Can you really hold down a job? REALLY?
June 22, 2012 3:44 PM Subscribe
How do you figure out whether or not your mental illness is serious enough to (basically) permanently stop working? Are there books or worksheets you can use to sort this out?
As some of you may remember from my previous questions, my last really huge depressive meltdown was last year - symptoms got worse from February to July, got very very bad from July to August, I spent all of September in a partial hospitalization program, and didn't get back to working full-time until two weeks before Christmas.
The time before that was July to October of 2009, with partial recovery by around June of 2010.
I never really fully recovered from the 2011 episode, but things got much worse again starting around March of this year, and on Tuesday I will be back on disability and I'm on the waiting list for the hospital. I've been increasingly suicidal (ideation, no planning,) self-harming, and dissociating/hallucinating for the last two weeks - it's gotten very very much worse on a daily basis. I don't want to think about what I'll be like a week from now.
In other words: I've been moderately to severely clinically depressed almost continuously for over three years, with some breakthrough hypomanic episodes and a few euthymic days here and there.
I've been asked by my employer to seriously consider whether or not I'm actually capable of holding down a full-time, responsible job. And I don't know the answer, or how to figure it out. When I get back from this disability period, they expect to have a formal, sit-down conversation on the subject - they straight up asked me what percentage of people with my condition hold down full-time jobs (the answer appears to be about 15%, if you limit it to "competitive" employment.)
I am smart enough and good enough to keep working in one sense -when I have things together emotionally, I'm darned good at my job. I'm articulate, I'm helpful, I'm polite. I have a good education, I write really well. I spot errors other people make and I take initiative to fix things. I improve processes and teach people stuff and so on. The trouble is, I basically can't hold things together at all outside of the five to eight hours I manage to be at the office daily (I have to be hypomanic or at least in a REALLY good place to pull off stuff like taking out the trash, etc., without supervision.) And when things are really bad, which they've been about forty percent of the time, I am brutally incompetent at work, too - I can't concentrate enough to read a short email, I burst into tears at the slightest provocation, and so on. I've been late to work almost every single day for the last three months.
Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a "show up whenever you feel like it" job - at least, not one that pays well enough to make sure the bills get paid during the one to twelve months a year when I can barely feed myself (even given the presence of edible food and the means to cook it.) I've only kept this job as long as I have because of luck (tenure, the timing of a huge hypomanic episode, etc.)
I know that going on disability will be deeply problematic logistically (and yeah, expect future AskMe questions in the future.) Right now I just need help in trying to do this analysis: how do you know if you're really incapable of holding down a responsible long-term job/it'd be unwise (for your own safety/health) to keep trying?
(Books and such are especially helpful, because I'm going to need to sit down with a family member who can help me through the analysis; I am really bad at getting anything done right now.)