Self-unemployed: the Ignominious Job History of M. Kelter

An Odyssey of Social Confusion, Sensory Issues and Paychecks

I.

I lived at home during my college years. I was beginning to struggle with depression…it wasn’t a full thing yet, but I was too spacey and low-energy to both take classes and hold down a job. But by my junior year, it was becoming a challenge to pay for gas, meals, stuff like that, so there was no avoiding it. I had to find work.

So, the employment thing: it started in 1995. I was 20 years old.

These are the jobs I’ve had.

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When You Hate Your Diagnosis: Autism, Aspergers and Depression

The question I receive the most: “A family member who is on the autism spectrum is also experiencing severe depression. What can I do to help them?”

I offered some initial thoughts in a recent post, but this time around I wanted to focus on a very specific facet of this issue.

One of the recurring themes in these questions is not just depression; it’s that the person is having a hard time accepting the diagnosis. The individual is described as hating their spectrum traits to such an extent that they refuse to accept the diagnosis or even discuss it. Those writing in about this frequently report that they have tried to offer positive, practical descriptions of the spectrum, yet find that this approach is only making things worse.

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M vs. The Teeth Whiteners (stories from the autism spectrum)

The holidays can be fun for a lot of different reasons. But it’s an aggressively social time of year- celebrations, gatherings, parties, events, reunions- as mentally exhausting for some as it is enjoyable for others.

Personally, I can handle an obligatory social event…I can stand in a corner and wait it out with the best of them. I don’t want to brag or anything, but wallflowering? It’s an art; I’ve mastered it.

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Autism and Depression: managing self-hatred (Aspergers, ASD)

(This is part 6 in an ongoing series devoted to the topic of autism and depression; use the “depression” tab at the top of the site to find previous posts.)

As a kid on the autism spectrum, I received a lot of pressure to blend in and hide differences. As an adult on the autism spectrum, I now know what the consequences are for that kind of pressure.

When you are young and traits that are part of who you are receive negative reactions from people- especially from parents and teachers- it can very quickly erode your sense of confidence and well-being. This, in turn, creates a perfect storm for self-loathing and depression.

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The Boutique Situation (volunteering on the autism spectrum)

When I was 32 years old, I found myself facing a dilemma.

After socially isolating for a about a decade, I began therapy and was diagnosed with both depression and autism spectrum disorder.

The psychologist said that, in addition to managing the depression, we needed to spend a fair amount of time just talking…simply sitting around, conversing…so that we could begin to map out how my mind was processing social data. Once we had a better understand of that, we could then make a game plan.

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Descartes’ Lantern (the curious case of autism and proprioception)

I.

I went to a psychologist one time and said, “I don’t have body language.” We spent about four years hashing that one out.

One time she asked if we could talk about my gait. She said, “When you walk, your arms never move.” And they don’t, they just hang there like pointless, arm-shaped curtains. Sometimes when I’m walking, I mentally kick at them, will them to seem lifelike. They don’t care. It’s like someone took the batteries out.

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Q and A Tuesday: child therapy overload + homeschool fears (autism spectrum discussions)

Two great questions from parents this time. For kids on the autism spectrum, how much therapy is too much? And is it true that homeschooled kids are missing out on social skill development?

Here are the questions and responses in-full. Please comment with your own thoughts and reactions; the discussions that grow from these topics are always helpful.

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Why Fictional Therapists Suck

Despite a long history of undiagnosed neurological issues and depression, I waited as long as I could before trying therapy.

Waiting to get help: I can honestly say it’s the most self-destructive thing I’ve ever done. I slowly deteriorated over a period of years- years that I could have spent rebuilding my life, finding more constructive ways forward had I only been willing to swallow my pride and admit that I needed help.

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The Lunch Box Maneuver (ASD, Aspergers and school anxiety)

Growing up, August was traditionally the month that I was knocked flat with school anxiety. The last few weeks of summer, I was reliably a train wreck of fear and frayed nerves.

Today, in my late 30’s, I still feel echos of that as August sets in. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been out of school for a long time now; July gives up and some animal part of my brain tells me to hide, to run…from nothing specific or real, just the predatory talons of memory. (I’ve written before, in this post, about my teen habit of avoiding peers by literally climbing walls and hiding above ceiling tiles. I did that.)

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Scissors (stories from the autism spectrum)

(Please note: this post can be upsetting for some; depending on how emotional topics impact you, read or don’t-read accordingly. In short: take care of yourself.)

I spent a few years in therapy, speaking with a psychologist about the autism spectrum, learning to manage social challenges, sensory issues and so on. I was fortunate enough to find someone with a background in autism issues, so the discussion ended up being constructive, beneficial. I’m collecting those discussions, hoping to make them available soon. But after reading this post at Diary of a Mom, I wanted to share a particular session. In that Diary post, Jess writes about the need for parents to comes to terms with a child’s spectrum diagnosis, to feel at peace with it. The alternative…rejecting or denying the diagnosis…can be a devastating experience for the autistic involved.

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