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Keep the Change Please

The Beginning of a Mental Breakdown

In 1999 I was living in San Diego and working at the National Dispatch center. I began working there in early 1997 and had really done well the first two years. NDC was a text messaging center and my job was to transcribe pre-recorded messages that people left and we would listen to them on our headset while sitting in our little cubicle and then send the message to people's pagers where they got a text message. At the time, this was new technology and it was a huge upgrade from the pager. You got the message on a pager but it had words instead of just a phone number. The pace was fairly slow and I didn't have to deal with the customers directly. I thrived and always got the monthly bonuses. Along with a steady increase in pay, I was fairly happy and had finally moved out of the crappy residential hotels downtown and moved a few miles away uptown in a much nicer placed called studio 619. I was going to the movies regularly, eating out a lot, writing poetry, and going to a writers group. And I was dealing pretty well with being single. I had been taking a sabbatical from dating for two years now. My heart needed the break. Shawna, Jaime, Lisa, Tammy, Rachel and a few others that didn't go far all had taken their toll on me. We had a pretty tight knit group in our section. Ours was small, about 14 of us. The rest of the company had 500 other employees and they took live calls at a very fast pace. They had no time to get to know one another.

Early in the year NDC decided to make a change. They dissolved our little group. We were all doing a great job but there weren't enough calls to really sustain our section. They kept us all on but we had to learn how to do the live calls. While we were used to typing about 30 calls an hour, the live call section would do about 500 calls a day in an 8 hour shift. One thing about people with Asperger's is that we really don't do well with change. We love routine. This change of routine would really throw me off. I was 27 years old and I had gone all my life living with undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome. I always knew I was different I just didn't have a name for it. And all of my difficulties that I dealt with I dealt with on my own. I had no professional help. I was just going through life trying to make sense out of everything without a clue as to what was going on. By this time I had become all to familiar with using anger as a way to cope with my struggles. I had no idea how to say I was hurt and I no idea how to ask for help. Whenever I struggled I could not say I was struggling so instead I just found something to be pissed off about. If it was not a person I knew it could be society. I didn't care. I was so clueless that at this point in my life I didn't even know how to acknowledge that I had been hurting instead I just focused on how messed up others were.

I tried to settle in to my new position and bravely face the change. Within two weeks I was already feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all. I was taking well over 500 calls a day. You would take a call, type the message, and a second later move on to the next call. By the end of the day I was just through. The last two hours of the day I would keep checking on the clock and began this habit of counting down the hours and minutes until it was time to go home. I was getting paid pretty well so I was motivated to keep trying. Besides I hate change so I really couldn't fathom the idea of looking for a new job so I couldn't conceive of trying to leave. From the time I was a little boy I got used to having a nervous disposition but I noticed that when I walked home at night after getting off of the bus it started to become even more uncomfortable than what I was used to. Once I got inside my place, all was better though.

Marc Sander
Marc Sander

I was born in 1971 and spent the first 37 years of my life with undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome. Much of my writings are about struggles with relationships. I am sometimes funny, at other times poignant and always bring a unique perspective 

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Keep the Change Please
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