Sunday, February 6, 2011

the job

I wasn't planning on getting a job right now. I am working with vocational rehabilitation, but so far the plan is for me to try taking a college class next fall (hence the application). But then this job popped up at the local mental health center. The position is "Peer Support Specialist". They are looking for people who have lived experience with mental illness, who are stable and can work with others with severe and persistant mental illness to help them with things like goal setting, coping skills, problem solving, crisis management, advocacy, ect. I would be helping others maintain stability so they can live in the community, and advocate for them durring crisis.

I really, really want to do this kind of work. And goodness knows I have the "lived experience". I have experienced pretty much every level of care they have around here...inpatient psych unit, county care facility (otherwise known as residential or long-term care), supervised community living, inpatient and outpatient committment, ect. I think the only place I haven't been is a group home. But I understand what it is like to come out of an institution and try to live in the "real world". All of a sudden having to navigate stressors like bills and grocery shopping and getting to appointments. Not having a nurse or care tech to talk to 24/7 when you feel anxious or unsafe. People get stable in the hospital or in a treatment center, but on your own, in your own place, is where the rubber meets the road. Some people don't make it. Maybe they don't have enough support, or they are not following their wellness plan, or something stressful happens. Or maybe they are just too ill. Sometimes all it can take is a few crisis hospitalizations and you are sent back to an institution.
That's where I think that Peer Support can be really valuable. The PSS can fill in the gap between therapists and case workers who are often overworked. The PSS ideally would have greater empathy and insight because of their own battle with mental illness, and might even be able to see signs of deterioration before a liscenced proffessional.
I have a friend here in Iowa who because of an ED has been in and out of hospitals and treatment centers for years (we have been in alot of the same places here in Iowa and I think she would agree with me that treatment around here for ED's is woefully inadequate). Following a hospitalization last year she was is a care facility for several months, and eventually was released to her own apartment. She had a therapist and a dietitian. She also had a caseworker who was supposed to be keeping tabs on her but kept failing to show up for home visits and to my knowledge only made it once or twice. My friend saw her therapist and dietitian regularly, but it was between visits that she really struggled, and eventually relapsed. She was re-hospitalised, lost her apartment, and is now in a care facility yet again. The whole thing has made me so angry and helpless. Maybe peer support would not have made a difference. Maybe she would have gone downhill no matter what. But I really believe that if she had had a PSS who could have come to her home several times a week and was able to sit down with her and work out a plan to deal with behaviors and even maybe grocery shopped with her or been on call to talk and also hold her accountable....I don't know, but I think it might have made a difference. Maybe with more support it might have just been a rough patch that she would have gotten over, instead of a full-blown relapse. And I am not niave. I'm sure that the situation was more complicated than it appeared. But whatever the circumstances were, it was clear to me that she did not get the support she needed to live independently.

Ok, so back to the job. I am not getting my hopes up about this one. For one thing, I have not been through Peer Support Academy, and I have not been trained in WRAP (wellness recovery action planning). But the job add said that you had 2 years to get this training if hired. Also, I learned from someone at NAMI, this lady who is kind of my mentor there who encouraged me to apply for the job, that in my county only 3 people are Peer Support Academy graduates, and two of them are not applying. So maybe I have a chance.

But, like I said, I was not planning to try work at this time. It is only that this particular job became avaliable that I decided to check it out. If I get it, that would be great. And scary (I haven't held a regular job in years, I would have to figure out childcare, I would have to step outside my comfort zone). But if I don't get the job, that would be ok, too. It would just tell me that the timing is off, and I should get the trainings and apply for the job the next time it comes around. So I think I am looking at it in a fairly healthy way.

To be honest, I am more stressed about finalizing the lease on this duplex we might move to next fall. Geez, it's a hassle! Oh, and I have a cold. Again. I don't even think I was 100% over the last one! I swear it ts the gym. Every time I go I get sick. I think that place is crawling.

Well, that's about it. I had like 3 things I wanted to blog about today, but I think this will have to do.



Tia said...

I'm going through the same thing - job interview coming up!!! crossing fingers for both of us.
tia @ dietcolagirl.blogspot

Cammy said...

Wow, does sound like an intriguing opportunity, I know you've mentioned before that you were interested in this kind of work. Things like this are always kind of a seesaw of cost-benefit analysis. Seems like the training, extra income, doing what you care about, etc are definite pros to the job, what are the factors involved in the fact that you weren't really job hunting at the moment? Child care, moving stress, your own health? Not that I'm trying to be a downer, I think this sounds like a GREAT opportunity. Have you brought it up to Chris?

Moving is such a pain, good luck with that lease!

K said...

Just stumbled on your blog - and couldn't stop reading. You write very well about what for most people are really difficult topics to put into words, and to put out there in public.

Keep up the good work, and good luck with the job. Whether you get it or not, I am sure that you are already making a difference through this blog!


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