This is me (Mental health) – Joshua Bryant

My name is Joshua Bryant, I am one of the longer serving staff in the O2 Bath store at present. I love my job! Although I’m only part-time at O2 (while I continue my postgraduate studies), I try my best to have a massive impact on my store. Most people think I’m sociable, witty and fun to be around. But what they don’t know is I suffer from Autistic Spectrum Disorder. A disability which can cripple me in social situations, and makes me feel very disconnected from the world.

It affects me in several negative ways, sometimes I feel myself withdrawing from the world and not know why. Just for a second imagine that everyone around you connects when they speak to one another. Imagine you can see a literal wave lengths between them.  Now picture stepping up to attempt to make your own connection. But the wave length quickly dissipates. That’s what it’s like for me.

Initially coming into a very customer focused role had me feeling nervous and doubting my own capabilities. Because of that, I began to over-compensate, so that people wouldn’t realise that I had my disability. That’s been the story throughout most of my life, a constant facade protect me from being “found out” by my peers. Being someone you ain’t starts to take a serious tole on you.

Imagining my life without a stringent routine where I  don’t know where I’m going to be, at what time for at least a week in advance is alien to me. Which makes working in retail seem virtually impossible . So being sporadically given random shifts was going to require a lot of work.

I applied through the ‘two tick’ scheme, which is aimed at people with disabilities wishing to apply to certain companies.  To my surprise, O2 held a high regard for having a diverse talent pool which appealed to me. Once I successfully finished the application process, O2 arranged a meeting to discuss reasonable adjustment. My SL took these into consideration and has spent the last two years tailoring to my needs. That involved things like, discussing any difficulties I have and arranging the rota that works for us both.  But it doesn’t stop there, they also helped other members of staff to understand they way i work. The approach of the company from the start has led to me remaining part of the O2 family, and I do truly love my job.

I am running this campaign because I want to promote the need to be diverse and inclusive. I believe everyone deserves a chance to become part of the O2 family, and I believe that we as O2 can help people to find a place in that family.

“Sometimes in life you fall over, sometimes you get knocked down, but you must get up and keep on moving forward. Always have a goal to aim for and don’t be afraid to ask for help”.

My name is Joshua, I am Autistic, I am unique, and this is me.

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