Hello, and welcome back to The Autistic Writer. I hope you’re all as well as you can be. Okay, first things first. Regular readers will know I’ve been pursuing a new place to live, which has turned into something of a long-running drama. Recently, I found what appeared to be the right place. The mortgage went to full offer stage, and conveyancing was almost complete. All through this process, I’ve told people I keep expecting something to go wrong. Generally, people see this as pessimism, but that’s not fair; I’ve always been a person who hopes for the best – perhaps sometimes too much. It’s just that I’m also aware of how things in life can go wrong. This is neither pessimism nor cynicism; it’s logic and experience. But anyway, everything seemed to be going well with the purchase of this property…
But, dear reader, things did indeed go wrong. Almost at the very last moment, I’ve pulled out of the process, and will not be going to live in this house. I’m upset, frustrated, and angry. I can’t go too much into the details of what went wrong, but essentially there were two problems facing me with this house. The combination of those problems faced me with a situation in which the financial outlay went upward, not least because it would have taken about three months from completion to moving in, which would have left me paying rent, bills, council tax, etc, etc, for my current home, while paying the mortgage, council tax, etc, etc, at the new house during that time. The second problem was less about money, and more about stress and inconvenience, and a situation which I can forsee getting more complicated over time. In the end, I came to a painful decision. Yes, I could have still gone ahead, and sucked up the problems, but I had to factor in the stress as well as the money. That was the determiner, for me. But you know what the really frustrating thing is? Both problems were avoidable, and for a while, I was tempted to blame myself for not anticipating them. But I won’t, and here’s why, with the connection to autism…
Like I said, there were two major problems facing me with this property. Let’s call them problem A, and Problem B. Once I’d made my decision to pull out of the deal, and felt my emotional disappointment kick in, I made myself ask why. Why had it come to this? What led to the problems occurring, and then blowing up so late in the process? You might remember (I go on about it often enough) that I used to be in management, and some of my professional traits were being well-organised, and being a problem-solver. Could I have handled this situation more like a manager than my non-working self? Well, it’s quite a well-known phenomenon that people who are good managers, leaders, or organisers in their professional lives are often hopeless in those areas of their personal life, so maybe I shouldn’t beat myself up. But I could use my old professional skills in hindsight to understand what went wrong. So for each of these two problems, I kept on asking why, tracing cause and effect to the root cause – basically, using the Five Whys technique.
Problem A: I worked out that problem A had its final step before the true root cause roughly one year ago. At this time, something happened which required me to make a decision. I had previously promised myself I would handle this decision a certain way… but I didn’t. Instead, I relied on trust and optimism, even though I had a bad feeling that it could lead to problems in the future. But – the final why for problem A – why didn’t I stick to my plan of handling the decision a certain way? The answer is that I was stressed out, overwhelmed, and running low on spoons. This is, of course, pretty much standard for an autistic person dealing with a non-autistic world. I don’t blame being autistic for my bad decision; I blame a world that is so horrible for autistic people to live in that I’m almost constantly mentally and emotionally exhausted. I should have seen problem A coming, all the way from a year ago, but I had simply been foolishly optimistic, and now I’m paying the price.
Problem B: This had its root cause just a couple of weeks ago. I had to sort out what should have been a fairly routine issue. If I had done this via a telephone call, I’m pretty sure the person I would have spoken to would have pointed out the correct process for me to follow. But I couldn’t face a phone call. Why? Because my particular array of autistic traits means I find phone calls stressful. So, instead, I used an online system to address the issue in question. But the online system couldn’t handle my particular set of circumstances, and defaulted to the closest thing it could find. This followed by some corporate incompetence, led to a small issue mushrooming into a huge problem. I still do not know how or when this will resolve. I’ve said I couldn’t face the phone call I should have initially made, and explained why, but here’s the thing: I do sometimes make phone calls, obviously. I don’t like them, I find them uncomfortable, and I avoid them, but I can do them when necessary. So considering the importance of what I was dealing with, why didn’t I make a phone call this time? The answer is that I was stressed out, overwhelmed, and running low on spoons. And if you read the paragraph above, you know why that is.
Hindsight is fucking amazing, isn’t it? If only we had it in advance. But it’s not just about hindsight. I’m certain I’m not the only autistic person in the world who has encountered problems in life as a result of being too stressed, too overstimulated, too oversocialised, too damn burned-out, to tackle tasks the right way. This is one of the lesser talked about aspects of autism in light of the social model of disability. When you look at the statistics for how many autistic people are unemployed, or underemployed, or have financial problems, or are sexually exploited, etc, etc, it’s not surprising. We’re constantly over-pressured, over-stimulated, and easy meat for predators.
These aspects of being autistic often lead to us being described as naive, incompetent, or anti-social. It’s part of the wider social narrative that perpetually describes autism, and autistic people, in terms of deficits, which in turn makes life in the non-autistic world ever more disabling for us.
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That’s all for this week. Until next time, take care.
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Why Do I Write This Blog?
When I first found out I was autistic, I was a middle-aged adult and I knew nothing about autism. I quickly learned that there was a serious shortage of information and resources for adults in my situation. With this blog, I aim to inform about autism and autism-related issues as I learn, hopefully helping people who are on a similar journey of discovery. Like anyone who writes a blog, I want to reach as many readers as possible; if you like what I’m doing, please share it with your friends and followers. I will never hide this blog behind a paywall, but running the website does incur costs. If you would like to support, feel free to make a small contribution at BuyMeACoffee.Com.
You might also be interested in David Scothern’s blog, Mortgage Advisor on FIRE, which covers a range of topics including mental health issues and financial independence.