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Autism: A Year Off Work

18 Jul

It has been a year since I was suddenly taken off of work. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t even expect it. When I had gone in to the psychiatrist, I knew that I would need a lot of help in order to ‘keep going,’ as I had been close to break down for months – and the anxiety was extreme.

Every time I went in to this job that I did well at, this job where I knew I was appreciated, I felt like I was about to face a firing squad. It was bad. And I knew that I couldn’t keep going as things were. I knew that getting a different job would not help, as I had a decent job already. So I hoped the psychiatrist would.

Though I had never had success with anti-depressants, or any such drugs in the past, I thought maybe if she knew of my Autism that she would be able to prescribe something that would work. I was desperate, and so I was willing to try – despite the debilitating side effects I had always got before (and got again on all she tried this time.)

When I was taken off of work, I felt ashamed, and guilty, and… I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask to be taken off of work, put on medical EI, put on federal disability. I didn’t ask for this.

In the beginning I fought it – after all, despite my severe anxiety, awkwardness around people, rigidity, sensory issues, food issues, bathroom issues, low energy, back problems… despite all of that, I was a good worker. It wasn’t like they were about to fire me or anything. I did a good job, though it cost me a lot. How could I then go on disability?

For many months this was very hard on me. If only they could find me a job that… I often thought – but they said, “you need to heal.”

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It was hard. Not because I disagreed with them – I had known the truth of their words all of my adult life, and throughout all the jobs I did. I knew they were right. Still there was that expectation. Always that expectation. I am a people pleaser. I don’t like people to be upset with me. I don’t like people judging me. And this? This was big.

A year later, I still feel that expectation – from those I know couldn’t understand what it cost me to be working. I hid it well, but it cost me a lot just the same. I still feel that expectation, and it hurts me. However I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not ready to work again. Maybe someday, maybe never. But what I know is that right now, learning to live is hard enough, and I still haven’t any more to give to the world than I am giving right now.

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