Yes, we’re doing another holiday episode, because I know a bunch of you are with me in the same leaky boat. Let’s see if this sounds anything like your life… My mom, sister, and brother-in-law are visiting for Christmas. My 850-square-foot condo would not be a natural gathering point, but it’s close to many of Jordan (brother-in-law)’s relatives who are sprinkled about the region. My mom will sleep in my office on the daybed while my sister and her husband bunk out in a nearby hotel. My former husband, who is a close friend, will also be up here part of the time. I don’t know how the days are going to go, as I only have comfortable seating for 3 people if you move the sewing table so the third recliner can tip back. (Usually that’s the cats’ chair and they don’t need to recline.)
A lot of you know from a previous post that I’ve been having trouble getting permanent residency in Canada so I can buy the tiny house of my dreams (which would be movable, but it’s already exactly where I want it). I stated before that it didn’t have anything to do with my disability, because I really thought that. It wasn’t until I was writing my response letter to their second terse blowoff that it became clear to me what’s going on. Here’s a quick 101 on the immigration process—if you go as a visitor, you can stay 6 months of any one year. My friends all say “Stay 6 months, visit the US for 2 weeks and go back.” It doesn’t work that way. You are limited to 6 months of the calendar year, and they do check. The border stations share information about your crossings now and they know when you cross to either side. If you overstay, they can deny you re-entry, even if your home, your pets, and all your stuff is there.
Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Readers! Yes, it’s the aftermath. All the dishes are done, and you may be mightily sick of turkey sandwiches. Not me, I’m trying to figure out how to work leftover tempeh and seitan into dishes with the vegetables from my CSA bin. (Community Supported Agriculture, it’s a subscription service for produce.) Holidays are fraught for everyone, possibly us most of all. We have special needs, physical and/or dietary, and we may be trying to “fake normal” for a variety of reasons. We may come from families where it’s not safe to be perceived as weak. We may be ashamed of feeling different. We may be around people who complain about things that are first-world problems compared to what we deal with, and we feel distanced because of this. We may need to put on a brave face for children or older relatives. Or we may just have the same old family issues everyone else does.
Last week I talked about using my state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to try to get a job. That went very badly; they were not equipped to meet my needs at all. I had hoped for help getting a home-based job, and the counselor said the agency’s job was to get disabled people out of their homes. I said I thought their job was to help disabled people make a living. Last fall I took a one-night class at the community college on how to build a web site. It was enough information to get me started. I figured that was the first step toward home-based freelancing, having an internet home for my various ventures.
We’ve talked about the application form and the interview, and now it’s time to bring up public service agencies whose job it is to help people with disabilities find jobs. I’ll share my own experience with Washington’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and I invite you to tell your own stories about using agencies in your state (or wherever you are in the world).
So last week we talked about job applications. This week we talk about interviews, and when to mention your hidden disability. I did some homework, and according to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), you do not have to mention it until you ask for accommodation. This can be after you’ve started work and a special situation arises, as in the case of a woman with multiple sclerosis who did fine in her office until the air conditioner broke down. The heat caused problems with flare-ups so she had to ask to work from home (HERC 2017).
Buckle up for another series, this time on getting a job. We’ve talked before about having a job, the issues with adapting work stations, dealing with supervision, etc. But what do you do when you don’t have a job and you need one? The process might even be harder for people with invisible disabilities than for people with evident ones. In this series I’ll discuss the application (that’s today), the interview, and using government agencies for...
Preface: Any time I highlight someone’s work that’s gender-specific, I fear alienating half my audience. Elizabeth White’s work is about a largely female phenomenon in the workplace, but it is by no means exclusive, and I hope that in the process of applying its principles to this audience, my male readers feel included and considered. I value your presence and invite your voices in the comments. Last winter I met a remarkable woman, Elizabeth White, the author of 55, Unemployed, and Faking Normal. It occurs to me that her work probably applies to many of my readers here. If you’re not familiar with it, she has a great TED talk, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFpQ5N_ttNQ, and a book by the same title. https://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Five-Unemployed-Faking-Normal-Elizabeth/dp/1530055857
This is part 4 of a 4-part series on anger, an emotion common to most people with disabilities, hidden or in plain view. The first post, https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2018/09/the-anger-series-post-1-tv-and-movie-tropes/, talked about the way our anger is handled in TV and movies. The second post, https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2018/10/the-anger-series-post-2-whats-your-anger-style/, explored the different ways we process anger. Last week’s third post, https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2018/10/the-anger-series-post-3-lets-get-personal/, was about my personal experience with anger, and I invited you to share about your own. It’s not too late—share something if you want to. This week, we are shifting to the aftermath of anger, reinvention. This is where we pick up the pieces and put together something new.
This is part 3 of a 4-part series on anger, a thing most people with disabilities deal with to some extent. Disability often means loss, and anger is part of the normal grieving process. There may also be frustration from new limitations, and resentment if the disability was inflicted by someone else (for example, a young man hit me on my bicycle). Two weeks ago I introduced the topic with how the anger of disabled people is handled in the entertainment world https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2018/09/the-anger-series-post-1-tv-and-movie-tropes/. Last week I talked about the different ways people handle anger https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2018/10/the-anger-series-post-2-whats-your-anger-style/. This week I’ll talk about my own anger and invite you to talk about yours, and finally, next week, I’ll move beyond anger to a theme of reinvention.