What Now? – Being Off Work With No Plans And Growing Anxiety and Uncertainty

Being a grown-up is a hell of a lot less fun than I expected.

Dear Diary,

I’m back writing on my laptop in my dressing gown and drinking a blackcurrent fruit shoot – mind racing a million miles an hour.

I’m trying to locate the cause or reasoning behind this nagging uneasiness I’m feeling and have yet to come to a conclusion. I’m probably embarrased and stressed out that I vommitted at work; I’m probably worried about going back to work in five or so days; I’m probably worried about my theory test and the content I need to learn by then and various other fears; And yet none seem to be the root cause.

I feel like I’m waiting to go back to school at some point and fall back into the routine of being a high-schooler. I’m waiting to be plucked from my new life as a working adult and placed back to where I truly belong, the place I was for most of my life.

Perhaps it’s being off work that is confusing me – (although this week off was desperately needed.) Maybe I’m feeling discombobulated about not following my routine as I have nowhere I need to be. My physical health is very poor; I can’t even walk to my Dad’s car without being extremely out of breath. I may stand still for hours upon hours at work, walking on even-flooring and walking quick short distances and back but these days I can’t walk down the high-street without repeatedly stopping for breath. In my entire life I have never felt this physically unfit.

Whatever the reason; I am lost and not sure where to go from here. I feel like a child playing dress-up, missing the carefree-ness of being a high-schooler (though high-school in on itself wasn’t exactly carefree) and I am scared of being given time to myself.

Food is still bothering me. Textures and hard bits in meats are causing me great discomfort and upset. My OCD is not great; I’m opting to not care about my appearance out of depression and not trying to make myself feel better by wearing my favourite clothes or accessorise.

I guess you could say I’m in limbo. I’m unsure of what to do and anticipating disaster and so are not doing anything productive or beneficial. I’m reluctant to start challenging my OCD or making myself feel better because I feel so damn tired. The idea of redecorating the house before a tornado strikes feels pointless so to speak. I’m just waiting for my tornado – and a tornado will always, always come – in a run-down shack instead of enjoying whatever time I have left in a cozy cottage so to speak.

My First Pay Cheque/My First Three Weeks of My First Job

Dear Diary,

I’ve been keeping a small diary of my days as a waitress in paper from my first day as to not forget anything. Perhaps I will one day publish them anonymously but for now it is a nice ritual I do as soon as I get home from work.

I can’t really believe that I have a job. I can’t believe that I’ve left high school or that my life has completely changed. I reckon that getting a job has insured me that I’ve kept my routine and the long hours have enabled little time for rumination. There are draw-backs to this of course. I may be thriving…or, I may be a bottle of coke being shaken and will eventually erupt. Only time will tell which is one thing that sucks about being autistic – I never know how I’m feeling until it’s too late.

But I’ve enjoyed working as a waitress. It’s been really tough don’t get me wrong and my feet are in constant pain from blisters but I’ve enjoyed working so much. No-one aside from my boss knows that I’m autistic so far and that’s the way I’m going to keep it (unless it is necessary for me to reveal that information) secret from my colleagues. I would hate to be treated differently by my colleagues who don’t understand what autism is as they don’t know me well enough to be able to see who I am beside the diagnosis.

I’ve made some money and it feels really good. Having the ability to buy myself a new phone in the next few weeks is an amazing thing. I’m extremely grateful for my parents for giving me lifts to work at early morning shifts and lifts back at late hours and I appreciate it more than I feel I am able to successfully communicate.

Something that I’ve loved about my job (aside from meeting some really cool colleagues) is meeting some incredible and kind customers. I’ve had talks with people who have left an imprint on me with their kindness and their respect. I’ve recognised people like me and spoken to them and their parents and felt a lovely sense of community with people like me. I have never seen my autism as anything positive but my ability to recognise a little boy like me and treat him with respect and fun meant so much to his parents they told me and meant so much to me.

So yes. I’m now consistantly tired; Occasionally bored; Frequently excited due to interesting events at work; Sometimes insecure about forming friendships at work but mostly relaxed around a great bunch of people; Endlessly in pain over my feet but ultimately damn happy. Things are really, really, really, good right now.