This above all; to thine own self be true.
I have made yet another decision that my family is not happy with. From now on, I will be self-employed.
There are a multitude of reasons.
My previous job as a Customer Service Representative was actually a good one. The company I worked at specialized in cable, internet, and phone services. I was excellent at what I did. I consistently exceeded expectations with stats such as after call work and call grades. The only one I really struggled with was call time, because I was too polite to interrupt customers, some of whom tended to rant about their personal lives or particular grievances without listening to me. I enjoyed helping people as much as I could, whether it was by petitioning the higher-ups for extensions, fixing a faulty cable box long distance, or talking to a lonely old woman for two hours about her conspiracy theories. My boss was amazing, and I loved my coworkers, three of whom became close friends.
But it was running me into the ground. By the time I talked to Marie after work, I would often be suicidal, borderline suicidal, or sunk deep in depression. My voices followed me to work each day and spoke over the customers. My hallucinations covered the screens in blood or cracks, or I would hallucinate people in my room who would attack me until I felt actual pain. I was in a constant state of burnout.
My flashbacks, which occurred near-daily, often caused nausea or vomiting that I concealed most of the time. When I threw up my medicine and felt symptoms, I admitted to it and called off work. The thing is, if I throw up my anti-psychotics, I really can’t take them again the same day. There is no way of knowing how much of them got absorbed into my body before the rest was thrown up. It simply isn’t safe—another way to overdose.
I also felt sick every time I ate, which made going back to work after breaks difficult. I either would finish all of my food and feel like I was going to vomit or eat a few bites and be unable to continue. I had mint Tic-Tacs that I used to ward off the nausea, and kept them close to me most of the time.
Additionally, it was incredibly hard for me to get up in the mornings. I would wake up at 8 or 9 AM, then lie there unable to move, miserable, staring at the ceiling, listening to my voices berate me. I later recognized it as depression, after describing it to Marie. She bombarded me with enough evidence that I gave in and admitted it. I have depression. This would usually last at least 3 hours, after which I managed to crawl out of bed and stumble down the steps to listen to my parents telling me I am lazy and that I am wasting my life.
Also, Marie taught me what it was like to be unmasked. Before her, I had hidden myself under so many versions of the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect employee, the perfect Christian. I poured all of my energy into this mask, which I presented each day during work, and to my family and friends. But I was just myself around Marie. The mask dropped. In a traditional job, I will always be forced to hide integral parts of my identity, whether it’s the fact that my fiancée happens to be a woman, or that I am schizophrenic. I am fed up with the fear of being fired if the wrong people figure out certain things about me.
In addition to my days of being frequently too sick to work, I have massive psychotic episodes where I am overwhelmed by voices, hallucinations, and flashbacks to the point where I can barely carry a conversation, let alone work. I have days I am too depressed to move. I had days when I was so suicidal I traced scissors across my wrists while I talked to customers. Days when I almost didn’t talk to Marie until her frantic texting dragged me away from the medicine bottles.
If I am self-employed, I can be who I am. Sable, the queer schizophrenic wreck, who is highly skilled in many areas, a hard worker, and stubborn as hell. I can take breaks when I need them. I can take sick days. I can take mental health days.
I was lucky this year. I went from part-time to full-time, and they gave me far more sick days than normal. Regardless, I ran out of unscheduled vacation in September, and would have been miserable working through fucking awful days. Next year, I would have had five sick days. Five. I have breakdowns/sickness bad enough to call off work several times a month. Not five days a year. At the very least one day per month would have maybe kept me going, but that’s more than double what I would have been allotted.
When I told my family and friends about my plan, the results were split. About half said, no, absolutely not, it’s too hard, don’t even try, you can’t do this. The other half said, heck yeah, do what’s best for you.
But you know what? Fuck the doubters. I am not asking for advice. I am asking for support. And if they don’t want to give it, then that’s their problem and they can get out of my way.
The plan is threefold. I am starting a genealogy business called Sable’s Skeletons, which is currently up and running on my site. I am becoming a freelance editor. And I am making art for an Etsy shop.
If your advice is for me to be realistic and get a 9-5 like the rest of the world, please remember that a regular job with hours I could work, a relatively safe workplace, and phenomenal coworkers and an even better boss…nearly drove me to suicide. On a pretty much weekly basis. So take your good intentions and go elsewhere. And if you are supportive…thanks. You can be my new bestie.
Post 38 in Socially Unacceptable: The Daily Life of a Queer Schizophrenic Wreck (2022)
This is an autobiographical series about my life, something I have wanted to do for a long time. I intend to add new content daily.
For the whole series, follow this link.