Non-Traditional Work

I have famously celebrated Rite Aid cashiers in this blog and elsewhere.

An old SZ magazine news article of years ago talked about what to do if you have negative symptoms or other limitations that make paid employment not viable.

The analogy was that if you like to play guitar you could join a band. If you like to write you can try to get published in literary journals. And so on. And so on.

I have often made the case that only valuing work that contributes to the economic stream in society effectively undervalues people whose humanitarian work–and often the work of recovery–DOES COUNT as a worthy endeavor.

One of my saddest things is that parents with adult kids who are diagnosed with schizophrenia often have to mourn the loss of the son or daughter who isn’t going to be the M.D. or J.D. they hoped.

My contention is: it’s not our parents’ choice that should determine what we do in life.

I’ve been told of a woman who bakes cakes. I’d be willing to take the risk to pay her $100 to bake me cakes to take to a holiday party. Her father is disappointed that all she does is bake cakes. The identities in this story have been changed yet you get the idea.

I don’t value paid employment because I’ve worked with rude or lazy co-workers so I can assure you a robot could do their job better. It’s unfair yet they remain employed. I don’t hold these people up as role models. Ordinary people diagnosed with schizophrenia who get up every day and struggle to get out of bed are my true heroes.

I value the gifts people were given at birth to use to better ourselves and others in the world. Using the gifts we were given and not squandering them is indeed the foolproof way to have a full and robust life–regardless of whether you’re paid to do the work you do.

This is where I’m going to end this series of career blog entries. It seems I’ve detailed this as specifically as I can right now.

Stay tuned for topics in April related to finding joy in living in recovery at mid life.

Family Support

I always told audience members at book talks that I recovered because of my mother. She drove me to the hospital within 24 hours and I was placed on medication and three weeks later when I got out I had no symptoms.

All along my mother brushed this off and didn’t think I should give her the credit. Was she insinuating that my own actions rightly took the starring role in why I was able to have a full and robust life?

I’m grateful either way. Yet I’d still rather deflect from perpetuating the myth that I’m some kind of superstar.

As I’ve written before, each of has gifts we were born with that can help us recover and do well. It’s my contention that we should move beyond using these gifts solely for self-gain and use them to promote wellness for others.

I say: let’s give a shout out to our families who often are doing the best they can faced with the truth that their kids have a mental illness.

My memoir Left of the Dial is the only one that details the link between family support and how a person can succeed. The book shows how an illness threatens to ravage the character’s mind and how her mother will do anything to stop the illness from taking over her daughter.

The expression by any means necessary popped into my head about the measures family members often have to take to get their loved ones help. Our families often do battle with the gatekeepers in the mental health system who refuse to admit us to the hospital, who refuse to give us medication as soon as we need it, or who surprisingly reinforce that there’s no hope for what loved ones can do.

Forget Taking Back Sunday like the name of the rock group. We need to talk about Taking Back Power over the trajectory of our recovery.

I say: give family members their due.

I’m confident when I write that only a mother who has given birth to her kids can possibly understand the distress that comes from seeing your son or daughter slip away before your eyes because treatment is denied or delayed.

As a daughter, I can only imagine that fear and desperation.

I will talk about family support in the future again.

Now: go tell your mother and father that you love them.