Thinking about a career during the pandemic and the sound of flash grenades

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
It seems crazy, like I am just beating my head into a wall, but I'd be grateful to have some input.

Let me start by saying I haven't been around for a while but realize that I need some support. I moved to Portland, Oregon about a year ago which was about a year and a half after finishing a master's degree from home. My bachelor's is in cultural studies with a concentration in communications and my master's is an interdisciplinary studies degree with concentrations in writing and management information systems. I also have a graduate certificate (which is also half of a second master's) in English and a certificate in grant writing. I had ideas for work when I was in school but things kept changing. For one, I went from my therapist saying I couldn't work around other people to telling me to fly free - go off to Portland and find a job.

So I did. I work for Goodwill Industries posting online auction listings or I did before covid-19 and I remain subject to recall. I contacted my boss and asked him to move me to the bottom of the recall list if possible, however, because I spend 2.5 hours on public transportation to get to and from my job and having a cleft palate (and lip), I catch airborne viruses easily. I have been laid off for 2.5 months. I can't work just anywhere because of my PTSD.

The day after I got laid off, I signed up for a TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign language) certification course and worked quickly to finish it and get my certificate. Then I started applying to online English teaching jobs. What I have found, however, is that just to make an introductory video, I need a benzo. I was sent an invitation to tutor with Cambly which is a low pay conversational English side gig situation, but I am starting to think I really won't be able to have that camera parked in the middle of my cleft affected face without a benzo or two a day. Too bad benzos make me depressed.

In the meantime, I came to Portland really hoping to move closer to grant writing which is a career that takes some time and strategy to get into if one doesn't simply fall into it. I volunteered as a grant writer for one year before finding out that my hips were essentially in need of replacement but that I was too young to have them replaced... I quit volunteering because all I could manage was work at that point as my pain level got ridiculous.

After two days of benzos to make my intro videos to look for English instructor work, I woke up this morning in a deep funk which I am no longer really accustomed to. I've been plenty anxious but depression hasn't been a major thing for quite a while.

Portland is 10 days into protests and I live downtown - I've seen and heard a lot in the last few days. Our building was vandalized and related or maybe not, someone tried tearing my screen off my window while I was in my apartment, apparently on his way in. The sound of flash grenades has been horribly regular but luckily no gunfire that I am aware of.

I feel like the smart thing to do is hold off on making any assessments of my abilities or next steps but I also get pretty agitated without goals, direction and hope. I think the TEFL situation may have just been a hasty decision that kept my brain occupied for a good portion of my layoff. I know it won't get me closer to grant writing and I don't think it would be good for my mental health to work from home, anyway. I feel like I can work in a team in an office as long as I don't have to be the face of the organization or talk a lot but my commute is no longer acceptable. I don't know what to do.

My husband and I live in a micro studio apartment - it's 238 square feet, no kidding. He was teaching school from here but the school year is now over. We do pretty well together or else both of us would have turned to drugs by now, but I have admittedly become a little intense even for him, today. That's why I am here, wondering if anyone has any feedback for me.

I am back to considering some sort of financial certificate from a college that would help me understand nonprofit budgeting and help me get a halfway reasonable salary to draw from when I go back to being a grant writing volunteer. I am obviously a word person and math isn't something I always love but I can do it. I am just trying to figure out something reasonable to consider as a next step that I can do with serious social anxiety that actually represents a reasonable number of jobs - in other words, not a writing career. I can spend a little more time in school. What I don't want to do is spend another winter with multiple hip injuries and arthritis hobbling around the transit center waiting on my bus so I go make incredibly low wages and pop so many pain pills that I cannot do my crappy job well - those were the highlights of last winter. I want to believe there is something better out there for me.

Thanks in advance.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
I feel like the smart thing to do is hold off on making any assessments of my abilities or next steps but I also get pretty agitated without goals, direction and hope.
I think it’s a difficult time to make big decisions, definitely. But, it can be a good time to examine options.
I am just trying to figure out something reasonable to consider as a next step that I can do with serious social anxiety that actually represents a reasonable number of jobs
Sounds to me like you already have some ideas about options for this...I’d encourage you to make a rough plan for how you could spend the next 10-12 days mapping out different avenues you could pursue. The challenge will be to stay focused on that project and not let your mind drift into worrying whether any of it is possible.

But putting some energy into mapping out the avenues could be helpful. It would start with sketching out the info you need. Let’s say you’re considering going back to school for something to support being a grantwriter. So - how much school, what jobs might you go for, avg annual salary, what the work environment would be like...

Sometimes, a way to come up with other ideas is to look at the employment listings in your area. (That’s how one of my family members decided to pursue being an occupational therapist...they had no idea what that job even was, before they read that it was a desirable hire)

Is any of this helpful?
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I think it’s a difficult time to make big decisions, definitely. But, it can be a good time to examine options.
Sounds to me like you already have some ideas about options for this...I’d encourage you to make a rough plan for how you could spend the next 10-12 days mapping out different avenues you could pursue. The challenge will be to stay focused on that project and not let your mind drift into worrying whether any of it is possible.

But putting some energy into mapping out the avenues could be helpful. It would start with sketching out the info you need. Let’s say you’re considering going back to school for something to support being a grantwriter. So - how much school, what jobs might you go for, avg annual salary, what the work environment would be like...

Sometimes, a way to come up with other ideas is to look at the employment listings in your area. (That’s how one of my family members decided to pursue being an occupational therapist...they had no idea what that job even was, before they read that it was a desirable hire)

Is any of this helpful?

Thanks. Yes it is helpful. I am not following your advice precisely as I am on new meds and am not yet able to do anything precisely.

On the upside, there really don't seem to be a tremendous number of options for a person to deliberately pursue a grant writing career, so I can't go mad researching the possibilities. Also, I have all the education I need and about a third of the experience, so I am headed in the right direction. I can't imagine wanting to really pursue any other career, though I have tried. Looking at jobs that might get me there has almost lost all appeal when I consider that if I just went back to volunteering, I would have the option of gaining only grant writing experience from that. Though, I am still looking at it.

My husband and I have been in discussions over the last week or so and it looks like I have the option of working less so that I can pursue this goal. That is huge. It did feel impossible to try and manage a full time job with a 2.5 hour daily commute and volunteering as a grant writer while also going to physical therapy 2-3 times per week and trying to mange chronic pain and PTSD. If I can work less, I can volunteer more, feel like I am making some headway and maybe feel less like I'm out of my mind.

The nice thing is that I actually do feel like grant writing is a possibility for me - it's just going to take more time but probably less time than I have already put into it.

Thanks again. I am going to continue looking at the options. Your framework already helped me put it into better perspective.
 
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