'What do you do?' Good question

I function at what is probably an average level for someone who has a diagnosis but mostly controlled symptoms. I don’t work but I have a strong urge to be more social and I try to have interactions with others every day. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to really meet new people and when I do it’s challenging to make that good first impression. (If you come across to someone new as ‘odd’, that’s an opinion that will likely never change). The knockout question that begins most conversations, ‘What do you do?’, is one I’ve never dealt with well. My Doctor once told me to just lie. I’m not quick enough to casually toss lies like that around. I need to have some sort of honest (ish) answer that doesn’t over share. Does anybody have suggestions dealing with this? How do you answer the question?

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This thread also discusses this concern.

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hey Timothy,
i can tell you that it is quite tough. maybe 3 of my friends actually know the full extent of my diagnosis.
i’m 21 and around a university campus, so when people ask, i usually just say what programs i was in, and tell them that i’m not taking any courses now.

there’s way too much stigma around this illness. so i just lie, or defer any way i can. just like you, i’m an honest guy who doesn’t like to lie, but sometimes in these situations i do.

tell them you are like a consultant or something. you do freelance photography. i don’t know.
make up a decent lie and practice in front of the mirror. and have a backstory or two, if someone is really curious.

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Timothy, truth is you just have to make it up. You could say youre working, and you could just say you do shift work i.e. this could explain why youre not working on a Tuesday afternoon. But in truth, just say you have some job, spoof, it could be online work, you could say youre a moderator for a web company, and sometimes you work from home…

Just think it over, the answer will come to you in time. For me, I used to just say I worked as a sales rep, canvassing the city, doing sales repping. It cover my ass many a time.


or u could just say i’m signed off sick at the moment and if pressed just say it’s personal. that’s what i say. nobody questions it any further than that. xxx


Tell them you’re unemployed and in between jobs. That has a ring of of truth to it because you might work someday.


I like what 77nick77 said. I usually just say that I’m unemployed, talk about the jobs that I’ve worked at in the past, and say that I might seek a job in a similar line of work to what I’ve done previously if I’m asked for more details.


Lie and say youre a con artist. Then put on sunglasses and light up a cigarette. Makes you look like an interesting character.

No dont do that, do just lie if you can’t bring yourself to saying that you’re unemployed and on disability. I am a student so I make friends without all that much trouble, but its hit or miss. Some people just have more in common and some people are not friendly. I made a new friend recently from a class, it just came naturally because he dressed in all black (like me) and at a party we later found out that we have the same Myers-Briggs personality type (ENTJ, I have become an extrovert again, I was an INTJ whilst psychotic and earlier in remission, which makes sense because I was quite extroverted before schizophrenia). But there’s just the chances of being around the right people at the right times. I made another good friend online and now we hangout in person. Other than that, I hangout with four old friends from high school.

It’s all about having things in common, and I personally can tell alot about someone just by their appearance, we young people dress in a manner to reflect our personalities. We use it as a sort of way to announce what kind of person we are, I find. I wear alot of black and white and red, calve socks with skulls and crossbones on them and mostly black t shirts…and what do you know, I end up meeting people who wear the same punk/grunge/goth/whatever you call us kinds of clothes. Clothing is an outward expression of one’s personality.


Don’t lie, it’s far better to be thought of as “odd” than to be known as a liar.

It isn’t an interrogation, the questions are just to try and find some common ground to keep the conversation going, so they probably don’t really care if you work or not, or have a Dx or not.

Keep the conversations on topics you are comfortable talking about, it doesn’t have to be only what you’re actually doing per se, but things that your passionate about, things that interest you, things you’d like to be doing and like to think about. If your not comfortable talking about yourself just yet, ask the questions instead.
It’s not required to answer questions truthfully, you’re not in court, but you should never reveal information that can come back to hurt you later.

Sometimes if I’m in a bratty mood and don’t care to answer, I will just reply back quickly “what do you do?” With the emphasis on “you”. If they persist, I will just smile sweetly and say, “why do you want to know?”
That usually gets the point across.

I’m currently unemployed. By choice. Maybe that makes it easier, I don’t know. The last time I was around family and got asked “Are you still working?” I said, No, I’m taking a much needed break. I remember one response of: That must be nice… Yes, yes it is… I’m not all that concerned if they understand my choice or not.

I know someone who usually says that she is a web-designer and works from home. Partially true as she designed her own website but with a lie usually comes more questions. Cool so what kind of websites do you design? You need further lies to support the first lie.

As I said in another post the mall parking lot is packed on a Wednesday in the middle of the afternoon. A lot of people are not working.

You could probably side step the question. Trying to decide what I want to do with my life. What do you do? That puts it back on them…

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I’d say don’t lie because really… look at the global job numbers… highest unemployment rate ever world wide.
So it’s Ok to say your unemployed but training or looking or figuring out what you need to do. Unemployment is not the big deal it used to be. It wouldn’t be a lie to say your looking into figuring it out.

You don’t have to mention the disability. That’s no one’s business.

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I normally say that I took early retirement. If the person want to know why I just say that it was a personal choice and then I don’t entertain the subject any further.