I’ve just came back from my first university tutorial (hello if my fellow DD102 student is reading this!) discussing the barriers people face in society. Disability and mental illness is one that I am very aware of. Both barriers are push on me from society and some I push upon myself. People with mental illness and disabilities struggle to fit into society’s cliche of the working person, who has their own home and family.
When you have a mental illness a normal thing such as having a job is extremely difficult. It’s not like you can just leave your illness at home and stop your mind from screaming at you. Most employers aren’t willing to support employees who have a mental illness because all they care about is productivity. This means that because you don’t fit into your employers mould you are likely to get sacked. Of course they won’t use your mental illness as the reason why they sacked you, that would be seen discrimination, instead they will use another excuse! I have experienced this through out my entire working life. However, there are some amazing employers who are very supportive of equality and support their disabled employees. The NHS is amazing and is the employer I will spend the rest of my career with.
The government also tells me my life is over because I have a mental illness, I am labelled as disabled and therefore less able and no longer able to contribute to society. I either go onto sickness benefit or continue my instability in trying to maintain a job. There isn’t much help out there in terms of reintegrating disabled people back into work.
I made my own decision to make the best of my employment situation and having to recovery from mental illness. Studying at university has reminded me that I am still an intelligent person and very capable. Luckily there is lots of support for disabled students. I have noticed students who aren’t disabled and struggling being jealous of the support I get! But trust me, I would give anything to be able to wake up in the morning without thinking about wanting to kill myself.
When I received my diagnosis I was relieved because I had answers for feeling the way I did, but at the same I felt less human. I felt I was a problem.
All we can do is make the best of life and take advantage of the opportunities we have. I refuse to be told that because I have a mental illness that means I must sit on my sofa rotting. You are just as able as anybody else. You just might need some support and time to get there.