Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder

9 – 5 Zombie

No, this has nothing to do with covid-19 or any other virus, pandemic or a zombie apocalypse. It has nothing to do with anything going on right now, real or fictional alike. It has everything to do with my future – or what my future might become.

You see, even though I am not a Harry Potter fan I do know enough about it to recognise certain elements of one of the trailers with a young Newt Scamander at Hogwarts. Sure, I loved Harry Potter back when I was a child and yes, if the once rumoured Harry Potter RPG ever gets made, if there’ll be a chance to create a character and run around doing magic at Hogwarts, then sure, I would most definitely play it. Fantasy is great, but my favourite genre is really more science fiction than anything else, with Red Dwarf being my absolute favourite show on TV.

I got a bit sidetracked. My point is, in one of the trailers Newt Scamanders greatest fear turns out to be a desk and that fear is one I share.

Not many things in life frightens me like the idea of working in an office from 9-5 for the rest of my life – or at least until I get to retire. A quiet otium after a long life of work would be the only thing I would have to look forward to.

I have specific needs to function in society, and yes, I guess everyone does in some way. My needs are just a bit different from most other peoples’ needs. Not that they differ in type necessarily, but they differ in the way those needs impact my life.

I need a certain level of freedom. Some days are really bad and I need to know that having a bad day is okay. If I can’t leave my room for a day, then I need it to be okay. Knowing that it’s okay will remove the fear and anxiety that comes with having good days – because yes, sometimes on good days I worry about when my next bad day will be.

If I am not sure whether or not I can just stay home if I need to, if I can’t say that I’m sick by text or something like that, then I’ll worry and slowly my anxiety will grow until it reaches its boiling point and I break down. Then, it won’t just be the occasional bad day, but a bad couple of days or even weeks.

I need to work when I am hyper focussed. If I suddenly have 12 hours of work in me, then I can’t stop and I need to get that work of my system. If I don’t, I can’t relax or focus on anything else. I can’t even sleep, because all that I can focus on is the work that I have not yet done. It’s quite debilitation, actually.

I need flexibility in my work hours, but with a lot of other things I need routines. It sounds ridiculous, I know. I guess a better way of putting it might be, that I need to be allowed a lot of flexibility in my very structured routines.

I need to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time every day. I may sound like an old woman, but I go to bed between ten and eleven every night and I get up, no matter how little or how much sleep I get, between six and seven in the morning. Even if I go to bed at five in the morning, I wake up at the same time. Only on very rare occasions, when I’m so burned out that I can sleep all day as well, can I sleep longer than that. In fact, my sleeping routines are one of the most vital aspects of both my happiness and my health, because my whole world falls apart when I am not allowed to sleep like this.

I need to follow specific morning routines or my whole day will be messed up. I get up, drink my coffee, exercise, shower and make a protein smoothie. All these things, if I don’t do them, I can’t function. I become a shadow of myself – no vitality, no happiness, nothing but an empty shell.

I can, on some special occasions, do things differently, but only because I know my routine is firmly in place. If not, then over time I will break more and more down until I can barely function at all.

I need to sit at the same desk every day at work, because if I don’t have a place that is my workspace, then I can’t relax. The best way to explain how it feels inside when I sit at random desks is comparing it to how it might feel for you if you had to break into a strangers’ home every day and sit down, do your work and prey the owner of the house didn’t come back and turn you over to the police for trespassing.

Worst thing is… I get bored so easily and most of the desk jobs I’ve had have been crazy boring. My brain needs to be stimulated, because if it doesn’t, then it’s as if my brain slowly melts until nothing is left.

When my needs aren’t met, then I lose all vitality. I get up, go to work, waste life with silly small talk over coffee in the break room, work some more, go home and crash on the bed.

You see, I can get through those kinds of days at first. When I get home, I stop doing things like eating, drinking or maybe even showering. I don’t read or play computer, I can’t even be bothered turning on the TV. I just go to bed or sit in a chair and wait for time to pass, so that I can go to bed.

I am literally a zombie in want of a brain – my brain. But it’s already gone.

So, currently, getting a job that I can see myself doing long term seems close to impossible. It didn’t always. When I was just about to graduate, I was sure I’d get a job, but now, it’s been years.

I graduated in January 2017 and now it’s April 2020 and I’ve been unemployed since the day I graduated. Arguably, since before I graduated if you don’t count being a student as work – which it really isn’t. I did work while studying, but that was back in 2016 or 2015. So, yeah. I’ve been unemployed for a really long time and it looks like I’m going to be unemployed for a lot longer.

Back when I was a student it seemed so easy to get jobs, every time I quit or lost a job, I simply found another. Since graduating, it’s been so very different.

Covid-19 is of course a terrible challenge, and many have lost their lives all over the world. Not only that, but unemployment is also going up because a lot of people are losing their jobs. I can’t help but worry if it will make it even more difficult to get a job and whether or not I might end up having to take a job that will slowly make me less and less me, more and more dead inside.

That’s the reason I’m afraid I might end up a 9-5 zombie someday. I can’t be unemployed forever and maybe I won’t always have the choice to wait for a job that I can handle.

Being a 9-5 zombie will be the same as me just waiting to die, because it kills all the joy that could ever be in my life. Is there a chance I won’t end up like one?


Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Since I was diagnosed myself, I have been trying to raise autism awareness and share my own experiences and thoughts about life as well as my search for a happy and fulfilling life.

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