Working if you can

I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1980 when I was 19. For the next 2 years I basically did not function and I suffered pretty badly. I was in a world-famous group home for a year, then a locked psychiatric hospital for 8 months. I was put on meds in the hospital. From the hospital I went straight to a Residential Treatment Home. During my time there I was also going to a vocational program. After 9 months went by I got a job. I stayed at this job for the next four years. The last year I worked there, I was smoking lots of crack, in fact, I was addicted. I got clean later.
But I ended up getting fired for being late too often, due in big part to my partying. Anyway, after that I worked at many different jobs. At some jobs I was one of the best workers, at other jobs, I was one of the worst. and not in order. By that I mean there was no natural progression at my jobs of starting out bad in my first job, getting better in my next job and getting even better at my next job. It was random. I have had about 16 different jobs from 1983 to my present job. I got fired from about 7 of them. I stayed for four years at one of them, and three years at a couple more. And the rest I stayed from anywhere from a month to a year or so. But when I got fired or quit, I just went out and got a new one. And THIS is my whole point. Losing several jobs does not mean that I (or you) should give up. Getting fired does not mean a never ending pattern of failure. I’ve proved that wrong. I was one of the best workers at a job in 1990-93. I quit and then I was one of the best workers at my next job. I quit and didn’t work for a year.Then a counselor at a program I was in showed me an ad in the paper that said it was looking for a Park Ranger. I applied and got the job and I stayed there two years. I did a good job but I was probably the bottom of the list of good workers. It was kind of a neat job,I had a pick-up truck-to cruise around in and a uniform and a $1000.00 Walki-Talki. But after I quit that I worked in a three department stores. I got fired from all THREE of them. One was a disaster, I just couldn’t learn anything there and I only made it two months.The next on was at Target, couldn’t learn there either and I was ONE of the worst workers and I got fired. Next job I lasted three years, but I got fired. I was kind of in the middle in job performance. Now at my current job, I’ve been there more than three years and my boss told me I’m the fastest, best worker. So from this brief history you can get the picture, right? Being successful at a job is random.You may stumble upon a job that you find you do good at. You may lose it or you may stay for years. Your next job may not be for you. You don’t HAVE to give up.There’s certain niches in employment where you may excel. Yes, I know, sometimes it’s obvious you need to stop. Or take it easy for awhile. But if you have potential, it might be good to try a few jobs, but if you fail, so what. It’s not the end of the world and you can always say, “At least I tried”.


My first “paycheck” job, other than babysitting/housecleaning/odd jobs, was at age 21. It lasted 13 and a half years, 9 of those years I was the manager who had complete control of the shop, I opened and closed the shop(worked 9+hours a day), hired,fired, did payroll (all but sign the checks), took deposits to the bank,ordered all supplies, was mediator, dealt with angry customers, flaky employees, and evil owners who only showed up to hand us our paychecks.
Once was robbed at gunpoint with only me and a 16 year old customer in the shop, 2guys with a shotgun and a .40 caliber handgun pointed at my head, but that’s not even why I quit.
Good times.
That was my only official job in my life.

1 Like

I started my working life as an out patient volunteer. I was very happy to do maintenance at a community center. The hours were 3:00 a.m 9:30 a.m. Eventually got hired to the job for money.

So by the time the place was getting busy, I was getting off work. I cleaned bathroom and mopped floors, set up conference rooms for the day. Then when they found out I knew a bit about pool chemicals and how pool pumps work and what’s makes a pool stay blue… I was given a few more hours

I was there for a bit. No one really saw me. But things that needed to be empty were empty and things that needed to be full were full and the windows and bathrooms were clean. All was well. I have NO idea why I decided to go to the parks side. It just sort of happened. It sounded like a good idea at the time.

So now I’m a little higher up, have flexible hours and still work mostly alone unless it’s trail work or arbor work. I don’t know if I’m going to stay here for ever or what will come my way next. Now that I’m starting school new idea and different opportunities might come my way. I have no idea what will happen next. It’s a little scary saying that. But for now, life is secure. For now and the near future, it will be OK.


i am self employed , i have been doing this for 11 years, before that i worked on farms, before that sub- contracting ( self-empolyed ).
i went the road of self employment because i can’t be told what to do by anyone …it screws with my head.
take care


Teenager jobs- Summer student at a daycare centre+ concession booth worker at a marina.

Adult Jobs- Tech support for Sprint

Vocational Rehabilitation after diagnosed with SZ- Dunkin Donuts drive through window. shudders :coffee:

1 Like

I have a real hard time finding work with schizoafffective schizophrenia.

I can honestly say I gave it my best, which is nice, but sometimes I do wish I had paced myself. I’m making up for it now, sitting around doing nothing. I’d like to get back out there but I’m not doing well enough yet.

Right now I am trying to finish college. I don’t know if I will. I was fortunate enough to meet a college counselor while in school who helped me to work for the state. I was only a student worker, but it helped me get my foot in the door for office jobs. I work at my dad’s law office, but he has hired a secretary. I will have to go through vocational rehabilitation to move on. It is a work in progress.

1 Like

It’s the second month after I took up the job as a part-time shop assistant in a fine food shop cum deli. Yesterday is the third time I was told we are running short of cash in the cashier. The nature of work often requires me to work on multiple concurrent tasks at the same time. It is like sometimes I need to serve 3 customers at the same time, remembering everything of them, solving ad-hoc problems and carrying out multiple procedures to each of them interwovenly in a tight schedule. It demands 100% of accuracy on every of the tasks. I need to memorize quite a lot of things and my colleagues would check if I remember everything. I am also accountable for everyone’s mistakes being the customer service person. Since last week we have been told to add more work duties. I think I am building up work stress and have difficulty to fall asleep again.

I don’t know with our illness is it appropriate we consider to stretch our abilities to do something that look difficult? I wonder if there is any job it doesn’t hurt to make a few mistakes. And do you know if we possess some strengths that would make certain job nature a success to us?

1 Like

I just do my best and put one foot in front of the other on jobs. Sometimes I’m one of the best workers sometimes the worst. Not every job is predominantly detail oriented. My current janitor job is not rocket science. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to work excessively fast. I know almost exactly what I will be doing every day which I like… I think service jobs are very stressful for schizophrenics. it’s hard working with the public. I prefer working behind the scenes.


If you see yourself not really suitable for the job, would you resign from it or wait and see if the the employer would fire you?

Hard question to answer. Because it depends on the job. I usually stick it out until I’m fired. But I have quit jobs that I was OBVIOUSLY not suited for. The key word being “OBVIOUSLY”. I was obviously not suited for a security guard job so I quit. But getting fired is bad because next time you are filling out an application for a new job or having a resume made, you cannot put that you were fired on either of those. So you either have to lie on the application about the reason you aren’t working there or not mention it all and leave it off completely, but then you will have that big gap in your employment history. If it’s obvious to you that you aren’t suited you might want to weigh your options. You might consider if it’s obvious to other workers that you are not suited. That’s something to give a little thought to because maybe to them you are doing alright! It’s happened to me before. It’s up to you how much stress you can tolerate at this job and how well you think you can tough it out. Maybe a good idea would be ask the boss how he thinks you are doing in general. Or overall. You might actually be doing good is some areas in your job and maybe that’s enough for your boss to want to keep you. OR maybe you can stay there but get another position .You can always stick it out for a week or two more and if the situation gets TOO much worse you can just pull your boss aside and tell him honestly that you feel that you are are not suited for this job so you are going to quit but thank him for giving you the opportunity to work there. If you quit or get fired, don’t get too down about it. At least you tried, right? That’s an accomplishment. Hey, two months is a long time. I’ve quit jobs after one day before!! Every job has a learning curve, maybe you are still in the period when making a few mistakes is tolerable to your boss. Making mistakes is natural in most jobs, you learn to minimize them but at first it is normal. Not everybody can do customer service it. No shame in that. If you feel like it, then shop around for a new job and explore what’s out there where you don’t have to do customer service. Or maybe with your little experience in customer service, you can find a job in the same field but not so hectic or chaotic as the place you are working at now. I don’t know if this helps, just some things to consider. Good luck with whatever you do.

1 Like

Thank you for every of your ideas. I really appreciate your thoughtful reply. I have been away from work for three years now. So, probably I don’t need to worry about adding a little more to the gap. I have got a few customers praising me that my service attitude is very good. My concern is more on stress relating to short of cash and the choatic work environment which makes no mistakes very difficult. I intend to give myself some more time to test out my limits and see how well I can perform. I agree that having try is a BIG accomplishment to me!

1 Like

Finally thought about what job I would like to have. What about a water treatment plant worker? :potable_water:

Well, I never heard some one have that goal before. What does the job entail? Did your dad work at one or something? I bet it pays decent wages.

Look into getting hired on with a city and then see what municipality jobs they have. Would you want to work with purification projects (sewage and water management) or city water or reservoirs?

I could see myself working at a reservoirs. Nah… I’d want to swim in it and that is a HUGE no-no always.