Being mildly autistic (and by that I mean that I am the mildest of my family who are pretty much all on the spectrum) I find that the ones I have the most problem with are the ones to do with people –

I find it incredibly hard to make friends. When I’m in a group of people, I either clam up and just listen, or I over share about anything and everything in an attempt to make myself sound interesting. So people either think I’m a sour, angry bitch (I have a very serious resting face) or they think I’m a bragging, arrogant, attention seeker.

There is no middle ground for me. I only do the latter when I feel comfortable in the group (either the people, the place or the activity), the former happens most of the time when I am in a new situation.

Texting or emailing? Not a problem? Need me to call you? Forget it – I get so anxious when the phone rings, I shake when I try to pick it up. Calling out is something I have to build myself up for.

It took me six months longer than the rest of my course to be able to teach confidently – and having lost my job (and been unable to regain it) two years after qualifying, it will take me twice as long to regain that confidence. Going through a teachers job interview is going to be hell!

All of this affects my ability to get and hold down a job. The self help books tell me to “fake it until I make it”, “Get out and meet people”, “look people in the eye” – the amount of anxiety these things cause me is enough for me to want to hide away for days…

You are probably here because, among other reasons, you are, like me, ever so slightly obsessed by self-improvement books, articles, and videos. I devour self-improvement books, and I can usually pick up something from pretty much each one I read. But I also have a big problem. And with the self-improvement, how-to-succeed, be-a-successful-entrepreneur industry as a whole. A good half of what I read makes no sense to me. And that’s on a good day. On a bad day, it leaves me with a very simple message – success is not for you.

If I tell you that one in four people will share something with me this year, you will get an idea of what I mean. I have a mental health disability. Specifically, I have bipolar, though like many I have several co-morbid issues. Not all of the 1 in 4 who experience mental ill health every year…

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