To the Person Reviewing My Resume, From an Applicant With a Mental Illness

I am writing to you to inform you of my desire to work for your company. Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I have a mental illness. Why do I think you should hire someone with a mental illness? You say you like people who can think outside the box and that is a strength you are looking for. Well, those of us with a mental illness can easily and quite naturally think outside the box. In fact, some of us have even experienced different realities and may be able to put a twist or a spin on that problem you are having that you never even imagined.

You mention that you value creativity. Most people with a mental illness are creative in one form or another. It hasn’t been proven yet, but there have been several studies trying to link creativity and mental illness. So far, the results appear to be in our favor.

You claim to value teamwork. We are masters at working on a team! We have a psychiatrist that we work with, a therapist that we work with, a general practitioner, group leaders, family and anyone else who is concerned about our care. We work on a team considering the most intimate details of our lives. I am certain we can handle working on a team in a corporate environment where our lives are not at stake.

You wanted me to address my strengths and weaknesses. For those of us with a mental illness, that is the same thing. Our strength is that we battle a mental illness every day. Our weakness is that we battle a mental illness every day. It is really the same thing. Consider it for a moment, and you will see this is an example of us thinking outside the box or using our creativity. What forces us to be strong also makes us weak.

You advertised that you want someone who is detail-oriented. Those of us with a mental illness have trained ourselves to notice details. We pay attention to our environment for triggers that will set off our anxiety or paranoia. We pay attention to our sleeping patterns. We make notes about our moods and our medications. We share most of these details with a team (back to our strength as team players).

I know you didn’t mention this in your ad, but I know it is of great concern to issues of morale — people with a mental illness won’t add negativity to the work environment. We will be so concerned about people judging us, underestimating us and seeing everything we do through the lens of mental illness that we won’t have the time, courage or energy to gossip, complain or bad-mouth any of our coworkers, bosses or policies.

You wanted me to mention my experience in regards to the position you are hiring for, but I know the fact that I have a mental illness is the biggest obstacle you have to overcome before you hire me. If you can do that, I’ll tell you about my previous experience in the interview. I have actually had some great jobs.

Follow this journey on A Journey With You.

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