I’m almost afraid to say this because I might jinx myself, but I could be on a bit of a roll here.
While I was surfing Craigslist for jobs last night, I found one that is PERFECT. The position is with the county as a peer support specialist for people in the mental health system. It’s all about advocating for them, teaching life skills, and coordinating services. And one of the requirements is—can you believe this?—you have to self-identify as a) a person receiving mental health services, b) someone who is in recovery for a substance abuse problem, or c) a relative of someone who is.
I qualify on all three counts. Could anything possibly be better than a job where I don’t have to hide the fact that I suffer from a mental illness? I must’ve read that job description half a dozen times, unable to believe what I was seeing. I have NEVER heard of a job where MI was a bona fide occupational qualification. It almost seemed too good to be true…..but it’s a legitimate government job, and even better, it’s part-time and pays well above minimum wage.
I didn’t hesitate for a minute. Within 30 minutes I filled out the application form, attached my resume and fired it off. I don’t expect to be called for an interview anytime soon; the closing date isn’t until the third of September. But I have a good feeling about this; I think I’ll get an interview at the very least. Once again, I can see where my clinical background would be useful even though this is not a nursing position, and of course my experiences as a person living with MI are valuable because I know what mentally ill people have to deal with. The stigma. The difficulties with maintaining steady employment. The impact MI has on loved ones. The shame.
I’m afraid to get too excited, but I can’t help it. And I’ve still got the interview tomorrow at the children’s psych facility. If nothing else, this has opened up a whole new world of possibilities which I didn’t even know existed till a week or so ago. Obviously, I think I’d be good at working with other people with mental health issues, although I’d have to be careful not to over-identify and get too involved in their lives. Boundaries are a good thing! But I can’t see any other real downside to either job, with the exception being lower pay than I’m used to. It’s hard to think about scraping by on $15 an hour when you’ve been bringing home twice that much.
At this point, however, I’m much less concerned with money than I am with quality of life. Yes, money contributes to quality of life, but I’d rather have a job that doesn’t swallow me whole. And if it’s something I’m passionate about, so much the better.
Besides, if I were to start earning a big salary again, the bill collectors will be all over it like a cheap suit and I wouldn’t see much of it anyway. Having a middle-class income is overrated; the more one makes, the more it takes to live because the “needs” always seem to expand to meet (or exceed) the available funding. I mean, does anyone really NEED candles, room sprays, and air fresheners in matching seasonal scents?
Anyway, that’s my exciting news for today. We shall see what comes of it. I’ll keep you posted.