The benefits of working for me have been a step by step process that has made me stronger to go out and work.

When I was ready to find a job, I went through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. We met at a church, which was the quiet environment I needed at the time to help me open up and talk about things. I had blocked myself off from a large part of the community.

I had holed up in my bedroom and didn’t answer my phone, open my mail, answer the door, or even comb my hair. I watched TV all day long, with the shades drawn. I had become a recluse. But then one day I told myself that I was wasting my life, preventing myself from having lots of experiences, and giving up too much of my life to something that was in my power to change.

Since I decided to get a job, my life has been more fulfilling than it was before my illness began. Now I see beyond people’s differences to the hidden layers that most people don’t take the time to see. My job gives me the opportunity to help people get out into the community. I model behavior that will help the person feel more comfortable going into the community by themselves.

Having a disability helps me to do my job better than if I didn’t have one. I use the word “differences” instead of “disabilities” because words can change people’s and the community’s attitudes. My differences give me insight into what other people struggle with and gives me the possibility of being able to help them through my knowledge.