When I came to Wisconsin I was a professional librarian paid by the State of Wisconsin. However, at the end of my probation, I was not retained. The same thing happened years later when I was a librarian for the city of Milwaukee. I got married, saved money and started feeling secure. Before I knew it, that job was gone, too. And eventually so was the marriage. I entered and left a few other professions before peer support found me. Unfortunately I was very different from many peer supp0rt specialists.
I was never considered disabled, had not been forcibly medicated and lacked history with the county mental health system. All I knew was that I had lost myself and various relationships because of the way that I acted. And I needed to change. Change is often more gradual than any of us could ever imagine. As in more than 7 years after entering this field, I now have a job that offers the kind of pay and benefits that I need. Gradual as in feeling accepted and valued because of my quirks. Gradual as in being listened to and acknowledged and encouraged.
Certified peer support is not Nirvana, however. Not all of the jobs being offered are full time. We have to look closely at the requirements for these positions. A friend called Alternatives in Psychological Consultation and found the job was not to her liking. The agency was very unclear on what it wanted, the pay that it would offer and the duties that would be required. Does that sound like an employer you could trust?
In my interview I found that I was being offered everything that I requested in terms of benefits and pay. Afterwards, I almost wished that I had requested an even higher pay rate. Luckily, I decided that once I proved myself, the money would be no object. But I still have not addressed the idea of being working class. The program Mike and Molly focuses on a couple who are not the type of people you normally see on television, because they are large not slender. And they are working class: she is a school teacher and he is a policeman. They’re public employees, probably belong to unions and have livable wages and benefits. It’s solidly working class.
It’s the lifestyle to which I aspired. All those years I sat in radical political meetings, that’s what I wanted. My belief is that we would be better served by having mental health c9nsumers return to the working class. I wonder how many others share that vision.