Sharing Recent Experience At Work

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Sharing Recent Experience At Work

Post by ButterflyBrain » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:46 pm

Just come across this forum and thought I'd share a recent experience I had at work.

While I've not yet had a formal assessment/diagnosis, I have always come out as having mild dyspraxia on various questionnaires and tests and the symptoms are apparent enough on a regular basis to know this is the case. I struggle to find work as I'm not great at doing things quickly and have been in situations where people have got frustrated with me for not getting something done fast enough. I can be working on a till fine and then suddenly not know where any button is and just stare it with no visual information in front of me seeming to connect. People will say something to me and I just won't get what they're saying and they have to repeat it not because I'm deaf - my hearing's fine - it's just that I'm not getting what they're saying and they don't understand why I'm looking at them blankly. However, I've been fortunate in the sense that much of the time I have worked has been on a volunteer basis and I could generally carry out tasks throughout the day in much my own time. This meant I felt able to manage/cope with my difficulties without too much stress or worry.

Having been out of work for some time I miraculously got a proper job earlier this year. It was quite the surprise as others in my training group - who had more experience - didn't get taken on while I did by the skin of my teeth. The job involved working on tourist boats which travel up and down the Thames. After the training week - which I did well in, but was ultimately theoretical in practice - I started my first of 4 days at work with an 11 hour shift. I was pretty much on my feet all day and there was no real proper break set as its more or less a continuous run with the same crew on board all day. While it was tiring I did ok, which gave me the false impression that every day would run along these lines. Next day I was back for my second 11 hour shift, but at the last minute I was switched to another boat as one of its crew couldn't come in that day. It was only after we set off that I learnt this boat had a longer run so I was suddenly - without notice - on a shift with an extra 40 minutes. It was just me on my second day with only one other crew member who had been there just two months. The day went terrible. I dropped and smashed a couple of small wine bottles, I didn't know how to show customers how to work the audio guides, I dropped and split hot coffee, I blanked out on the till several times which held up serving people, I couldn't open beer bottles properly as my hands weren't quite strong enough to hold them and the opener which led to me spilling a few of them, I screwed up totting up the card payments on the calculator twice, I couldn't get the rubbish out of the bins to change them, I was clearly leaving my co-worker exasperated, I struggled to take unsold stock back to the storeroom as I found it too heavy to carry over the gap between the boat and the pier (luckily there was an engineer nearby to help me) and was left completely on my own at the end of the shift. I just felt awful at the end of it all and exhausted by the time I got home. I was too tired to even eat any dinner so just had a snack and went to bed.

Next day I started my 3rd consecutive 11 hour shift, but had apparently read the rota wrong (not surprising as it would be a confusing mess to read for someone without dyspraxia) so was groaned at for being late despite being new and arriving in good time before any of the boats set off. I was barked at by one of the chefs as I'd gone the wrong way while getting stock for the boat, which really set me on edge as I was still feeling bad from the previous day. As we were approaching our first stop I started to feel really uncomfortable and thinking about not wanting to have a day like the day before. Then it just happened...I had a panic attack. I've felt anxious a handful of times before but I'd never had a full on panic attack before. Fortunately the crew on this occasion were really understanding and let me just sit and calm down. It took an hour to recover and they offered to let me go home for the rest of the shift but I was determined to see the day out so stayed on. I started by just helping get drinks while the others served customers, but I still had some issues. I was mishearing things, I spilt a coffee while pushing too hard to put the lid on, didn't know how to turn off the urn so poured boiling water over the counter and tapping in the wrong items on the till so having to start over again. But I made it to the end of the day, which was my goal. I got home - knackered and limping with a pain my leg - had dinner this time and went to bed.

I would've done a 4th day in a row but my body wasn't having it. I completely slept through my alarm and didn't wake up until 2pm. Three days of an 11 hour, 12 hour and another 11 hour shift, not to mention the commute to and from work and realistically no proper breaks during the day, was obviously just too much for me to do straight off the bat. Two days later I was in the office with the line and duty managers explaining all this and asked if it was possible to start over again but doing two consecutive days in a row and then building up to 3 and so on, but they really weren't interested in that idea citing that they couldn't run a business that way. The line manager also asked if I was likely to have another panic attack. Of course I said I couldn't possibly know as I'd never had one before and they tend to be unpredictable even for those who have them regularly. They went out the room, had a bit of a whisper for 30 seconds and came back to say they were going to end my probation there and then. They basically didn't give me a chance. Granted, I never actually mentioned the dyspraxia but the outcome would've been ultimately the same. They weren't prepared to give any kind of support for a new employee and, while I may have improved the customer service side of things with more experience, I probably would've continued to struggle with the physical aspect of the job.

Sorry, that was a bit of a long one but the experience has had me think about being properly assessed for an official diagnosis as it's the first time my dyspraxia symptoms have affected me in a demonstrably significant way and having an impact on others in the workplace. It was quite a lot for just 3 days.

Tom fod
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Re: Sharing Recent Experience At Work

Post by Tom fod » Mon Aug 28, 2017 11:09 pm

Hi and welcome to the site.

Please don't worry about posts being too long as in part getting it all out can help you to make sense of it for yourself and start to think of strategies for similar situations to enable you to get by with your sanity intact the next time.

Disclosure is a hard one as employers will still need you to carry out the duties assigned to you but of course there should be room for some reasonable adjustment. The tricky part is to get agreement on what is reasonable and I think we often struggle with such negotiation when we lack confidence in ourselves.

Dealing with setbacks and accidents and the impatience of others (and sometimes ourselves too) mean we can struggle to bounce back from such disasterous days.

Well done for having a crack at it and I hope you find something else that works out better for you soon. Feel free to look around ask any more questions and/or share ideas and experiences.

With a foot full of bullets I tried to run faster but I just hobbled on to the next disaster.
(from Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Foot Full of Bullets)

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