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I am going back to work. I wanted to have writing and working from home be my new career, and I have taken many writing classes and applied to many home-based jobs, but it just hasn’t panned out for me. I don’t feel productive enough working from home, and getting paid writing gigs is competitive and requires a fire and hustle that I simply don’t have.

For the past year, along with writing, I have been applying for part time jobs that I thought I would enjoy and that I had a high chance of being successful doing. I finally found one. I am scheduled for my new employee orientation next Wednesday.

I am excited to go back to work. I will be working twenty hours a week at a fast paced job that is physical. I’m happy that it is physical because it is less likely for anxiety to grab ahold of me when I am zipping around trying to complete tasks.

There are many reasons I am happy to have landed a part-time job with a well-known company, and one of the most important reasons is advocacy. I feel like I am strong enough to work part time and I think that strength and accomplishment are important for others to see. I have worked outside of the home almost all of my adult life (with the exception of the last five years), and I think it will prove to people that stereotypes about schizophrenia are simply not accurate.

I want to succeed at my new job not just for me, but for everyone with a severe mental illness. I don’t want my success to be exceptional, though; I want everyone to know that many people with schizophrenia can write, attend school, and work (some can even work full time although I am sure I can no longer handle the stress or pressure of a 30-45 hour work week).

I have been dealing with personality tests, drug tests, background checks, and other details of this new job over the past two weeks and I have noticed that as the likelihood that I would get the job increased, I became more and more self-confident. Earlier this week, I took a bus by myself to a resort and outlet mall thirty or more miles from my home. I went and spent several hours having fun. It took me two buses to return home, and I did all of that without incident. I was so proud of myself and felt a sense of freedom and accomplishment.

When I was younger, I was so much more independent, fearless, and adventurous. I have lost a great deal of my confidence and strength over the past five years, and I feel like working will help me gain some of that back. Although I have written dozens and dozens of published essays over the past few years, I don’t feel as if I have been contributing or productive on a level that I desire. With a part-time job, I will feel certain that every week I have been productive and contributed to a team environment accomplishing many tasks each shift.

My biggest challenge with returning to work is going to be managing my symptoms, and I feel hopeful that I have the skills and resources to make it through a 4-5 hour shift four days a week. I feel ready to take on the challenge.

As I get ready to start punching a time clock, it is important for me to remember that I am not giving up my dream of writing essays and having those essays published. I am still going to have a couple of free days (down days) every week, and if I can get organized and use my time wisely, I will still be able to produce as much writing as I have been over these past few years.

I am embarking on a new journey, and I intend to keep you all posted about the rough waters, easy sailing, and the direction of the wind. I have the courage to get out there and try again. This trying is an example of the tremendous resiliency of many of us with a mental illness; we do more than put one foot in front of the other, we make huge leaps and hope that we will land in a better spot than the one we left behind.