Most people know that I’m Autistic, have ADHD and Fibromyalgia. I’ve also had two strokes and in four short weeks I will reach the dizzying heights of 57, still ten years short of getting my state pension.
My last job ended in a mutual agreement that I should leave for the date of my sanity. It caused my meltdown and left me scared and scarred of entering the workplace again.
But that is not to say I don’t want to work. Money is useful and there is something to be said, according to my better half, for some limited human interaction. And certainly for using the brain cells.
I’ve spent 23 years in the civil service. I’ve done administration work for the Parachute Regiment and Royal Green Jackets, I’ve been involved in clerking some very high profile criminal trials such as that of a certain Liverpool goalie, I’ve been trusted to train others and I’ve been head hunted for a specific role in determining costs. I’ve been the guy to make the big court openings go smoothly by reading the letters patent and generally speaking, in roles I’ve enjoyed, I’ve thrived.
Then I’ve spent 9 years sorting out tax problems for vulnerable people. Dealing with HMRC, organising appeals, getting debts cancelled, saving people money and in many cases, their sanity.
And yes, if I enjoy a job then great but the truth is, enjoyment is not love. I have been good at things I really don’t enjoy and the things that really interest me, eg Travel, are beyond me due to the lack of qualifications.
I have spent years training to be a counsellor only then to have my course funding ripped away and given to Afro-Caribbean hairdressing, I kid you not, and now find myself miles from any study centre anyway, even if I could get back into my training.
So, when it comes to work, I’m not qualified or can’t become qualified and people, whilst well meaning, talk about my skills without appreciating that I don’t have any. I’m not an IT whizz, I don’t do courses, I don’t go to meetings, I can’t do Excel, I know nothing about HR or project management or…and the list goes on.
I don’t have the stamina for long shifts or shop work and I can’t stand up for hours on end. And all that means is that every time employment is mentioned, it is assumed I can only do, or should only do, office workers and be a grunt.
And I’ve done that. I don’t want to do that again. I’d love to have a paying self employed career. I’d love to be a photographer or a successful writer, or work from home as a travel agent but one, I don’t have a decent camera, two, my books don’t sell and three, companies want anything between £8-10K to set you up as a home working travel agent. And I’ve not got the sort of money to waste if it all goes wrong.
So I’m not saying no to work. I’m saying no to the wrong work. If I work again then it has to be the right thing and this time it has to be for me. I need to feel valued and fulfilled, not treated like shit and my conditions ignored or brushed aside. I want something, even if it’s 6 hours a week, that makes me smile, that leaves me with the ‘That was good’ feeling. I don’t want to be a pen-pusher in a dead end job. Trust me, that will kill me.
And I’d rather be living.