Friday, July 12, 2013

What If You Could Not Work Another Day?

Friday July 12, 2013

When I received the PTSD diagnosis last month it was immediately clear to me that I would need to make some significant changes to my life.  Given that the word “stress” is in the diagnostic phrase it’s obvious the reduction of stress in all areas of my life is the overarching goal I should set for myself in the short term.  And so naturally I had to consider what I was doing for work, what I have been hoping to do for work and a variety of other circumstances.  Here it is again necessary to provide some additional background material so my current situation is more intelligible to my dear readers.

I can count myself as one of too many American citizens who has an excellent set of skills in a job market that has been the most punishing ever in all the years of my adult life.  I have an obscene amount of student loan debt and quite frankly am not sure how I will ever pay it off.  When I returned to graduate school in September, 2009 it seemed like a wise choice given the horrendous state of the economy.  Rather than continue to conduct what I figured would very likely be a fruitless search for work in a moribund economy I decided to invest in myself by returning to school.  I hoped that the economy would improve by the time I graduated.  In early 2011, when I did in fact complete my graduate degree in international environmental policy I was filled with hope that a new chapter of my life would soon start that would prove much more rewarding than the years immediately prior to my time in school.  Two years have passed.  The United States economy has technically improved.  And yet I look around and wonder where all the improvement is.  Job security in this nation seems to be a thing of the past.

The unfortunate stress I have experienced in the last few years was just another layer that fell on top of the dormant pains of my distant past.  In early 2012 it nearly brought me to the breaking point.  After a period of a mere six days in February 2012 in which every important dimension of my life imploded in rapid succession I felt myself on the brink.  On at least one day I felt such pain I had wondered if I was having a heart attack.  Seventeen months have passed since then and only now do I finally feel as if I am regaining my footing.  Once I gained the benefit of good health insurance at a very reasonable cost (by virtue of my low income status) as of June 1st of this year I began the not insignificant task of utilizing my health insurance to screen myself for any significant issues.  The greatest gift a person can enjoy is good health.  You might have everything else in the world laid at your feet but if you don’t have the good health to enjoy it you might as well have none of these other gifts available to you.  To rebuild my life I first must rebuild my health.

I think it is not unusual for a person to conjure up the worst-case scenarios possible when something occurs in your life that significantly alters your life in what appears will be a harmful manner.  In the time that has passed since my diagnosis one thought that I clearly recall having appear in my mind focused specifically on my ability to work.  Luckily my particular situation is not so severe that I am unable to work.  In requesting services from Hennepin County I was asked to complete a form documenting my health.  I have been deemed able to work.  I am happy that I can work.  And yet after my recent diagnosis as well as the stress of the last two years as I have sought work worthy of my skills it has become clear to me that I do indeed need to take a big pause and consider what I fundamentally want out of my life.

I expect to start a full time job next week that will provide me the financial stability I deeply need at this very important moment in my life.  As I continue to rebuild my life I find myself praying each and every day that the perfect storm that brought my old life to the ground has completely passed. 

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!