I live with Bipolar 1, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Driving Anxiety, and Social Anxiety. I take all of my meds as prescribed. I am well educated, I have a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and I am a certified rehabilitation counselor. I am looking for a job that needs me—the unique me. One of my best friends has a successful career and lives with Bipolar and Anxiety. He has offered me hope and encouragement at times when I needed it the most. I have not found my niche in a career yet.
I had a full time job helping other people get jobs. I was rejected for the job I initially applied for partially because of my poor eye contact. I knew that was part of my Aspergers so I asked for help. I did a mock interview and two weeks later I was offered a temporary position. I told them before I was hired about my Driving Anxiety and my Aspergers. I was really blessed with how I got that job. But some of my coworkers were less accommodating than others. Sometimes I worry that I will never be financially independent. I am forty and I still live at home. I have a dream to be an author. But that seems like a selfish dream. I want to help others with disabilities in any way I can that does not involve driving on the interstate or other excessive travel. I believe with the right combination of medications and therapy, individuals with mental illness can succeed in today’s world, especially if we are given a chance!
I haven’t had a lot of good job opportunities yet and sometimes feel like I am being discriminated against. I was offered a job in 2013 and there was a lack of funding so I could not take the job. When I tried to reapply for another job in 2014 one month after my hospitalization I was told that the job I had originally been offered was given to someone else and the job I was applying for was the same kind of job only ten times more driving. They knew that I had driving anxiety. This was a job helping people with disabilities so it seemed hypocritical. I think that my disabilities make me more empathetic and a better counselor. I wish employers could see that.
At a Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance conference in Miami, I met a young Muslim woman who just published her second book, this time about her experiences with Bipolar. I got to see a Canadian woman doing a funny one woman show. But for me the highlight of the conference was meeting Patrick Kennedy. Dr. Kay Jamison is one of the most famous individuals with Bipolar. Her book An Unquiet Mind changed my life. I met her in 2008. She has been my hero since 2002 (my initial diagnosis and hospitalizations). While it was fabulous to meet this kind, gracious, eloquent lady who is hero to millions of people around the world, some of my peers became my heroes too. One fellow consumer and friend is a therapist. I have been told by therapists that I will never make it because I have too many issues that I don’t have under control. It’s so sad when the helping professionals do more harm than good. That is why we need to help each other get the resources we need to be the best we can be.
I am very thankful for my family. Lots of people have inspired me to go on when I wanted to give up. I was in a pubic speaking group for nine years. There were times that I’ve given speeches at my worst when I can barely stand but their support has meant a lot to me. Everyone in the public speaking group always made me feel validated. We have to advocate for ourselves. We always have to use our coping mechanisms and we can’t be ashamed to ask for help when we need it. We always have to see the person first and then the disability/ies. I picked the degree I did because I have wanted to help people with disabilities since I was in high school. I want to give other people hope and encouragement the way that others have helped me.