter all the effor I make and, at the time, my entire life seemed to evolve around that: how to learn to fit in. It was 24/7 project of mine. I was hoping that with some effor I’d finally manage to fix myself.

So possibly my panicking was in fact caused by the realisation that I’m autistic and not by instinctive anticipation of what was meant to happen in Home Group a bit later.

Disclaimer: links to all the posts mentioning Home Group are sent to it’s CEO, Mark Henderson. He never replies.

Some are also send to prof Simon Baron-Cohen to ask him what to do so that similar situations never happen to autistics people again. He doesn’t reply either.

My social needs (plus a little digression about Home Group)

Believe me or not, the fact that I’m autistic doesn’t mean I have no social needs. I still want to be loved, appreciated, taken care of and have friends. My social needs may be lower than other people but I still have them. What is surprising though, is the fact that even though my social needs are lower than other people, I still have trouble meeting them.

I spent the weekend by myself again as on Saturday morning I got the text message regarding my coronavirus test from last week: there were some issues with how the tests were being handled and some people received false negative results. So I asked The Boyfriend if he wants to come and he said no. I mean, fair enough, better to be on the safe side especially as he has asthma but I don’t even remember the last time I saw him. Probably beginning of August, since that time I spent most of the time on my own. I even started missing my last job, I’d happily go there again, even if that meant dealing with all the politics that I used to hate so much.

I received the text about issues with covid tests as I was just queuing to the checkout in Polish shop, some of the food was meant for me and The Boyfriend date, yet, I did not panic at all, instantly deciding I’ll eat it during the next two days or so, that’s not a problem. So I could again confirm with myself that in fact I am quite flexible for an autistic person.

However, the next day, on Sunday, I had a situation where, once again, I had to admit to myself that I focus on obstacles a lot instead of on where I want to be. I had to repressurise my boiler and, honestly, it needed to be done a year ago. Well… it’s this type that needs a key to do that and for some reason the previous owners didn’t leave it for me.

More patterns. Patterns always calm me down.

So, last year, after I noticed that the pressure fell to zero I ordered the key online. When it arrived I watched a video of how to use it and panic completely. So I’d need to get on my knees to see what I’m doing as the mechanism I needed to use was at the very bottom of the boiler. And one of the bits needed to be turned ‘anticlockwise’. And what does anticlockwise actually mean if the part is placed horizontally?

I’m not doing it, I quickly decided. I found out online that boilers are not going to get broken if being used while pressure is low, they’re just ‘less efficient’. I wasn’t sure what that actually mean but I quickly decided I’d rather pay more for gas than deal with the issue.

This year, however, when I tried to use heating (and thank God, it’s still fairly warm outside) the radiators were barely warm on the same settings I always use. So I dug the key out of the kitchen cupboard and watched the video again.

It was all a bit stressful but I managed to do it on the second attempt. Together with watching the video it didn’t take me more than 10 minutes, and yet, I was still stressed an hour later, wondering why reputable boiler company came up with something like that instead of making it easy for the user.

I actually got stressed again now, while writing about it. That’s because I’m more focused on obstacles than on where I want to be.

But then, I’m thinking, I’m not always like that. Let’s take Home Group example: first I stayed in a job where I was being bullied, then I took them to tribunal and finally now, I write about them, and email The CEO, Mr Henderson, every time I mention Home Group on my blog. The Boyfriend was really worried they’ll take me to court for slander so I stopped discussing the issue with him (I hope he doesn’t read my blog) but I didn’t stop doing what I’m doing.

For some reason this image seems to really fit in here. I’m not quite sure why.

And I’m doing what I’m doing because I don’t want the same thing to happen to other people again. I’m not even quite sure how I’m going to achieve that but I keep putting myself through this stress: I’m really frightened of Home Group response. I’m frightened that one day they may in fact send me a letter and I’ll never open it. I keep remember how, at some point, every time I’ve got an email from the tribunal I had a panic attack (and actually why, it should be them who ought to be scared).

But I keep on keeping on. The obstacles don’t put me off at all. So sometimes I’m focused on obstacles more than on where I want to be but not every time. I’m not quite getting it.

So what is it that I want to achieve? I guess authorities to notice that the current approach to support for autistics is not really working. Telling us that harassment cannot be tolerated and that we should be making lists of every events that happened is not going to help us.

Who would believe that The Lady used to mention ‘slimy fish’ out of nowhere while looking straight into my eyes? But only when no one was around of course. With other people she was the perfect example of a professional. People like that can’t be fought with procedures, it’s never going to work.

Researching neurotypicals (me vs Home Group)

(For those of you who don’t already know Home Group is a large housing association with head office in Newcastle, UK, that I used to work for. They claimed in an official document that my autism diagnosis was private and they paid for it, while it was on NHS and they were never asked to get involved.)

I contacted an ex colleague from Home Group today. I’m not in touch with anybody from there except of him as I also know him from a different setting. He is a lovely chap and very fair, that’s why I was at some point very scared that he will be avoiding me due to whatever he heard about me, and I’m sure he heard something at the time, what must have been mostly made up.

And the thing is, why would I be scared? And why I kept quiet about it for, well… since 2017? Should we not talk about things like that openly so that they never happened to anybody else? I’m sure Mr Henderson, Home Group CEO, would agree with me on that.

Every time I mention Home Group on my blog I email Mr Henderson and he never replies. So I’m wondering, what is going to happen now? Would Home Group just keep quiet forever, possibly saying, if someone from outside ever asks, that they can’t comment on individual circumstances? But that wasn’t just my circumstance.

I had problem with a female colleague (I call her The Lady for the purpose of my story) and, as I started complaining, the things were getting worse and worse. I was asked on two occasions by managers from outside of my team, how I got the autism diagnosis and I said it was on NHS and on both of those occasions those managers pulled faces at me.

I have a feeling that Home Group doesn’t deserve this beautiful pink kitchen but well…

Later on I understood why: there were fabricated documents in my file stating that the diagnosis was done through AXA occupational health. But neither of them ever said anything so I had no chance to explain and protect myself.

So, if Home Group conduct couldn’t protect me from those type of practice, how can they protect their tenants? What guarantees we have that similar treatment will never happen to them? It may, because that’s how narcissists work. They don’t stop.

But does that mean I should now be scared? No, we should talk about those things openly, so that they will never happen again to anybody else, wouldn’t you agree Mr Henderson?

I’m wondering, again, what is going to happen. What if I allocated a day in a week when I write about Home Group and even give them a category on my blog, so that the posts were easy to find? How long is Mr Henderson going to keep quiet for?

The Boyfriend is really scared they will take me to court, but what for? They’d only make idiots out of themselves for that.

So what is going to happen if I continue? Let’s check. As a project, to research neurotypicals. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

What is going to happen now? (Me vs Home Group)

So, those who read me regularly (it seems that there are a couple of people who do) may know that an inspiration to set up this blog was my focus on how autistics communicate and how different it may be from neurotypical communication (but how do neurotypical communicate???). By communication I don’t just mean how we use words to pass on messages but also how we use our actions and how we understand statements made by other people and how we interpret their actions.

I make an effort to write about it when something worth mentioning happens but I also ended up writing about my personal problems, my feelings, my mental health and, well… The Company.

What happened between me and The Company has been described in more details in My Story, but they are anonymous there. What the story doesn’t mention is, when I tried to access mental health treatment in Poland, after I ended up there, my PTSD was misdiagnosed by doctors as schizophrenia and it took them good couple of months to finally put me on strong anti anxiety meds.

The Company is a real organisation, a large housing association that gets paid by government to support people with mental health problems. They are called Home Group, you can Google them, they’re real, they have head office in Newcastle, UK.

Redecor

So the issue with them is such: I had problems with a colleague there that turned into bulling. It was at the same time when I realised I’m autistic so I asked my GP to refer me for diagnosis. I was thinking naively, as autistics are much more likely to get bullied, if I have the diagnosis, the bulling will have to stop. To make the matter worse, the autism diagnostic centre agreed to bring my appointment forward due to my work situation, which for me was like if they said I was right: yes, diagnosis will make the bulling stop.

Let me tell you, it didn’t. It only made the matter worse. So I finally handed in my notice and took them to employment tribunal. In their response to my claim Home Group stated that my diagnosis was private and they paid for it, but it was on NHS and my employer never got involved.

That was the last straw, the direct reason for me developing psychosis.

How did I feel at the time? Frightened a lot. I thought they’re everywhere, I imagined they made friends with my doctors and were telling everybody not to listen to what I had to say. I thought they made friends with the judge in tribunal, with my job coach in Job Centre (however, that bit could actually be true). When I got to Poland, travelling as my hallucinations started, I thought they followed me, I had hallucinations when they came into my house to drag me out of it, put into their car, drive to the forest somewhere far away so that no one could ever find my body, then they tell me to dig my own grave so that I’d never speak again.

A couple of times I tried hiding in the bathroom, behind the bath, on the floor or climbed to the attic, even though there’s no heating there and I’m oversensitive to cold. That’s how frightened I was.

I remember running through the church full of people because something that the priest said frightened me.

I was then frantically trying to find a place to hide and found one near the church organs. The organ player was a bit concerned by my strange behaviour and tried to find out the reason for it but I refused to speak up. Finally I gave him the piece of paper that I had in my trousers pocket: ‘Home Group wants to kill me because I wanted to campaign’ – that’s what it said.

He asked if he should call the police but I refused. I was sure police was also involved and convinced by Home Group to never listen to what I have to say.

So those were my delusions and hallucinations, however, they were based on the truth: Home Group would not want me to speak up, would they? Also they didn’t need to make friends with doctors or police: they just created a situation that was so unbelievable on social level that no one would ever believe it.

Put such a lie in an official document for employment tribunal? Who would do that??? They’d loose!

That’s why doctors in Poland diagnosed me with schizophrenia: they just didn’t believe what happened to me.

And Home Group didn’t loose because I couldn’t take it no more. How smart was that?!

So what is going to happen now???

It is said that autistics are not good at predicting other people behaviour. But then, are neurotypicals that much better than us? If psychiatrists in Poland didn’t believe what happened to me, they’d also would not be able to predict it may happen.

Redecor

So, what is going to happen now? I informed The CEO, Mr Henderson twice already that I write about the situation on my website and that I revealed The Company name. There was no reaction.

I sarcastically asked him if they’re going to threaten to sue me for slander but there’s no slander here, I’m only stating the facts.

I think they didn’t look far enough in the future hoping I’m not going to recover. Yes, they are paid by government to support people with mental health problems, but they’re not paid to support me so my mental health doesn’t matter.

But I didn’t set up this blog to talk about what Home Group did to me, did I? I set it up to talk about my autistic view of the world around. Yet Home Group is part of my story, and an important one. And please don’t tell me I could have just continued calling them The Company because if I’d do that no one would believe it. People would think I’d made it all up.

So what is going to happen now, if they can’t sue me for slander? What are they going to do??? Hack WordPress services so that no one would ever find this website? That’s the only thing that comes to my mind.

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