It’s Monday morning. Most people are dragging themselves to their jobs after a weekend that always seems to be too short. Some love their jobs. That I envy. Some people hate their jobs. I’ve been there.
Either way, we are defined by what we do; how we make a living. It’s our label. It’s difficult for people to understand that a person can live without a job, a career, a living and not live under a bridge. Public perception is if you do not have a job, you must be a freeloader. I never bought into hullabaloo that recipients of government checks are just freeloaders (not that some aren’t). But, up until my breakdown, it was inconceivable to me that you would not work. I enjoyed working. I loved making a living and paying my bills. Not working was nowhere on my radar. I never wanted that for myself. I grew up knowing that you should always have a job and so I thought I always would.
Then, I lost my job. The first time, I didn’t think anything of it. It really was a misunderstanding. A minor offense. I had sent an email to a coworker calling the boss a stupid pig (to put it lightly). Well, said pig was monitoring the email and took my private communication to the supervising attorney. Oops. He fired me. It was the last straw. I had been way too vocal in my disapproval of some of the firm’s policies and the laziness of one particular cuddled coworker. Anyway, I went home. I cried. I called a few girlfriends who came running over. No one was shocked that I was fired for being too articulate with my opinions. I have never been shy. That afternoon I updated my resume and immediately applied for unemployment benefits. Before I could collect my unemployment check, I had another job. Then, ten months later, the job I really wanted came along. The said pig of the law firm found himself fired later for malfeasance. Thank you! That’s what I was trying to say.
Anyway, my next stop was the federal government. Those very hard jobs to get. I didn’t hesitate. I picked up and left for another city for this amazing opportunity. It really was fantastic. Great pay. Great hours. Manageable workload. Everything they say about working for the federal government is true. It is an amazing employer. I worked there for 2 years.
Then, one Friday night, I could not sleep. I was in a complete manic state and didn’t even know what was happening to me. All that energy I had always possessed went to a whole new level. I didn’t know how to calm myself down. I was racing around my apartment. I could have run a marathon. My fanciful imagination turned into outright delusions. I know I mentioned the Apocalypse was coming, right? I started sending weird and incoherent text and email messages to a few friends. Later, one of them printed them out. This very technically smart individual gave my crazy messages showing I was out of my mind to a coworker. Said coworker turned this information over to the big mouth supervisor and I’m pretty sure that everyone was calling me crazy and spreading rumors before I was even completely checked into the hospital. That’s how knowledgeable and professional these people were.
Back to what I knew at the time . . . .
The next morning, I was still wide awake and I was found wandering saying the same things over and over again outside my apartment. I remember being picked up by an ambulance screaming for my brother. The next thing, I woke up and I was strapped down on a bed in the emergency room. I have never been so scared in my life. Did I hurt someone? Did I ruin everything? No, the doctor assured me. He could tell I was a beautiful person. That’s what he said. A beautiful person. I hadn’t hurt anybody and wasn’t talking about hurting myself or anybody. He told me when I was picked up it was like I was singing the Star Spangled Banner and the Alphabet at the same time.
Then, I was all alone in a room strapped down. Of course, I immediately unstrapped myself and proceeded down the hall. For the first time in my life, I was stopped and told I was not free to leave. So, they marched me back to my room and removed my running shorts so I couldn’t leave again. Now, that just pissed me off. But, they did sit a nice grandma person in my room to talk to me.
I was able to call my family and I called a local friend. A girl I knew since law school. I had gotten her a federal job. To this day, I don’t understand why she did what she did but so many people have assured me what my friend did wasn’t because she wanted to hurt me. I say, “yeah right.” Anyway, this is the same girl who turned my private communications over to the supervisor. She did one better. She called my supervisor and asked her to come to the hospital where I was. So, the supervisor of my very fancy mancy job found out I had a nervous breakdown and had been Baker Acted very easily. Everybody was singing like canaries.
The supervisor showed up next to my bed in the hospital. Nice, huh? She told me to take two weeks off but a month later I still was not able to return to work and I later found out that the whole time they were looking to get rid of me. My two years of hard work didn’t matter. No one vouched for me. They just booted me out the door. To this day, I am still fighting this termination. Of course, they are saying it wasn’t because I had a mental illness. But, between me and you, it totally was. The theme of this termination was we could not come right out and say it was because of her mental illness so we made up a lie. A big lie actually. One I would never want to repeat. To be so labeled makes me cry. It hurts a lot. I wanted to take out a billboard. I AM A GOOD PERSON! I DON’T DESERVE THIS!
I thought I was just getting to the point of not being bitter and getting worked up about the last firing but it still hurts. I feel so betrayed. All those feeling came roaring to the top after getting a call from a coworker yesterday. She told me the supervisor that did me wrong was taking an early retirement. Things have not been good for her. Interesting. Well. . . . strange how life works. That’s all I have to say. Anything else would just be ugly.
After this firing, I took months off from work but I eventually moved back to Florida and began working in a law firm again trying to claw my way to the top. I then did the worst thing possible. I went to work for the public defender’s office. I lasted 11 days before I had a breakdown. Of course, I was fired.
So, I decided to move to Texas and got a job at a law firm there. I was living with my Sr dad. Everything was going good. I wasn’t on any medication but I was waiting for my health insurance to kick in. 90 days. I just had to wait 90 days and then I would figure out how to sneak around getting mental health treatment and medications. I didn’t last that long. My Sr dad died under very suspicious circumstances. I lasted a week on my own and ended up having a breakdown. Back to the adult crisis unit for me and this was not a short stay. I ended up at the Texas State Hospital for more than a month.
I haven’t worked since and do not know when I’ll be ready to go back to work. I can make it without working. So, that whole mindset of “you have to have a job” has gone to the waist side for me. And, the above story is why. All this firing is very humiliating. I can’t even imagine going through it again. I am in a rabbit hole right now and I’ll poke my head out when I have another career path and it seems safe and compatible with my personality.
The first time I took a job break, it amazed me when I discovered that you could do alright with less pay or no pay. I could survive on a government check. Granted, I am fortunate. I come from a family that doesn’t have a lot but what they do have they make work. My mother is so glad that I did not go into the permanent abyss of madness that she happily takes care of anything I need.
Now, that is one thing I am not without: A mother’s love. A mother who would go to hell and fight the devil himself for me. I could cry. Thank you to that beautiful woman. And, thank God for making her my mom.
Having all this in the back of my mind, I stutter when someone asked, “What do you do?”
Before I could say I was a Burger King manager, I was a student, I worked for Ralph Lauren, I was an assistant to a 4-star hotel food and beverage director, I was a law student, I was an attorney, I was a public defender, I was a federal employee, I was a writer . . . Now, I am none of those things. I do not have a job or a career. It bothers me that I do not have a simple label to put on myself that shows I am being a productive member of society. Even my eye doctor asked me what I did. I fumbled for an answer.
The truth? Too complicated. I am currently living my days with heavy medications. Medications so heavy they leave my disposition unpredictable. Sometimes, I am just that drugged up that I am in a tired stupor. My doctor and I are still working out the kinks in my diagnosis and medication regime.
What am I? I’m a basket case. A lady of leisure. A house kid.