My life is largely one of solitude. Solitude is is a state of seclusion or isolation, meaning lack of socialisation. I spend an hour and a half at Church every Sunday morning in worship and in the last month I begun volunteering in a homeless charity for 4 hours on a Tuesday. However, I usually spend most of my time alone at the charity in a shed stocking food and making food parcels. I also see my mental health nurse every fortnight for half an hour. That is the extent of my social life, if we even call it that.
Why am I living like this? It’s a complex answer but I will do my best to break it down in this blog. In this complex answer there are two sides to this much like a coin toss in choosing heads or tails, I partly choose and I don’t choose to be alone. The challenges of Medication, Social Exclusion, Stigma & Discrimination, Lack of Accommodations, Sensory Challenges and Communication Difficulties narrow my choices and limit my confidence.
It’s fair to say I become overwhelmed in the company of people over a duration of time. I described it as being “peopled out”. I like being in my bedroom at home. I like to sit on my armchair and lay on my bed in solitude. I find most people noisy and highly judgmental. I prefer to be honest and be myself. I like to stim by holding my squidgies or even a teddy bear. I find drinking tea soothes me so I like to hold a drink as well. I also like to play on my phone. I find oral communication and bodily communication exhausting. I prefer written communication like this blog or text messages.
Eventually I have a tolerance limit. I just have enough of people. I’m not particularly skilled with aggressive questioning. People don’t like honest answers but I like to live honestly. This often means people don’t talk to me for long as I don’t seem to fit in to the clique. I like to celebrate difference yet I’m not able or particularly interested in being something I’m not. Thus I often find myself isolated and excluded. Even when I try to fit it in, I’m so rubbish at it and appear so unauthentic that it seems pointless trying anymore. So I choose to be authentic and accept most people will reject me. I do try to be respectful though.
I have made much introspection of myself to be a better person. It’s clear to most people I’m not good enough to many people. I initially thought perhaps I was a bad person. Perhaps it’s the mental illness or being Autistic. I haven’t committed any crimes. In more recent times I have tried to live according to Christ’s teachings but I haven’t forced my religion on to people. I came to the conclusion on balance I am a good human being, who has been unfortunate and much of it was my lack of economic value or utility.
In 2006, I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from University. I worked full time in the IT industry for 4 years before my first breakdown. My job involved burying myself into my computer to fix programming problems. I rarely had to deal with people except my manager. Bad managers led me to having my first episodes of mental illness. Once I was on medication, I couldn’t get back into full time employment and sustain it, so thats when my life became a lot more darker.
Much of work today in the UK are social jobs. The days of individual work is largely not around anymore. Autistic people like me are Structurally Unemployed. Structural unemployment is a form of involuntary unemployment caused by a mismatch between the skills that workers in the economy can offer, and the skills demanded of workers by employers. Autistic people like me suffer from a Double Empathy problem which means customer facing roles aren’t usually suitable for us. Then many like me recognise we cannot tolerate noise and bright lights due to sensory challenges. I find now I just don’t have the mental stamina for people anymore.
Since I don’t work many politicians manipulate people to win votes by labelling people like me as lazy or feckless. I am a Social Sinner for this, I talk more about this in my blog here. I believe if there was more accommodations and adjustments in the workplace and in benefits (Social Security) then I might have been able to have returned to work part-time. For a period after building Neuroschemas, I would have loved to have worked part-time building smartphone apps or websites.
After building my App, my medication was changed and the doses ratcheted up again due to more admissions. I mention in this blog I have taken 14 different medications since 2010 as well as having 12 rounds of ECT in 2015. In the end I still end up in psychiatric hospitals usually once or more a year. I feel a lot less functional now than I did in 2019-20. In 2019, I ran three Marathons for Charity and completed a PG Cert in Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion with the University of Hertfordshire,
I don’t think returning to work is likely to me. I would be interested in taking a 18 month holiday from all my medications to see how I feel. Though it would be pointless doing it without the support of mental health services. I think I might get my energy and tolerance back to be round people. Though I wouldn’t know for sure without trying it without the medication. The problem is if I ended up in a psychiatric hospital they would restart the medication all over again under a section. I think I will have wobbles but we would need a good 18 months to review. The problem though despite being disabling is that taking psychiatric medicine helps me in my eligibility for benefits. No medication, no benefits.
In the end, I’m in a psychiatric hospital every year despite 14 different medications and 12 ECT’s. Personally, I think it’s the Bible that helps me these days but they only do scientific trials on medications. In any case, I’m still confronted with Social Justice challenges that I have talked about before. Social justice refers to a fair and equitable division of resources, opportunities, and privileges in society. It’s clear to me I can’t do this alone, people like me need a fairer Social Contract
So losing work is a big loss to me and society. Much socialising and time is spent at work. The first question most people ask me is “What do you do for a living?” My answer rarely wins me new friends. I am judged a social sinner or I’m not socially expedient to them. I talk about Exclusion in Practise, in this blog. Since my Mum died in 2016 and my Stepdad shortly after I do feel more isolated now. I sometimes get quite scared of the world because I know no one cares about me.
It’s therefore no surprise I live my life in solitude. I have learnt to enjoy my own company. I do talk to myself sometimes. Usually it’s just me verbalising thoughts but it soothes me. Reading the Bible everyday, talking to Jesus and followed by prayer makes a real difference to my solitude. I feel less alone. I find attending Church, donating to a food bank and volunteering at the homeless charity meaningful things for me to do including being true to the spirit of my faith.
Overall I feel I am living true to myself and true to my faith. Am I living true to the values of society? I don’t know. I’m not sure what society expects from me anymore. Am I and people like me a psychological punching bag where we are scapegoated for the economy not performing? It looks that way.
I write this blog to share my story with a more holistic picture than what the media like to share. You can judge me and you can attack me. My consistent message will be this is who I am, and as far as I’m concerned, the way is Jesus Christ. If the way is only profit, then I’m probably not much use to you. In the end Christ’s teachings led to him ending up on a cross, I wonder sometimes, if I will face a dark fate as well.
Thank you for reading.