I failed. I would like to say it is a small failure, but it is colossal. The worst part about it is I thought I could do it. I was excited to try. I had my hopes up that I would be successful. I was ready to put my illness on the back burner and rejoin the workforce.
I didn’t make it through orientation.
The first thing they made me do was to put my purse in a room because they didn’t want me to have it in the warehouse. I knew this was going to be a problem for me. My purse goes with me everywhere; I never lock it up, and I never let it out of my sight. I had two hundred dollars in my purse. I had my house keys and car keys. I had my medication. I had my social security number prominently displayed on my medical card. I had my driver’s license. And I had food; food, that they told me to bring for a snack. I can’t eat food that has been out of my possession because I am paranoid about contamination and poisoning. Food and food issues are one of my most frequent and persistent symptoms.
They took all of us new hires, about twenty of us, into a room. They gave us our identification cards and gave us a tour of the warehouse. While walking the warehouse I smelled all the laundry detergent soaps and other perfumed items. I am allergic to perfumed items, but that isn’t what hit me. I started getting paranoid and anxious about all those smells. Smell is a trigger for me regarding panic attacks and olfactory hallucinations. I was still worried about my snacks because I was starting to get hungry.
Back in the training room, we went over our login for work hours and a safety video. By this time my anxiety was so high and I was hungry, nervous, and paranoid. I told the man at the desk, “I’m sorry this isn’t the job for me.”
“Do you want me to walk you out?” He asked.
“Yes, please,” I said.
He walked me to the warehouse exit, and I asked about my purse. He apologized and led me to the room where I had left my belongings. I went to my car, drove home and had to take an extra dose of medication and have my husband come home to try and get me back to a stable place.
I learned a few things today. The first is I am no longer young. Also, I don’t have the courage and energy and resiliency I had in my youth. My symptoms have gotten worse over the years (I may not be actively psychotic but what I can handle, accomplish and push myself to do is greatly reduced from ten years ago). I will try to make working at home a priority again because I believe it is all I can reasonably handle. Although I believe people with schizophrenia can do anything, I cannot do everything. I have more limits than I imagined. I am not giving up (I will try to find some form of work that I am well suited for that doesn’t require me to have an episode just by going to orientation). People will still hire me, and I may give in sometimes, but I am not a quitter.
Today was a setback, a failure of sorts, for all of us with schizophrenia trying to lead a normal life, but I still plan to find a way to be a good example of successful living while dealing with active symptoms. I know it can be done, and I believe I can do it. I may not be able to do traditional jobs, but I will find some meaningful way to use my time and talents.
I hope you had a more successful day and a better experience than I did, but if you didn’t, let’s agree together not to give up. Let’s keep trying. Failure is nothing to be afraid of, it is not trying that dries us up and kills our spirit. Our spirit is our life force, let’s keep fighting to keep it vital, active and alive.