My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 14

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IN SEARCH OF A BETTER TOMORROW

My Mental Illness Recovery Story,  Chapter 14

 

During my late stretch of working at disAbility Connections, I found another part-time job, this time at Goodwill Industries. Making minimum wage, I worked sixteen hours a week, in addition to my twelve at disAbility Connections.

Helping the company’s vice-president, I did clerical work: filing, data entry, and Microsoft Office. Six months later, I stopped working at disAbility Connections, due to lack of work. Now I was employed at only Goodwill..

About a year later, I stopped working for Carol, the vice-president, and then started doing tasks for Deb Davis, my new supervisor. For her, I became a TracView data entry specialist, which entailed doing car accidents reports for various U.S. cities and states. (Goodwill was hired by TracView to do contract work.). I did this work for about eighteen months.

After working for Deb and TracView, I did clerical work again, this time for Tracy Clark, the new human resources manager. Like I did for both Carol and Deb, I excelled in completing my job tasks for Tracy, even though initially, I had confidence issues. For Tracy, I did a lot of filing, plus data entry of employee and participants information.

For about two years, I helped Tracy Clark. Just like Carol and Deb, they were really nice supervisors. One day, Tracy gave me some of her boyfriend’s clothes, shirts he was trying to get rid of. I gave her and him two extra Little Big Town concert tickets that I received from a friend. Unfortunately, about two years later, around Christmas, time, Tracy Clark left Goodwill; but before she left, she got me a job, working inside the Goodwill retail store.

At the Argyle Goodwill retail store, I did a job requiring multi-tasking, collecting donations from Goodwill customers, and in my spare time, pricing the donated items. This job was extremely stressful for me, as my OCD, anxiety, and inclination not handle stress well, created troubles to perform both efficiently and effectively.

When multiple cars came simultaneously to the donation store to donate items, I would often get very anxious, especially when the bins that stored the donated items were full, and there wasn’t much room on the floor. Then, as I tried to fill out customer receipts and record items produced for Goodwill records, I would often make mistakes in the inventory count.

I also struggled a lot in pricing donations, as I would often price products egregiously too high or too low. I would also spend an inordinate time period trying to figure out what price to give items. Thus, Goodwill sent a job coach to work with me.

Unfortunately, the job coach was often rude and judgmental, making me angry, frustrated, and nervous. In spite of all, even though I was given supervisor talks about my inferior performance, this disabled person would be still employed at Goodwill, until I did something real stupid.

Unfortunately, after about eighteen months, I did do something ignorant. Experiencing extreme anxiety over the anniversary of “the choking teacher incident with Kelly Cook”, I approached a female co-worker to verbally vent my troubles. Telling her that “I got kicked out of school for choking a teacher”; that “I threatened to kill an officer in the Navy”; that “my dad was a former member of the state militia”, and that “my dad spent time in jail for selling cocaine”, the person I talked to, misconstrued what I said. After telling her supervisor, the Goodwill retail store office manager fired me. The reason: “Goodwill was afraid I would tell my story to a customer, and thus, ruin the company’s reputation, and thus, Goodwill would lose sales.”

Less than three months later, Aaron Taylor, a friend from church, invited me to attend the bible study group that he was in. Not doing anything on Wednesday nights anymore, I went. That decision turned out to be a great one, as Aaron overheard me telling someone that “I was unemployed and looking for work”. In short, Aaron Taylor, the Vice President of Allied Chucker, gave me a job offer on the spot. In essence, he created an Allied Chucker, sixteen hour a week position for me, so I could have income to live on. I worked there for about 20 months, until the company laid me off due to Allied financial problems.

At Allied Chucker, on most days, I used a broom and a dustpan to sweep the Shipping / Receiving plant. Other times, I swept outside. The quality of my work was awesome due to my OCD attention to detail; unfortunately, my productivity, at first, in doing it often needed work as I often bogged down in details. But in time and in repetition and in less fear of getting fired, I became much more efficient, as my Anafranil (new OCD medicine) really helped me with my OCD.

In addition, to doing floor sweeping duties, I also did banding, placed parts in bins and on pallets, sorted pallets, shredded paper, etc.

I struggled with both effectively and efficiently banding for a long time, but after a while, I was able to do it adequately. That was a major accomplishment for me in relation to my disability and mechanical incoordination. What enabled me to do it was perseverance, not perceiving my supervisor as stepdad, time, confidence, God, and also, the medication Anafranil, which since taking it, does a great job with my obsessions and anxiety.

Being a friend of the Vice-President, and having a disability, I was given lower production standards than others. In fact, a lot of times, it was like: “whatever I got done to help the company was a bonus”. Except for banding, I was left alone to work at my own pace and at times, “be my own boss”. As long as I worked hard, and didn’t “majorly screw things up”, my supervisor was pleased with my performance.

Working at Allied Chucker not only enabled me to get a paycheck each week, but also placed me into a friendly environment to learn how to work cognitively as I experimented with different task strategies. Working at Allied improved my capacities in developing procedures and plans in doings tasks. I also became better in handling pressure, working patiently in spite of time constraints, and overall confidence in doing jobs. My self-esteems also improved. Thanks Aaron!

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