A Long Hard Winter for Laid-Off Workers

As I hunt for job offers in a world that divides into the "haves" and "have nots," I'm reminded suddenly that an adult with ADHD will almost always be on the outside.
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D. | Sunday January 25th - 2:36am
Filed Under: Self Esteem, ADHD and Anxiety, ADHD Career Paths

The days of unemployment blend into each other, and I am fast discovering that finding piecemeal jobs is driving me even crazier. A babysitting job here and there, and teaching swimming for $12 an hour.

Oh, there is work to be done, even in this economic downtown, but where do adults with attention deficit disorder (ADHD/ADD) fit in? For me, the work never ends, and the worry has become part of every second of thought. I'm struggling to juggle the job search, the house search, and the search for self.

The word nomadic comes to mind. A nomadic existence. Today I walked into the cold, around the city, weaving through subways and sidewalks, and holding on to two bags, gloves, a hat, a scarf, and layers of clothing.

The jumble of stuff is indicative of this stage of my life. It's a mess. I network with former colleagues and friends, and the conversation is like deja vu. “Hi, do you remember me? Yes, I'm looking into a new career direction [vocabulary for being laid off].... Yes, I am keeping an open mind about different jobs.” This translates into, "I'll take anything."

It is hard not to look desperate or not be angry. I see people who work less hard who are still gainfully employed. Suddenly the world divides into the "haves" and "have nots." If anything, I feel like I have been told I am terminally ill and have a year to live. It is so unfair. It is twice as hard to find a job when you don't have one, and four times as hard with ADD.

"If you keep reminding yourself that you have this condition, then you might as well be an invalid and sit at home," the father lectured me the other day.

"Why don't I," I snapped back. "I feel like I am worth nothing." The statement, smothered in self-pity and low self-esteem, is also indicative of ADD. How many times have my fellow ADD friends and I crucified ourselves for being late, for not making deadlines, for handing in half-baked work?

I did a freelance project this week and dragged myself into the offices of this hole-in-the-wall start up company. There is something refreshing about going into an office, but as I sat in the conference room and listened to the staff's daily meetings, I was reminded that I am an outsider. I am a freelancer. I don't belong.

Maybe it is the weather that is causing the blues, the cruel wind, the 5-degree temperatures, or the news, with its headlines of more layoffs and more bankruptcy.

Perhaps the ultimate blow was receiving an email today from an editor who I was supposed to meet on Friday, who tells me the job interview is now canceled because she was laid off. I laughed when I saw the email, because it was so bad that it couldn't be real, but it was. I emailed the woman back and told her I was sorry, but that a closed door leads to an open one. It is a lie that I really want to believe.

In the meantime, I called a bunch of homes in NYC for women only—not halfway homes, but residents for students, single mothers, and starving writers. I was told that I needed to be fully employed or a full-time student. "So does consultant or freelance count?" I asked. "No, it doesn't," the woman on the phone said.

I hung up, unable to handle more rejection. Maybe I just don't have thick skin. Maybe I should be more like one of those actors who get rejected all the time. But tonight I had had enough, and was starved for light.

 

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