Trying to Understand the Workplace With a Mental Illness

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I will give you a head’s up.  This is going to be a serious rant.  And I am going to, at least for this post, stop holding your hand and give you feel good platitudes about the life of a mentally ill individual.  This is a rant that is long overdue.  So here goes.

As a grown man afflicted with a severe mental illness, I readily admit I do not understand the thinking and actions of normal people.  I never have, even before I became mentally ill.  Seriously, there are things you normals do and complain about that seem insane to me.  But since that is the norm instead of the paranoia, delusions, crippling depression,and hallucinations of schizophrenia, the complaints and senseless actions of the normal are not construed as the manifestations of mental illness.

Today I would like to discuss the world of the workplace.  Ever since I was four years old and old enough to listen in on grown up conversations, I have heard adults complain ceaselessly about their jobs.  I’ve heard you complain about how your boss is an idiot.  I’ve heard you go on without end about how incompetent and lazy your coworkers are.  I’ve heard you complain about how unreasonable and demanding your customers are.  I’ve listened to you gripe about how bad government agencies and regulations are hampering your business and productivity.  Since my parents were health care professionals, OSHA was one of their favorite whipping boys. I have heard you normals complain about how mind numbing and soulless your job is. And I have definitely heard about you normals complain about taxes.

Ah, taxes.  Kind of appropriate so close to tax deadline here in the U.S.  You complain about how you pay too much in taxes, how the rich pay too little in taxes, and I have sure heard you complain about how people on disability and unemployment don’t deserve what they get in tax payer funded programs.  As if throwing these people in jail and asylums would be any cheaper.  And to line the disabled up in ditches and kill them is absolutely unethical and uncivilized.  I have heard you normals complain for thirty  years about how bad your jobs and lives suck. I for one am absolutely sick and tired listening to you normals complain about your jobs.  KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY!!! And I have to this very day never once heard even one of you idiot normals formulate a plan as to how you were going to get out debt, start that potential dream business, leave that abusive husband or codependent girlfriend, or how you were going to make sure your kids do better in their adult lives than you.  You are the primary reason your life turned out the way it is.  You are the reason you stayed at that dead end job in that dead end town just like four generations of your forefathers.  For once in your life complain about how bad you suck and actually do something to make sure your life stops sucking.  The facts are your job is lousy and your life is lousy because you settled for lousy.  Stop settling, start making great plans, or shut the hell up.

I admit what I have told you is harsh.  But you know what, I am harsh only because I care and love the human race and want to see us go on and keep doing cool things.  We have done some pretty cool things as a species already.  Cooking meat over fire, writing, the printing press, basic education for the young, fire arms, astronomy, mathematics, the steam engine, space travel, the internet, anti biotic medication, robotics, etc.  We’ve done some pretty cool stuff ever since we parted ways with our monkey relatives.  Having purpose and goals to strive for is what drives our species. Monkeys didn’t develop a cool civilization or make great inventions because they didn’t have any purpose or goals beyond mating, eating, and flinging manure at each other.

Having a goal and a purpose is a complete game changer. It isn’t just the brilliant scientists and engineers that need to have the purpose for their lives.  I often think you normals complain about your “mundane” jobs and your current situations only because you have no goals or purpose.  But your job working in a heated office or working with advanced tools on a construction site are anything but mundane.  Such jobs either did not exist or were much tougher even fifty years ago.  And yet here you are complaining about how bad your job sucks and your coworkers are lazy fools. Oddly, some of your coworkers would have the same complaints about you, especially if they saw you at your worst. You, for whatever reasons, killed your dreams as you tried to settle into something safe and secure.  In the early 21st century, being safe and secure and not rocking the boat is death.

I never got a chance to chase my dream of being a medical research scientist.  The schizophrenia killed all chance of that.  Some consider me a failure or a nonhuman because I can’t work a job for my living.  I hear too much of this outdated Puritanical nonsense about ‘if you don’t work, you don’t eat’ or ‘by the sweat of your brow you shall earn your bread.’  What an idiotic stance.  We are now to where most of our manufacturing work can be done by machines.  It won’t be the multinational sending thousands of jobs to Asia that will be an issue. Soon most manufacturing jobs (even the ones in Asia) will be done by robots.  And many new technologies will replace many old style business models.  Google ‘3D printing’, ‘robotics’, and ‘automation’ if you don’t believe me.  There are even companies in both the U.S. and China experimenting with building inexpensive housing units entirely with gigantic 3D printers.  Shoot, it won’t be long before most telemarketing and customer service call centers will be handled by computer programs.  So will bookkeeping, accounting, and many insurance and finance jobs.   Did those autoworkers in Detroit or steel mill workers in the Rust Belt suddenly become worthless nonhumans not deserving their daily bread because machines can do their jobs faster and more efficiently? Nope.  Will the armies of customer service reps, tax preparers, bookkeepers, finance workers, and other white collar workers lose their status as human beings because they are unemployed because machines will be able to do their jobs?  No.  Does a man or woman only have value because they make money?  Not a chance. Seriously, there are over one billion people on this planet (mainly in Africa, rural Asia, and Latin America) that live on two dollars a day or less. You couldn’t buy a Big Mac at McDonald’s for that. Are they less worthy of their lives because they don’t have much money?  Certainly not. I think these people are quite resourceful and creative to stay alive on such low wages, especially the ones who don’t have debts.

A job does not give a human value.  Never has and never will.  Neither does the size of a person’s bank account.  I know that flies in the face of generations of protestant work ethic and the mentality most Americans have in identifying themselves by what they do for money.  I cringed every time I was asked ‘what do you do’ when I first meet someone.  What do I do?  I breathe, I sleep, I laugh, I cry, I lust, I love, I play Skyrim, I watch baseball, I hallucinate without drugs, I eat Chinese food, I write, I ask questions, I learn, and I am a great friend.  But I know you want to know how much money I make so you can categorize me and rank me.  But it’s quite tactless in America how much money someone has (which is odd consider how much money is revered in this country).  Maybe the upcoming shakeups our civilization will experience within the next twenty years will force us to reexamine how we identify ourselves.  With so many people most likely being without paying jobs because machines and computers can and will do the jobs better, we will have to stop identifying with our jobs and stop condemning those who don’t have work.  We may have to take drastic actions to keep civilization from descending into chaos.  Desperate hungry and homeless people don’t make rational decisions.  We may even have to completely overhaul or tax and social safety net systems.  We may even have to resort to the whole universal basic income to keep the economy afloat and keep civilization functioning.  I love civilized life and not just because I’m bad at hunting and fishing.  I believe civilization has accomplished some cool things, led to billions of people with billions of talents being born through the ages who wouldn’t have been born had civilization never happened.  I want to see this thing keep going.  And things won’t get better by people believing a person has value only as far as they can earn money by their jobs.

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Author: alifeofmentalillness

I write about my experiences with mental illness and life in general. I am also currently under going 'lifestyle changes' (I hate the term 'dieting' as it's sounds so temporary) and have lost 70 pounds since spring 2014. I've put my poetry and novel writing on lower priority since I started losing weight and blogging more seriously.

5 thoughts on “Trying to Understand the Workplace With a Mental Illness”

  1. This is great. It’s a great critique of Western cultural values and Western society in general, and it’s more philosophical than your other pieces, which is cool. Keep it up!

    1. I guess I’ve never considered myself much of a philosopher even if I read a few of the major works of the masters. But these are a few of the tends I see coming. I hope we’re wise enough to address such issues before they hit crisis levels.

    1. I’m not sure I’d consider myself normal, especially with what I’ve seen out of average people. At this point I’m not sure I want to be normal. But I still would love to be without the delusions, hallucinations, and excessive paranoia though. I just don’t want to become unthinking and always accepting the status quo as is.

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