January 17, 2021

Cruelty of autism

By rosieweldon

Today got me thinking about just how cruel autism is.

Not only does it make life so difficult for us to just get through, but by its nature it takes away our ability to seek help. When things get hard, really hard, we can’t communicate. Not properly. Not the way we should and certainly not the way others understand.

Today was a bad day at work.

I have taken on a new process that puts me in the heart of the business cogs. Where I usually spend my time doing self-contained work with set inputs from others, this forces me to sit right in a process that others feed into and use. I hate it. I dread it, every Thursday. I don’t blame my company for wanting me to do it. I’m super proud of the spreadsheet I built for the process and I know I’m the best person to run it. The problem is, it’s screwing with my well being to do so.

Today I get in and I’m already in a state of heightened anxiety. Because its Thursday. Because there is communication, subjectivity and a change to my daily routine. Upon opening my emails I find that there is an unexpected change that needs to be done before I can run it.

Well that did it. Minutes later I’m in the bathroom having a panic attack.

The problem with autism is not only is it why I was in the bathroom, it is also why I can’t ask for help. My boss wasn’t in today. My old safe person no longer works there. I felt like I was in a scary environment and had no one safe to turn to.

I walked out of the bathroom and stood in the corridor outside the office. People kept walking past and smiling at me. I looked away. I looked out the window. I needed help. I was desperate for someone to help me. But I couldn’t ask for it.

The minutes ticked on and I knew the process – as well as my daily stuff – needed doing. I wasn’t going to get it done in this state. I needed to go home and work. But that meant telling a manager that I needed to do that. Which filled me with more dread. I knew I would cry if I spoke the words I was feeling. I wasn’t ready for the people in the new office to see that side of me. To shatter the accountant image and just see a vulnerable autistic person who needed help.

I tried to control my breathing and focus on visualising walking in and asking to talk to the manager. I just needed to say I needed to work from home.

I did eventually find that courage. I spoke to him – and he was brilliant. I went home to do my work.

People see me and think I’m this high functioning accountant. You don’t see the autistic person fighting like bloody mad to keep her shit together. Desperate to feel safe. Desperate for help. But so often unable to communicate this.

Autism isn’t just about the shit we have to get through. Autism traps us in this isolated world in which we can’t even ask for help or communicate how we feel.

From the children masking at school to me stood in that corridor desperate for help. It forces us to need help but simultaneously takes away our ability to seek it.

A day of feeling ashamed of who I am. A day of apologising for who I am.

Terrible day today. But tomorrow is a new day. My boss (upon hearing what happened) and the manager I approached were brilliant. We will figure out a plan for next Thursday. As for now, I’m going to watch Scorpion and try to calm down.  

Tomorrow is a new day.

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