I have Asperger’s Syndrome (one of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders), schizophrenia, depression, episodic paroxysmal anxiety, and Irlen’s Syndrome. In simpler terms: I’m socially inept, highly obsessive/compulsive, often confused and sad, easily frightened, and have trouble reading on black or white backgrounds!
I used to be prescribed Seroquel/Quetiapine, which I’ve not been taking for nearly a year now. I felt the side-effects outweighed the benefits—I was drowsy constantly, prone to nod off at awkward times. I also felt listless, struggling to find a purpose to each and every day. Prior to this I used to take Escitalopram and then Fluoxetine (antidepressants).
A major problem I face is my quest for perfection in whatever I do—to the point of procrastination. To counter this I set myself specific deadlines on a per-task basis, to ensure I get the tasks completed. This micro-management seems to work.
One downside of not taking medication anymore is I have to fight to concentrate. The easiest way I can describe the problem would be to say it’s like having two brains in one body—I’m aware of both brains, but I can only control one. My mind races with more ideas and thoughts than I can cope with, some of them I cannot stop. I also find myself struggling at meetings, seminars and other events with an emphasis on verbal communication.
“It’s like having two brains in one body”
Depression I have to deal with still, it’s by no means “cured”. I have coping mechanisms, which allow me to deal with it better—but I still have days where I feel worthless. I’m a firm believer that which I can overcome, or at least keep in check, makes me a stronger person. I may not always succeed, but I am resolute in trying.
Coping with my reading issue can be quite frustrating—I have a coloured overlay, but I have a tendency to forget to bring it along where needed. As such I have to request any prose/material be photocopied onto coloured paper—which rarely happens! Thus I’m left having to strain to read what’s on the paper in front of me. About five minutes of such strain leaves me with quite a headache.
My first strategy is to make myself a two-week plan. This I then break down into a list of daily tasks. I ensure I work strictly to this timetable, as I have a tendency to overwork and burn myself out—which doesn’t help my clients, or myself! I’ve also become self-employed—whilst I enjoyed working with my former employers, working for myself allows me more flexibility in terms of work times, scheduling, and choice of clients. I also feel more free from any awkwardness toward or from others.
Using the Pomodoro Technique has been of great benefit when it comes to being productive—allowing for a decent workflow, and allowing regular breaks. I’m also experimenting with other forms of “life hacking” to see if I can improve my workflow and general lifestyle.
Whenever I go out my live-in partner accompanies me, to ensure I remain calm when in strange and/or crowded places. I find a good hug goes a long way when anxious. It also helps to have my mind taken off the situation by talking about various things, whether it be my hobbies or trying to engage me in a debate. Idle-talk, however, seems to exacerbate problems.
“I find a good hug goes a long way”
Expanding my horizons has also provided to help in numerous ways—it distracts me from everyday life, allows me to learn (which I thoroughly enjoy), but mostly it relaxes me. This could be learning a new spoken language, programming language, or perhaps challenging reading material.
If a project gets to me I find taking a day or two away to work on another project allows me to return to a project with a fresh perspective.