"Unique, quirky, remarkable and autistic" by Lucy Coole

"Unique, quirky, remarkable and autistic" by Lucy Coole, CRM Assistant

"Unique, quirky, remarkable and autistic" by Lucy Coole

CRM Assistant

“Throughout my life I have been told that I’m not like other people, and not always in a complimentary way. At an early age I decided not to pursue my childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut or genetic scientist for fear of either discovering an evil alien lifeform or cloning an evil lifeform. In case you can’t tell, I’m a geek. Even as a child I would immerse myself in books and escape into the other worlds brought to life in films. My autism means that I have to study people in order to ascertain the social norms of everyday life, though I may not always understand them. Mental health issues can go hand in hand with autism, and I have depression and extremely low self-esteem. Sometimes, in order to help you through this, you have to do something brave, like this. Thanks to working for an inclusive employer, I can be open and honest about my condition without fear of reprisals and get the support I need from those around me to get through each day of work.”

Chapter 1: Finding my super powers

Born and bred in the South West of England (though minus the accent), I have lived in Bristol for most of my life. A geek from an early age, I would immerse myself in the written word and escape into the worlds brought to life in books and films. If I wasn’t to be found with my nose in a novel or sat watching an epic fantasy or science fiction film, then I could usually be found visiting historical sites with my family.

I decided not to pursue my childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut or genetic scientist for fear of either discovering an evil alien lifeform or cloning an evil lifeform; and instead decided to go into the finance industry. It was at my previous role where I discovered my super power: data cleaning. I was able to discover the mistakes that others may have missed as well as analysing the errors to discover the reasons behind the mistakes. When I saw the CRM assistant position at Grant Thornton, I knew it was the workplace in which I would be able to enhance my greatest skill.

'My motivation in life is to be happy and especially happy in myself; two things that I have struggled with throughout my life. It’s why I try to be as polite and helpful to those around me as I can, as I believe that in your everyday life, you should treat people as you wish to be treated.'

Chapter 2: Navigating my way through life

Throughout my life I have been told that I’m not like other people, and not always in a complimentary way. I’ve always been creative and from a young age have found inspiration in the slightest things in order to write poetry, plays and now stories. I also see life as a series of patterns that help me navigate through the everyday, whether that’s determining what common errors a person may make on a piece of work; to adapting my working style to better match the people I am working with and finally to quickly work out answers to a tricky situation.

My husband, James, and my friends are the most important people in my life. I have always struggled to make and maintain friends, as I find small talk very difficult and don’t always differentiate between an unhealthy relationship from a healthy one. That is why my friends and family are so vital to me. Without them I would not have made it so far in this complicated journey we call life. They are my emotional and mental support and are always there to boost me when I have a low moment.

A few years ago I was at my lowest ebb and going through a period of depression, so much so that I didn’t know if I would survive the year. Thanks to the support I had from friends and family, as well as the exhaustive work I put into finding coping mechanisms and help from the NHS, I was able to work through this low period and completely change myself for the better. My self-esteem is still extremely low but I’m able to remember that I am an awesome person and someone people are lucky to know.

My autism means I have to study people in order to ascertain the social norms in everyday life, though I may not always understand them. Unless I have a specific topic I can talk with someone about, I struggle with continuing conversations. I have also had to teach myself to maintain eye contact with people for a prolonged period of time, though will still look elsewhere when talking to people, which could be construed as rude but is purely my coping mechanism. Communication is something I used to struggle with, as I would get flustered and struggle to effectively convey a message to someone. It may make sense to me but not to you, but again this is something I have worked on extensively to improve. Mental health issues can go hand in hand with autism, and I have depression and extremely low self-esteem. Sometimes, in order to help you through this, you have to do something brave, like this. I’ve always thought that I have the same parts as everyone else, I’ve just been programmed to analyse things a little bit differently than you.

Chapter 3: Reflecting and aspiring

I’m not an overly ambitious person but I do have a few things I aspire to achieve in my lifetime. I want to be a manager one day, as I know that it will be a way to prove to myself that I have developed my skills and knowledge to a specific degree. I also wish to write a graphic novel or book; I have a very visual imagination and always have three or four stories knocking around my brain which I would love to set to paper. I just need the confidence to do it. Finally, I would love to be on a quiz game show, as I have so much useless trivia in my brain that I would love to put it to good use (show it off) on the right forum one day.

I’ve always been proud of the fact that I graduated from Swansea University with a degree in Ancient and Medieval History, as I moved to a new city where I knew no one and studied two eras of history that were completely new to me. I would like to think that I excelled in both.

I think like everyone I would like to leave a positive legacy. I’d rather be remembered for being an approachable and helpful person than a powerful one. I hope to inspire those around me and aspire to make positive changes to the companies I work for and the people I work with. I’d also like to encourage people to be open and honest about issues they are having, from either a mental health issue or from life itself. We all have unique experiences that we live through, but I feel we sometimes forget that we can work together to help each other through it.

As I have suffered discrimination from my condition and mental health issues, there is no way I would work for an employer who was not inclusive. In the past I've had to deal with passive aggressive co-workers who created a toxic environment for me as they didn’t understand why I behaved in certain ways or chose not to take my mental health issues seriously. It can be easy to box people into categories, but life is not black and white, but so many wonderful variations of grey. Thanks to working for an inclusive employer, I can be open and honest about my condition without fear of reprisals and get the support I need from those around me to get through each day of work.

Lucy's story is part of our 'Stories of our diverse workforce' where we've asked our people to open up and share their own personal story. To read more stories, follow the link below.