Society seems to have made it clear that it has no place for me, at least in the work world. This is the important part, the part that seems to determine a person’s value and worth. I’m on disability, Supplemental Security Income under the Social Security program, since I’m unwell enough to work outside the home full time. I would love to be able to work part time. To do so, to transition from disability to employment, I have to go through an agency called the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. I’ve tried to get help from them before. They don’t consider me to be the worst of the disabled, since I’m of above average intelligence. This actually works against me, since it’s assumed that if my intelligence is not the problem, and my body functions normally (walking, talking, seeing, hearing etc,) that I should not be having the trouble that I’m having. As if I’m somehow lazy. At least this is the impression that I get from them, and my own family at times.
I’ve been through the Bureau’s program twice, the first time resulting in a job that I did well at, but quit after five months, after being unable to work through a dispute with my boss. The second time, I only got so far as a supervised position with a job counselor on site, where they were able to conclude that I should not try to do any further work, since I was “unable to handle stress very well” (their words.) Well I know I can’t handle stress very well, that’s the point! That’s why I came to them in the first place.
I was good at school, and yet it took me 10 years to get a 4 year college degree. I had trouble navigating the social aspect of things- attending class, living in the dorms, working with my professors. That’s the sort of thing that continues to elude me today. I think that I could perform the basic work requirements of many different jobs, but I don’t get along very well socially, most of the time. Some of the time I do well enough that those working to help me are unable to see where my social deficits are. I think that one of my problems is in dealing with conflict-if I’m having trouble with my work duties, I seem to be unable to sort it out with supervisors. If I encounter a difficult co-worker, it sends me into a panic. These sorts of things start my heart beating wildly, turn my adrenaline switch on, and open the floodgates of my cortisol levels.
And that’s why I’m sitting here writing, since I don’t seem to be able to do anything else for the moment. I have been seeing my case manager, a psychiatric social worker, for the past two years, with the goal being that she would help me look for a job. Either that, or connect me with services designed to help the disabled get back to work. However, our communication has broken down to the point where even my therapist thinks that I should ask for a new caseworker. I am in the position now of having to start fresh, navigating employment services on my own. I’m completely terrified.