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How To Succeed At Work With Schizophrenia

In that past, I had been unable to work due to my mental and physical issues not being properly being treated.  Working, while living with Schizophrenia, is a great challenge and many are not at the point were having a job is a viable option.  There are those, however, who could work, given a proper environment, good medical treatment and a supportive community.

Employment Barriers When Living with Schizophrenia

From past experiences, I have found the following to be barriers for my employment.

  • Difficulties of finding work with good mental health benefits
  • Work environments with strict attendance and behavioral policies.
  • Certain jobs are stressful and can trigger an episode
  • Co-workers can be non-supportive and hinder people with Schizophrenia

In seeking a solution to these barriers, I have realized that many traditional corporate jobs are difficult to work in.  In identifying these barriers, I have stumbled upon occupations that were more suitable for myself.  Work has lately not only been possible, but therapeutic.

A Job That Provides Flexibility is Key for Someone with a Serious Mental Illness

420 JacksonFor the past two years, I have been working in real estate, buying, renovating and eventually renting out houses.  This is possible because of my excellent medical care and a family which is supportive of my aspirations.  These pictures show the properties I own and some of the renovations I have personally completed.

1955outsidephoto1 This work is less stressful and more elastic than most  traditional jobs and is better suited for me, since sometimes I’m ill.  I currently own a duplex, a house, and plan on buying a third building next year.

After my health improved, I was allowed to have access to a trust fund, that I was denied while my schizophrenia was not under control.  Using this money, I began to buy properties for under $30,000 that needed some renovation.  The first property I bought is completely renovated, and the second one is about halfway complete and should be ready to rent in three months. It is impossible to determine if this business adventure will be successful, but it is undoubtedly off to a good start.

A Job Can Provide Purpose and Meaning to Your Life

Before Renovations

Mental illness is a barrier to successful employment, but it is by no means the end of the road.  My properties, along with my secondary job at an amusement park, have allowed me the independence and freedom that I could only dream of a few years ago. They have also given me purpose and meaning, while giving me something to do.

By no means am I implying that everyone with severe mental illness should pursue a real estate business venture.  I am, however, implying that some people should think about what jobs would be suitable for them given their current situation.  For others, work is not currently a viable option, but easily could be in the future.

After Renovations

Work is an important part of life, and finding suitable employment under the right conditions can help give meaning, purpose and hope to people with Schizophrenia.  Employers should also place stigma by the wayside, and give people with Schizophrenia a chance to succeed and flourish.  Some, given proper treatment, can be productive members of society.

If it was not for my labor, these buildings might still be vacant.  Schizophrenia never stopped me from completing my projects, like it should never stop anyone else.  Eventually, I hope to one day build homes for people with disabilities who have been in similar situations as myself.

Success and independence is possible with Schizophrenia, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  If employers would better accommodate people with Schizophrenia they might find people who can be beneficial employees.  If more patients would adhere to treatment plans, they might find themselves capable of employment.  I am sure that someday in the future people will realize this, and a solution will be found that benefits everyone.

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3 Responses to How To Succeed At Work With Schizophrenia

  1. Annie says:

    Dan,
    Nice of you to share with us what you are doing. I have also found it difficult to pursue a regular job. Ive had schizophrenia and depression. For me I am well most of the time, but I struggle with physical weakness and the side effects of the medicine that I take. I used to have bouts of very severe depression, but this cleared, as did the psychosis. I have used some diets which seem to have helped.
    But my poverty and the difficulties I encounter trying to work are heartbreaking. I have tried online jobs, as it gives me some flexibility, so far so good but I am still really struggling. Am looking for some organizations I read somewhere about who give funds to mentally unhealthy people to do projects while I also try to get work that is suitable in my condition. Any ideas of such organizations.

  2. Dan Hoeweler says:

    I am unaware of such an organization, though I know there are several programs that are available to mentally ill people in my city. I do remember there was a “help line” for mentally ill people, that used mentally ill people for employment. I am unsure if such a program exists where you are at. You can try doing a search online in your city. I know it is hard to work with mental illness, and indeed any illness. Even people without a handicap have problems holding down a job in this economy. Remember that you are a good person just for trying!

  3. John Pieri says:

    “Schizophrenia never stopped me from completing my projects, like it should never stop anyone else. Eventually, I hope to one day build homes for people with disabilities who have been in similar situations as myself”
    Thank you. I do not know why it is so hard to understand how to get stigmatized people back to work. Train them, give them skill sets.Find out what they do right and help them get started doing it.No one is mentally ill 24/7/365, they have lucid and creative periods more often than not/Focus on that too.

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