That dreaded question 'what do you do?' or 'have you got a job?'

today i was talking to someone and the person asked me what i did or if i had a job, it was a difficult thing to talk about but i tried my best and i said that i was unemployed but i did a bit of volunteering and i was doing a college course but i had to stop doing it recently because it wasnt working out, the man said that it was hard for people to get a job just now and i said yes it is then we stopped talking (it was a bit awkward tbh)

another person comes over and we get talking and he was telling me about himself and i ddont remember what he said but i was a bit more open about it this time and i told the person that i had been unwell for a long time and i am feeling a bit better now so i wanted to do more things because i didnt want to sit around all day feeling sorry for myself, i said i was on benefits and that i wanted to do more, it was a good conversation even tho i was feeling nervous, i am glad i told someone because i have been worried about what people might think about me and he was good about it and didnt judge me or anything.

i think its the way you tell it to people that does it, like its good to be completely honest because people usually admire that about you, i did leave some things out of the story tho like the label, i did not want people to associate me with that word ‘schizophrenia’ because of all the stigma about it so i just said that i was unwell for a long time and i wasnt really lying you know.

anyway it went pretty well and nobody gave me any funny looks or anything, i think some people sometimes think the worst if you are not completely open about things, like they might think i am just a waster or something else and they wonder why i dont have a job and how i support myself, thats why i did it because i didnt want people to think bad about me,

i remember i said about someone i knew who had never had a mental health problem and still didnt work, he was a waster and a drug/alcohol abuser and i was thinking i was better than him because i have always wanted to work and if it wasnt for my mental illness i would be working, i was thinking that i have a reason for not working unlike some people.

I don’t think it’s okay to feel better about yourself than such a person. You don’t know what’s going on in his life. If he is a drug/alcohol abuser, then he’s got problems. And anyway, maybe he just looks at his job prospects and doesn’t find any of them appealing to him. Without a higher education, I don’t find any of my job prospects appealing to me. But once I’m done with school, I plan to try to work in something that pays an adequate salary, as well as being meaningful work to me.

I don’t think its a bad thing to compare yourself to what others seem like. We learned about this technique in my DBT group.

I worry constantly when I talk to people about what to say when asked what I do. I have 1 friend and we spoke last night for the first time in months. I was so embarrassed when she started asking me. But after talking with her I felt better and I think she understood that I’m doing all that I’m capable of right now. I was thinking of joining the local YMCA but can’t afford to right now, but they have a scholarship application and it asks why they should consider giving you it. I don’t really know what to say.

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well the way i see it is if you can work then you should work because there is always a job out there even for people with no education, if a disabled person is getting a job and you arent then that kind of speaks for itself
i have seen many people who are disabled working in the supermarket and things, also this guy has got no mental health problems and even if he cant get a job then why cant he volunteer? or try and get a better education? its like he isnt even trying.

When I moved into the senior citizens home as a disabled person, people asked me what I ‘used to do’. T

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Maybe he suffers from lack of motivation. He could be depressed for all you know.

At 30 my brother worked summers bagging groceries when he was going through med. school. I’ve seen disabled people doing that job. Some were too disabled + didn’t last. Others did.

I think there are grocery stores lean in that direction.

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he isnt, and tbh there are a lot of people like him here, and there are a lot worse people like him, he isnt a junkie at least i’ll give him that, its like there is a social ladder and it goes kinda like this-

  • lots more on top of this!
  • mentally ill
  • waster
  • alcoholic
  • junkie

when i was at college i was told that people with schizophrenia where at the very bottom of the social ladder but i do not agree with this.

btw i am talking about people without mental illness that are below us on the social ladder

When asked that question “What do you do?” “do you have a job?”
I look them straight in the eye and reply with a smile “I don’t”.
Then the bolder ones try harder with " Why not?"
Still smiling I keep my eye on them and say “because I can”.
That usually shuts them up.
Once an old friend of my brothers didn’t stop, and then asked so you do nothing all day?
To which I replied firmly, "no, definitely not nothing, I have 6 indoor cats, a husband, a house to maintain, my mother and her house to maintain as well, how could you call that nothing?
I’ve only told one or two people that “they pay me to stay out of the workforce.” I don’t like going into any detail, so I promptly change the subject.

I worked for my entitlements and paid good money into Social Security, so it’s NOT a handout. It’s being used exactly what it was meant for, in case I became disabled and could no longer work. I’m just taking mine before age 65.

I feel sorry for all those people who contributed to SS and wait until they retire at age 65 to cashout- there isn’t going to be anything left the way the government has used it for reasons not intended.

My dad worked 80+ hours every week and finally retired at age 80, 70 years he worked without a break, he died less than2 years after he retired, never getting to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Working isn’t as important as living,and work shouldn’t define you as a person.


You know, it’s odd because I remember when I was homeless and I would tell people that I was a recovering addict and that was why I didn’t have a job. I would never tell them about me sz. I got a lot of negative reaction.

But then I worked up to “I’m in recovery and trying to pull my life together and I’m willing to try” That got a much better response. Being willing to try is more positive.

You can say that life threw you some lemons and now you’ve been in school retraining and studying sociology. Which isn’t a lie. There are SO many people in every nation that are out of work right now. The jobless rate numbers are global. So to not have a job right now and trying to retrain just means your in a huge boat with a whole bunch of other people who have been laid off and down sized. You don’t even have to mention illness if it makes you uncomfortable.

But I would say give yourself a thumbs up for having this conversation and opening up and talking to some new people. That achievement should not be overlooked. :thumbsup:

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Wow Daydreamer, how do you know this guy doesn’t have any mental/physical problems just because they arn’t obvious or show?

Is it any wonder you have a self image problem since you judge harshly first, you assume everyone the same, including yourself.
It really isn’t your place to figure out what this guy’s problem is when you arnt sure about your own.
No wonder mental illness has such a stigma attached to it when someone declaring that latter of society to be truth.
Get to know someone and try having a little compassion for them instead of labels, and then you might try some compassion for yourself.


i think what you do qualifies as unpaid work lol its definately a job anyway all of that that you do.

my mother has had it hard because she is disabled and she has to cook and clean (a big house) she has 2 dogs that need walked 2/3 times a day and she has to lift their poo despite her poor eyesight, my dad is terminal and at the moment my mum has to clean up after him as well, she also does the shopping with her guide, decorates and volunteers and she does other things too, i honestly dont know how she does it.
it is like a full time job for her too and she has a disability.

i know the guy and he isnt mentally ill, idk why everybody thinks i am being unfair

You judge others harshly. Somewhere in the back of your mind you also hold yourself to that judgement too.

Do you really have to wonder why your having such a hard time right now?

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The question i dread but i’ll fess up. I’ve never worked. There was talk of sending me to a rehabilitation centre in 1979 to see what i had an aptitude for but my then pdoc said i wasn’t well enough. Since then the work issue has never come up … I think severe social anxiety has been the biggest barrier… Basically i need something with minimal interaction with others/minimal manual/practical skills(as mine are poor)/ and a low level of pressure/stress.

Work shouldn’t define you.
People are not better just because they work.
How you live your life and especially how you treat other people is is the gauge to be judged on.
Think of all those people with too much money-and not because they earned it, but they got it the old-fashioned way- they inherited it, they don’t usually work because they don’t need to. But they still find something to do everyday, and do you think they consider themselves without value?
Highly doubt it.
Jobs define what you do, but can’t define who you are.


well i’d rather be doing something than not doing anything,

i havent been able to do anything for years and now that i am able to maybe do something, i want to do something, i know some people are too ill to be able to even get out of bed sometimes and thats not their fault because they have a genuine illness and i know i have been like that sometimes as well, i fought battles in my bed,

i didnt mean to piss anybody off,

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No one is angry, I agree to wanting to do something rather than nothing, and also agree to wanting to be paid to do something for my time.
The fact is, if you are alive, you are doing something, maybe not to the degree others do, but it is simply impossible to do nothing your whole life.
Sometimes you have to walk in others shoes so to speak to realize the extent of their difficulties. It is just to easy to say because someone isn’t trading their time for a paycheck that they do nothing, and are subsequently worthless.
Not true for most of the people of this world.

I volunteer on the base near where i live as a bagger.


I disagree with your list daydreamer. If I believed your list it would mean that my father was below me in the social order. Which was simply not true. He was an alcoholic most of his life who never layed a hand on me, my two sisters, my mom, or my step-mom. He worked his whole life and supported us and raised us children.He was a good guy, who never meant anyone any harm unless you messed with him, and the violent temper scared most people.And he did not joke around when it came time to protect himself. I can’t list everything that made him a good father, there’s not enough room. He was certainly no saint, but he saved my life. And when I was a scared 19 year old in the hospital and he was in his fifties and a bully was stealing my food he protected me until the 24 year old bully showed his true colors and slunk away.
Just like a pecking order is fluid and changes often, some alcoholics and addicts do honorable stuff even in their disease. Reminds me of a guy in CA I met. Tough little guy. But always asking how I was, how I was doing in my recovery. Unfortunately, last time I saw him he had relapsed, BUT, even then, he still made a point of talking to me.
I don’t think we are on the bottom, the list is not valid. Where does murderer fit on your list? You just can’t make a list of social order that is static and cut and dried .Or black and white.