A Meeting With Vocational Rehab

Today I had a meeting with a Vocational Rehab Counselor to help determine if I’m eligible for help for the career path I want to pursue- that of the Certified Peer Specialist. The Counselor that did my interview has been working in Social Services for 45 years and had never heard of this position before today. He scheduled me for a psych and vocational assessment which I will have in about a week. They will help determine if I am suitable to perform that type of work.

For those that don’t know- a Certified Peer Specialist is a recovered alcholic, addict, or person with mental illness who has recovered and helps other people on their recovery path. Instead of going to college, our higher education is the catastrophic shitstorm that is often our lives. You only end up doing about 60 hours of work training for certification.

The entire time he’s going through his spheel about how I might not be suitable and how it might not work out; I’m sitting there thinking- ‘I’ve essentially already been doing this shit since I put up my web page. I answer questions, give thought out responses, try to urge people to have goals in mind for their wellness, and just try to be there for the people I cross paths with. I’ve dealt with some really difficult people in person on several occasions. I know I’m suited to this kind of work.’

And then he made the simple statement of, “And if you’re not suitable, we can probably help you find something else.”

What he does not understand is that there is no “something else” for me. I’ve had at least 25 fucking jobs in my adult life. I know the difference between a shit job and a pursuit of passion.

I sincerely hope that each person reading this post finds at least one thing in their life that they are so utterly passionate about that everything simply makes sense. I will get training and I will find a paying job in this field even if it means I have to forgo assistance from the government.

I spent a fucking lifetime trying to figure out why I had this brain, why I was so smart but never able to get anything really accomplished. Why did I survive the things I did to try and unmake myself? What good was the emotional isolation and social dysfunction? Does any of it matter? Yes. Yes it fucking does when you’re trying to hammer through the walls we nutjobs build to keep normals out. It all matters as individual blocks in a sturdy foundation of understanding and knowledge for something served up to you on a silver platter later in life.

The Counselor asked if I had considered other paths. I said “no”, because to me there are no other paths. I know exactly what I want to do and have a reasonable idea of how to accomplish it. I don’t give a fuck if I have to sit in a McDonald’s or Flying J parking lot to piggyback their free wi-fi to do marketing work on my laptop to make ends meet while I work on it. I will find a way to accomplish this goal. There has never been anything so clear to me in my life.

But I’ll go through their hoops and see what comes of it. I’m sure the psych will say the same thing he said before and what the other professionals I’ve dealt with said. “He’s very intelligent and self-aware. He seems to lack some social skills and maintains a disheveled appearance. He possesses strong analytical skills and expresses himself eloquently.” And believe me, it’s not aggrandizing. I do my best to keep my head out of my ass. Still kind of flattering to have your lawyer tell you the judge was impressed with your intelligence after your hearing though.

I feel like it would be a sin to not use this body of knowledge that life has given me.

Anyway. Just thought I would share a bit with you guys about this personal journey. Not a ton happens in my day to day on the mental illness front personally. Nowadays more of my energy goes to others that need it. And I’m not going to go around blabbing about other peoples’ business without their express permission.

I’ll probably write about the eval and meeting with the psych when that goes down next week. Just have to see how things go.


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7 Responses to A Meeting With Vocational Rehab

  1. Anonymous514901 says:

    I have an appt with a voc rehab person this week, and anxiety through the roof hence my google search leading to your page. I’m worried about having an experience like you describes because generally I appear quite normal on the face and am very intelligent. Explaining to someone why I’m not working and in the 2nd year of the cattle shoot SSDI appeal process, yet taking classes at college is hard–Because I don’t know what else to do with myself, duh! is what I would like to say. I personally identified with nearly every sentence of your post and I’m struggling what the hell I’m going to tell this person in Wednesday. Q: What kind of job do I want? A: oh that’s easy mr. Voc rehab counselor, one which I can be absolutely normal and productive in one hour, but in the afternoon be in my special mental place losing my senses the next. Thanks for the post, it seems as though my bipolar googling might have led me to your site once before in the past as well, I plan to bookmark you, thanks!

  2. Dennis says:

    Hey there.

    Mood Disorders aren’t uncommon at all. It probably feels that way because we deal with so much of it alone in our minds; but a vocational rehab counselor is going to understand and can hopefully connect you with services that will help you. If you’re American, I would also suggest you research the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1984. It provides legal protections for people with an established history of disability in the work place and discrimination protections. If you’ve been diagnosed and have a history, the government considers you to have a disability and thus fall under the umbrella of it.

    Honestly? It sounds like you should be more focused on getting your mental illness under control than trying to build a career and get through school at the moment. Get the stuff in your mind under control and you won’t need a job where you’re productive for an hour and unstable in the next. You’ll be stable over several if not all!

    And do yourself a favor- get a LOCAL social security lawyer. They work on contingency and will only get paid out of your back award. Yes, it’s a significant chunk of money, BUT money versus the time you’ll have access to resources to get well. I spent 4 years fucking around with the system before I got a lawyer. I essentially lost three fucking years because I thought it was a good idea to do it myself. Pro-tip: It was not a good idea at all. LOL.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment. You’re on the right path even if it feels chaotic. If you feel the need to validate yourself to anyone, I usually just tell people- “I do the best I can for my life until I eventually cannot. Lather, rinse, repeat.”

  3. Anonymous514901 says:

    I appreciate your insight. I am the Queen of Googling my every whim and stumble across many blogs, forums, groups, etc on these situations, but have never participated–I’m just a lurker. Heck in anything socially related I tend to lurk, because I’m worry about my ramblings being just BPD grandiosity as opposed to the “normal” interaction with others. More and more through this struggle, I feel enclosed in a box from the norms who just don’t understand… and in the next moment, an ass for even saying that. But, you words have moved me to reply again…(I think your liberal use of the f bomb puts me in a comfort zone. Lol). Maybe that’s what I will tell Mr. VocRehab Guy, “I would like a job that embraces the word fuck. that will surely show someone I’m a bit off… lol. Nonetheless, story of my life, I got shit mixed up, showed up at the college to meet this person, low and behold, my appointment not until next week. wheww, yes another week I can avoid talking to a norm about my situation! I know, I know –a voc rehab person will understand mood disorders, this is logical, they are trained professionals; but I still say bs, no they don’t, they get the stupid unhappy egg commercials for the mildly disordered (that which belittles the chaos BPD truly can be), unless they can say been there done that. And even then, I still don’t believe it. Shit, I still don’t believe my doctor or counselor gets it.

    Yes you are 100% on spot, I should be focused on getting better, in fact that’s what I yearn to do everyday. And it should (emphasis) take the front seat. But my reality is that I had a career, lost my job in 2010 (BPD went spiraling out of control after that), I am a single mom, with close to zero family and friend support (well, those who “get” it), and there simply is no help out there that will support my family for me to put my mental health in the front seat. Somebody has to pay the rent, somebody has to put good on the table so I have been nothing short of creative to do so. Hence, switching gears from part time classes while working to full time college: so that we can live on what’s left of my grants and loans, along with the small amount of benefits from the state until one day in hopes I get over the SSDI hurdle. And in that realm, I didn’t know where to begin when I finally accepted the label “disabled” and doctor suggested I apply for SSDI. I toyed with the idea for months, read and read and read very blog, attorney write up I could find and took the “don’t go at it alone approach”. Couldn’t discern which attorney would be best however in the sea of SSDI marketing…and ended up in bed with the wrong group. Albeit local in a sense (2 hours away), the Miami rep who showed up at my doorstop to “take the paperwork task off my plate” and fill out the paperwork for me in under 24 hours, should have given me cause to pause, but that was before I became enlightens to the fact that some of these groups put little effort in until hearing phase. Nonetheless, I’m at the purgatory stage now waiting on a ALJ hearing and after moving to North Florida (out of this law groups “service area”), have finding a new attorney back on my plate. I’ve lost my car, facing eviction, and destroyed my credit living this way, and am holding on to college as my only thing left at this point, all while trying to remain composed for the acts of life as a mom and college student. And I have fought and fought people for help. I have ran into the “we can only help people who are working”, or “well you haven’t been approved for SDDI yet, so nothing we can do” have been the dead ends when seeking out help from human service/community/religious groups. I had to fight the state for cash assistance (300/mo) doesn’t even cover electricity let alone offset housing cost, because in Florida you must have 40 hours of “work activity” to receive cash; and my online classes don’t qualify unless professors will sign a weekly time sheet to which would require me to plea my case to four more norms every semester. Eventually got a waiver in that realm based on applicant status with pending SSDI decision, but it was a fight. I really am not even stable enough to pull off the four online classes at this point, but any less would reduce the financial aid I cling to (that allows us to at least survive through this). And I have even had to fight the college for accommodations. On paper, they see BPD and ADHD, and off the bat allot “extended test times” to us folks. To which I argue is only useful for me because they refuse to acknowledge that it takes me longer to take a test because they refuse “extended time” to complete all of the readings and assignments…even with such accommodations explicitly in writing from a psychiatrist. I am absolutely perplexed why this is such a hard fucking concept for those tasked to help people in the college disability office, who “should” have an understanding of mood disorders, right? But they don’t; they understand wheel chairs and ramps, or special computer programs to read to you or zoom in on the screen. Or, the standard “extended test times” linked to ADHD. I want to scream at them “inability to focus during a test is the least of my fucking barriers!” At face value, I swear people think I’m just disorganized and need to manage time better… I have gone to the extent of trying to explain my challenges through analogy: that I can read and entire page of text, and at the end have no idea what I read because I wasn’t able to tune out the others stations in my head. I’ve said, try to imagine tuning a radio station and two are coming through on the same frequency, now multiple that times 10. To which, I’m sure they now think stations equate to “voices” and the label of schizophrenia begins to enter their minds. No damn it, I don’t hear voices, they are all my own thoughts! Following dismissal of of a psych eval and explicit doctor recommendations for accommodations to include extended test times, extended times for assignments and any other time sensitive course completion requirements, they have requested a “psycho educational evaluation”. Enter the voc rehab counselor for this purpose. ugggh, meanwhile we can give you only extended test times. Enter having to plea my case directly to professors in hopes of understanding and grace periods (four more norms and four more grad students to which you are requires to communicate with and whom you have to explain the radio station analogy and face labeling with potential stigma). I finally said fuck it and just sent each and every one this semester all the detailed diagnosis, psyche eval and recommendations from my doctor. These poor grad student, half my age with nothing but dorm life under their belts, surely think I’m a nutcase by now. lmfao. I get some that are like, “sure whatever we can do to help”, but most stand firm only on extended test times. I have gone so far as to explain the lethargic effects of a new med, blah blah blah… These are the hoops of mental disorder I tell myself, but it doesn’t yield much comfort and makes me even more frustrated and anxiety ridden than anything, and angry. And I just finished jumping these hoops at a community college, only to do so again now that I have transferred to a state school for BA. I had false hopes that one of the states top school would surely have a better support and system for student with disabilities. But no, same hoops–start jumping. At my former school, I have even had to fight an F off my 3.86 GPA transcript as a result of a professor absolutely refusing to give accommodations. I know I know, there are laws against this shit, to protect me, and believe me I fought. But even the whole way up the ladder to the college president and director of financial aid, I got pushback. Nonetheless, the F was removed, but they still refuse to acknowledge the financial impact it had on me—I went 5 months at the battle because my financial aid was also yanked (although I never once received less than an A or B, but the F coupled with several medical withdraws from class, caused such) and because I couldn’t bear the thought of an F on my record before sending transcripts to the new school. In the end though, they still double charged me for the class (had to take it a second time), and I destroyed my credit that semester living in credit cards. My biggest gripe is that the last person you would think to have the wherewithal, or mentally stability to fight this fight are those affected…because we are mentally “disordered”. But who else is going to do it? nobody. My counselor is even stumped on what to tell me to do, and caseworkers seem to be nothing but glorified phonebooks. My caseworker is therefore Google. And I continue to fight, at least for today. And this is all another reason, I cling to remaining in school. Not only is it my only source of cash flow, in hopes of achieving some sort of “wellness” one day, maybe even pursue law school, and help others to fight the fight. Because, there are many more hoops and fights I’ve encountered and could ramble on about since my diagnosis, that just aren’t right. I know this reply has turned into a rambling BPD stream of consciousness, to which is off topic and likely outside your scope of fashioning a reply; but oh well, I hope if you or anyone actually reads it to the end, it offers insight or comfort of the same hoops maybe someone is jumping through whole clinging to some sense of wellness or normalcy.

    And it just dawned on me, despite this newfound courage to spill my guts on a mental illness website, WP might not even let me hit submit due to character count (I too run a website on the side, a “grandiose ideas”that worked damn it, but different topic and brings me a little bit of income from ads.). Wish me luck, here goes nothing and back to trying to wear my normal hat for the day.

    Thank you Dennis for a blog that I could identify with, and that which gave me comfort to drop the f bomb loosely.

  4. Anonymous514901 says:

    And please excuse all the typos in my own mini BPDmanifesto spinoff here, they are not a product of crazy, lol. I really do know and use proper punctuation/words. But with this reply, I was trying to fight against the strain of hyper-focus obsessive perfectionism that feeds an inner burning desire to go back, reread, edit and spellcheck everything I write. but I couldn’t help but go back and read what I typed after submitting, and posting this disclaimer. lol. have a nice day.

    • Dennis says:

      Hey. I read everything anyone takes the time to write. I do apologize for not replying sooner; apparently WordPress didn’t bother to alert me that you had posted. *shakes a fist to the sky* And for what it’s worth; it didn’t read like manic-ranting at all. It read like someone who was frustrated and exhausted finally venting all the bullshit that she’s been going through trying not to get sucked under. Also- F-Bomb away! 🙂

      I would like to offer a single correction though; only because it may possibly fuck you when dealing with people that don’t know better. BPD is the acronym for Borderline Personality Disorder. So if you’re talking to one of the Normals and you say BPD instead of Bipolar; they may think Borderline and offer (or not offer) solutions based on thinking you’re Borderline. I realize it seems pointlessly nitpicky and stupid but dumber things have occurred.

      If you haven’t found a lawyer yet for your SS claim; you want to crack open a local yellow pages and look for local firms with an established history. The one I went with for my case had been serving Northeast Ohio for 25 years. Check out their website and while you’re on the website look at their “About Us” and “History” sections. The one I chose was started by a woman who’s father was shot and paralyzed in a robbery; and subsequently screwed by the system. So the personal nature of the overall firm, coupled with the long-term experience in the area I live in, and the fact that it wasn’t generic marketing tripe helped cement the decision for me. Area experience is important because the lawyers will often have a working relationship with the local judges.

      I mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again oh Queen of Googling; research everything you possibly can about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1984, what lawyers have written, any other relevant information to use as a weapon. Rights are not a given, they must be fought for. Fuck jumping through their shitload of hoops that eventually ends up screwing you. Apply as normal and if they start jerking you around; remind them that you have right for reasonable accommodation under the ADA of 1984. If they want to continue dicking around with it; you’re going to consult with your lawyer on the matter of discrimination.

      When you confront about it; you have to know what you want and have your supporting facts in order. “This is what my psychs recommend, this is what I’m asking for based on my rights under the ADA.”

      It’s a long, hard shitty fucking battle but the reality is one you already mentioned. They don’t understand and they never will. I often feel like the quest for destigmatization is just a busy work assignment to keep us all distracted. Why?

      Well, Jews have fought antisemitism for thousands of years; yet the Holocaust happened in the 1940’s. And that’s just a religion- a different way of believing and seeing the world. What the hell hope do we, the mentally ill, have for mainstream acceptance? We’ve fought the same battles but have been just as fucked over as any other minorities for thousands of years too- because a lot of people don’t give a shit- and jumping through their hurdles is similarly shit.

      I mean really- the best advice I can give is just keep fighting to survive. Take advantage of whatever single mother resources you can get. Get on welfare if you have to. Inquire with churches and pantries when they are having food/clothing give aways to folks in poverty. I know you said you struggled with the “disability” moniker so it seems likely you would struggle with doing that shit too; just do what you can to remember that survival isn’t pretty and it can always be fucking worse. The point of getting this shit done is to ensure it doesn’t get to “fucking worse”.

      If you’re not getting child support for your child; get with the local children services protection agency to go after the father for it.

      If you haven’t, you may also want to ask your doctor about getting put on any generics for any meds you’re taking. There are a couple of $4 a month mood stabs and antidepressants available from Wal-Mart and other big box retailers.

      I’d also like to suggest a potential source of revenue for you but I don’t know how well you’ll be able to do that plus all the other shit you have to do for your online college courses. I actually work as an internet marketer and copy writer; meaning I write “web copy” for businesses- website content, articles, blog posts, and so on for businesses and other marketers. I got my start on a website called http://www.textbroker.com . The assignments are very modular; usually in small article format. You’ll pick up one and usually have 24 hours to it. Sizes vary as does compensation for them. You don’t have to be a professional grade writer, just able to do quality research, proofread and spell check your own work. Pay out is on a weekly basis (you have to request by thursday) to a paypal account. And there is almost always stuff up and available.

      It’s what I did when I was in the early stages of recovery because you can pick it up and set it down as you need to. If my brain went haywire, I’d just finish up what I was working on then step away for a week or whatever.

      Based on the fact that you normally do spellcheck and proofread and such; and how expressive you were in your post; you could probably do well with it if you took some time to learn some basic internet marketing techniques. If you decide you want to apply and pursue it; let me know and I’ll be happy to give you some tips/guidance on order selection and doing the job well.

      If I didn’t comment on something you were looking for specific feedback on; please let me know. Stay in touch! And try not to get too down about explaining yourself to the normals; just take solace in the fact that a lot of them wouldn’t make it a mile in your shoes.

  5. Anonymous514901 says:

    Hello again and sorry for my slow reply…I have been down under fighting the survival fight. Thanks so much for the tips and words of encouragement. And thank for the nitpicky correction on BPD, I am glad you pointed that out. It made me gasp and laugh together! I love to know what I’m talking about and there sure is a distinction between the two, lol. Wondering then, does BP for short get the job done when typing? lol, as if there are standard abbreviations for such, I could always type it out, lol.

    Anyway, I am going to look into the text broker avenue for some cash flow, because in that realm my future sure is bleak. I fought for the public assistance be fits inclusive of cash and receive child support sporadically. Although it is at the end if the day helpful, it doesn’t cover basic survival for me and two children. I am not sure where the hell I’m supposed to live for $300/mo and the sporadic child support helped get the job done until the state asserted its “rights” to intercept such because I receive benefits. Stupid huh? So I learned last week that welfare is in essence a “loan”, to which they intercept any child support received to offset the help they provide. Crock of shit if you ask me coupled the fact that such disclosure to “assign your rights to support” is on surely hidden on the application “I agree to the terms blah blah blah”… And now they are saying I therefore received overpayment of benefits for the last 5 months. To that and my landlords action for eviction, I filed bankruptcy last week at the eleventh hour prior to eviction hearing. seriously was in my attorney’s office at 11pm the night before so he could walk into court and stay the possession action with a bankruptcy filing number in hand. Since I dumped every last penny into him, it has bought be 30 days but still nowhere to go, especially now with the bankruptcy on my credit and only $300/mo, like who the fuck is going to rent to me? I have called every agency and non-profit under the sun and there is simply no housing support for people not working. I’m like what the fuck are disabled supposed to do then? Live on the streets as the slow SSDI process makes it way along? Oh well, I will keep pressing on. I said to the counselor left week, it seems as though my only chance of survival here is to lie cheat and steal. While she didn’t like those words and I understand why, I ask seriously though what the fuck are people supposed to do for housing? I would have to lie to a potential landlord, continue “hiding” (cheat) the bit of chump change coming in through my website to keep cash and food assurance. What is left? Stealing–which is something beyond what I’m ok with morally. At which point the cost/benefit analysis kicks in for things that are immorally or illegally wrong. Like, I am totally understanding this is not an option for me because the cost is that my children would be without a mom if I were jailed, but I now totally understand how some criminal go down the road and come to the conclusion in their own cost/benefit analysis that thievey or whatever is just. Nonetheless, I’m not going there. But I have racked my brains in what to do. No amount of plasma, blogging or side jobs would rack up to my rent bill inclusive of utilities that is do again on the first. Thank god bankruptcy saved me from paying the past due, but the only way it protects me to stay here is of I pay next rent due. Oh well, I’m getting back in the fight now and racking my brains on where to conjure up cash.

    Thanks for giving me a place to vent and bounce things off of someone who “gets” it. I will check back in soon!

    • Dennis says:

      Hey there.

      Hehe no problem on the correction. BP works just fine online. But if you’re talking to a doctor or something like that, use “Bipolar”. There isn’t really any commonly used acronyms for it. There are standard abbreviations for quite a few things though- just not one for Bipolar Disorder, oddly. 🙂

      When you look at the Textbroker thing, I’ll ask you to email me one or two of your “trial” projects so I can see how you formally write and get some things figured out on making your product better, which will in turn let you charge more for Direct Order work. The public pool work pays decently but Direct Order work, when someone likes your work enough to ask you to write more specifically, is where you can earn decent money. I have over 1000 completed projects with Textbroker so I’m very familiar with what customers want and command the rates that are associated with it.

      Your comment to your counselor about lying, cheating, stealing; that’s an interesting statement in regards to her response. I’m not sure if you read my “about me” section on my website- but I used to live in the black ghetto in Detroit. It was the kind of neighborhood where people stole their basic utilities because they couldn’t afford to have them otherwise. And they got away with it because if the utility company sent people down, the local gangbangers would beat the shit out of them, steal everything out of their trucks, and dump the truck and that person somewhere else in town.

      Your counselor didn’t like the answer because she’s probably had a comfortable life. Lament about being forced to lie, cheat, steal to survive in a neighborhood like I spent time in and you just would have been met with a shrug; because everyone did it and it was just part of life if you wanted to survive. And you’re right in your conclusion; a lot of people that live that way don’t want to live that way. Reminds me of an article I saw awhile ago where they did a study and found that gangmembers would rather have careers than be in gangs- as if that’s some shocking revelation. What, you mean don’t people want to die by 25? Constantly bury their friends and family? Or be faced with spending decades in jail? Color me shocked.

      It’s a bullshit situation altogether- yours and society’s in general.

      Anyway, you’re always welcome to come back and vent and bullshit as well. I’ve been thinking about your situation and trying to find Florida resources online as well but have yet to come up with anything either. I’ll post it here if I do.

      Be well.

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