Returning to Work After a Psychiatric Disability

One aspect of recovering from a mental illness is returning to the work force. Although statistics are not that favorable in supporting those of us who want to return to work, there are some resources I have found to be somewhat helpful. Working is more than just a paycheck. It is a means for social interaction, a chance to utilize skills and a great way to build confidence. Not everyone can go back to work, but those who want to try deserve to have resources in place to support the process.

In my own personal search for resources I have found a few web sites to be of value. The first site is called Employment Resources and the second is Mental Health Works. These two sites are specific to those people who are recovering from a mental illness and who want to return to work. I have provided a bit more information and the links below.

The most important thing I have found is to believe in yourself and know that if you continue to be persistent you will find a place in the work force. It might take a few different jobs to get you back on track again, but hopefully each one will provide some value to you. If anyone would like to be a part of a support group for those who want to return to work send me an email at agamble162@aol.com with your contact information and I will organize a support group teleconference.

Here are two web sites with good information.

Mental Health Works – Mental Health Works is a national initiative of the Canadian Mental Health Association. They have a wealth of information about going back to work after a period of absence caused from a psychiatric disability. Although some of the information is specific to Canada, the Steps to Employment guide provides many exercises and tips to get ready for a job search. I like that this guide talks about the challenges we face after having been out of the work force for a little while. I found it very resourceful in helping me identify my strengths. It also has examples of different kinds of resumes, and based on the information you can decide what you need for your job search.

Employment Resources -Hamilton County Ohio Mental Health and Recovery Services Board provides valuable on-line resources to help people with psychiatric disabilities return to work. The resources link to valuable information to assist you with everything from resume writing to obtain a small business loan to starting your own business. A couple of the links are not found, but there are still some valuable resources worth reading.

I hope you find some of the information helpful.

Learning to grieve the losses from Mental Illness

For several months I found myself searching the Internet for topics relating to “mental illness and losses.” I was not exactly sure what was going on but after several weeks I realized I was in a grieving process with regard to having my life change from bipolar disorder. I was looking for some other stories out there about people who had been through major life changes because of their mental illness. I wanted to know how the illness had impacted them and what they did to deal with those losses.

I found a lot of general information about how mental illness can affect your job, relationships and your economic status. I also found several people on the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance site who had recovered and were working again in various careers. “But what about people like me?” I thought. Where are the people who are grieving the loss of careers and relationships? What did they do to recover? How did they do it?

After several searches I found a YouTube video of a presentation by Dr. Ken Druck. He was presenting for the International Bipolar Foundation. The talk was about grief and losses pertaining to the caretakers of bipolar disorder folks. But as I listened I realized I could relate to various things.

I learned grief, while certainly painful, is a very healthy response to loss of any kind. This can even include the loss of dreams you might be striving for. In my case I was grieving for loss of my life, as I once knew it, which included lots of great relationships and an awesome career. I kept listening very intently and found that even though there is the well-known Kuebler Ross grief process, grieving in and of itself is not linear. And eventually we can heal.

The best part about the video is that I actually had the acknowledgement I had been looking for; it is perfectly “normal” to grieve the losses from mental illness. At last I found a voice out there that resonated with me. Now I could start taking action to help myself heal.

I believe whole heartily in recovering from mental illness, but I also know when things get tough and symptoms break through the road is much more difficult than it seems. Grief can be a trigger for depression so that makes it much more difficult to process when you have bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. This is one of the reasons why finding the information on the YouTube video was so helpful for me. It gave me a sense of relief knowing that what I was experiencing actually had a name and now I could understand why I was searching for information to help relieve some of my pain.

If you have experienced losses because of a mental illness you might want to check out the video “Bipolar Lecture by Ken Druck.” (This is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XBbDnb1z3w). I also bought Dr. Druck’s book and have been reading it. It’s called “The Real Rules of Life” and deals with several topics related to understanding and dealing with “what is.” I found it very helpful.