In terms of illnesses , we are not on a level playing field.

When dealing with mental illness, and you have to not work while recovering, it will send you broke.  Unless you have family to live with and support your financial needs.  Sometimes it works the way that you might have a bad couple weeks or one month and are able to get back on track, not too much damage done.  Some money lost.  If I had not had family or my husband, I would have been on the streets easily.  I cannot even imagine that monstrosity of a situation.  But, there are probably millions who are in that very situation.

Take this situation, a person gets paid maternity leave of 6-12 weeks on average.  That is understood, but when it comes to mental health, it is not very accepted or understood by a lot of people.  If you purchase short-term disability, I guess that would qualify to cover you but really that is IF you purchase it.  Maternity leave is just there, no need to purchase it when you start work, it’s just there at a lot of companies, especially if you work for the school system or government in some facet.  That is why mental health or one of the reasons it is not on the same playing field as something like cancer, diabetes or getting pregnant.  Tangible proof of inequality right there.  We may live in 2015 but we might as well be in 1955 still.

My 26 year battle with mental illness has derailed my plans many times.  It has caused me to not work for a period of time, take time off from college for a couple of weeks, have to quit jobs to seek intensive care, loose earnings or advancement in a job.  Seriously, I have had to start all over from scratch countless times , and it does not matter if I have a Bachelor’s or an Associates.  I have come to the conclusion that if  you have your mental and physical health, your golden to excel in a job of your choice, and do the everyday things that gets you by.  Otherwise, your fucked.  I do mean FUCKED with emphasis.  Another reason mental health is not on a level playing field with other illnesses in the world.  No schooling prepares you to deal with your resume or job interviews when mental illness has chewed you up and spit you out.  Getting someone to work with you to help pick up the pieces with finding work either boils down to a counselor, or a job coach, perhaps a social worker.  Now that is IF you have the funds or insurance to pay for that.  If your on government assistance, you will get that help, but what I have heard from others who go that route it can be a very long and cumbersome process.

Now you can get disability from the government route but that is if your approved, depending on how severe your case is because there are a lot of people out there afflicted.  Another reason why mental illness is not on a level playing field of general acceptance with society.  Let’s talk about society and mental illness.  There are these unwritten rules about work life.  IF you were to let your work know that you need to take time for a surgery, or radiation treatment, you are far more likely to keep your job and get the support than if you were to say you need to seek inpatient treatment at a psychiatric unit.  Take a real long drag off that thought, especially if you are the employer reading this.  How many employees do you think you have that have a mental illness but do not dare to disclose.  There could be a few of your employees that are suffering while on the job and doing their best to hide it in fear of discrimination.  What kind of superior are you if you do not give off a welcoming attitude to your employees as well as a kind personality?  What is funny is under the American Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodations must be made for mental illness sufferers if a claim is filed.  Doing so means you have to tell your boss.  Does that boss look at you the same way once you disclose?  Do they treat you the same?  Do you expect them to do so?  So it’s a big gamble like a crap shoot or a few games of blackjack.  You really do not know what you will come out with while taking that BIG risk.  You want your job, you need your job, but you also have big health needs.

Myself, I have never disclosed it.  When I had to leave jobs for treatment, I just quit with no explanation.  I already know the kind of people I work with and how presumptuous and cruel behavior would come out of it once they knew; including the superiors.  What is even more ironic is people will get all sorts of cards, or maybe candy, or thrown a benefit to raise funds for something like cancer treatment but you would NEVER see that for someone who needs the intensive mental health care to get back on track.  While working, I have never seen that, never heard of it, and unless you work for NAMI, it probably does not happen.

Mental illness lasts for the rest of your life once you become aware of it, and probably longer if you were not aware of it.  It affects every aspect of your life and can be a death sentence if not addressed and dealt with properly.  Honestly, I know I have said this before , I can think of a few times that could have resulted in my death easily if it were not for health insurance, and family.  Alas, not all individuals have this , and end up homeless, lost, somewhere in between all that, or worse; dead.  IF there is anything I would like you as the reader to take from this is open your mind, there is so much more than your life in your box.


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