A few months ago, I noticed that one of my depression symptoms started abating: I became interested in activities again. The doctor who testified at my Social Security hearing mentioned that I told a counselor I was always bored, so I figured this was a significant milestone.
While I was happy to get some relief from a symptom, I became anxious about how it must mean that I should try to get back to work now, and how would I manage getting and holding down a job? My job search skills are terrible, despite trying to research them myself, and I never successfully held down a job before. I’m hoping to become a mental health therapist someday.
Since my therapist was on medical leave, I talked to a substitute therapist about this. He told me not to rush.
I should’ve listened to him, but I just tried getting a volunteer job with a mental health hotline, which is among the most stressful kinds of volunteer jobs. I still felt a sense of pressure to be more productive. However, I’ve also been truly excited to get involved in the mental health field outside of blogging and posting on a forum.
He told me that he doesn’t think I’m ready yet. He wants me to participate in a mental health clubhouse for a few months where I can practice little tasks to increase my social skills and experience with handling responsibilities. He also wants me to do a peer counseling training through the department of health and social services so that he doesn’t have to spend as much time training me. After working on these things for a while, he’s willing to talk to me about volunteering again. I’m happy with the outcome of the meeting we had the other day and will follow his advice.
The volunteer coordinator’s advice got me thinking about what the therapist said. I wish that I had followed the therapist’s advice, but I’m glad that the volunteer coordinator redirected me instead of letting me volunteer before the time was right and damage myself and the callers as a result. He’s doing a good job looking out for his callers. The most important thing to me is helping the callers effectively, so I’m fine with working on some stuff for a few months in order to do a better job later.
My advice is to start with small steps when recovering from mental illness. For example, if you want to volunteer, you could start with low stakes tasks like the volunteer coordinator suggested instead of doing something stressful right away. I wish everyone recovering from mental illness well with their recovery.