Yesterday was a big day for me.
Towards the end of 2017, I was hospitalised in a psychiatric facility following a suicide attempt. I was “made redundant” from my job because of this, and have been unable to be in paid employment ever since.
Yesterday was my first day as a Mental Health Recovery Worker.
My induction day went really well. I was very nervous, but everyone was lovely and so supportive. It feels amazing to be able to use my lived experience of mental illness to help support others. Even as recently as a few months ago, I couldn’t have imagined being in this position.
But it’s not just about being able to help others.
This role has already given me a much-needed self-confidence boost. It’s helped me to connect with new people; colleagues and friends. It has shown me just how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked in my own ongoing recovery. It has helped me to understand that I don’t need to be perfect. I have valuable skills, experience, knowledge, and qualities.
Employment is not the be-all and end-all of a person’s worth. But for me, work and its related facets have been something of a turning point in giving me a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging and community, and an expansion of my previously very small world.
As a disabled person, the fact that this role is home-based is crucial. It gives me the flexibility I need to be able to manage my conditions effectively. It is very encouraging to see more organisations offering home-based positions – something for which disabled people have advocated for a long time – as it gives people access to meaningful work where they have previously been excluded due to a lack of reasonable adjustments.
I hope this continues to expand, because there are so many disabled people who want and would be able to work if they could work from home. This can also apply to people with children or who are pregnant, unpaid carers, and people who can’t drive/don’t have access to a car, to name just a few.
Arbitrary in-person attendance policies can be unnecessary for so many roles, and I hope more organisations acknowledge this. It’s alright the (clueless) government telling people to “get off benefits” and go to work, but if the work isn’t accessible, what are we meant to do?
Anyway, don’t get me started on the Tories…
I’m incredibly excited to see where this role takes me. It has already had a huge effect on my life and I’m only one day in. I’m not naïve – I’m not expecting it to be entirely smooth-sailing. But I do feel confident that if the waves get choppy, I have great support from my colleagues, and I have the strength inside myself to tackle it.
What are your thoughts on working from home? Do you have experience of seeking work as a disabled person? Please feel free to share your opinions in the comments below.
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