Public Comment

ON MENTAL WELLNESS: The Scenario of Getting a Job

Jack Bragen
Monday January 23, 2023 - 04:36:00 PM

Brittany Spears, bipolar and an incredible performer, is formerly under conservatorship by her family. She was a great breadwinner for them until she was able to get out of conservatorship. She is one of the few exceptions to the guideline I'm about to offer.

A person who suffers from a chronic psychiatric condition should not rely on a job to be able to survive. You need Social Security to cover you in the inevitable times that you can't work. Your income and housing should be provided by the government on the basis that you may not at always be able to earn a living. Do not take this as an insult. Do not take this as shooting down your ambitions/and/or aspirations. A psychiatric illness is a factual circumstance, and it is not something that someone merely imagined.

A psychiatric condition, while it may not always make you unable to work, can put you at risk. Partly you must face discrimination. Many employers could be uninformed concerning people with a mental disability. You also face the slowing down effect of many psychiatric medications, and this could impede your work. There is not a reliable method of getting around this. Antipsychotics are designed to slow the brain, and that's how they work to alleviate symptoms. It is the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to kill a bug. But that's where neuroscience currently is. If you drink a bunch of caffeinated beverages to counter the antipsychotic, you're at risk of nullifying the effects of your medication and this is an unwise risk. 

There is nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself. It stinks that disabled people have to live on the measly entitlements the government gives us. However, if you have had more than one episode of severe psychosis, mania, or depression, you should realize this can happen to you again. And it can take years to recover from this. And a complete recovery is not certain. In my past, when I've had repeat episodes of psychosis, I lost considerable ground in what I'm able to do. The condition of severe psychosis is not easy on one's brain condition. 

In the forementioned, I'm not talking about intelligence. If you are an intelligent person, it is possible that you always will be. However, the brain is responsible for many other things aside from intelligence. And the ability to handle full-time employment may not always be within reach. This is very unfair, but this is how human biology responds to a brain condition of this kind. It doesn't mean that what you experience has any less value. Yet, it takes a lot of stamina, brainpower, motivation, determination, energy, and health, to be capable of handling a full-time professional job. And if your higher education has been interrupted by psychiatric illness, it is another mark against you, albeit one that you didn't create. 

I do most things better than a typical non-disabled person. Yet because of the sum of physical and mental problems I have, it is not realistic for me to try to handle full-time work or being a full-time student. I'm also older. I am at the age in which people are starting to look what they'll do when they retire. People my age usually have investments to fall back on. They may have adult sons and daughters who can come to their aid. I have none of this. And I am not as resilient or as adaptable as I once was. Change is not easy for me to handle. 

I have seen numerous mentally ill people get jobs, and in some instances, the net result was relapse. There are several possible contributing factors. Some mentally ill people who succeed in a job mistakenly believe that because they can work, they aren't ill any longer and don't need to continue medication and other treatment. 

In other instances, the person is too far overextended by the job or by their anxiousness about the job. Another possible factor is losing the job, and this could be for any reason. When the job is lost, it can take considerable time for benefits to come back. Meanwhile, the person is left without having enough money to live on. 

And there are other instances in which a job can cause a relapse. It matters that you remain within reasonable limits. If the job has more hours than you can reasonably handle, if the job is too stressful, or if the supervisor expects too much, these are all reasons to possibly back off. While you could end up with a less than stellar employment record, you'll at least stay out of the hospital; a worthwhile tradeoff. 

For numerous people, mental illness diagnosis or not, self-esteem is closely connected to one's job. However, if you are disabled, you probably want to rethink the process that gives you your self-esteem. There exists an infinitude of ways to like yourself. You can like yourself for any reason including "another day and I put in a good effort". 

Ideally, if you have a severe mental condition, housing, income, and medical care should be provided by the government in a fully reliable manner. If you work, it should be as a supplement to your government entitlements. The extra money should go very far toward enhancing your quality of life. The work activity should be something you enjoy.