2019 – A year of change

I’m bringing the blog out of cold storage for a one-off post. Why? Well, it’s Christmas and what’s more festive than a blog about mental health and depression?!

It’s been a pretty eventful year for me and I thought it’d be a good idea to reflect on my journey. I’ve discovered a huge amount about myself, I’ve done things I never imagined I’d do and I’ve finished the year in a very different position to how I started it.

photo of lighted christmas tree at night

Way back in late 2018, I was deeply unhappy.  I was doing a moribund, soul-destroying job, I was having regular bouts of depression and I was feeling utterly useless and directionless. I wasn’t much fun to be around and my relationships were suffering. Then I had a lightbulb moment.  Then lots of things changed (see my other posts).  Now I’m in a different place.

I’m getting there

Having the knowledge that I’ve got autism hasn’t solved all the problems of my world, but it has helped matters considerably.  In some ways it’s helped with major issues – I’m slowly establishing how to optimize the productivity, quality and enjoyment of my working life – see below. I’m also getting a better understanding of my depression and how to cope with bad periods. It’s also useful knowledge for people who know me and helps them understand how my brain works.

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On a more trivial level, it’s helped me understand plenty of the small things in my life. Last week I was in the supermarket and (unbeknown to me) it was one of those ‘quiet hours’ designed to help people with dementia, autism and other health issues. I usually find shops stressful, chaotic and unnerving experiences. But the lack of checkout noise, the absence of muzak and a general lowering of the chatter levels made it a far more palatable trip for me. I commented as much to my wife, who THEN informed me it was quiet hour! It’s seemingly little changes like that, that can make a big difference to my well-being.

I’ve also developed a better understanding of what helps me ‘switch off’ from my anxiety and depression. My family and friends are fantastic in helping me forget myself and just enjoy the good times. Seeing my daughter start school, love it and learn so much has been the best bit of 2019. I think I’m getting better at being ‘in the moment’ and enjoying the many great things in my life, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

As ever, I find sport a great way of switching off. Watching NFL, cricket, football, snooker etc really helps me to (largely) forget my troubles for a while. I still need lots of time on my own to help me feel more relaxed and not have anything to distract me. I also find writing great for my mental health, which leads on nicely to…

 

I’ve started my own business

A short while ago, this would have seemed an utterly bonkers sentence for me to write, but here we are. I’m the proud owner of Simon Day Content – copywriting and blogging.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a seriously hard thing to do and my mental health isn’t always conducive to making it a success. I’m getting there, I’ve got a few clients and I’m slowly ‘learning my trade’. I’m still some way short of being comfortable financially and I still need to improve the scope and quality of my work. But overall, it’s really helped me feel better mentally and happier in my working life. I can take breaks when I need to and I can structure my day in a way that considerably helps my output.

I seem to have found myself pigeon-holed into writing business to business content, whereas I’d love to expand myself a bit more. If you are one of the few people who used to read my NFL blog, you’ll hopefully agree that I’m good at writing fun, friendly, passionate and even funny content.

It’d be remiss of me not to use this blog to make a sales pitch…if you or anyone you know would like somebody to help them with website writing, blog writing, email marketing or anything else listed HERE, then please put them in touch with me. You’d not only be doing them a favour, but you’d also be helping me immensely.

 

I’ve got a long way to go

Having said all that, I still find many aspects of life difficult. Anxiety, stress and depression are never far away. I have up days and down days. I have days when I just want to stay in bed or watch Netflix, and I have days when I feel pretty much fine. Talking about my problems is still something I find incredibly difficult and painful, getting it all down in writing is far easier.

I’m still attending counselling and I still take anti-depressants every day. I’m OK with that, and the fact they are long term elements of my life doesn’t bother me unduly.

I’m pretty sure that bouts of depression and constant anxiety will be a part of my life forever, but having coping strategies and circumstances in place will hopefully help minimise their negative impact.

 

Society has a long way to go

We’ve all seen social media posts aimed at raising awareness of mental health. We’ve all given ourselves pats on the back for retweeting them. You’ve probably been to a training course or two on mental health. You’ve no doubt read a few stories about minor celebs ‘opening up’ on their mental health problems. You may even have made a donation to a relevant charity.

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That’s all great and it’s undeniable that mental health awareness is better than ever. But, I still think we’re a long long way away from where we need to be. I still think it’s treated differently to physical problems and I still think public understanding is not where it needs to be.

Consider this: think about anyone you know who has depression, anxiety, or any other mental health problems. How often do you ask them how they are feeling? How often do you proactively help them? Do you fully understand their condition? 

Now consider the same questions but apply them to anyone you know who has a broken bone, a heavy cold or some other physical illness or problem. Do you treat both situations in the same way?

By the way, I am writing this as a complete hypocrite. I know people who have mental health problems and I do nowhere near enough very little to help them. My only (feeble) mitigating circumstances are that my autism make it hard for me to emotionally engage in some situations. I get flustered and uncomfortable very easily and that makes it very tricky to be ‘there’ for someone. But I need to improve on that and will try my best to do so.

 

2020 is going to be good

Being positive really isn’t my forte. However, I need to try my utmost to be positive as being in the right mindset is a huge part of the solution. I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I do think it’s important to have targets and goals. With that in mind, my goals for 2020 include:

  • Growing my business – I want to get more clients, improve the quality of my work and establish myself as a respected writer of content for charities and small businesses.
  • Being a better person – I don’t think I’m terrible, but I can be better. As mentioned above, my autism can get in the way, but I need to work at that because ultimately that’s good not just for me, but for everyone else in my life.
  • Do more exercise – playing sport and keeping fit makes me feel better. The boring reason is that it releases endorphins that help your mood, but personally, I just love doing anything that’s competitive. I play rounders once a week, it’adventure athlete athletic daylights not exactly Test Match cricket, but it is competitive, fun and the team I play for is very good. I need to do more of that and play a couple of other sports, as well as keeping myself fit by having more gym visits and going for runs and walks.

 

Do all of that and I can carry on moving in the right direction! I might even write the odd blog post…

 

 

 

 

The Finishing Line

This is my final blog post for the foreseeable future.

That excellent hook is also a statement of fact. I will probably return at some point with some updates on my ‘journey’, but in terms of my general posts on autism and mental health that’s it for now.

I’d love to carry on writing this blog.  I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s been superb therapy and some of the comments and messages I’ve had have been really heart-warming. But I need to stop writing for now. And I need to explain why…

Over the last few months I’ve come to a few conclusions about myself and where I’ve been going wrong in life, why I suffer from depression and anxiety, and why my working life hasn’t been as successful as it can be. The good news is that it’s enabled me to realise what I can do to improve, be comfortable with who I am and thrive in the future.

The blog has played an important and unexpected role in that. I started it to just get a few thoughts out there, open up about what’s going on and pass on a few hopefully interesting nuggets of information. One of the most important things that has happened is that I’ve rediscovered my love of writing.  I’m not bad at it, it’s good for my mental health and it really suits the way my brain is wired.

I recently wrote about how my brain focuses intently on a few things, but struggles to concentrate on others.  Well, it turns out that writing, and in particular blog writing, is one of those things I do concentrate on and thrive at.  I’ve kind of suspected that for a while, and my jobs have always contained an element of writing blogs, copy and/or articles, but this ‘journey of self-discovery’ (apologies for the absurdly pretentious phrase that makes me sound like a reality TV contestant) has really hammered home that fact and help me understand why.

 

What am I going to do with this knowledge?

text on shelfClearly I’ve thought long and hard about this.  My life situation and responsibilities are the fundamental non-health related drivers, so quitting work to write a free WordPress blog about adult autism isn’t really a viable option!

What is a viable option is looking at ways I can earn a bit of additional money from writing and take it from there.  I’ve been looking at guest blogging options, and a few of you may have seen my speculative email pitch offering my services.

That’s all a bit low key though, and low key doesn’t often achieve much.  So I’ve decided to try and take it to the next level. I want to be a blogger and copywriter, either freelance or in-house, either where I currently work or elsewhere.  It’s the best option for my well-being and mental health, as far as work goes.

The end game is do it full time, but I’m sensible and realistic enough to know that may take some time, or indeed never happen.  I’ve signed up for a business start-up training course to further explore that side of it.  I’m in the process of putting business, marketing and budgeting plans together and I’m drafting up a website. I’m also looking at courses to improve my skills.

Initially I just want to get a few hours work per week to build up my skills, my network and my portfolio.  I need to nail down specifically what I want to offer and I need to spread the word.  As it stands, I’d love to write copy, blogs and run social media accounts for local businesses and charities.  That way I can see the impact my work is having and I’ll be helping my local area and/or worthy causes.

 

Why can’t I carry on with this blog?

silver and gold coins

Everything I’ve mentioned above will involve plenty of work and effort.  Having a full time day job and a family means free time is at a premium and finding enough minutes to write this blog now is tricky enough. Throw in jobs like creating a new website and writing plans will only further diminish my windows of opportunity. Plus…

I need to start writing more diverse articles, completely separate to this. To show that I can write on topics other than autism and mental health. I also need to write blogs that will connect with my desired audience and engage them.

It’s something I really want and need to focus on in order to make it work. I completely believe it can and it will make me happier, massively improve my well-being and allow me to thrive.

Now it’s just a case of doing it!

 

Epilogue

As I mentioned at the start, I will occasionally post stuff on here to let you know about my Adult Autism Adventure. I’m currently still awaiting the follow up appointment following my initial assessment.  I’ve no idea how long it will take or what it will involve, but I’ve become OK with that. I’ve accepted that regardless of a formal diagnosis I’ve got more than enough autistic traits to consider myself autistic.  I need to live and prosper with that knowledge.

Whilst it’s a big deal it’s not something that I want to hold me back. Indeed, it’s something that I can use to my advantage (No, I don’t mean I want to park closer to Morrisons!) and help improve my future and that of the people close to me.

There may also be the occasional post on her about my new work venture.  File those under ‘shameless self-promotion’, but only AFTER you’ve helped spread the word, visited my new site and had a think about potential clients for me!

So thank you for reading this blog and hopefully you’ll be reading a lot more of my content in the future.

thank you text on black and brown board

The Neverending Story

So there’s this 12-year-old kid, and he’s doing his homework in his bedroom one night.  Suddenly he notices that there’s a light on in the house opposite.  But that’s impossible, the couple who live there are on holiday.  He runs downstairs to tell his parents. They are good friends with the couple and have the spare key.  They go over to the house and discover that the doors are all locked.  The light is now off and there’s no trace of anybody or any disturbance.

Sorry, I better explain that bizarre into.  That paragraph is the beginning of a story I formed in my head a few years ago.  When I, as is frequently the case, have trouble getting to sleep or are daydreaming, my mind turns to it. Over time I’ve gradually added more and more to it.  I’ve almost reached a point when I’ve got the outline of a pretty solid story.

On a few occasions I’ve started to jot down my idea, I’ve got character and setting descriptions and my desired plot structure.  But I’ve never taken it further. ‘Why not?’ you might think, I clearly enjoy writing and have a modicum of ability.

There are three answers to that question; two of them merit a lengthy explanation.  The one that doesn’t is the simple fact that perhaps it’s not a great idea! But that’s pretty irrelevant to a blog about adult autism, so we’ll concentrate on the other two factors:

Confidence

It might be a preference to the habitual voyeur of what is known as Parklife, but it’s not something I’m blessed with.  I’ve touched on this issue before, when talking about my sporting ‘career’ and my working life, but I’ll now try and explain it more succinctly…

blur computer connection electronics

It’s all to do with having a brain that is ‘wired differently’.  A neurotypical person with a bit of writing ability and a half-decent concept would do everything they could to run with their idea. I’m pretty sure JK Rowling didn’t know she’d be swimming in bottomless pits of money when she penned the first paragraph of Harry Potter. But she committed to the idea, followed it through and now lives like Scrooge McDuck.

My neurodiverse brain constantly overthinks everything.  And when you overthink, you end up focussing on the negatives.  Look hard enough for a problem and you’ll find one.  I don’t see the glass as being half empty, I think the glass is half full, but almost certainly poisonous, so I’m not going to drink it.

I’m not for a second suggesting that my idea would make a great book.  It serves as an example of an issue that applies to the majority of my life.  Deep down I know I’m not stupid and I know I’ve got a lot to offer, but having the confidence to make that leap of faith deserts me.

Concentration

The ‘mystery light’ idea is by no means my only half-baked writing concept.  Over the years I’ve had ideas and started writing about (amongst other things) the history of the NFL in the UK, an NFL guide for beginners, a mystery about a couple finding a dead body in their walk-in wardrobe and a diary about completely changing the football team you support. I could talk at great length about any of those topics, but I’ve never fully developed any of them.

Aside from the confidence issue, my main problem is that I often struggle to concentrate for long periods. As I’ve mentioned before, if I’m passionate about a topic then I can concentrate for hours on end.  But if I’m not, or I don’t feel like I’m being listened to, or I don’t see it as being important, then my mind wanders and I can’t focus.

That’s by no means an issue exclusive to my writing ideas. Ask my wife about my efforts at cleaning a room or doing the shopping. I’ll have the best intentions in the world, but more often than not my brain will wander off and I’ll end up doing half a job.

photo of head bust print artwork

I don’t know for certain whether I’ve got ADHD, but when the doctors eventually get round to diagnosing me, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that I have. ADHD is extremely common among people on the autistic spectrum and I display plenty of the symptoms. I have problems focussing, I have a low frustration tolerance, my boredom threshold is very low and I am often restless.

 

In conclusion

The biggest takeaway from this is that whilst I haven’t invested enough effort or had confidence in the ideas I’ve mentioned in this post, I HAVE fully committed to this blog. Churning out a post every week hasn’t been a problem at all, it’s a pleasure.  I often write more than that, but don’t want to bombard people with too many posts.  Instead, I’ve stockpiled a fair few for times when I’m too busy to write something new.  The best conclusion I can draw is that this blog is a far better and more interesting concept than any of the others I’ve mentioned.

Through writing this blog, doing my day job and discovering more and more about my brain and disability, I’ve concluded that the best way of improving my mental well-being, happiness and working life is to concentrate more and more on writing. I’ve loved writing this blog and my favourite elements of my working life involve writing. It’s great for my mental health and acts as a kind of therapy when I’m not feeling great.

What’s more, it’s what I’m best at.  I know that, so what I’d love to do is to ‘take the plunge’ and commit to writing for a living.  Either as an employee or self-employed,  but just writing blogs, books and web content and copy.  Maybe part-time at first, but eventually I’d love to work full time helping small businesses and/or charities with their content (web, social media etc).

I know I could be great at it and I know I’d enjoy it and be passionate.  The problem is having the confidence and faith to make the leap, instead of just seeing the potential hurdles such as money and time.  But I have at least got a goal now and something I can focus on.

And maybe one day everyone will find out why the light was on in the house across the street!

16 phrases you should never say to people with mental health issues

Here’s a slightly tongue in cheek post about how you can best help people with mental health problems…

Autism isn’t a mental health issue, many autistic people are perfectly healthy mentally and physically. However, as I’ve discussed before, there is a strong correlation between autism and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.  It’s great that more and more people have sympathy for that and want to help. If you’re one of those people then keep doing it, but be mindful of how you go about it.

Here to help you is my list of 16 things you should never say to people with mental health issues. (Oh and if you read my previous post you’ll know that sarcasm is one of my flaws!)…

  1. ‘It’s all in your head’ – Well, err yes. Where else is it going to be?
  2. ‘You don’t look depressed’ – Sorry, I promise never to laugh so it’s easier for you to comprehend.
  3. ‘Try and cheer up’ – Oh yeah, I never thought of that. There was me thinking that being miserable was the best way to go. Thanks for interrupting your MENSA application to put me right!woman holding a smiley balloon
  4. ‘You could do with a drink’ – That’s probably true on most days regardless of my mental health, but that’s because I like beer! It doesn’t improve my mental health or solve anything. Please note: buy me a beer.
  5. ‘It could be worse’ – Undeniably true, but I’m not sure how that helps. Would thinking about a blind and deaf paraplegic with terminal cancer be somehow beneficial?!
  6. ‘Just forget about it’ – Right, so you’d say the same if I had a broken leg would you?
  7. ‘It’s just a bad day’ – Now, I DO sometimes try and tell myself this when I’m having a bad spell. Just as a way of reminding myself that I will have better times and it’s not permanent. But there is something a bit condescending about being told that a serious health issue is just a ‘bad day’.
  8. ‘You’ve got a lot to be happy about’ – I’m fully aware of that.
  9. ‘Man up’ – What does that even mean? Is it more ‘manly’ to not have an illness or disability?
  10. ‘Stop focussing on the bad stuff’ – See point 3. Nobody wants to feel down or miserable. Trust me, it’s not fun.
  11. ‘You need to snap out of it’ – That would be a brilliant solution…so how do you suggest I do that?
  12. ‘Keep yourself busy’ – I’ve tried this many a time. But the idea that giving your brain a distraction solves anything is just wrong; if I’m feeling low then it’s always there. And autism means that the ‘distraction’ is that something else to stress about.
  13. ‘But you always seem happy’ – See masking.  Plus maybe I’m scared of what people will think if I show weakness. Or maybe I don’t want it to define me.
  14. ‘You just worry too much’ – Yes I do, that’s called anxiety. What’s your answer?
  15. ‘Don’t do anything stupid’ – I’m lucky in that I’ve never had suicidal thoughts, but plenty of depressed people frequently do. The idea that suicide or self-harm is ‘stupid’ is particularly unhelpful.
  16. ‘I never would have guessed’ – See point 13. Note to self: Do a blog on ‘high functioning’.

Of course, I’m talking personally and hopefully with a sprinkling of humour, but there is a serious underlying point. The overall message is that it’s great that people want to help and long may it continue.  Just be careful to consider what you’re saying and how you’re offering to give help.

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Consider the recipient of your words.  Maybe they would benefit from hearing phrases like the 16 above.  Maybe you need to adopt a softer approach, maybe you need to just be a soundboard, or perhaps you should just talk about something else completely and provide a welcome distraction.

My personal experience is those welcome distractions are just as valuable as advice. Escapism is great therapy and diverting some of my anxieties is priceless. Feeling a bit anxious about the result of a sports fixture is infinitely preferable to the majority of my worries.

So carry on offering sympathy and support, but make sure that it’s bespoke to the recipient of it.

Flaws and ceilings

Why am I selfish, rude, sarcastic and lazy?

You probably need to read this to understand…

Former Australian Rugby captain John Eales had the nickname ‘Nobody’, as in ‘Nobody’s perfect.”  As sporting nicknames go it’s wittier than most.  But I suspect if you delved far enough into Eales’s life you’d discover some less than perfect things.  Maybe he doesn’t put the toilet seat down, or perhaps he doesn’t wash his hands before cooking.  There’s bound to be a few chinks in the Eales halo because we all have flaws. It’s part of being a human.

I’ve got a whole host of flaws that carry varying degrees of annoyance.  Most of them annoy me as much as anybody else.  Some of them often lead me to think that I’m a bad person. But as I’ve delved deeper into my behaviour and my character traits I’ve realised that a lot of my ‘bad’ characteristics can be attributed to autism and associated mental health issues…

Sarcasm – A lot of autistic people struggle to understand sarcasm as they take everything literally.  I’m not in the boat. I use sarcasm all the time, which is far too much of the time.  It’s sometimes rude – especially when aimed at people I’m not close friends with, it’s boorish and it’s often inappropriate. It can be funny at times, I certainly don’t think it’s the lowest form of wit (That’ll be Mrs Brown’s Boys), but it’s not always a great look.

I know I do it and I often subsequently beat myself up about it. But I’ve come to realise that I use sarcasm as a coping mechanism.  If I’m feeling stressed or anxious (aka most of the time!) then sarcasm helps to make light of whatever situation I’m in. It makes me seem more confident and in control. If you can try and be funny then you can’t be feeling that stressed, right?

Selfishness – You see somebody falls over in the street or a friend is upset. You’d probably try and help.  Two years ago my dad died and my friends were superb in rallying round and helping through a very tough time. But would I have been the same were the positions reversed?  I’d like to think so, but I also know that I can’t definitely say that I would. I know from experience that I’m not always the first person to help out when someone’s in trouble or the first to show sympathy.  I often come across as uncaring.

So does this make me selfish? I used to think so and I hated myself for it. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all to do with my untypical way of processing information and reacting. Autistic people reach sensory overload more easily than neurotypical people, and at this point their ability to cope with situations diminishes. So instead of engaging with the situation, they become very inward in order to avoid it. Which can come across as selfish.

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Aggressive – No I don’t want to start a fight when I’m in a bad mood.  I’m smart enough to know I’d lose.  But when things don’t go my way or I hear things that don’t fit in with want I want I get agitated. This sometimes manifests in me wanting to remove myself from the situation, but if that’s not possible my responses become agitated and mildly confrontational.

That’s not to say that I’m wrong in my views (sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not). Where I go wrong is in the way that I project my point of view.  It’s essentially a minor form of a meltdown, caused by the way I process information and the impact it has on my temperament.

Laziness – Yes, I’m lazy a lot of the time. And no I can’t attribute it all to autism. But, in some cases, I’ve realised that it’s a huge factor. Again it comes done to mental overload. Certain things that you would do without thinking about – catching a train, cleaning the car, sitting in a meeting etc – often cause me to take up more headspace. As a consequence, I don’t have enough headspace for lots of other activities, plus I have a greater need than most to try and relax from the stresses of life. All of which can create the impression that I’m lazy.

Rudeness – We all have to sit through conversations we’re not interested in. I’m just not as good at faking interest as you. So who’s the rude person really?  The honest person or the one who pretends?  It’s probably neither of us, we just have different ways of dealing with the situation, but pretending to be interested is a more socially accepted method.

woman in red lipstick opening her mouth

 

There are many more flaws I have. I’d love to blame them all on autism and thus claim that I’m actually perfect! That’d be very disingenuous, but it is clear that having a neurodiverse brain can have a negative impact on your behaviour and how people perceive you.  That being said, plenty of autistic and non-autistic people are complete dicks, so you’re better off avoiding them!

Talking of other people, my next article will be on the thorny issue of – what not to say to people with mental health issues!

9 contradictions of Adult Autism

A short post about the contradictions of autism

The hardest part of writing about adult autism is explaining exactly what it feels like. I mean, as the word neurodiversity implies, the autistic brain doesn’t work in the same way as a neurotypical one. So trying to explain it is a tricky task. Well, this post will do absolutely nothing to rectify that problem!

Below are a series of paradoxical statements and contradictions – but they all apply to many autistic adults. Some of them apply to me, some don’t.  You can play along at home by guessing which do!

Autism brain

  1. I have to organise everything in my life BUT I regularly forget where things are
  2. I have some brilliantly creative ideas BUT I struggle with day to day reality
  3. I’m really caring, BUT I struggle to empathise
  4. There’s loads I want to say, BUT I struggle to communicate
  5. I want to be popular and sociable BUT I want to hide away from everyone
  6. I know an absurd amount of obscure facts BUT I forget basic stuff all the time
  7. I can hyperfocus on a few things BUT I struggle to focus on most things
  8. I can start hundreds of projects BUT struggle to finish any
  9. I am extremely intelligent BUT make simple mistakes

 

As clear as mud then! To use a cliche to sum up the whole situation –  it’s both a blessing and a curse.

What is clear is that explaining autism to neurotypical people is extremely difficult, so just think how hard it can be for autistic people to live with brains that function in that way.  To be both brilliant and useless, often at the same time, can be massively frustrating and depressing.  And that is definitely something that applies to me!

You’re not alone

What support can I get during my adult autism adventure?

As far as I’m aware, I don’t have any autistic friends or family members.  In terms of my ‘journey’, I’m on my own in the sense that nobody else I know is having an ‘adult autism adventure’. But whilst that might sound like a lonely experience, I’ve discovered that I am getting quality support and that support is coming in many different ways…

The most surprising and positive discovery I’ve made is that there is a wealth of online support out there for people going through experiences like mine. Discovering that I’m not the only person to go through this, and that pretty much all of my autistic traits belong to plenty of other people is great for my well-being.

The National Autistic Society is a fantastic resource to find groups and support networks, as well as being a comprehensive guide to the condition.  When I get round to writing a post along the lines of ‘What is autism’ it will be my primary source.  It also has a busy forum where contributors offer advice and tips, as well as sometimes just unloading their thoughts and problems. As I mentioned previously, just reading about others who share my issues is a great source of comfort.

facebook instagram network notebook

For the first time in about 10 years, I’ve been venturing onto Facebook over the last few months.  I previously gave up on Facebook as I got annoyed with the endless stream of humblebrags, politics and people who seem to have a bizarre view that anybody else gives a shit about their train being ten minutes late or what alcoholic drink they have on the table.  But I’ve found a couple of very good UK based adult autism groups. The content is similar to the NAS forum, but because of the nature of Facebook, you can do a bit of casual stalking!

‘Casual stalking’ is of course completely harmless and in no way similar to the ‘serious stalking’ favoured by the likes of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction or Robin Williams in One Hour Photo.  Casual stalking just involves a few seconds of finding out who the person behind the post is. And that can be invaluable – not because the person is especially interesting, but usually because they are perfectly normal and uninteresting…just like me!   Normal job, maybe a partner, a few hobbies, post annoying nonsense on Facebook and so on.

Some Facebook posts are from people going through, to put it lightly, a really rough time. Be that down to depression, anxiety or just the sometimes extremely tough side effects of being autistic in the world.  And that’s when the community aspect of the groups really kicks in. Whatever your circumstance, no matter how close to giving up you are, somebody has been there before and can offer hope and advice.

I’ve made a few posts introducing myself and my circumstances, as well as asking for feedback on this blog. I’ve had lots of encouraging messages and constructive feedback. All of which has helped me feel less overwhelmed by events.

Offline, there are plenty of local support groups out there for both children and adults. is a twice-weekly meet up in Birmingham city centre for adults with autism. As well as similar events in cities all over the UK.  I don’t think I’m in a position to want to go to these just yet, but that may change post-diagnosis.

blogging blur business communication

Not surprisingly, there are also a fair few blogs from autistic adults out there. Equally unsurprisingly, they vary in quality and content – I mean, obviously none of them are as good as this!  But regardless of that, it’s great for spreading the word and raising awareness amongst fellow autistic people.

Despite the often negative places people are in, there’s a real sense of positivity about all of the online (and I presume offline) communities. The internet can often be a nasty place, but when it’s used for the right reasons it can be a really heart-warming, useful and empowering place.

I didn’t really start writing this blog with the aim of appealing to autistic people, it was more about raising awareness for people who weren’t on the spectrum. But if anybody reading this is either autistic or knows somebody who is, then I can highly recommend getting involved with the online communities I’ve mentioned here.

The other aspect of support that I’ve found a great comfort is the support I’ve received from friends and family.  My wife and mum have been especially supportive, but (in the nicest possible way) that’s not been a great surprise to me as they’re great. Equally, close friends have regularly got in touch asking how I am and offering to meet up, but again I almost expect that from close friends and I hope I’d be the same were the situation reversed.

What’s been more surprising and, in some ways, more heart-warming has been the messages from people who I wouldn’t have expected to have offered support.  Work colleagues, ex-work colleagues, ex-school/university friends, even people who I hardly knew from school who had read the blog and got in touch.  Honestly, every single message is a great source of comfort and support.

All of which is helping me to stay positive and look forward, despite my brain trying to look for negatives at every corner. Which leads nicely on to my next blog post…why autism is so difficult to understand AKA the paradox of autism.