Linda is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, which is a mental health diagnosis that means a person may have unusual shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels.
Linda attempted to manage her bipolar disorder throughout her young adulthood and found herself hospitalized several times. With support from local service providers like the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and the Department of Mental Health, Linda was able to set some goals for herself and to make strides toward a working career. This began with developing a resume and getting involved with volunteer work. These steps eventually led her to her current role working as a paid advocate at an independent living center.
Linda believes that this job is a good fit for her because she is able to work with people who may be going through similar challenges as her own. Through her own lived experience, she can offer empathy in assisting others in problem solving and achieving personal milestones. Using both individual and systems advocacy skills she helps others obtain necessary services.
Linda requires very few accommodations on the job and says that her employer is flexible with her work needs. She is able to take breaks as needed, vary her productivity from time to time. As a result of this flexibility, she is able to work as many hours as needed to do her job. Noise-cancelling headphones her employer provided sometimes help her concentrate in the busy environment.
She has found advocacy work very rewarding in being a part of promoting individuals asserting their rights and maximizing opportunities.
What do you think it takes to make others feel empowered?
“I think realizing it’s not a straight uphill slope. There are going to be bad days and things might not turn out the way you want them to every day but don’t let that get the better of you. Don’t give up – keep hoping.”
What advice would you give to employers considering hiring a person with a disability for the first time?
“Focus on what a person has to offer and not on their limitations. For example is a person is better at relating to people than someone else focus on that – if they have writing skills or organizational skills to really focus on that. They might even have better organizational skills because they could be obsessive compulsive – that might be a disability on one end but an asset on another! “