Work Discrimination-How to Cope?
I never thought I’d be here. Not in a million years. I’ve worked 18 years in my industry. Sacrificed so much for my career. Being 41, without a partner or kids I’ve devoted my life to my work.
At my job, I’ve been called a retard/moron and an affirmative action hire by my supervisor. None is true. My work was then rebranded and claimed as his and I was left out of important meetings. I was told that if I could not “rise up and get over my disability” that I did not deserve to serve the military as a defense contractor. At the time my medications were on back order during COVID and I could not medicate.
I told him that I was not some veteran who has shrapnel in his body like he was, who courageously rose above his unfortunate incident. I explained that MS is the demyelinating of my nerves and without medication I can’t perform my duties. I then reported his statements and actions to my superintendent, who required proof. I could not audio or video record anyone working on a classified project. So I ultimately had no proof. My accusations were dismissed as a he said/she said incident. I thought the easiest way to resolve my circumstance was to find a new job and started putting in applications. I did not expect to be fired from my job within a month for not meeting company expectations.
I’ve had four interviews in the six months since I lost my job. None successful. I’ve never had such a hard time finding a job with my skill set and job experience. I was told it was a workers market. And I’m still collecting unemployment. The state checks don’t cover all my medical bills since my compounded medications cost $1500 every two months and they are not covered by insurance. My money saved is running out.
I moved here from across the country to a job that was defunded within two years. The work environment became cut throat and I was sacrificed when my supervisor claimed my work as his.
Living with ASD and ADHD, and as a sexual assault survivor I don’t know how to cope. I’ve been robed of my employment and annexed from my local industry. My identity was in part my job and skill set. I’ve worked and lived all over the world. But live alone now without immediate family or close friends. I cannot claim disability. Who does this mean I am now?
For the last two and a half years my medical team and I have searched for the cause of my random and bizarre symptoms finally arriving at a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. My balance, loss of mobility in my hands, loss of sensory perception in my extremities, my vision disturbances, sudden occurrence of cluster headaches, lethargy, stabbing pains all point to MS. I have one positive MRI with lesions in the white matter, just waiting on another MRI and a spinal tap to confirm my condition. My health continues to deteriorate as I’ve waited 6 months for my neurologist appointment, three more to go. I hope potential medications for MS will change the quality of my life.
Yet how do I accept that 18 dedicated years of my life for my industry are now gone simply because of a health condition and job discrimination? How do I continue to job search? What jobs can I actually perform? Who would want to hire a disabled person with medical needs? I would need a flexible schedule for doctor appointments.
I cannot find a new place to live while living on unemployment. Everyone wants an income 3 times the rent. Being on unemployment, I do not qualify for food assistance, utility assistance, or housing assistance through my state because I have too much income. The wait list for section 8 housing is over 4 years long in my state. Out of options, I just renewed my lease for another year with a rent hike. My property manager knows thatI live with a leaking roof, in a building that doesn’t have insulated windows or walls. We have flooding issues so on the second floor I contend with mice and ants, along with broken appliances that rarely get fixed. How did this become my life?
I’ve decided to go back to school for a masters degree with the hopes that an advanced degree will help me to remain competitive within my industry. This will take valuable time and all my remaining resources, but I feel that I am out of other options. If all goes well I will graduate in a year and a half.
To stay busy I strive to do rare disease advocacy work knowing my experience is one of millions who have also lost their employment, families, life savings, and home due to a diagnosis. I like them, are so angry and lost like a kite cut loose in a hurricane. So I try to stay busy and not focus on my own life, but late at night there is nothing else to think of. How do I cope with this? How do I let go of this seething anger festering within me? Who am I beyond this shell of a broken body? What future do I have to look forward to?
All I can do is continue to wait for a Neurology appointment, hope for an official diagnosis so I can start medications and pray to get my life back. What if I don’t. What if this is my new reality?