A rant about work

Just can’t get myself interested in my work today. I know the issue is mostly me as on other days I would be fine with the things I have to do. Today it just feels so pointless. 

I have to keep going. I am getting bits done but I can’t get out of first gear. This is why I need to get out. This just doesn’t inspire me most of the time and the culture of the organisation feels like it is specifically designed to wind me up. 

I try to make the best of it. I make what seem to me logical arguments for improvements. But the priorities are all wrong. Managers would rather use buzzwords and strategise than address the real problems. 

I want what I do all day to make a difference. It just doesn’t feel like it does any more. 

All in the mind

In this age of science and discovery you could be forgiven for thinking that we are well on the way to understanding how everything works. But, with no disrespect to the many wonderful scientists in the world, that simply is not true. For each question answered, many more are posed. We are still discovering how much we don’t know. Which is tremendously exciting and challenging. There are new things that each of us can discover for ourselves and have our own ideas about.

If you want an example, look inside your own head. Scientists can tell you about how neurons fire and which part of the brain does what, but no one really understands how our brains and minds actually work. On top of that, your brain and mind is totally unique and you are by far the best person to make discoveries about how it works and what it can do.

This is wonderful but can also be frustrating. I know that my depression is at least in part down to a chemical imbalance and I take pills to try to counteract some of that. But that doesn’t fully explain all the negative thoughts I have or the weird dreams I had last night in the rare moments I actually managed to sleep.

It is something of a paradox that I know my mind is relatively logical and scientific in the way I approach things (when not being totally irrational and paranoid in a bout of depression), yet my brain is unable to make any inroads in understanding itself. If I knew why I felt certain unhelpful things I could address them. But I don’t. I don’t have a clue.

I appreciate that on many blog posts and tweets people flag trigger warnings at the start. I only wish I knew what my triggers are. I can wake on top of the world one day and in the depths of despair the next, with no explanation. I have looked so hard, but I do not know what the triggers are. It is immensely frustrating and drives me to a great deal of self-analysis which has delivered nothing useful and I am not sure was an entirely helpful exercise.

The bottom line is that our minds are in large part a mystery and will likely always remain so. We are not robots, programmed to react in certain ways according to what happens to us. The same person can react totally differently to the same circumstances on different days. Of course, the full circumstances are never exactly the same, as all aspects of our lives are related and continually change.

But this means that we have new ideas, thoughts and inspiration, and who wouldn’t want to have that.

I wish I understood more about my mind so I could better control it, but not at the expense of the useful things that make me me. As with so much, we take the whole package or nothing at all. Such is life.

Shutting the stable door

The UK news today is full of reports of blocks of flats being evacuated so that flammable cladding similar to that on the block which burnt down last week can be removed. QUite right too, of course, though it beggars belief how so much cladding has been put up with such an obvious risk apparently ignored.

Why, though, does it always seem to take a tragedy to address risks of this kind? Why can’t we be better at fixing these things (or not letting them arise in the first place) before people die?

I’m sure that we can all think of examples. The one closest to home for me is the commuter trains into Manchester. Ancient rolling stock dangerously overcrowded so that people passing out is a regular occurrence. Many of us complain and highlight the risks on a regular basis. Yet all we get back is that the trains meet safety standards and there are long term plans to change things. Quite how you can continue to argue that the trains are safe when people are hurt on them on a regular basis is beyond me, but that is what happens.

Do we have to wait for a serious crash on the railway before these so called safety standards are reviewed? How many other areas are there where there are clear and present dangers that will be ignored until lives are needlessly lost?

One of my most hated phrases is “lessons will be learned”. Not because learning is a bad thing, it is a wonderful and essential thing. But because it is the favourite phrase trotted out by senior officials after a disaster or a scandal. Each time a child dies from neglect after social services should have intervened we hear that “lessons will be learned”. Each time people die in an avoidable accident like Grenfell we hear that “lessons will be learned”.

Isn’t it about time that we started learning lessons without having to have people killed first? Yet officialdom seems so shprt sighted. They will address the danger of fires in tower blocks now, but they will continue to ignore the many other dangers that continue and are highlighted daily by concerned people.

This risk based culture of gambling with our lives has to change. No risk of death or injury is acceptable to cut costs. I am not arguing for us all to be wrapped in cotton wool – lufe is inherently risky and we all have the right to make our own choices.  If I choose to go bungee jumping I accept there is a risk. But it is not OK to place people in danger when they have no choice by providing dangerous homes, trains and who knows what else.

So while we are reviewing safety in tower blocks, please can someone also look wider and see what else needs looking at again. Can we shut the stable door while there is at least one horse left in the stable please?


Twin Mummy and Daddy

Delight in difference 

Today is Alan Turing’s birthday. A brilliant man who suffered and eventually died for being different from what somebody decided was the norm. 

You’d think we would learn from that. A man so brilliant he played a huge part in defeating the Nazis who was persecuted to his death on ideological grounds. But we don’t seem to have come very far. 

However much you contribute, however hard you try, however brilliant you are in some areas of life, if you are different you will be mocked or worse as a result. 

Apart from it being totally wrong to mock differences in any case, why do so many people not see that there seems to be a link between genius and being a bit different in many cases? 

Einstein was far from a normal guy. So many hilarious comedians battle deep depression and other mental illness. The stereotype of the eccentric professor undoubtedly has its origins in truth. 

When we discriminate against or hold back those who are different for reason (sexuality, disability, neurology, anything) we are just holding back humanity. How many great discoveries have not been made or have been made much later than would have happened because geniuses were mocked and held back for being different?

We love some differences – extreme skill or ability in a particular field. But we are so bad at accepting people as the complete package that we all are. 

Many people are brilliant in some areas because they are different while we try to make out it is in spite of them being different. 

All the more reason to celebrate differences instead of trying to hide them or “cure” them. We need to learn and do better. It’s hardly like the world is in such good shape it doesn’t need talented people to improve things is it?

Difference is good even if it makes us uncomfortable at times. Keep being different and help others to be different too. We will not be assimilated. 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The Cassandra Complex

No not a Robert Ludlum novel, though I may post some fiction here at some point, but an all too familiar problem. 

I saw a really interesting video on Facebook yesterday telling about prophets of real life disasters who were ignored. In Greek mythology, Cassandra was cursed with the gift of prophecy combined with no one ever believing her. In the end it drove her insane. 

It seems ridiculous but it still happens today. Both the rise of Isis and the devastation in New Orleans were foretold by experts in their field who were ignored. In the case of Isis, the prophet was a distinguished US ambassador to a number of Arab nations. 

The difficulty, of course, is that lots of experts forecast things that don’t happen. How do we know which to believe? By evaluating the evidence they provide and doing something that seems increasingly frowned upon these days – using our brains. 

This is not like one of those horse racing tipping scams where they tip every horse in the race to different people so that they can always claim to have tipped the winner. 

I am not an expert or a prophet. But as an autistic person I am very conscious of seeing things differently sometimes. That different perspective means that I foresee problems that others are missing from time to time. And like poor Cassandra, it drives me mad when I am ignored in spite of providing evidence. Of course I’m not always right, far from it. But surely I deserve to be properly heard and my input considered? 

Personally I cannot keep quiet when I see disaster looming. To do so would feel long watching an avoidable accident without shouting a warning. Uncaring and irresponsible. And if sometimes a warning is given but there is no accident is that such a terrible thing? 

This is another area where nd people can add so much to society if we were only allowed to do so. After a car crash police seek witnesses, particularly those who saw the crash from different angles, to build up the whole picture. 

But in society more often than not voicing a different perspective just gets you into trouble. It certainly does for me. 

We need to embrace this diversity of perspective and thought. If many hands make light work then surely many perspectives bring greater understanding. 

Nd people can be and should be a great asset to society. Please don’t turn us all into Cassandras. If someone is brave enough to speak up against the popular view, please listen and decide for yourself who is right. 

Free to be me

I was very close to not blogging today. I feel so tired and my head is such a mess. But I want to write something. It definitely helps. 

I long to make major changes to my life. Some are on the way as I will move in with Lisa in a few weeks. I can’t wait. 

I am so unhappy at work. My needs as an autistic person are really not being taken seriously and the organisation seems to try to find new ways to upset its staff every week. Perhaps after 27 years I have just had enough of working for other people. I have had good bosses and bad bosses, but none of them have ever come close to understanding me and how to get the best out of me. 

I am weary. I feel young enough to try something else but only just. I have had enough of being knocked down. I want to plot my own path and make my own mistakes. 

I still hope that this blog might be a step towards that freedom. I don’t know how but it feels good to be at least trying something. 

I like working hard, but working hard at something meaningful and worthwhile not the pointless corporate garbage I spend so much of my time on now. 

Where do I go from here? I don’t know but I will keep looking. I need to be free to be me. 

Pickled brain

Having trouble settling and focusing today. A disagreement with my ex last night and my natural paranoia about more to come combined with unnecessary changes on the horizon at work have left me really unsettled. 

I sleep but wake up just as tired the next morning. I plod on but cannot settle into anything for more than a few moments. I am incredibly restless. My eyes sting from tiredness, mental and physical. I am weary of nonsense. 

I know that this will pass but right now it is hard. I just want to curl up in a corner where nobody will find me or bother me. I am so tired and so amazed how badly some people can treat others. 

I know I’m not the only one feeling like this.  If you are too, hang in there, stay strong. But sometimes life is just too damn tough. 

Where will it end?

Another week, another terrorist atrocity. It’s horrific.

People are scared and angry. People who are scared and angry don’t make sensible and rational decisions when that is what is needed more than ever. Terrorism is never ever the answer.

There are very good and very bad people of every race and religion. No group of any sort has a monopoly on either. All groups need to take a long hard look at themselves and what they can do to make things better.

We all have a part to play because we all have a voice. We all know and speak to other people, even the most anti-social people like me.

We all need to take a stand for our futures. We all need to stand against hate. At the risk of sounding like the old hippie I am, we all need to stand up for peace and love, and be intolerant of violence and hatred.

This is about more than thoughts, prayers and hashtags. It’s about challenging unacceptable behaviours. It’s about the silent majority who have had enough of this nonsense becoming the very vocal and can’t be ignored majority.

What that actually means will be different for each of us. But to pinch a phrase from a charity appeal that has just popped into my head, whatever you do, please do something.

The situation is not hopeless. But it is time for action from each and every one of us.

There are far more good people than bad. Time to make the numbers count.

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Rolling with the punches

We all take knocks in life. That is the way of things. What matters most is how we react and respond to them. Frankly, I don’t do very well with this and it annoys me greatly.

If someone gets cross with me (which I am very over-sensitive to) or something goes wrong, I just can’t ever bounce straight back. It knocks me dumb for a while, often several hours. I virtually shut down, unable to speak or do anything very much while I process what has happened and work through the possible next steps and outcomes in my head. Only when I have established the worst case scenario and how I can deal with it can I move on.

This isn’t OK. I’m wasting great chunks of my time and life on things raised by others that I should just be able to let bounce off me and carry on, even if I work through the possibilities in my head at the same time. I know that in some ways I am too sensitive, but I don’t really want to be less sensitive. As events in London this week have shown, in general we all need to be a bit more sensitive and compassionate, and to turn those feelings into action when needed.

I need to be more mentally resilient and realise that I don’t have to take on board everything said or done to me. But when it comes from people close to you that is so hard.

I am getting better but it continues to frustrate me. I still let every punch knock me down and then have to go through the great effort of getting up again. It would be so much easier to roll with the punches or dodge them completely.

I know that I can’t avoid the punches, but I so want to deal with them better. Like everything else, it’s one day at a time. Frustrating, but true.



Something’s got to give

I am rapidly approaching the wrong end of my forties. I have followed the news and current affairs for as long as I can remember, so that is more than 30 years. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have never seen the UK and the world in as big a mess as it is now.

It’s nobody’s fault in particular, lots of different people, groups of people and events have contributed both deliberately and accidentally. I dread what I will read each time I check the news. Flags in the UK seem to be at permanent half-mast. We cannot go on like this.

I don’t claim to have the answers. But here is the thing. I don’t think anybody or any group has all the answers with certainty. I think lots of people have lots of good ideas, some of which will work, some which won’t. But what we have right now is certainly not working. People are losing what little confidence they had left in our leaders and where we are heading. We are certainly fed up of lies and cover ups.

I am not arguing for or against any party or person. What we need is a total change of attitude and approach.

What we need is proper leadership. Despite the claims of many these days, including my employer, not everyone is a leader. I know that I am not and I don’t want to be. I will certainly return to this theme again soon.

For me, a key characteristic of a good leader is to admit when things have gone wrong and to change course. I admire the very few football managers who will make a substitution very early in the game because the team they have picked clearly isn’t working. Yet our national leaders seem so often to be incapable of ever admitting a mistake. We all make mistakes, it is nothing to be ashamed of, it is not weak to admit it. What is wrong and can be deeply damaging is to persevere with a course of action that is clearly wrong because you are more concerned about your image or reputation.

So the leaders I would like to see would be prepared to try new ways of doing things but to admit quickly when they are not working and make changes, either tweaks or trying something else entirely according to circumstances. Nobody has all the right answers, but we will only find out what the right answers are by trying something different.

The human race has got to where it is today by being able to adapt and learn from changing circumstances. But now we seem to have stopped doing that, or at least our leaders have. Many of the people are ready for change, that is why anti-establishment candidates and policies are getting so many votes.

We need change, we cannot go on as we are. Our leaders need to step up to the challenge, listen to the people they represent and be prepared to change course when required. If nothing changes soon, I fear for our country and our world. Something has got to give.

Twin Mummy and Daddy