I've been very lost the last few months. For a start, I came off my anti-depressants (under doctor's guidance). I've been on one AD or another for at least... maybe ten years? During most of that time I was undiagnosed autistic and for me antidepressants are just a numbing agent. They don't allow me to feel anything. So you can imagine coming off them fairly early in to my autism journey... wooo there's a lot of feelings to process.
The main thing I've struggled with is my employability. I left my job as a Senior Bookseller at Waterstones in 2017. To this day, I walk into a waterstones and miss that version of me deeply. I loved being a bookseller. But ableism and shitty management meant I couldn't do that job. If I hadn't quit, it would have killed me. I got lucky in 2019. My neighbours, a couple, had a small business that was fairly successful and they needed an extra pair of hands to manage their orders. They made beeswax wraps and I went in two days a week for 3 hours to fold the wraps and package them. This worked well for me - it wasn't intense, short days and not many, a routine job.. and the husband was also neurodivergent. They made it clear I was welcome to message them even 10 minutes before my start time and take the day off, that if I needed to leave I could and they were happy for me to sit in the corner, do my work and listen to my own music or an audiobook. I could take five/ten minutes to sit on my phone as and when I wanted. It worked, until covid put a stop to it.
And then I got a chronic illness diagnosis. Something that has stopped me doing the things I love because of the pain I'm in. It's funny, as I wrote that sentence I realised it's one you hear a lot and you always think "god, how do they cope?" and it hit me that now it's me writing that. They cope because it doesn't hit you in the face a lot of the time. It's slow and unassuming and then one day you're writing a blog post to vent your frustrations because the fun project you were doing now puts you in agony in five minutes. We cope because we don't have another option. It's better not doing the fun thing than being in pain sometimes.
I set up my art business, doing digital illustration as it was the one thing I could do physically that didn't cause flare ups in five minutes but I don't get anywhere near enough commissions to even consider it an income. I know premade products sell better than commissions but I have little inspiration at the minute and I feel like art prints only go so far. I want to do more physical items - things like clay or crochet. Things that cost money that I don't have to start up and then likely couldn't make lots of due to pain.
So here we are, lying in bed, in agony because I swam a few lengths of the pool three days ago. Wondering how I can earn my own money when I can't cope in traditional work environments but I'm limited to what I can currently handle in the art and craft world.
It's been a shitty few weeks. But something good has came out of the blog post. Writing. Writing has been that one thing sitting niggling in the back of my brain, a small dream that is daring to dream big, that through fear has been shut down and told it can't happen because of my pain. But I've just sat and wrote this, a few hundred words.. and I don't feel unbearable pain. There's a little... but not enough that I couldn't write another few hundred more. So maybe this is where I go from here. I find the story. I write the book. Maybe I self publish and maybe it will interest enough people that I can have a month where I can treat myself to something instead of just putting everything to bills. Or maybe it'll get a 6 figure deal. Or maybe somewhere in between. Or maybe nothing at all.. but it would give me something to do and know I can still do something I love without suffering entirely for it. Let's find out.