I’ve always resisted setting up a blog, I didn’t know what I’d write about or why anyone would want to read it. But I’ve decided to document my journey to find (and hopefully keep) work… This could be interesting?
I should probably let you know a little about me: My name is Izzie Kirkpatrick (Isabelle is my actual name, but who has the time for that extra syllable!) My friends shorten it further and call me Izz, but I digress… I’m currently unemployed, but actively looking for work with the help of Remploy.
For those who don’t know, Remploy is an agency designed to help people with disabilities to find and keep work.
What’s My Diagnosis?
The first question you have now is probably what my disability is: I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was ten. The main ways that it affects me are that I have difficulty with social cues and I wear out very quickly around groups of people, even those I know and love. This means I need a lot of downtime and occasionally need extended decompression periods (usually less than a week, but in cases of extreme burnout I can need a month or more). As you could imagine, this makes finding and keeping work hard! My way of decompressing is not leaving my flat and having lots of cuddle time with my cats, but this wouldn’t prevent me from work, just only work I could do from home.
What do I do / want to do?
I am partly qualified in web development, software development, and game development, however I’ve hit roadblocks in terms of
- Dealing with lots of people at university
- Pace (I find it difficult to regulate my pace, I always want to go all in, but this can lead to burning out)
- Back End Web Development (this may have been due to burnout, but it’s got some anxiety attached to it as well now!)
Have I Worked?
Short answer: yes.
Long answer: I got my first job when I was 15 stocking shelves at a local shop, this moved to manning the tils when I turned 16. I worked there part time for a year and a half while also being at high school, I then moved on to working as wait staff (silver service) at a hotel in Edinburgh which did functions. This gave me my first taste of moving to a better paying job… I was hooked… I then did a lot of job jumping trying to find my place. During this period I did retail, sales, dropped out of high school, retail again, hairdressing, administration, reception, administration again, then finally settling working at a pensions and investments company after a long break and some college (Highers and an HNC in Accounting). This job nearly destroyed me. I went through a lot of life changes, bereavement, taking on responsibilities for a younger sibling, my first major bout of depression and really came to terms with my limitations and realised just how much my disability did affect me. Add in some difficulties with superiors and some very unfair treatment and it all combined to cause my worst employment experience. This job made me realise what I did and didn’t want to do for work and how much I was willing to compromise my principles. During this time I began falling in love with computer games… specifically? The dreaded World of Warcraft!
Well I decided that, since I loved playing WoW, maybe I could work in the games industry. I did some research and found, if I moved to Dundee, I could throw myself into the field, get in to one of the best universities for computer games after doing a little more college (HNC and HND in Software Development, with an A both years, despite not being able to attend for the first half of the second year because of going through surgery, thank you very much!) with one internship through the second half of my first year and one paid job in the summer between. I got into a Bachelors Degree at my first (and only) choice university doing Computer Games Technology. My first year had many ups and downs, but I finished the year with a distinction. I delayed my second year because of that familiar demon of ill mental health. I never did go back.
Goodbye Game Development
Over the coming years the computer games industry… changed… there were some toxic stories about women in the field as well as the Gamergate crisis and just what I saw as a lack of new games, just re-skins of existing games. I decided I didn’t want to deal with all of that, so I bowed out, but still kept my interest in software development.
After dropping out of university I went through one of the most difficult periods of my life. My mental health progressively declined and I got to the point where I was effectively housebound, had a family relationship break down, my romantic relationship collapse, some memories from the past float back up and need to be dealt with, and just generally feeling bad about myself and the world!
At one point I, with the help of my partner at the time, realised that I needed to stop being a hermit and rejoin society again. I went to the GP and they recommended a social prescriber (which is exactly as it sounds, someone to ‘prescribe’ me social activities) which ended up consisting of joining an allotment group, a conservation group, therapy, during which time I also started to attempt to rebuild my relationship with my elder sister. She ended up employing me at her web development company to cover her while she went on maternity leave and also threw work my way after she came back. During this time, still working with my social prescriber, I also secured a volunteering post at a local(ish) charity doing their web development and various admin tasks. I gained a lot of trust with the paid employees I worked with and was given more and more responsibilities. I really thrived and tried a couple of times to secure a paid position with them myself. I wasn’t successful because the charity, in it previous incarnation, had had to fold due to overextension and over employing.
My elder sister was diagnosed and later died, with cancer. Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma was her diagnosis, which, by all accounts is among the rarer, but more survivable cancers, but in rare cases goes aggressive (which it did in her case) She died just over a year ago. Shortly after going back to my volunteering role after taking a little time off, both of the members of staff I’d grown close with left the charity and were replaced. The new staff were nice enough, but I didn’t have the same level of raport and trust with them as I had with the previous staff. Between this and throwing myself full kilter into really learning web development in a self paced bootcamp I decided to leave and focus and commit 100% of my time to trying to follow in my sister’s footprints.
Burnout and Jobseeking
We’re very nearly up to date with my life. As I should have expected, I burned out in my web development education because I was spending all of my time on it (as well as referring myself to Remploy). So when I began working with Remploy I hadn’t been studying or working (voluntarily or otherwise) for a couple of months. I am looking for work in administration, but keeping my ear to the ground for web or software development roles.
Here I Am
So here we are, I’m unemployed, not studying, and looking for part time work (I’ve realised that full time employment, at least to start with, is unrealistic for me). Realistically I decided on administration as I have experience, and know it comes quite naturally to my type A tendencies! However I still yearn to be in web development (hence this new site). Wow I did not expect to go on for this long for my introductory post, but I’m not going to edit it, as I want it to be somewhat unfiltered to document my journey back to work along with its ups and downs! Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you next time!!