“He owns his own business because he believes he is unemployable.”

That simple sentence has stuck with me for years. About eight years ago, soon after I was diagnosed, Maurice and I purchased a coffee table book called “Men Together.” The book consists of interviews of male couples who have been together for a significant amount of time. In one of the relationships there is a man who has bipolar disorder and the couple discuss adapting their lives and their relationship to his mental illness. It is in that chapter where I read the quote above. It has been years since I read the book and I’ve had it in my memory that the book delves deeper into accommodating his life running his own business. I reread that chapter a couple of days ago and I was wrong. That was it. That little sentence is pretty much it. How odd that it has stuck with me so long. Maybe because I think I’m unemployable.

I bring this up due to a long, but positive, discussion with my therapist this week. I told him how difficult it has been taking classes this semester. As many of you know, I’ve returned to school to get my bachelor’s degree with plans to attend seminary to become a minister. To be more specific, my goal has been to be a chaplain at a hospital or hospice. Well, that might be changing. This is not the first semester we’ve discussed this. We’ve had this discussion every semester that I’ve taken classes. In fact, I’ve had to withdraw from so many classes that I’m currently on academic probation. One more withdrawal and I’ll be suspended. What that means is I have to push through this semester no matter what. I’m fairly certain I’ll pass the classes but it will likely be at the expense of other aspects of my life.

The question now is, what will I do when this semester ends? The simple answer is, probably not take more classes. Towards the end of our session my therapist said to me that maybe school isn’t a good option for me right now. He added that maybe it never will be. At most, he concluded, I should only take one class at a time. This is not the first time he has told me this. I’ve also had the same conversation several times with my pdoc. Both agree that I cannot work right now and both are now agreeing that school is not a good idea either. This time I think I’m convinced. I’ve surrendered.

So, the big question is what will I do if I quit school? My therapist suggested doing what I did when I took off last semester – make my blog my job. Schedule time to write, read other blogs, time to research, time to promote…do something I enjoy doing and create structure around it.

After the blog discussion, we talked about some short stories I submitted for publication, and other topics writing related. He was grinning through our entire conversation and when we paused he laughed a bit and said, “You are not the same person I was talking with a few minutes ago. Once we started talking about blogging and writing your entire demeanor changed. I can’t remember the last time you were so animated.” We both agreed it was time I start writing more and not just for my blog. The only concern I addressed was talking with Maurice because of his frustration that I won’t stick with one thing and just do it.

It was with trepidation that I brought the conversation up with Maurice. I would start to discuss it and change the subject. Eventually I hung my head and told him I would probably not return to school when the semester ends and that I decided to focus on my writing. He was overjoyed. He told me he never sees me happier than when I’m talking about my blog and he totally supports me focusing on my writing.

So, I know what direction I’m leaning, but have plenty of time to make my final decision. The best part is that my decision doesn’t have to be final. Directions can be changed any time.

23 comments on Unemployable?

  1. I think you are a total rockstar for even trying to go back to school. That stuff is tough, especially balancing it with bipolar disorder, relationships, home life, etc. There is no doubt in my mind that I couldn’t do what I do now and add school to it — I’d be a wreck within a couple of weeks. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out just how much we can do and what we can do. There is no shame in putting aside a goal for an indeterminate amount of time, because we are mentally/emotionally/physically unable to work at it at this time. I don’t know how much I fought going on SSDI and working very part-time in the bait shop. Once I was able to accept all that, I grew happier and started doing more in other areas of my life, that were manageable, and when they weren’t manageable, I didn’t do them. You have to find what works for you, what keeps you happy, what keeps you stable. Try not to be too hard on yourself and, if possible, work on self-acceptance when you can. I am rooting for you, my friend!! 🙂

    1. As I am always rooting for you, Rose. Thank you for the rock star comment. I lake that nomenclature (I don’t think I’ve ever used nomenclature in a sentence before. I hope I used it correctly)

  2. Awesome! Thank you. Your validation of what you are doing validates what I am doing, what we are doing. Our mental health blogging community is part of a movement for social change. That movement is worthwhile!

    1. It is worthwhile, Kitt. I think it’s a very important service that we are doing. For ourselves as well as the rest of those out there.

  3. I don’t know what kind of student you are (or employer) but I do know what kind of blogger you are – the kind that belongs in the blogging world. You are a talented writer and researcher. I am glad you are following that calling. Someone once told me that God’s will feels like a big sigh of relief. Is that what it felt like when you decided not to go back to school and focus on your blog instead? I hope so.

    1. WIL, it felt like the entire world was lifted off my shoulders. Huge sigh of relief and very excited too. I appreciate your compliments. I’m not lying when I say you brought a tear to my eye.

  4. Good for you. Reminds me of my talk at an ES career day. Told the kids that everyone has their own path and for some there are often turns and about-faces. And all is good. Every experience provides you something. Rivers don’t flow in straight lines. Not the way of nature.

    1. “Rivers don’t flow in straight lines. Not the way of nature” I like that, Denise. Thanks

  5. Surrendering would just be giving up Brad, and you’re not doing that. It sounds to me like you’re making wise and healthy choices based on your resources, that’s pretty much what ANYONE should do. Congratulations 🙂

    1. Thanks Perry. I think I’ve confused people with my surrender comment. It’s a term used in AA a lot and is not perceived as negative. In this case I’ve surrendered from trying to do things the way society expects us to and accept (surrendering) that my doctors are correct. The traditional route is not for me.

      Thank you for the wise and healthy comments. I do believe that is what I’m doing as well.

  6. Bradley, your post today just makes me want to do a happy dance! I have a million thoughts in my head. You just stated so many things I’ve gone through in the last year.

    I always believed I would take at least one class of some kind every term for the rest of my life–just because. To learn. To get out. To keep my mind active. (And maybe in the process, I’d DO something with my life!) Several years ago I found myself dropping out of every class. It didn’t feel right. Or good. Instead of giving myself permission to move in a different direction, I beat myself up unmercifully. My inner critic kept poking her sharp stick in my ear yelling, “Failure!!!” Then, I started writing. And I wasn’t a writer. I can’t string words together like you. But I have something to write about. And, I have a Maurice (Jonathan) in my corner, too! Someone who only wants to see joy on my face.

    If you didn’t know that writing (blogging) is what you should be doing, you should have asked us sooner, Lol! Enjoy your life, now!! 🙂

  7. Brad,

    Are you still within the legal add/drop period at school? I’m just wondering why put yourself through a gritty semester, risking other aspects of your life as you say, if it’s not toward a purpose. If they are classes you love I get it, but if it’s just to follow through on what you started then maybe screw it, if it’s a no harm drop.

    As for what to do when you set an old goal aside, I agree with everyone else, and with you. Writing is clearly your passion. And the world is better for it. I’ll just add that I think one of the many cool things about being over 50 is that one is no longer “unemployed” if one choses not to think that way. From here on out it’s “retired” if you like. We both know a lot of exceptionally productive retired folks.

    1. Lora, I am past the point that I can’t drop a class without it showing up on my record and if that happens I will be suspended from all LA County Colleges. I took these classes as part of my original goal, but now I’ll have to grin and bear it. I’ll survive for the next three months.

      I love the “retired” tag. That works for me.

  8. Bradley the word minister means to attend to the needs of others. For that you don’t need a degree. You can do that through your blog, by volunteering at a hospital or hospice. You already have what you need. Kindness, insight, and the desire to help others. Keep an open mind as you travel down this new path, good things are ahead.

    1. Thank you, Juneau, that is exactly how I’ve decided to look at my blogging – as a form of ministry. Good things are ahead.

  9. I also cut back on my teaching. Now I have more time to write. Maybe we can help one another? I would really like support and it sounds like you would too.

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