I'm in an office with a man who has mental problems. He can be very kind and very funny, but he hates being told what to do. He's started clicking his pen which drives me insane. I hate being like this but I can't stop it upsetting me. I've told him it's annoying, but he carries on. On Friday I was particularly sensitive as it had been such a stressful week and I was frazzled. I asked what that noise was, as I didn't want to say directly that it was annoying me as that annoys him. He said that it was him. I did say that's annoying. He KNOWS it annoys me! He didn't stop. Then he got up to get something off the printer and while he was waiting for the print he had his pen with him, which isn't usual, and carried on clicking.
Also, he sometimes puts music on his phone, even though he knows I hate it. It's down low but there's that awful scratchy sound that makes my head tighten up. He wears earphones to play his music so I don't know why he does this.
I've had a lot of support at work, to help me with my disability, so I'm worried people think it's all about me. It's not. I just find the world so overwhelming and being with this man, and the job being intense, and my manager micro-managing, I'm on tenterhooks all the time.
I'm mean, jeez, I'm 55 years old and I feel like a 5 -year-old!
But am I being paranoid that my colleague is deliberately winding me up, being disrespectful and resentful?
Ooh, I do feel for you here - I found myself in a similar, though more extreme, scenario in work a couple of years ago. I won’t harp on about that experience but needless to say that I ended up in a position whereby I was sure that my colleagues were deliberately trying to make my work life harder for me given my autism, but they repeatedly assured me they were trying to help me and insisted they weren’t trying to cause problems in order to dismiss me. This led me to feel like I was going mad and I constantly second guessed myself, then I had a complete breakdown over it. Anyhow, needless to say that I was dismissed and during the course of the Employment Tribunal proceedings that followed it became glaringly clear that I had been right about my colleagues’ behaviour all along - they had deliberately used their knowledge of my autism in order to constantly change my job role around to make it much harder for me to cope at work, and then recorded all of the difficulties I had coping as if it was nothing to do with how they were treating me! It may sound far-fetched, but sadly it’s a true story.
Now, whilst I am not trying to say that this is definitely what is occurring in your case, I do suggest that you remain mindful that sadly some people will be this cruel, and that you trust your instincts regarding what you think people’s motives are. And please, please put your health and sanity above all else. Saying you’re ‘on tenterhooks all the time’ is a bit of a warning sign to me - you shouldn’t be feeling like this in work. Ultimately, if you are unhappy/uncomfortable in your work environment then it may be time to move elsewhere. I realise this may be a really daunting prospect, however sometimes it is the best option and once you get over the initial change then life actually becomes much better - I know through personal experience.
If, as you have mentioned, you feel that this person has difficulties of their own and that this may go some way to explaining their behaviour, then I wonder if you could perhaps help them to mutually find another behaviour that comforts them but is less traumatic for you. For example, I have putty to stim with at work, which doesn’t disturb my colleagues at all but satisfies my need to stim. I would think that if the person is not deliberately trying to cause you distress with their habit, then a simple but frank chat with them/email exchange with them (particularly advised if you feel you may need a future record of your exchange) about it should enable both parties to understand each other’s needs and find an amicable solution for both. If however it became the case that you tried to explain/resolve this issue with the individual involved but they continued to ignore your discomfort and carry on the behaviour regardless then I really don’t think that person would be acting in a fair manner - it is ultimately not necessary to anyone’s job that I know of to repeatedly click a pen - and I would suggest going down the line of recording any instances of the behaviour, how it affected you/your ability to work, raising it with your line manager and ultimately raising grievance if you have to. It may sound a bit extreme for pen clicking, but there has to be give and take in a work environment to allow the best comfort for everyone and if the person is unwilling to adapt the unnecessary behaviour in any way, despite you explaining how it is making you feel, then I don’t think they are being at all fair.
I hope that helps you somewhat and that I haven’t waffled on about my own difficulties too much. Please let me know if I can offer you any further advice/clarifications regarding what I have said.
I don't want to have yet more conversations about the difficulties I've had. I'm overwhelmed with it. My daughter leaves uni in two years so I'm OK plugging on for that time. I love my job and the team are by and large very good. Two of whom I love deeply. After the two years I'll either retire or go part-time. I'm 55 now so I won't be too young then! There's also a chance in the next 18 months that our organisation will move two-hours' drive away. I will certainly NOT move! I'm too unwell and the drives will be impossible, I think that at that time a decision will be made for me.
Thanks all for your wonder support. You've all made me feel much better.
Sadly astro-imaging (taking photos of space) isn't my job. (I'm a civil servant). I wish it was! If you're interested, here are my pics. Basic for the big guys but good for me!
WoW Alex, I’m in absolute awe at your photos, they’re amazing. WoW, I could look at them for hours. It amazes me how utterly interesting, amazing and incredible autistic people are yet because we compare ourselves to nt’s we feel s***t about ourselves yet we are amongst some of the most incredible people in society. I’m truly in awe of you for so many reasons, you’ve touched me deeply. I don’t know why or how but you have. Good luck with it all (the work stuff), and please give yourself the credit you deserve for making it this far and still being incredibly interesting and talented. I know I can no longer work in the work place for somebody else so I do truly admire you for sticking it out. I’m going to look at your photos some more now. X