The bizarre world of disability and employment.

Do you want to work?

That is a simple question, isn’t it?

Until you try and answer it.

Saying yes to it can lead to all sorts of issues because the answer can hide all sorts of caveats.

So, do I want to work? The short answer is yes…with those caveats. I’ve worked for 33 years of my adult life so I am not ‘work shy’ and I appreciate the life-enhancing aspects of work. But there is a big but in the way of that.

I’m Autistic. I need a job with routine, where change is discussed ahead of time, and where reasonable adjustments can be made. I also have ADHD so have to factor that in, as well as fibromyalgia which adds a physical aspect to my overall well-being.

So, I couldn’t, as an example, work in a factory, or stock shelves, or spend long hours working on my feet, or do a lot of walking. Just working will wear me out so I need to monitor how much physical activity I have to do in the course of the day.

And I don’t want a job that is endlessly repetitive. As much as routine is good for me, the lack of mental stimulation can be a major drawback and harmful as it leads to boredom and a desire to leave that particular post.

So I need a job that suits my needs and my ability to cope with it. I am not a square peg to be hammered into a round hole just to keep the government’s statistics looking good. And finding the right job, when you’re disabled or differently abled, is bloody hard. I don’t want, having had a breakdown, to have another one. I don’t want to let a prospective employer down, and I don’t want them to feel pressurised into offering me a job.

In an ideal world, I would work in travel. It’s my passion, my interest, but a role I am totally unqualified to do. I don’t have a degree, the customary request of almost all employers for all jobs these days, or so it seems. But I do have experience of travel, I enjoy research, I enjoy planning holidays and I believe it would be a good fit for me.

But my chances of achieving that aim are almost zero. I’m 57, I’m Autistic, so who is going to take a chance on me for the next 10 years?

It’s all very well that the government want the disabled to work, and many of us do, but some of us can’t just work for the sake of working. It just doesn’t work, excuse the pun, like that.

I’ve had a work capability assessment. I’m ruled unfit for work. That assessment concentrated wholly on my fibro without looking at why I had left my previous employment or my breakdown so I don’t even know if that’s been factored in. And that’s one medical assessment.

I was also assessed for PiP and the government has failed to realise that a WCA is not the same as a PiP assessment. PiP and being assessed for work are two very different things, looking at different aspects of life. PiP is to support a person with living costs, it is not assessing whether I can work in a supermarket or become the head of ICI. Saying that one assessment will deal with all aspects of life, unless it is dramatically changed, is nonsense.

Does this mean that only if you get PiP you will be exempt from work? But if you don’t then, no matter your illness or disability, you won’t get any help unless you strive to get a job…which is a job in itself. And what about sanctions? Disabled people are more likely to miss appointments due to changes in their health or access to the facilities required. How is that going to work? Are work coaches, with whom I have some sympathy, going to be given greater freedom in judging which excuse is genuine and which is not?

I have grave concerns about the current plans and must hope, as I am sure many disabled people do, that they never see the light of day. They are designed to fill us with dread because not once has this government demonstrated the slightest empathy with our situation.

So yes, I would like to think I would work again, in some capacity, but I’m not going to die in the process.

Let’s talk about work!

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.


There’s a lot going on at the moment.

Only there isn’t. It seems to be, but perhaps only in my mind which, it must be said, is struggling.

I feel overwhelmed but don’t know why, or rather I do, but don’t want to say because I’ve said it all before and nothing has changed, so there’s little point rehashing old stuff yet again. It doesn’t change things, not really.

The future looks bleak. Not mega bleak, as though it could all end horribly tomorrow, but that bleak, nothing is gonna change bleakness where you question if you have the stamina for it and can bear merely to exist without any light at the end of the dark tunnel.

I’m so confused about so much. My mind churns constantly with the practicality, or impracticality, of things. What do I do about work? Should I work? Can I work? Can I find the right job for me given my age and medical issues? I don’t want to do too much and feel overwhelmed but, on the other hand, I don’t want to do too little or too much in the wrong job and find boredom has set in or I’m not getting any job satisfaction and resenting it. I’m Autistic and the wrong job could destroy me, plus I’m almost 57, and we know how hard it is for people my age to find work.

My writings failing. No, not to the point where I’m going to give up, but to the extent that I’m not quite there with it. I hoped for a little more interaction but I don’t know my target audience…unless it’s just me…and I can’t buy my own books. I don’t seem to get the reviews I need to give it a boost and I’m pretty certain it’s not reaching the right people despite my best and expensive efforts.

I’m churning away. Churning in my head, churning in my writing, churning in my sleep. Feeling anxious, fed up, exasperated and at a loss to know what to do for the best. Story of my life.

But what else can I do? The world keeps on turning, and I must keep on churning.

New Beginnings

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Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Sure, every day is the first day of the rest of your life but today I am moving on, putting the past behind me.

Work is now done and dusted. There is some paperwork to take care of; P45s and last payslips and all that jazz but once that’s all been signed off I will consider that chapter of my life over and look forward.

I don’t have any plans. I’m not itching to get back into work. I feel battered and bruised and exhausted by the last six months and I need time to recover; to recharge spent batteries. I’m not going to be idle although anything requiring effort will have to be introduced slowly as I really don’t think I can face another burnout; another meltdown.

I am going to write. Yes, it might not be to your taste (or even mine at times) but it has to be done. I want to write about hopes and dreams and moving forward and I want to continue to write my books and get them out on Amazon. They may not sell but at least they will be out there, in my own voice, telling tales that I want to tell. I don’t think they will make me rich but if you don’t try, you don’t get.

I am going to take better care of myself. I need to take better care of myself. I need to think more seriously about my diet and my diabetes and look after myself because nobody is going to do that for me. Sure I am still horribly depressed and I am still Autistic and still have ADHD and all the associated trauma but I am going to do my best.

Today is all about new beginnings. Tomorrow will be about more new beginnings.

Now let’s find out where those beginnings will take me.

It’s finally over!

After several long and painful months, it’s finally over.

I have a couple of things to sign and then I will be free and perhaps, just perhaps, I will sleep at night. Leaving work has been difficult. It’s been difficult for a number of reasons that I can’t talk about but suffice it to say that my health has suffered as a result and now, with that behind me, I need to start looking after myself more and look to the future.

Boldly, I’ve purchased a new suitcase. I may never use it but having it gives me hope, if you can understand that; hope that we will travel again and therefore it was a reasonable thing to do.

I don’t have any immediate goals. There will be benefit applications and things like that to do but now I just want to chill; sort my life out and try and get myself back on an even keel. I have books out and I do want to write more or at least write regularly so that I don’t lose touch.

Work? is an unknown quantity. do I want to? Perhaps but only if it’s right and being conscious of the difficulty in finding posts that are suitable for Autistic people. Home working would be great but I am not jumping from the frying pan into the fire and will be patient and see what comes along.

But I am glad that it is all over. I look back on ten years of doing my best with some pride because I know that I fought hard to help a lot of people in that time and that I was able, in some small way, to make their lives better.

Until next time then.


Playing The Game

It’s almost as if time is standing still. Almost.

Each time I think that I am getting to the point where a decision will be made, I find myself taking a step backwards as yet another obstacle is placed in my way. Sure, these are obstacles that can be overcome but they are an annoyance, designed to trip me up and I could do without them.

I want to move on. I don’t want to have to continually drag the process out and bring in third parties to do something else because another third party can’t get its act together. I want things to be sorted out so that I can wake up the next morning and look ahead, rather than wake up and hope that’s the day that A or B is resolved.

I feel very trapped and that is making my anxiety worse. Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel but only if certain people agree to draw back the curtain and let it in. I don’t want a ‘will they, won’t they’ situation to develop. I want it all sorted and I would rather it’s done sooner so I can simply move on and close that chapter of my life.

I would like to say more but I have certain restrictions placed upon me and so I can only say very limited things when I would like to be able to speak more freely but, if I do, have to accept the consequences and, as with many things, its a question of balance and making sure I come out of this on an even keel at the very least.

I hope we can get it done in the next two weeks. I hope we can and will do all that I can to progress things but without sacrificing my dignity and self-respect. I’m not prepared simply to throw everything away and lose out. I have to come out of this better than when I went in, for the sake of my own sanity.

I know this is confusing and I am sorry. I hope that I can get back to more ‘normal’ blogging soon, perhaps even in my next blog. We will see.

And still things aren’t resolved!

I hoped that yesterday would see things sorted. Just sign some papers, drop some gear back and then fly away free. But I guess I’m not that lucky.

Third parties hold different opinions and when those third parties see something they don’t like or they think could be argued against, then it’s their duty to step in and advise you. Sure, you can ignore their advice and part of me wanted to say so and just walk away but sometimes you get that feeling in your gut that something is worth one more try, one final effort, and so you say ‘Why not?’ and resign yourself to the fact that it’s not quite over.

Then you find yourself chasing things because deadlines have crept up on you and all of a sudden you have to push things back and ask for this and that to be extended and that has a knock on effect of having to ask someone else to move a deadline. I tell you, I was absolutely shattered after talking for 90 minutes and still forgot half the things I meant to say.

So now it meanders on. Now we have at least another week of waiting. I hope it gets resolved soon. I want my life sorted. I want to know the future and not live with anymore uncertainty.

Busy, busy, busy

I’ve been very busy this last week.

Edited one book. Compiled another. Edited that. Made covers for both. Then uploaded covers, then changed covers and edited covers and changed them again and watched a YouTube movie on how it’s done except it didn’t show me so I had to start again. And again. And again.

I think I’ve changed about twenty covers now. I’ve lost track of which is which and what size is size. I’m exhausted and cranky.

I’ve started writing two new books. The third in one series and the first in another and I have ideas spilling out all over the place and no time to get them down and if I do, I’ll be concerned I’m spreading myself too thin. Which I already.

And this coming week I have solicitors and dentists and I’m leaving work and I have more writing and editing to do. And more covers. And then there are benefit applications and job hunting. And…

I’m just so tired. Little sleep, Fibromyalgia pain wearing me out, sore foot, toothache…roll on Thursday and I’m so busy I can barely breathe.

Now, I’m off for a lie down!

A New Dawn

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So it’s almost done.

Within a few weeks, a month or two, I will no longer be employed but thrust once more into the unfamiliar and the scary without a clue as to what I am doing or where I am going. I’m not terrified but just, what’s a good word, despondent.

I didn’t expect to go back to my job. I didn’t expect my employer to be that flexible and knowing that they would have had to change so significantly and to such a degree that was almost impossible to expect, I can’t be too upset about the fact they didn’t try.

I think we were both stymied by the Occupational Health report. It gave us no options to work with and although I like things in black and white as they suit my personality this is perhaps the one occasion in which I would have liked some shades of grey; something to give us the opportunity for dialogue.

The difficulty with asking closed questions is that you get closed answers and that’s what happened. Presented with only two options I chose the negative ones and felt there was no room to move; to say what I really wanted to say; to explain.

So now we are here.

Something unexpected. Something I didn’t see coming. Something that I need to take advice on, legal advice, serious stuff.

And once that’s done then it’s the future and whatever that holds or even means. At 56 it’s not something that I look forward to with enthusiasm simply because I don’t know what to do next or how to do it. It’s scary stuff staring again at 56 when you don’t actually have any skills to rely on and everything you thought you were good at seems to have counted for nothing. And when you suffer with mental health issues and depression that don’t exactly make prospective employers want you.

The future is here and the future is scary.