Once upon a time, in a land far away, an Aspergers boy (that would be me) was happy in his work.
He rarely saw others. He sat in an office with two other people who were out the door by 11.00am, and he worked until 1.00pm when he retreated home to a soothing cuppa and he continued to work till 4.30. It was a time of Autonomy. A time of freedom and a job, so long as it got done, was governed by a set routine.
The years passed and the boy became a man ( I believe this is where you have to suspend belief as I was about 43…) and change was forced upon the man child!. The days of routine freedom were numbered as the great cost cutting machine was raising its ugly head in the public sector and it was decided that a trained imp could do the job for a fraction of the cost.
(On a serious note here, I would like to point out that austerity, whilst not as draconian as it is now, started under Labour. They screwed me out of my job by cutting costs in my departments in vast swathes. My team was decimated. Out of 70 people they only retained a dozen!)
Redundancy was a bitter pill. Of course it gave more freedom but it disrupted routine and gave way to listlessness, depression (in a newly diagnosed Autistic man) and the awful struggle for employment. Benefits were denied. Too much money in some cases, not being able to attend job centre interviews in others. I was pushed from pillar to post and eventually only my MPs intervention got my NI contributions allocated but they still wouldn’t pay the benefit because I mentally wasn’t prepared to travel miles for job centre interviews with unfeeling bureaucrats!
Three years later, redundancy down to the last few hundred, two hundred applications and six interviews later, I got this job.
I wish I hadn’t.
Bullying, victimisation, feeling out of place, not feeling valued, subject of some nasty emails, accused of betraying a bosses confidence; it’s really not for me and that’s before the sensory issues of strange lighting, cramped conditions, too hot or too cold, the loud buzz of a dozen computers, the social interaction and the 160 telephone calls a day!.
I do work hard. In fact I know I do twice as much as most. I am the go to guy for finding stuff out and my irreverent humour, terrible puns and quick wit keep my section entertained.
But I’m dying inside.
I do like work. There’s no money in working for a charity so I am not in it for the money although I need it to live but I just can’t cope with the noise, the pressure, the stress, the unpredictability of the calls, the ones who don’t listen, who talk over me or interrupt me so I lose my thread and work colleagues who do more small talk than work because they know “Patrick will do it”.
So that’s my job. I give Tax advice. I’m good at it. I’m popular on the team. I’m helpful, I’m funny, I get people through the day.
But who gets me through ?.
Because I’m dying inside…