In the last week I obtained my first post-military employment. I am nervous to be working with schizophrenia. This time I will be employed at a high-end grocery store that prides itself on customer service. I will be a low-level manager. I purposefully chose a position that I felt would be of considerably lower stress then I am accustomed to.
Difficulties with Mental Illness at Work
Already in the past week I have had up days and down days. I have yet to have a full schizophrenic episode or a panic attack. But I have had to isolate myself in a bathroom stall where I hoped that some ramping up symptomology would recede as it did. Although I secure my Klonopin in a locker, near the breakroom, during my shifts, I have not yet needed to use it.
Without a doubt, in even just a week, I’ve been noticed by a customer or a coworker mouthing conversations to myself or being distracted by a voice or movement no one can see or hear.
Disclosing My Mental Illness to my Employer
When applying for the position I filled out a form that indicated I was a person with a disability. My only other options were to boldly lie and say no or to select to not answer, which in my mind would be a yes anyway.
My initial plan was to rise above my mental illness and never disclose it to my employer, which is my right. Now though, as the possibility of schedules becoming erratic and altering my sleep, I am beginning to rethink this wisdom. My intent is to alter the hours I can work from an open availability, as in my application, to restricted to only the hours I am typically awake.
I have learned over and over that consistent sleep is one of the most important features of my schizophrenia management. Even a single day of my sleep being delayed by a few hours can have a large impact on my condition the next day or few days. I also cannot drive after taking my evening medications. If I were to work a late shift I would have no choice but to delay the taking of my medications which I keep on a strict regimen.
What I Expect from my Employer
My disability requires me to have a consistent sleep pattern to be well managed. My request will be met positively I expect. There is enough redundancy in staffing that I am not requesting a difficult accommodation. I am not asking for an alteration of any of my job functions or for any other special considerations. As a mature and large company, I expect them to not find some other reason to terminate my employment. I wouldn’t retaliate if they did though, it would be too much stress and just make me worse.