Getting a Job with a Chronic Illness

I’m going to start in this Flourish blog to create capsule collections of topics linked to my own experiences in recovery. My goal is to uplift and inspire readers to dare to dream that living a full and robust life is possible even though you have a mental health challenge or any other challenge.

This blog entry will be the first one for the careers collection.

A book was already written on this topic: I’d Rather Be Working by Gail Backstrom. She wrote the book to guide individuals who have chronic illnesses to getting and keeping a job rather than collecting a government disability check. The book was published easily seven years ago.

I didn’t know whether I’d be successful when I dared risk getting a job as an administrative assistant in 1990 when no one else with schizophrenia was employed or dared dream of getting a job. As I wrote in last week’s Left of the Dial blog I took the risk not because I thought I would succeed. I took the risk because not trying would’ve been a greater shame to me than trying my best and failing.

The HealthCentral editorial team wrote in a news article: “The only real failure is the failure to try.” I’ve been the Health Guide for HealthCentral’s schizophrenia website for nine years now. I could not believe when I saw that quote that the editorial team had the guts to come right out and tell readers this.

In recovery as in life there are no guarantees. You have to fail big and to fail often before you can get to where you ultimately want to be in life. Perfection is a myth because it implies there can be no growth.

I don’t know what’s worse: being afraid to risk doing something new or being afraid to fail at something you do.

Always wanting to be certain or wanting to always do the right thing is a merciless creed to uphold. It’s an impossible standard to live up to.

I will come back in here on Monday with a great Theodore Roosevelt quote.

The ADA Act is 25 years old this Sunday. That’s something to celebrate for all of us individuals with chronic illnesses or any type of illness or challenge who want to work.

Would you rather be working?

You deserve to try. And if the first job or career doesn’t work out, I’ll talk next week about the beauty of changing course.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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