Apologies for the Long Radio Silence: An Explanation for my Long Absence Online
(Note: The original post draft was written on Halloween 2022. I’m retaining the verb tenses in the original draft for now—or maybe indefinitely. This post will be edited further for correctness and additional info. I'll also delete this post and repost it on my main website as soon as I figure out how to fix a 403 Forbidden error on it.)
As an editor, writer, and content creator (well, sort of), I hardly have time for anything and everything publishing—because I've been busy working in the publishing industry. (Oh, the irony.)
Sadly, it's not the kind of busy I want—entry-level grunt work with an almost 60-hour workweek, six days a week. The distribution side of the industry is less glamorous than the editorial side, but I chose it because the barrier to entry is lower. I figured I'd work my way up to an office position in the same company—right next door or across the street—with a hybrid schedule (closer to my goal of a fully remote schedule) and an opportunity to work directly with authors and publishers.
Unfortunately, that doesn't and won’t ever happen.
I’m officially resigning today—on Halloween, no less! Halloween isn’t the only thing happening in October, other than my birthday. ADHD Awareness Month, Dyspraxia Awareness Week, Invisible Disabilities Week, and National Disability Employment Awareness Month also take place in October. I just wish my soon-to-be former company and many other companies were aware of these. The seeming lack of awareness and understanding, though there’s no harm intended, is one of the reasons I’m resigning.
I struggled in my first position when I first joined the company. Transferring to another position, my second and last position, didn’t help either. Both positions were too difficult for me as a neurodivergent person—someone with neurodevelopmental condition(s) involving difficulties with attention, processing speed, visual-spatial (visuospatial) processing, and motor coordination, just to name a few. It's even overwhelmingly challenging for neurotypical folks (those with normal brain function), which explains the high turnover rate. The production quotas are unrealistic. Just as bad as the tasks and standards are the kinds of questionable content this privately owned company is distributing to certain customers through questionable funding, which go against my husband's values and mine. Specifically, there are significant objectionable, disturbing woke materials being pushed to minors in the K-12 school system, sponsored and funded (through theft or extortion a.k.a. taxation) by the government, which is something I absolutely don’t stand for as a freedom lover and fighter. I had my husband join the team, but he later quit because of this issue and had been urging me to leave.
I've also been dealing with multiple stressful situations (prayers and positive thoughts are much appreciated!) on top of the grueling work schedule, and working in a dusty, unventilated warehouse that occasionally triggers my allergic asthma and headache don't help matters, so my immune system, which is already messed up because of residual adrenal fatigue symptoms, has taken a hit. I got the flu (and quite possibly a mild case of COOTIE-19 as well) three times in five weeks. I’m still dealing with postviral and postallergy parosmia and dysgeusia (distorted smell and taste), which are major appetite killers, though things have somewhat improved. I’m not at 100 percent just yet, however. I rarely get sick, so stress was definitely the cause in this case.
Getting sick is the last straw for me. Having fat paychecks for those überovertime hours, benefits, and additional perks—book discounts, potlucks, cookouts, free snacks and drinks, parties, and other special events—is not worth sacrificing my well-being. The type of work schedule I have is hazardous to physical and mental health. Not to mention the psychological toll—the humiliation, frustration, and demoralizing feeling of doing something below my pay grade, although the expectations for that line of work are unreasonably high. Being neurodivergent, it's difficult for me to perform basic tasks most other neurotypical people can do or take for granted. Also, the not-so-neurodivergent-friendly environment is pretty intolerable. I'm simultaneously overstimulated by the machine noises and the loud music on excessive rotation (today's music isn't exactly top notch, mind you) in the warehouse and understimulated by the monotonous tasks.
I see absolutely no chance of progressing or advancing in this company despite offers of promotion opportunities. While I was waiting for a department transfer, I interviewed for another position in another department/division right across the street, only to be rejected a few days later. That position is still open, and it has been open for months. (Gee, I wonder why.) It would've been my ideal position since it's an office position with a hybrid arrangement and work-life balance. It offers a normal 40-hour workweek for the most part. Overtime is rarely required and is usually voluntary. It also involves working directly with self-published authors (folks I'm very familiar with!), but handling customer demands would be too stressful anyway. During the video interview, I couldn't establish a rapport with the (much younger) managers there for some reason, and though they seemed friendly, I got kind of weird vibes from them, so working with them wouldn't have, well, worked out. (Fun fact: One of them, an English-degree holder, also chose the distribution route instead of the editorial route since it was easier.) It was easier to connect with the internal recruiter, however. The screening interview with her was a breeze. She broke the bad news in the end, but she said she'd keep my application for future roles and gave me a free six-month access to the company's online career development center as a consolation prize, but that’s pointless because, again, I really don't see a future with this company. Other hybrid office positions in the company just don't suit my skill set since they involve tech, marketing, and sales. (Math and social skills are things many—but not all—neurodivergent people struggle with.) So much for the company's diversity and inclusion stance. (It's just another woke trend, but that's another discussion for another time.) It doesn't seem to include people like me and try to place us in positions that allow us to play to our strengths instead of forcing us to use our weaknesses to meet the standards. Neurodivergent folks are an asset to any company or organization. We have a lot to offer. Of course, in my case, being a detail-oriented, curious word nerd is my huge asset. Intellection, ideation, and input are my strengths. (Check out CliftonStrengths, formerly StrengthsFinder, if you don't know those terms.)
It's just more difficult to prove invisible disabilities or conditions to get accommodations, especially if the conditions aren’t well known. I had to use my ADHD diagnosis to get ADA accommodations since the ADA recognizes it but not dyspraxia or developmental coordination disorder (DCD), which is quite unfortunate, although it’s included in the DSM-5. There’s little to no awareness of dyspraxia (DCD) in the US and the rest of the world except the UK and some Commonwealth countries where dyspraxia-related resources and assistance are more plentiful. It’s darned near impossible, especially for adults, to get diagnosed with DCD in the US. I believe dyspraxia has caused my primary difficulties at work. I certainly have ADHD, and it definitely has contributed to my issues, but I’d say they’re secondary. Both conditions have overlapping symptoms and traits. About half of those with ADHD have dyspraxia and vice versa. There are scientific articles and studies showing that ADHD also affects motor coordination and visual-spatial processing. I’ve been trying to educate my soon-to-be former company about this by including articles with my accommodation paperwork, writing a feature in its magazine, and participating in a webinar on disabilities at the workplace as part of its diversity and inclusion efforts. It’s hard to prove a condition, especially an invisible one, that the “authorities” don’t recognize. The same applies to nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD), another neurodevelopmental condition that also includes motor coordination and visual-spatial difficulties. It’s not covered under the ADA and not listed in the DSM-5. (People on the autism spectrum also have motor coordination issues. The ADA covers autism, but many people probably aren’t aware of motor coordination problems as part of autism.) Some folks like me have used a workaround—using a recognized condition they already have so they can get accommodations for an unrecognized or little-known disability, which is, again, unfortunate. A Canadian psychologist specializing in DCD had a little conversation with me on the Dyspraxia USA Facebook Page. She sympathized with my plight. She thought it was unfortunate that I had to use a diagnosis or condition as a substitute for another for the sake of accommodations.
My problem didn’t end there. I was sent home almost a week before my official resignation date without pay(!) because of my health and disability issues. In addition, I have to complete yet another paperwork to be completed on November 11. I sent an email asking whether it would still be useful to do so because I’d be leaving very soon. I still haven’t received any response today—on my resignation day. (And yes, I had to explain the motor coordination issue yet again, ad nauseam. This time around, I mentioned dyspraxia and DCD.) I believe the new paperwork is the company’s CYA move for fear that I’d be sick or injured on the job, which would be a legal or liability issue. I was asked if the accommodations helped me. I said no. (They weren’t adequate.) I also said that because of my motor difficulties, I’m simply not cut out for manual labor, nor is it my career aspiration—obviously! I made it clear in my resignation letter that my talents lie in editing and writing. I’d much prefer an office position, but it wasn’t available as a temporary accommodation until my departure, so that was another reason why I was sent home without pay. (Had I known this, I would’ve started my new/current job sooner.) It felt like no effort was made to help me. It came off as discriminative and even illegal and immoral. There seems to be a company caste system—white collar versus blue collar. Never the twain shall meet, even though they’re under the same roof.
This last incident only reconfirmed my decision to part ways with the company. If a company truly cares about the whole diversity and inclusion shebang (true diversity and inclusion, not the woke version) and if the folks in that company truly care for the well-being of fellow humans, they should take the initiative to include, accommodate, train, and promote those with disabilities without asking for assistance or permission from some other entity, especially the government. It should come up with creative, innovative solutions, which the government isn’t known for. (After all, this is the publishing industry, which is supposedly a creative one.)
There are certainly some positive things about the company, but in general, it’s a mixed bag. The number of pluses and minuses are about equal.
I hate to say this, but now I almost can't enjoy books after all these work difficulties. The distribution side is brutal. Though the workload-compensation ratio is better than that of the editorial side, the distribution side is just as brutal as the editorial side, but it's a different type of brutal in terms of social class or status, obviously. Editorial pros are aware of the scandalous editorial side, particularly the Big Five (now the Big Four) being notorious for exploiting its workers, especially junior editors.
I'm not saying this to elicit pity for me and others in this line of work, but please thank the distribution folks for their backbreaking work. Authors, without them, nobody's going to buy your book or content. You're not going to have any audience. Readers, you're not going to have anything to read, obviously.
I’m starting my new job, though with less pay, no benefits (no longer having PTO, health and dental insurance, and retirement money really hurts!), and unrelated (yet again) to my main (or ultimate?) career path. However, this job has a relaxed and neurodivergent- and disability-friendly environment, places significantly fewer physical and mental demands, offers flexible schedule, and takes much less commute time, which means much less vehicle wear and tear. It allows me to have more time to plan my next career move and work on editing and writing projects—remotely, of course! And yes, I’d really appreciate introductions and job leads (much preferably W-2 positions), although I’ll accept freelance projects or opportunities as backups—as usual. (UPDATE: I am no longer in this particular position and company.)
Since I’m making my career transition (more like adjustments) yet again, I’m not sure about the direction I’ll take when it comes to online content, and I’m not sure when and how often I should post it. I suppose I’ll experiment with it.
Thank you very much for reading and everything else. Stay blessed!