Transiting into adulthood

“Workers with psychiatric disabilities have to acquire new skills while in the process of learning how to negotiate an unfamiliar public environment, having at the same time to contain the effects of the illness and the feelings of insecurity and self-doubt that come from previous experiences.”




“The risk is not only that of falling down on the job – a reasonable fear which itself may be a sufficient deterrent – but also that of becoming visible to other, often unknown, people in a public space in which one might be judged. In this case, such judgements may be viewed not only as reflective of minor weaknesses or annoying personality traits, but rather as a wholesale rejection of one’s person. On the other hand, having one’s personhood affirmed through success on the job might also be de-stabilizing to someone who had become accustomed to feeling invisible, to having few social demands placed upon him or her.”

Kinn, Liv Grethe et al. “Balancing On Skates On The Icy Surface Of Work”: A Metasynthesis Of Work Participation For Persons With Psychiatric Disabilities. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 24.1 (2013): 125-138. Web. Accessed



© Brian Snyder, Reuters 2013

I don’t think I will miss school in particular. Maybe having familiar faces, being in a positive and safe environment, and the routine mixed up with some freedom. But not the lessons, not sitting still for hours at a time, and not the endless stream of submissions.

I’ve decided to take a break after graduating, but worries about work and money and being independent have recently started to surface hard and fast as school comes to an end.


I think beyond these ‘superficial’ insecurities and mundane worries are bigger questions, though, such as:

  • Does being unable to hold down full-time employment mean I’ve wasted my education?
  • Will I find a purpose for my life?
  • Does this indicate a failure on my part to support myself?
  • Am I giving up my autonomy, worth and dignity?


In truth, lots of people take long breaks to travel the world or chose to reinvent themselves, focus on voluntary work, set up a family, care for children after they graduate. But even then, the anxiety of being unable to procure employment can be very real for even the most accomplished of us.


What more, then, someone struggling with poor mental health.


You worry that you’ll forever be this way, unable to reliably turn up for work cause you had an episode last night, or trying to control emotional outbursts that may be triggered by too much stress flooding in at once. In truth, every adult may face similar challenges sometime along their traipse through working life.


Explorative art piece: Rain tree

But just knowing that you may not be anywhere near as resilient as someone else as the responsibilities gradually weigh you down, can be terrifying. It feels like going into battle without any shoes on, much less a sword.


For now, I hope I’d be able to take the time to build up my emotional capacity and strength, one day at a time. I want to face the world with shoes laced tight onto both feet, right side up.



Some Vocation-Related Support Resources:

  • Club HEAL (
  • SAMH YouthReach (
  • SAMH Club 3R (
  • SAMH MINDSET Learning Hub (
  • SACS Project H.I.R.E (
  • Life Builders and Landscapes (
  • Onesimus Ministry (
  • Peer Support Specialist (


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