Archive for the employment wanted for the disabled Category

Yes, Mental Health Disability Is A Thing

Posted in depression, employment, employment wanted for the disabled with tags , , , , , , , on April 4, 2019 by morgueticiaatoms

This morning my daughter said, “You’re not disabled, you don’t even have a broken leg.”

And so begins with rampant ignorance surrounding ‘invisible illness’.

I never once claimed any physical disability. My mental disability claim was only granted after years of trying to apply, being rejected, endless strings of jobs I could not maintain, and finally a medication interaction that caused brain damage. They did not just hand it to me. I jumped through flaming hoops for years. And it wasn’t even my idea, I have racked up two more dozen of bad references for jobs I am not stable enough to maintain, were it not for counselors and psychiatrists endlessly pointing out that I tried my best, I was legitimately disabled by my mental disorders.

There’s not one member of my family who doesn’t scoff at the notion of me being disabled. Because it’s invisible and not ‘in your face’ like visible disorders and such. Now my own child questions me even though she has witnessed firsthand just how much I struggle daily with my disorders. I can’t say it doesn’t hurt. I also can’t say I am surprised. The narrow mindedness of society to accept that which they cannot see visibly or understand intellectually boggles the mind. This goes for other invisible illnesses, too. Some people are on the autistic spectrum but because they are functional, people don’t consider them disabled. Fibromyalgia is a pain only you can feel inside, so it too is scoffed at. Chronic fatigue, debilitating deteriorating diseases, migraines, arthritis that limits your physical ability…Invisible to others so…must not exist. Must be malingering and lazy.

I suppose the entire points of  doing my blog were to A.) let others with crippling mental disorders know they are not alone, and B.) educate those who simply don’t understand and those who simply prefer ignorance to learning something that makes them ill at ease. If I can make one person feel less alone, if I can educate one doubter, then this has all been worthwhile.

Just because you can’t ‘see’ it, like broken bones, arms in a sling, a pronounced mental deficit, cancer with treatments that leave devastating visible effects…It’s not the the same with mental health issues. You may not see it therefore don’t believe it but you don’t walk in our shoes. You don’t understand what it is like when your everyday is spent pulled under the surface by some unknown force you cannot overcome. You don’t understand what it is like to only look forward to the nothingness of sleep. You don’t know what it is like to be frozen like a deer in a car’s headlight, unable to make the simplest choices, like what to eat for support, or if you have any ideas that aren’t encased in a disorder’s gloom cloud. It isn’t a mood. It isn’t an affectation. This is very real and even if you can’t see it..I live it. Who are you to question my experience simply because it isn’t yours?

Other myths about the invisibility of mental health disorders is that we are lazy. That we are of averge to above average intelligence therefore there can’t possibly be anything wrong with us mentally. Intelligence has NOTHING to do with mental illness. You can be a Mensa member and still have disorders that impact your daily life to the point you simply cannot exist in the bubble of social conformity. We try and try and try and the outcome is always the same. Some call this ‘learning’. I call it having burned every bridge in this small rural area so no one will hire me. If my brain had sent the right signals, it would not have happened that way.

You cannot know what it is like to daily battle your own brain-responsible for every basic function working the way it should- when the information being sent is a distortion. Last week I was convinced a loose doorknob meant someone had broken into our house. Nothing could talk me out of it. It lingered for two days then became one more little thing to stash in a file in my brain. This week, I am convinced that my daughter is ashamed of me because she can’t see my disability and also, all the family says I’m not ‘really’ disabled. She hasn’t said anything about being disappointed but she is quick to point out, “Well, pop pop and grandma say you’re not really disabled…”

I barely leave the house, I haven’t bathed in two weeks, I see no point in my future that isn’t going to be awful, and my anxiety just sent me on a pounding heart ‘someone is outside!” panic prowl to see if someone was indeed out there. It was a cat, of course, but my fight or flight response is so realistic in physical symptoms, you may as well have pushed a guy in a hockey mask wielding a machete at me. But I suppose you don’t see this, even when I am shaking and breathing heavily and twitchy and looking terrified. You see me looking grungy and assume I am a lazy slob who doesn’t care what she looks like.

There are those, of course, who do abuse the disability system. And some of them are fine upstanding citizens. I knew a lady who had gotten a handicapped placard for her car when she had knee surgery. She was still using it 5 years later because she wanted a good parking space. No one questions those people, though. It’s usually some person with an invisible illness who some schmo decides doesn’t look disabled therefore they can’t be and are fakers working the system. Those people exist and they really muck it up for the rest of us who are legitimately hindered by a damaging mental illness.

So just try to open your mind and not be held captive by your preconcieved biases. Just because you can’t see our disability does not give you the right to doubt us. And it absolutely does not mean we’re faking it. Until you have walked in our shoes, that isn’t your call to make. And FYI, being supportive and understanding and empathetic works a lot better in encouraging people with disabilities as opposed to being criticized, questioned, and put down.

And if you are an employer or someone who does the hiring, please keep in mind that even though someone has an unstable past, everyone deserves a chance. Even if their disability requires a daily break to go cry in the bathroom or hyperventilate. You provide accommodations for physical disabilities but not for mental ones. This is unfair and should be illegal, but it only is in theory. Until it is enforced and employers are forced to accept the mentally disabled as they do the physically disabled, you are only adding to our depression and anxiety and feelings of worthlessness. We might surprise you with our capabilities once people stop bullying us, stop putting ‘normal’ expectations on us, and work with us so even with our disabilities, we can work for you.

This also goes for those in the mental health field. One size fits all doesn’t work so get to know us before you slap us with a label and decide your version of therapy or treatment is the proper course for everyone. The more this approach is forced on us, the less progress we make. We are individuals and should be treated as such. Again, we might surprise you if given an approach that actually encourages us and strengthens us. Simply getting slapped with a label and cookie cutter treatment only makes your life easier, not ours. Stop making us feel invisible. Our disorders do that enough.