I loathe forms. I'm good with technical information like OSHA training and cartography and NEPA laws. I'm awesome at organizing ideas, thoughts, and actions around millions of dollars of inventory floor merch and stat cleanup in a hotel or hospital. I can even go straight to a particularly sized and threaded bolt in under a minute of walking into Lowe's. But filling out forms...
You'd think the simple step by step process would be the easiest thing in the world. Name, address, phone number, how many pieces of gum I've chewed in the last ten years. The irony is that I have turned answering questionnaires into a hobby blog, I could practically compete in a professional question answering contest. The reality is that, despite acing blue book tests in a very hard linguistics class for my anthropology minor, I freeze up over simple forms so badly that I actually do them wrong.
I know, right? Who gets their name wrong on a basic form? Who screws up answering a few questions to which the answers haven't changed in twenty years? ME.
I am facing my demons this week. Here is my conundrum- My publisher has people calling me every single week. They have changed my case rep at least three times in the last 6 months trying to get me to cooperate. I can't get through any of their heads that 1- I'm super aspie and don't do phone convos well at all because 2- between auditory processing probs and slight hearing loss AND being aspie that I need them to 3- SLOW DOWN and stop the sell, sell, sell rattling on top of a background rich with other voices, furniture noises, and tech glitches cutting syllables out of every fifth word before 4- I hang up because the cacophony fries my brain out so badly I can barely speak sentences after only a few minutes, much less still form coherent thoughts.
I live with cognitive disability. This hasn't impacted my cognitive content much at all. My lawyer told me during one of the lowest points in my life that my IQ must be through the roof and he wished all his clients were like me. Sadly, it all becomes unusable mush so quickly from interruptions and distractions that I'd never be hired to work for a guy like him.
I need an office manager. They used to call them secretaries, but I know from one of my sisters that getting office skills certified and then actually running an office is no joke. I don't have the money to hire someone, and even if I did I have such a distrusting nature that I probably wouldn't anyway. The people who I do trust have piles of their own stuff to deal with.
I have to do this. If I want to move forward, I have to wrap my glitchy brain around interpersonal communication with a complete stranger many miles away who doesn't have a clue how to help me help them help me. I have to train my rep how to be my handler. I have to do this with a cognitive disability.
Years ago, one of my biggest breakthroughs with my psychologist was when I told him how frustrated I felt being referred to specialists by my doctor, only to have prescriptions thrown at me after five minutes. I felt like the problem wasn't even being defined, much less investigated as to cause. To simply generically treat symptoms doesn't help me get better. You know what my psychologist told me? He said I am easily led. I stray off my path with every new question, and after a few questions the original goal is so out of focus that I can't get back to my path. My assignment was to keep my goals in sight- why am I there? what do I want? So I learned to list a few questions like that before visits with new doctors, and with a little practice I was able to remain more focused and clearly state what I wanted to get out of the interaction. After many years of misunderstandings and sometimes very poor care from some doctors, I am much healthier now and way more satisfied with those interactions.
I don't get to see my publishing rep in person. I have to cut through possibly years of phone bank training and experience to get a different kind of interaction going. I get to do all this over tech that distorts background noise into a nightmare for me, and I need to do this as calmly and politely as possible when I'm feeling my most frustrated. It's so cliche to say I'll need xanax, but that may be exactly what saves the day for me.
Prepping for this phone call involves skills I'm actually very good at. I'm a research maven with years of organization experience. Even this post is part of the prep, it's helping me line up my thoughts and calm my nerves. I keep telling myself once the first book is out the door, the rest will be a piece of cake, because that's how I usually am with new things.
But the forms.... "Does this work contain any preexisting materials?" I have questions regarding how to answer nearly every question on these four endless pages. My rep will practically have to hold my hand through this whole form filling outing process, and she's going hate my guts before it's all done. *facepalm* Because I'm aspie. I can't just check a little yes or no box without forcing another person to commit to mental gymnastics because they can't understand that I don't need a textbook understanding of their job, but I DO need them to please repeat that entire last phrase at least three times because for some unknown reason they can't fathom what slowing down their talking means. Maybe it means I'm so dumb they feel they have to keep over explaining everything, but all I need is to correctly hear the words they speak. I'm sure they're wondering how in the world I think *I* could ever write a book.
I can tell from that last paragraph that I'm not ready for this phone call yet. I may have to go fold some laundry and clean some bathrooms first while the xanax kicks in. I don't know why my psychologist doesn't think my social anxiety isn't as severe as I think it is. This is ridiculous. My rule of thumb over the last year is that if something is upsetting or terrifying me, find a way to write it and throw it out to public, because that is usually more terrifying than just doing the thing I'm afraid of in the first place. So, here it goes.