Living an adult life with a known and/or unknown learning disabilities is hard. Most of the time it is extremely difficult to obtain or hold a full-time job. Once you get into retail it seems impossible to get out. Most of the companies out there want people with education, but if you have the education they usually want an equal amount of experience. It seems like an endless cycle.
When I was 22 years old I was diagnosed with Anxiety, ADHD Inattentive-type, “slight” dyslexia, and dyscalculia. They told my parents I should have no problems getting into the workforce. They were wrong. For years I’ve struggled with finding a decent paying job. I wanted to become independent for so long but it seems as if the world’s view of learning disabilities is clouded.
I feel as if the moment you mention “anxiety” or “disability” in an interview or application lots of people politely refuse a position or do not see me at all. It’s a stigma that I think the American companies need to look past. What is the point of a law against discrimination of disability if it’s still there? They may not go out and say it but let’s face it; if there is one person interviewing with a mental disability and another who is “perfect,” who are they going to choose for employment?
To top it all off, I am always in pain because of some unknown disability in my back that doctors have previously seen as “faking it” or “slight scoliosis” or “being too inactive.” It wasn’t until I saw a rheumatologist this year that someone finally saw past all of that and realized something was actually wrong. However, even he was wrong. My primary doctor saw my symptoms and finally agreed with me that I was suffering from Fibromyalgia. I am finally on medication and vitamins that help aid with my issues.
This brings me to why I am sitting here writing this. Despite everything I have gone through, I refuse to give up. I have decided to go back to school for writing. The one thing that had stayed with me since I was in grade school was my love for writing. Looking back, I really do wish I would have forced myself to read the material in the English classes better to show that I really loved writing and English. Sometimes I wish I could time travel back in time and tell my old self to push through my frustrations with reading, and prove to the teachers and everyone that I was good enough. If I did that, I wonder if I would be in a very different situation right now.
In College the first time around, I had very little direction in what I had to do to get a decent job after I graduated. This is probably partially why I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. When I graduated high school I was forced to go to college full time just because it helped me stay on my parent’s insurance. By the time Obamacare was passed, allowing me to stay on their insurance without worrying about school it was too late. I already had so many credits I felt as if I had to finish with an associates’ degree in something. I graduated with only an Associates in General Studies.
After years of bouncing from job to job and months at a time being unemployed with little or no health insurance, I finally landed a job that worked with my physical and mental limitations. The main problem was that I would never be able to be financially independent. I was only qualified to work part time and they gave me less than 20 hours a week starting at minimum wage. Less than a year into this job they raised the wages to 9/hour but it still was not enough. When my medical bills rose and rose I finally had enough and applied for Medicaid and SNAP. It lifted my financial burden slightly for the time being. The only reason I settled with this job is because it did not leave me physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day like the others. I know that most people are physically and mentally exhausted after working a full day of any kind of work, but the point was that I was exhausted to the point that I did not want to do anything but eat and sleep. I was always in so much pain and my room became a disaster area because of my lack of energy.
With this job, I had the energy to do things again. I did my chores and kept my room as tidy as I could. I even walked to and from work when I worked shifts in the morning or afternoon. With this job I was not limited as much for anything. The only downside is the fact that I had no idea how many hours I would get the next week and if I would get enough to pay the little amount of bills I had. This is when I decided I wanted to try working two jobs to see how I could handle it.
I had never in my life been a waitress and I wanted to see how I was at it. Not only was I physically drained, but mentally drained as well by the end of the trial period of a week. I enjoyed the free Japanese food and the people’s company but the three anxiety attacks were not worth it.
The second job I applied for was a seasonal job watering plants. For the first few weeks it was ok because the weather was nice and warm. It was not until after the weather began getting cold again that I realized I could not handle the job physically. Not to mention when I had this revelation I had the fifth anxiety attack I had from the moment I started working. I wished I could stay there because the pay rate made me feel so much better about myself. However, I knew my physical and mental health were worth more than a paycheck.
The main point of me saying all this is not to wallow in everything that’s happened. I want to express that I did these things because I wanted to gauge what I could and could not do. I am not going to give up. I am going to try a temp agency to gain experience in an office while also working on freelance writing through Upwork and other places where I can find work for a writer trying to begin work. Working for offices should help me gain experience for internships and eventually a real career that I want to do. For everyone who reads this post, I want to let you know that it is not impossible to land the career you want or even just something as simple as keeping a job. If you can, think of everything you can and cannot do. Do not dwell on what you cannot do. Focus on what you can do, and what you love to do. Eventually you will know what path your life will take.