Work in progress, process

I’ve been returning to this line of thought often since my therapy session on Thursday, where I brought up my concerns about the future and work.  I got frustrated afterwards because I ended up shutting down when my therapist made well-intended suggestions.  So I’m writing this all out here – the beliefs, myths, and truths – and seeing if I can land in a place where I ruminate less on this subject.

Belief/myth:  I will get burnt out in most work environments.
Truth:  I have gotten severely burnt out at least twice in work environments in the past.

I was working in the nonprofit sector, and one job I was working 50-60 hours per week with no overtime pay. My job included the work of at least two other people, jobs that the organization could not afford to hire someone new in. I asked for some accommodations, which seemed helpful in the short term, but I was still left exhausted.  And then I got laid off, which was a major blow.

The second time, I was working/volunteering at an organization where I was also living onsite.  I had just had a major surgery and I was trying to maintain a leadership role.  I was exhausted, pushing past my limits, and constantly overstimulated.

I once had a nonprofit job where I liked the organization and environment on the whole, but I worked the front desk and that required being constantly “on” all the time.  As an introvert with SPD, I know now that wasn’t the best fit either.  I would come home exhausted, mustering enough energy to work out, eat dinner, and fall asleep.

It’s easy for me to go from here to:  I cannot work in a nonprofit organization because it didn’t work in the past.  Then I go to:  I can’t work in an office environment and then to It’s best for me to work somewhere where I have more control of my environment.

True:  I know that I struggle with or get overstimulated by:  Bright, fluorescent lights.  Not getting or taking enough breaks.  Loud noises.  Open office plans.  Having limited control over my schedule and environment.  Standing for long periods of time.  Sitting for long periods of time. Doing anything without much variation for long periods of time.
I know I thrive when:  I can be creative.  When I contribute my opinions.  When I have manageable deadlines.
I am excellent at:  typing. writing. doing art/drawing/creating.
learning.  brainstorming.  much more.

It’s easy for me to get into fear mode:
When I got burnt out, my work situations were strong contributing factors.  Twice, that burn out process led to me getting depressed and suicidal.
From there, I can leap to:  therefore, if I go out and get a job, I will end up in a similar place.

What I know now:  Whatever I do, I need to work – and live – with my SPD in mind.  If I do not, I am at a greater risk for burnout and other side effects.  I may have to be creative.  I may have to look at alternatives.  A virtual job may be a very valid solution.

While I am building up my own business, I know that it is quite likely I will need to look outside of that at some point (not now, but within the next year or so) so that I can earn at least a part-time income.  Maybe my business will be successful and I won’t need to as much.  Maybe my fiancé will get a raise and we’ll re-evaluate.  I honestly have no idea what the picture of teaching Nia + selling art + whatever else will look like. There are a lot of unknowns.

I recognize I often shut down when other people offer me solutions in terms of ideas of specific jobs.  I’m not at the point yet where I can have a truly productive conversation where I feel fully engaged.

I would like to get to the place where I don’t immediately leap to the worst case scenario and think “this won’t work.”   I recognize I still carry residual hopelessness.  A year and a half ago, I believed my dreams were shattered and there was nothing out there for me.  I did base a lot of my value on my accomplishments and work ethic, and as I crumbled those couldn’t hold me up anymore.  I know now I am worth more, but old habits and patterns are difficult to break.

Truth:  While I know what the past was like, I don’t know what the future holds.  I now have more coping skills.  I have more awareness of how my neurology affects my daily life.  I am more hopeful in many ways.  I want to live and create a life that works for me.  I’m definitely in the process of doing it. 

Part of me is impatient and wants solutions now. 
The other part of me is like, “I’m doing a lot at the moment.  I have enough sustain myself for the time being.  Wait.  I’ll know when it’s time.”

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