Monday, July 5, 2010

My Trial By Fire. That First Day is Under My Belt…

Well, I made it there and back again this morning. I survived one of my hardest mentally and physically taxing days in years.  I really haven’t worked in eight years as I’ve said many times and I am home again after four hours of my first day of work.  I worked from eight till noon this first day to break me in gently for which I was much relieved.  I don’t think I could’ve worked much longer than that for the first day.  I will probably be working longer hours as the weeks progress my supervisor said and that will be my true trial by fire. They only have two people doing my job and it is a 24 hour store.  A teenager comes in the afternoons and works the second shift.  Can I work an eight hour day of standing on my feet all day?  My mental illness has often made me pace the floor for hours and hours on end so I hope so.  If I can do that, then surely I can stand and walk for eight hours.  Of course, I will have water and rest breaks like I did this morning. 

Charlie gave me my two extra Klonopin last night and I carefully saved them to take today and they did the trick helping me to get through the morning. I knew I would need them dearly today. They kept me calm and serene despite my supreme nervousness I was experiencing on the drive to work. I had all these scenarios playing around in my head as I drove down through the Valley to work.  Could I do it?  Could I return to work after all these years absence? Would I have an extreme anxiety attack and terribly embarrass myself?  Would my social anxieties cause me to act strange thus becoming ostracized at work on my first day? I took one 2mg Klonopin this morning at seven to start the day and the other 2mg pill at work around ten when I felt a little shaky. I only had one interesting mental illness moment and it soon passed with the help of my medications and some rest.  I just felt a little confused, and a little nervous and schizophrenia induced psychosis and paranoia slipped in, but I sat down for a moment, cooled off for a bit inside, and calmed down.

“How was your 4th of July?” the elderly greeter asked me as I readied some more carts for him inside the cool store which felt wonderful after the heat of the parking lot.

“My father’s best friend brought me hamburgers, hot dogs, and cokes,” I replied excitedly and glad that he broke the ice. “It was pretty good. I stayed at home, though. I like my days quiet. Even holidays.”

“I spent mine with my son’s family,” he told me grinning vigorously. “We grilled steaks and the kids shot fireworks. We had a great time with family.”

“Sounds really nice,” I replied smiling kindly as I headed back out to the parking lot to grab another load of carts.

I was actually making small talk with strangers without feeling extremely weird or acting strange.  I astounded myself this morning in a way. I am sure the medications helped and had a great deal to play in this.  Thank God for the calming effects of Klonopin.  Work is so much stimulus social wise that it worried me I wouldn’t be able to handle this social sensory overload I would experience.  I did pretty well despite my social anxieties.  At least I didn’t have to deal with customers much.  The occasional customer would stop you and ask you a question about a sale or something, though.  I just played dumb. I had no idea if the Cokes were on sale or not. My job was outside the store.  I was just bound and determined to make returning to work viable this morning.  I was willing to battle any mental or physical foe that cropped up.  I’ve always said and dad does as well that I can be a determined son of bitch when I set my heart and mind to it.

“It’s going to be hot? Isn’t it?” my soon to be former fellow employee and coach said late this morning. “Drink lots and lots of cold water. You will get dehydrated quick. Always take your breaks even if the carts are getting backed up.”

“I like the heat, though,” I replied ever the positive person this morning. Nothing could steal my thunder today. “I keep the air conditioner in my house on 82 or 83. It doesn’t bother me as long as I don’t get sunburned.  I will get terribly burnt if I am not careful.”

“You’re going to be just fine, then,” he told me smiling. “Cover up and wear sunscreen.  Battling the heat is the hardest part of this job this time of the year.  And the cold in winter of course.”

I shuddered at the thought of winter, but I will just have to tackle that obstacle when it arrives. I’m a very cold natured person and not much one for the chill of winter. I will have to really bundle up next winter to gather my carts.  If I can work that long, but let’s be positive and say I will.  Always hope for the best.  I kept having to tell myself I was homeless for six months during the coldest part of winter and could easily handle the cold again if I set my heart upon it and grew acclimated.

My job is going to be very physically taxing it seems, but I handled it well.  My arms and shoulders are a little sore this afternoon.  You just have to have a lot of upper body strength to manhandle the carts before adding them to the mechanical pusher to bring them inside.  Luckily, I have a mental disability and not a physical disability so I was able to handle the work.  I am a big strapping guy.  I always have been.  You would look at me and never know I was mentally ill or had a disability.  I hide it well most days unless I just get batshiat crazy like I can at times. lol  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon.  Let’s hope it doesn’t happen at all.

My coach helped for the first hour showing me what to do and then let me be to work the job for the remaining three hours to see how I would fare.  Our Wal-Mart is a very, very busy place and the carts would pile up pretty quick.  I had to hustle and bustle to keep up.  It is a very big parking lot larger than the size of a football field and it took a LOT of walking and a LOT of cart pushing.  You know me, though.  I walk everywhere these days often miles per day so that wasn’t a problem. I’ve had so much trouble driving lately and will probably start walking to work to save gas as well. It’s about a three mile walk if I have the time every morning and get up early.   

My supervisor stepped outside to see how I was faring at one point before I was to leave for the day.

“He’s doing really well,” I heard my coach tell her as I was bringing carts inside just around the corner. “He’s a really good guy. He is going to be just fine. He’s worked really hard this morning.”

“Any problems with his disability?” she carefully asked as I stood just mere feet away from them unaware of me in the store’s cart opening.

“I didn’t even know he had a disability,” my coach replied sounding astounded.

I was glad he didn’t ask what kind of disability I had.  I was worried about the stigma which is omnipresent with schizophrenia.  I had told my supervisor, though, that I had a mental illness this morning being honest.  She didn’t seem surprised or alarmed.  I was just beaming with pride at that little exchange they had, though.  It felt so good.  It has been a long time since someone paid me a compliment like that other than on my blog or in AA. I wanted to be accepted and valued.  This was working wonders for my self esteem.  It felt so good to be doing something valuable and important for someone else. And I was getting PAID for it!!!! 

Well, I am off to go hustle up some work by way of cutting grass in the neighborhood.  I am going to be one of those aggravating bastards I hate that ride around on their riding lawn mowers and solicit for money by mowing grass – a true capitalist and entrepreneur at heart these days. I always hate being solicited by them and I guess am such a hypocrite it seems. I just really want to get up some money to eat at Rodger’s tonight in celebration.   I haven’t had one of their barbeque plates in months and am craving one.  This making money is intoxicating after not having any for years.  George is going to be so surprised when I write him about it. George has been saying for years that I needed a job and something to do and to hell with my father about it.  I am going to tell dad, though, as soon as he gets home from his vacation Thursday.  I am not going to hide it I have decided.  All that can happen, is that he will be mad at me for a few weeks and will fret terribly about my Social Security Disability.  He won’t believe I have researched well online and covered all my bases about that. He will panic and think I will lose my prescription drug coverage.  He will just have to wait and see that I have been careful and prudent.  I am tired of being so dependent upon my parents and ready to strike out on my own.  One step at a time. And a job was that first step.    


Summer said...

Congratulations Andrew! I knew you could do it.

This IS The Fun Part! said...

Good for you! Glad to hear of your success!

Love ya,

LM said...

I am so proud of you, Andrew...way to go!

Pennsy said...

Proud of you! A huge breakthrough for you.

glittermom said...

Yes you should tell your dad but dont let his dissuade you from your mission of independence..He is probably afraid for you to have access to any money...

justLacey said...

I am so happy to hear it went well. I wondered all morning about how you were doing. 4 hours a day is a good start. I think part time work is better than full time if you can manage it. I loved my part time job, full time with 2 younger kids is just taxing. Especially since I don't get home until 5:30. It was much easier when I worked 7-3:30.

Berryvox said...

I usually hate to leave one word comments but "Congrats!"

Jenn said...

Sounds like a great first day. Good job :)

Sophie said...

Way to go, Andrew! I knew you could do it! You are absolutely right about the good feeling that comes from doing something productive and being recognized for doing a good job by others. You are going about this in the right way and I believe you can make it work. One day at a time... that part we know is true! :-)

Syd said...

Glad that it was a good day. Sounds like there are some nice people there. That makes a job easier.

Mary K said...

I'm glad you had a good first day. Good for you! I'm also glad you're going to keep your dad in the loop. Personally, I think sometimes getting out of the house and doing something productive is the best thing we can do for our anxiety.

pattycakes said...

hey thats wonderful , congrats on your first working day!! hope many more follow
now relax and have a great supper
keep up the good work :)

pattycakes said...

hey thats wonderful , congrats on your first working day!! hope many more follow
now relax and have a great supper
keep up the good work :)

kristi said...

Woo hoo for a good first day!!

Cin said...

I am so glad your first day went so well! Congrats to you!!