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I'm Young and 'Should' Be Able to Work, but I Can't Because of Mental Illness

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There is a huge expectation in modern society that if one does not have a job, then it must be because they are not trying enough or they are mooching off the system.

I should admit there was a time when I too believed this. I worked hard at my previous job and I couldn’t understand how anyone could ask for money they didn’t deserve.

That was until I found myself in a situation where I had to leave my job over a severe mental health relapse. It seemed the choices I was left with were: I could keep working and risk the desire to end my life, or give up the money, my job and career and focus on recovering.

I have been unemployed for a year and a half now and I am nowhere ready to start working again.

I have been pushed my GP and people I know to try again, but they don’t really seem to understand the effect that working has on me now. It seems I have been left traumatized by my last job and when I did attempt a new job, under GP orders, within weeks I was suicidal and had fallen back on all the progress I had made.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I want to work. I love being independent and it fills me with so much shame to have to rely on my husband. I am very much an independent person who is very determined to succeed in life. However, jobs that require any social interaction and long or regular hours, make me very ill. What does that leave me with? The options are slim.

A lot of people don’t believe me or choose to judge me when I say that working makes my mental health so bad that I want to die. I suppose to them it sounds like an excuse, but this is a kind of invisible illness and internal pain I do not wish on anyone.

I think people expect me to be lazing around all day, living the life of luxury and being a trophy wife. But when I am not cleaning the home, organizing my husband and my life or attending and doing college work, I am writing constantly, building a career in freelance writing, building my own blog and working on furthering my name in poetry. The main thing in this is I can choose my own hours, though I have not earned a penny yet, I am my own boss and my mental health has been better for it.

The best part of it is I do not even care about the money at this point. If money comes from my work than that’s great.

However, I have found that because my work is focused on mental health and suicide prevention, I have helped so many people and enjoy that I am making a change to the stigma the world has attached to mental health. Being able to give people hope and helping to save lives is far more rewarding than a pay check.

I do know that for the long term, not having a job is not realistic, but I do have a plan for that.

I intend to work on myself through therapy sessions, which I start soon and get to a place where I can start fresh and work on getting a job to help pay the bills. I also am trying to push the freelance work, as I do not like to charge for my work on mental health. It feels so wrong but I seem to have a talent for connecting with readers on a humane basis and I am sure, with a little luck, maybe I can earn just a few pennies to buy my husband his birthday and Christmas presents.

I want to say to people that I do not work by choice. It honestly makes me feel so rotten and hurt inside that I have allowed myself to get into this situation. A lot of people who don’t work are not trying to mooch off the government and many won’t sit around and watch TV all day. So, when you meet someone who doesn’t work, don’t judge because you do not know their story and you do not know their intentions for now or the future. A physical disability is not the only think that can prevent working.

Originally published: June 6, 2018
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