I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline & creativity is daring to dare.
This photo is from when I was working at an HIV clinic (I was a Social Worker) & got to meet Magic Johnson at a dinner when he was in town speaking. I worked there for 3yrs until 2006 & it was the last job I successfully held. I let it drain me dry & didn’t take care of myself. After that I continued to try & work for a few years but I went through so many jobs I couldn’t even get hired in fast food at the end. The psychiatrist suggested I apply for disability after I ended up in a residential treatment facility because I refused to be hospitalized again.
I signed up for a SSDI (disability) jobs program. I have my interview in August. I will also be part of a research program studying different ways of structuring how working affects benefits. I am both excited & afraid, but mostly excited since from what I’ve been told I will receive a lot of support in getting back into the job market. Specifically I will receive a job counselor who will help me with all that good stuff.
It has always been my intention to return to work. I’m classified as a type B under SSDI, which means recovery is possible, but not likely. I remember the day I saw that it hit me like a ton of bricks “but not likely”. I guess it depends on how you define recovery. I know, after years of denial (which is how I got here), I will never not be bipolar. There is no cure. We don’t even know how it works, or in some cases how the meds help we just know that they do. The brain is still a great big mystery to us, but they are learning more about how this stuff works every day. But for me recovery has always meant getting stable enough to be able to return to work, as in gainfully, professionally employed.
I don’t think I’m where I need to be right now, but I am doing much better. At the current dose my lamotrigine is working really well, & the running & eating better help a lot I think, but I have still had some set-backs. I feel like I could still be better, maybe an anti-depressant chaser, but I also have to figure out what is the Bipolar Disorder & what is actually just me. Honestly, I have been down for so long I don’t know who I am outside this disease any longer. It’s been 13yrs since I actually felt normal, & that’s when I was in undergrad. Thirteen years from 24 to 37 is a long time, & everybody changes over those years. So who am I now? Who am I going to be when this is all said & done? I think it’s going to be a lot like who I am now, which is cool. I just hope I get better at putting away laundry & not wasting as much time on the internet.
For a while I have been considering getting a part-time job, but for a few reasons I haven’t even tried.
- There isn’t much here to pick from, mostly dollar stores & fast food.
- As shallow as it sounds, I don’t want to get a job in one of those places because I don’t want people coming in & whispering & asking questions. I grew up here, people know me. They know I have a Master’s Degree, but I’m also sure they know I have problems.
- I have been out of work for so long & the last few years I did work show a terrible job history. I don’t think it would be hard for anyone looking over an application to piece together something went wrong around 2006. Though I think most people would assume it was drugs or alcohol. I don’t want to have to explain to someone around here what happened & is happening, because in a small town people talk & everybody knows everybody & I don’t want everybody knowing my business.
- I’m terrified I won’t be able to handle it & I’ll ruin another job, & that will be it. I will never ever be able to get another job for the rest of my life.
So I am pleased to have some support in getting back out there, especially to have the job counselor who can help with the transition & hopefully keep me from making a mess of things all over again.
But that’s what’s going on with me & I just wanted to put that out there because frankly I am scared shitless of messing this up, further ruining my life. I also know these feelings aren’t unique to me, so maybe reading this will help somebody else going through the same thing. I think (most) everybody wants to work & be productive to support themselves. It’s just harder for some people, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while because of a mental illness. It scares people, & even if they are willing to give you a shot it still feels like they are waiting on you to fall on your face. Or go crazy & shoot the place up or set it on fire. Because that’s what crazy people do, isn’t it?
Okay, I’m going to stop here because I’ve gone from feeling anxious to feeling angry & that is not much of a way to start the day.