Let’s talk about disability and employment
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month here in the US, and I want to spend some time here on the forum talking about different aspects of disability and employment.
I got my first job at a little fast food joint at the age of 15. In the years that followed, I worked in a few other food establishments, briefly worked for a telemarketing company, and as an office receptionist before landing a “real” job in banking.
In my late teens and early 20’s, I was relatively healthy. I was rarely sick and hadn’t required a hospitalization for nearly 10 years. After I had my daughter, however, things changed. I began getting sick frequently and needing hospitalizations several times a year. It can be hard to hold down a job when you’re regularly missing 2 weeks of work at a time (not to mention the lack of income during that time away from work). There were times that I was certain I’d be fired from my job due to my unstable health. Balancing a job and my health had become nearly impossible for me. I’d get sick, go to the hospital, come home, go right back to work and immediately become sick again.
Eventually, in 2012, during a particularly rough hospitalization, my doctor approached me and said, “Something has to give, and it can’t continue being your health.” The next day, I called and quit my job (I offered to stay for a couple weeks, but my boss told me that wasn’t necessary). I applied for Social Security Disability, fully understanding that it can be a long and grueling process, but I was immediately accepted. That was the first time in my life that I thought, “Am I really disabled?”
What is your relationship with disability? Do you identify with that label or feel that it applies to you? What has your experience in the workforce been? Has there ever been a time that you had to take an extended period of time away from work due to your health?
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