Even Bruce Springsteen is not immune to mental illness. He opens up about medication, chemical imbalances, two breakdowns, and how music became his “refuge” and “chased away his blues.” He finds he struggles most with his depression when he isn’t working or on the road. For many with mental health conditions who may be unable to maintain steady employment, this is a constant struggle. Most people I have met with mental health issues are hard workers who take great pride in their careers so when they find themselves unable to work, it is devastating. They lose a sense of purpose and identity.
It doesn’t help that mental illness is not a visible condition like a physical limitation so some may interpret a legitimate disability as laziness or just taking advantage of the system. The sad part is that many want to work and even need work to stay well and yet they can’t. Then they are made to feel worse by labels and stereotypes. It is an endless riddle and a constant challenge to maintain self esteem and a sense of purpose when one loses their ability to work. Rather than providing a supportive environment for employees with mental health conditions, employers are often unwilling to make any accommodations , or even worse, target those individuals, forcing them out of the workplace. Even though I am content and hold several fulfilling jobs now, I still struggle with having to resign from my last teaching position and losing the seniority, tenure, salary, retirement plan, and career for which I had worked so hard. I do believe I am in a better place now, but the loss is still there and the scars remain.