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I made a deal with The Dragon.  I tried negotiating with schizophrenia.

Out loud I told him before a job interview with Starbucks that if he left me alone for the next hour he could have me for the 90-minute drive home.  And it seemed to work.  I felt like I had a great interview.  All their questions were thoughtfully answered with my experiences leading soldiers and managing projects.

I thought I nailed it.  I called my wife, sick with a cold, and told her.  Her scratchy throat made me cut the call short.  Then, per my deal, I let my guards down and let The Dragon in.

Over the drive home he tore into me.  It replayed every part of the interview and told me how stupid I was.  It told me that I’m crazy and they could tell.  I would fail at this and that I will fail at everything.  My family will spiral down because of me and we would soon be bankrupt because I can’t get a job.  I missed turns in confusion and ended up taking the long way back.  By the time I got home I was wrecked.

My ever-supporting wife was there.  I told her what I had done in making the deal.  She told me that I can never let The Dragon like that.  I can’t succeed negotiating with schizophrenia.  Letting him in I had gone from a very high and great feeling to the gutter somewhere during that drive.  It probably only took a few minutes.

This stands to show that I can never let my guard down with The Dragon.  The struggle with schizophrenia is constant.  I can never let loose.  I’ll never be able to truly relax.  If I let it down for a little bit The Dragon comes in at full strength.  He’ll come with his voices, narrative, raw feeling and the Hell that he injects into me.

After all of that I didn’t get the job.  Despite two graduate degrees and 14 years of experience as a military officer leading soldiers, I wasn’t hired to manage a Starbucks.  Despite the insistence of The Dragon I knew that I interviewed very well.  Or maybe I didn’t?

I can never know why they didn’t hire me.  Maybe there was an even more qualified applicant.  Maybe I offended one of the panelists.  Maybe they didn’t like how far away I lived.  I’m wondering if it is something else though.  I think they could sense the crazy in me.  I negotiated with schizophrenia and maybe feeling like The Dragon wasn’t there made me look manic.  Maybe I was excited to feel free and talked too fast.  Yes, I believe they could tell that there was something off about me.

Starbucks probably just dodged a bullet by not hiring me.

Until I received the rejection I viewed myself as “handicapable” with a few limitations.  Now I feel as handicapped as the government says I am.  To have a good interview I had to trick myself into feeling like I was in total control.  But I wasn’t, I just let The Dragon slither around and pretend to be something else.  I’m sure they saw the crazy in my eyes while I held onto the delusion that I was free.

I’ve been thinking of myself in terms of what I’m capable of, now I see myself as how incapable I really am.  I tried to get an hour of my old self in.  But I got something else.  I can never be who I used to be and it is important and healthy to remember that.  But I can still try to be the best me even if it is less.  But I can never again allow myself the delusion that I can succeed in negotiating with schizophrenia.

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  1. Tansu says:

    Sorry you had to go through all that. Keep your head up even when The Dragon is hanging around. Amazing you were able to turn him off during interview.

    There are many reasons the interviewers decided to not bring you on board. If I was interviewing you — I’d think you’re over qualified. Why would someone with your credentials want yo work for us? That’s probably what was going through their thoughts.

    Maybe you can let future interviewers know that you want something different from Army life and are willing to start from bottom. Perhaps taking on a part time job even as a barista first? If they like your performance at a local store you can move up. I realize you were an Army officer — but you unfortunately might have to start from bottom again. Or if you go to church offer to provide janitorial or mowing services? I know this is wsy below what you were doing. But I always feel that someone notices the work you do — if you do it right. They’ll pull you to come work for them. Right now you’re trying to get your roots in Kansas. Take a low paying job. It’s definitely less stressful. Fortunately you have retirement income. Many don’t even have that. A job offer will come around. But job offers don’t come when you’re sitting at a desk doing online applications. They don’t even see you. You seem very hard working. And I’m sure someone will recognize what an asset you’d be to their organization.

    Don’t let what others say define you because of your job. Like you mentioned — they don’t know your story and they aren’t your friend or someone you’re interested in forming a relationship with. They don’t know your story and you don’t need to share.

    You have your beautiful children and wife. That’s a lot more than most of us.

    1. anonymous says:

      Thanks! I did take an entry-level management job at a local high end grocery. It is very high-energy but low-stress. If I cared more about the company itself (it is just a paycheck to me) then it may be stressful. The high energy helps keep my body up with my mind (expect an upcoming blog post on that topic soon) but there is a very large stranger factor there that really feeds into my paranoia. I honestly don’t expect to work there for a very long time as it isn’t a great fit, but it is good for now. I do have a phone interview coming up for another job that would be a great fit. I’m not actively seeking professional jobs that are in my fields of study or military experience. So I am not keeping very high expectations.

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