The Truth About Work

I uphold the confidentiality rule when helping people create resumes and conduct career searches.

In a general way though I can tell you that sometimes what you like and want to do isn’t always suitable for a career.

You might want to paint religious figures or sew clothes.

Yet how realistic is that when there’s no demand from an employer for Christ paintings?

What if you like and want to sew yet aren’t quick enough in doing that on a job?

Other options exist. Finding the right job takes a creative and resourceful approach.

This might sound old-school and maybe impractical yet sometimes you just have to do an internship or try out working at a few jobs to be able to figure out what career is not for you and what career you’d like to do.

When it comes to using your individuality to find the right-fit career it does involve sleuthing and taking a hard look and self-assessment at your strengths and weaknesses.

One job I recommend is working in a public library when you’re a quirky soul.

To be a librarian you need a Masters degree. Jobs in libraries also exist for tech-savvy individuals as computer assistants and technicians. These jobs might not require a degree.

At some libraries there are still positions available as clerks helping to process and check out books at the circulation desk.

For those of you who only seek part-time work you can get a paid job shelving books at a library.

In some library systems you can get a job as a library associate. You’ll be doing ibrarian work without a Masters degree as a library associate. The pay will be lower.

Best of all when you work in a public library you don’t have to dress in corporate clothes like you would at an office.

I’ll end here with this: I’ve become wary of using a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to telling every job seeker to do what you love as a career.

The solution is that other careers exist that can be perfectly fine for you.

In the next blog entry I’m going to talk about my own surprising finding about the type of career a person might be suited to.

The results will surprise blog readers.

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Finding the Right Career Fit

I’m going to talk in coming blog entries about topics linked to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

After this I’m going to return to talking about fitness and nutrition.

My contention is that schizophrenia recovery outcomes are rosier than most people think.

It’s hard to peg how many people are doing well because most of us with jobs and careers and other successes are afraid to disclose.

Yet I refused to live in hiding. To remain silent would be complicit in reinforcing the rhetoric that no one can recover.

My motto is: “If you can see it, you can be it.”

Peers need to know that there are people just like them who have succeeded at finding and working at jobs we love, not just jobs that pay the rent or are the means to get off disability.

We shouldn’t be pigeonholed into accepting jobs simply because a vocational counselor thinks someone with our particular disability is suited only to those kinds of job.

What if you don’t want to be a janitor yet you’re told you should do that?

What if you want to do something that you’re told is impossible because you have a certain diagnosis?

Either way I’m here to tell you that a myriad of jobs exist. You can even create a job for yourself that fills a need in society.

Having the job or career you love can reduce the impact of your disability.

I say: if you want to work, you deserve to try to make that happen.

In the end working at the job or career you love is a kind of adjunct treatment.

Disability Employment Awareness Month Podcast

I write in this blog on a spectrum of topics relevant to having a full and robust life.

I mostly write about fitness which has multiple expressions: I advocate for fitness of body, mind, spirit, career, relationships, and finances.

In Bari Tessler’s latest e-mail (she’s the author of The Art of Money) she talks about financial milestones occurring at different times for each of us. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others when we achieve money victories later than other people do.

In this regard recovery is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor either. I’m fairly open in this blog about what happened to me. My true success in life occurred only after I turned 35 and started working as a librarian.

What I write I’m confident can empower people who don’t have mental health issues too.

In the interview I did for the NPO Media podcast I wanted to demonstrate how pursuing a career that’s the right fit with your personality can help you recover. I also offer hope to family members whose loved ones are in recovery.

The podcast is just under 29 minutes.

I talk in my expressive Italian voice. As my friend recorded me speaking I actually started flailing my hands in front of me. My voice gets animated the more passionately I talk about the topic of career fitness.

Here’s the link to the NPO Media podcast.

The Myth of Competitive Employment

All authors have a curious dislike of certain book reviews we get that are less than glowing. One that sticks in my mind is the comment that most peers can’t obtain competitive employment like I did.

Define competitive employment I ask you. Tell me why you think having only competitive employment counts for a peer or for anyone in society.

We all know an MD or two or hundreds or thousands who are in their careers to make the big bucks at the expense of their patients by recommending risky treatments.

We all know high-paid politicians who make the big bucks yet only create laws benefiting corporations not ordinary citizens.

These people have competitive employment. Yet are they such shining role models of what a person can achieve? I rest my case.

Yes–I have failed at so-called “competitive” employment trying to compete with others for supervisor positions. I have failed at having insurance office jobs.

We cannot continue to insinuate that competitive employment is the barometer of a person’s worth in society.

We cannot continue to suggest that mental health peers are lacking in any way because they don’t have competitive employment.

I’ve seen that peers often have their own self-stigma in this regard, claiming for instance that one of us is “Just a janitor.” No. Change your attitude about that, I wanted to tell the woman who believed that being a janitor was a lower-dignity job.

For the record, I met an older guy with gray hair at an anniversary party. He was indeed proud when he told me he was a “custodial engineer.”

Janitor, custodial engineer–any honest job labored at with pride can give you dignity.

I’ve worked for and with a number of so-called jerks to know that a person who has competitive employment doesn’t always have the content of character to match their position.

The goal isn’t that every one of us should have or will have a lifetime cruising on a big party boat in terms of what we succeed. Frankly other people’s ocean liners don’t impress me.

The goal as I see it is to have your own version of a full and robust life doing what makes you happy.

I’ve seen in my own life that making others happy is the foolproof way to feel good yourself. Helping others is the best way to help yourself heal.

Volunteer work isn’t competitive employment in the traditional sense. Yet if you don’t have paid work experience and want to find a job it helps to list volunteer experience on your resume.

Critics and occasional book reviewers assail what peers with mental health conditions can do. They continue to perpetuate the myth that there’s not much someone with SZ or BP or DP or another mental health condition can do.

I’m done with that thinking. I haven’t believed for a minute that people diagnosed with mental health issues aren’t capable of much.

In 1988 when I first was diagnosed I dared think recovery was possible.

Now as then I believe: it’s possible to recover, heal, and have your own version of a full and robust life.

I champion the right of everyone with a mental health issue, who struggles, to find what gives us joy and go do that–whether we’re paid to do this thing or not.

Sing in a choir, bake cakes, be a CEO or not. Do whatever makes you happy. It’s all good.

Sacred Contracts

My mentor stayed clean for decades. I think he was motivated to live drug-free because he wanted more than anything to help people.

If you ask me figuring out your Sacred Contract–essentially your life purpose–can give you the motivation to stay healthy and care for yourself.

Caroline Myss believes our sacred contracts are life assignments given to us to carry out in this lifetime.

A client of hers is quoted in the book Sacred Contracts. Liza had dreamed she was in a small rowboat going in circles. She could see an ocean liner in the distance and wanted to be on that ship not stuck where she was. Liza had been paralyzed in an accident and had to makeover her career and her life.

To quote Liza: “The key is to learn to row the boat you were given.”

I recommend you buy these two Myss books. Any kind of self-improvement project that is healthy shouldn’t be frowned on. We should only be competing against how we were yesterday–not against what other people can do today.

I say: “No thank you” to critics who compare peers to people who don’t have MH issues. The size of another person’s ocean liner shouldn’t concern us.

In a coming blog entry I’m going to talk about The Myth of Competitive Employment.

The Life Work of Caroline Myss

Years ago I chanced upon the life work of Caroline Myss.

A book she wrote was reviewed in a women’s magazine. Archetypes: Who Are You? intrigued me after I bought and read it so I then bought her book Sacred Contracts.

Her discovery of a condition she called woundology has been accepted in the medical field. I wrote about woundology circa a year ago.

You might be skeptical of all this like a friend of mine was. I urge you to suspend your disbelief. The life work of Caroline Myss I’ve found to be as good as taking a career quiz in helping a person live authentically and thrive beautifully.

Everyone has four of the same archetypes: child, prostitute, saboteur, and victim. Each of us has eight unique archetypes for a total of 12 archetypes. You can cast a Chart of Origin where each archetype is inserted in one of the 12 houses of the zodiac.

Your 12 archetypal patterns are used to carry out the terms of your Sacred Contract. You might think this is all speculation or hooey or some kind of parlor trick.

Yet I’ve found this study to be immensely helpful. You might also think that limiting yourself this way is restrictive. It’s not because who among us would really want to spread our energies thin trying to do things we’re not suited for or that amount to busywork?

Homing in on your archetypes can actually bring emotional freedom if you ask me.

It might come as no surprise to loyal followers that three of my own archetypes are Author Advocate and Visionary.

You can go on the Archetypes website and take the quiz to discover your Top 3 Archetypes. The founder of the Archetypes website has changed around things a bit. Fashionista has been renamed Tastemaker.

So I wouldn’t rely totally on this website for an in-depth analysis of your archetypes. The woman who created the website linked to the Myss Archetypes: Who Are You? book has turned the site into a forum for selling products.

The woman who founded the archetypes website had originally founded philosophy the beauty products company years ago.

In the next blog entry I’m going to continue this talk with information about figuring out your sacred contract. This is the plan for your life’s purpose.

This kind of self-improvement project if you ask me can be an effective recovery tool as an adjunct to traditional treatment.

You can use this information along with taking a career quiz if you think it would help you.

Finding the Right Job for You

Loyal followers:

I bombed out big time at the first jobs I had early in my recovery.

I was terminated from 4 out of the 5 jobs I held in the 1990s. Yes I was laid off from every job except one of them. No job I held lasted more than 19 months.

Finding the right job for you can take time too.

It wasn’t until I obtained a library degree and started working in a library that things got better for me in terms of my life as well as my vocation.

This happened when I was 35 years old not a year sooner.

You shouldn’t give up. As a young person, your life is not over when you’re 20 and diagnosed with SZ or BP or DP or whatever mental health issue you have. You recovery has just begun.

Dare to dream. Create a support network of peers and family and providers that can help you get to where you want to be.

Your life hasn’t ended. You can have a long life.

A good friend of mine was diagnosed with SZ when he was 13 years old. He’s 73 years old now. No kidding. He has SZ and is still here at 73. Proof that not everyone diagnosed with SZ dies 25 years earlier.

This guy does what he loves which keeps him young.

I’ve written a career guide for mental health peers. It talks about figuring out the kind of job you might be good at and like to do long-term.

Other books exist. One is titled Going to College with Autism.

We mental health peers need to rise up and clamor: “Where’s our book? Why does the autism crowd get a book and we don’t? What’s the delay?”

For going on over 11 years now I’ve created resumes for people. Numerous people I’ve helped have gotten job interviews that led to job offers.

Try not to despair when you think there’s nothing you can possibly do compared to other people who don’t have a mental health issue.

My work as a librarian and peer counselor and career services person has shown me that going to school and work when you have a diagnosis is possible for a significant number of people.

Just remember: it can take time to find the right job that you love waking up to go to in the morning.

I had to go back to school to get the degree that would enable me to have this kind of job. So far I’ve been a librarian for over 17 years.

I’ve been an Advocate for over 15 years so far too.

In the coming blog entry I’m going to talk about disclosure on the job once again.

It’s true that when you find the job where you belong disclosure becomes irrelevant.