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Autism: The Benefits of Home

05 Sep

Yesterday was a sunny day – the first we’ve had in about a week. It was so nice. My son and I were home alone, so he came upstairs to talk to me quite a bit (he hides in his room when we have company.) I got so much done, and I went around the house cleaning, singing, and just generally feeling happy.

I guess that you could say I am ‘solar powered.’ When there is sun, I almost always have energy. It is rare for me to feel good on darker days. In the winter I have to use a special light just to get through those months without sinking into a full depression. But when the sun is out, it takes a lot to get me down.

While I was going around the house singing, and cleaning, and talking with my son, the phone rang. Most days I will hear the phone, immediately go into a panic, and decide not to answer, but I was feeling good yesterday.

The phone still scared me, and I responded with my usual, “Oh no!” but then I answered it. It was my boss calling to see if I would be willing to go back to work for them. I am on medical leave at this time due to my severe anxiety and social anxiety issues. I left suddenly right at the beginning of summer – tourist season – after all of us having been told in a group meeting that we would not be able to take time off during the summer.

That must have been really stressful for them, and I felt bad. The last time I left that job, I gave them 3 months notice, and found a good excuse to leave. Really at that time I had decided to leave for stress reasons also, but found a way to make it seem like a positive change (going to school through a government funded program to train women in the trades – for me, that was construction.)

This time, however, it was my psychiatrist who took me off, and wanted me to stop working immediately. She was right… of course she was right. I was not doing well at all – but I needed the work.

I was good at that job, for the most part, though in those last days I was so paralyzed by anxiety that I couldn’t do a lot of the extras that were called for at quieter times. Although I didn’t ask to be taken out of work, I really was praying for it to be taken away – so it wasn’t even exactly unwanted. It was frightening, though.

It has been over two months since I was taken off work. I only have two weeks left of my medical leave before my employment insurance runs out – though it is highly likely my psychiatrist will give me the 5 week extension, as she doesn’t want me going back to any job for a very long time, and certainly not that one. At the end of October, however, I will have used my maximum time on EI, and will have to come up with another solution.

So my boss called, and I was in a good mood. I told him I would have to talk to my psychiatrist, and couldn’t give him an answer before September 15th, and then hung up.

The rest of the afternoon I was anxious, trying to decide what to do. I know that job. I am good at that job, and they even want me there… but the anxiety is so severe that my marriage (all of my relationships, really) suffers quite badly. I cannot live outside of work, I spend all of my time trying to block out thoughts of work. When I work, my anxiety is so bad that I have constant panic attacks throughout my days, and that brings about a lot of pain. I can’t sleep, I can’t think, I can’t function.

On the other hand, we need the money, and I feel guilty and selfish to not be working. If I have to go back to work, any job outside of my home would cause at least that much anxiety, and likely much more. If I have to go back out to work, I might as well go back to that one, as I know how to do it… But should I go back out to work?

As the afternoon went on, I was thinking about what my boss said. They would even take me back one or two days a week, if that was all I could handle. One or two days a week would still cause a lot of anxiety, and for the first month, since I would lose my EI, I would actually be making less than if I didn’t go back – but is that a dishonest reason for staying home? Only I know that my psychiatrist will advise against it. I know my therapist will advise against it. I know that for me, it would cause the very trouble that caused me to leave in the first place… even though I like the job, know the job, and am good at it.

I talked to my son about it, and he immediately said it wouldn’t be a good idea, as I would go right back to the level of anxiety I had before (and it was horrible for all of us.) He said that even going back one day a week would cause me to be severely anxious for three to four days, and he was right. He would rather be broke than to have to deal with me like that, he said.

Still I thought I should at least try to go back… maybe push myself to four days again so we could get the renovations needed to our house so we could either sell and downsize, or make a basement suite and rent out the upstairs to pay our mortgage. But even the thought was exhausting. I know that I wouldn’t last. One to two days a week would cause the struggle, but provide no real financial help.

In the two months that I have been home, my marriage has been better than it has been in about 8 years. My house is clean and organized enough that I feel good to be here, which also hasn’t been true in years. I am calmer, and enjoy visiting, and want to give more of myself than I have in so many years… I am so much better than I was, and I am afraid to have that taken away again. But I feel a responsibility to work if that opportunity is there, and yesterday my boss called.

When my husband got home from work, I just simply told him that my boss had called and asked me to go back to work. My husband said, “no.” He said I would be good at my job, but for the sake of my mental health I can’t go back there.

I asked him what I should do, and he said either I could find a job I could do from home that wouldn’t cause such issues, or we would work with what we have.

Today I am home, and happy to be here. There is a fire in the fireplace, my pets sleeping on the bed, my house is clean, and I am writing. It is good to be home.

blog pictures 002

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