I’m Doing It: Towards the Final Week

And now: for Too Much Information Time. If you do not want Too Much Information Time, please stop reading this post. As I’ve said before, there are a plenty of good and viable articles and writings of mine that you can read instead. But if you do go on, know that these are challenges that I am dealing with and, at the very least, there is some positive problem-solving involved. That said, reader’s discretion — as always — is advised. 

I’ve never really been good with time. Not too long ago, I said that it’s an inescapable fact that projects are monsters that can get away from you but really, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves here, it’s time that’s the greatest monster of them all.

Usually, I’ve been able to update my Blog on Mondays and be able to focus on other things throughout the week. But last week, and a good portion of this one have been … something else I have to say. It’s true that I haven’t really kept you up to date about my fourth and, now practically, the fifth weeks of my time in LDEEP: an Ontario government-sponsored program that helps people with learning disabilities find meaningful employment.

One reason I’d been stuck on saying anything is because I reached a … curve, as it were. A lot of the syllabus that we follow is generic government-mandated material: mainly filling out questionnaires to determine our technical and intellectual skills, resume building, possible interview scenarios, and even cold-calling. We also had sessions on computers to look for jobs.

In the beginning, I could understand the questionnaires: as it would help the workers know us a bit more and eventually aid them in getting us the right placements. But after a while, I started feel a bit … restless. It probably doesn’t help that before I get a ride to the centre, I have to use the washroom three or four times before getting paranoid about being stuck in traffic for far too long. Irritable bowel is manageable when you are not facing a lot of stress. I don’t dare eat anything before I leave for that similar reason: even though it doesn’t seem to make much difference and, in fact, it might actually improve my condition.

I don’t mention this a lot, but especially before I even came to LDEEP I developed this feeling that anything outside my immediate vicinity is ultimately unsafe and I have to be on guard all the time. I can’t relax. I need to know where the facilities are and I need to have the freedom to move around and have access to them. If you have seen Toronto, this is easier said than done in a commuter city where public restrooms are few and far between.

It was … bad the first two weeks of the program as my body was adjusting to waking up earlier again and figuring out what the hell was going on. Actually, it feels like hell: a hell of discomfort and anger I have to work through and I am relieved to get around when I finally get to the centre thanks to my dad. But in the beginning I was all right because I insisted on doing work when I got there, despite some of my experiences before that, and I left — with the work there — and with a sense of accomplishment. I did what I needed to do despite my body and the panic attacks. I put them in their place.

By the end of the three week of the program and through the middle of the fifth, I started to have other doubts. One key issue, when you are dealing with learning disabled or gifted students, is that you can never make an educational program that is one size fits all. It’s just not possible. It’s even less possible when you have a results-driven mandate that you need to keep up in order to keep going.

I’m not going to lie. There have been a lot of interesting elements of the program that I’ve filed away out of curiosity’s sake, but I’ve felt that a lot of it just doesn’t apply to me. The fact is, I know what I want. I am a writer. I knew I would need to do some tasks for LDEEP, but I thought that we could take what I was good at, focus on what I was missing or what needed improvement, and have some more one-on-one sessions to get me there: complete with more networking to make employment for me possible.

I’ve said before that I also had to get used to interacting with a group again, and that hasn’t been so bad. I’ve made some really nice connections and the people there — including the workers — are good people just trying to find their way and help each other out. Some of us have gone through a lot. When you get beaten down so many times, you can begin to internalize it. But everyone in my program wants to get past that and get the employment they deserve.

But there have been times, particularly when left to our own devices on assignments I didn’t really understand or felt applied to me that I got frustrated. I will admit that there were a few times I was even tempted to leave.

I’m used to having things a certain way. I’m used to being able to eat breakfast at home and deal with my functions before interacting with people. Especially due to my past as a Master’s student, I’ve gotten used to being independent, leaving at my own pace, and learning the things that interest me. And I am a published writer. I have not forgotten any of this. Sometimes I’ve honestly felt like in pursuing this, I’d taken one step forward and three steps back in terms of my own independence: getting a ride to the centre, needing to get a lunch before hand instead of finding something on the way, and even dealing with different kinds of people and situations.

It also doesn’t help when I have to fight a burning feeling in my gut and not feeling safe until I’m out of traffic and near facilities — kind of like how you’d feel if you were playing a video game and Save Points were few and far between on your journey — just to do something that I don’t always feel applies to me, or get left doing something that Ontario Works had me do without much in the way of success.

I know what I want and what I need. And I did ask myself: “Why am I here? Why am I putting myself through all of this? What am I hoping to achieve?”

On Wednesday, the leader of our program called me into his office. Somehow, I knew he would, and not for any terrible reason.  We get along very well and I enjoy talking with him. But he does get busy. LDEEP itself is very busy and he and the other workers attempt to help as many of us as they can.

We had a long talk that can be summarized like this: he has to find me a job and it has been difficult. But I threw out a few ideas and he is going to help me out with them. One of them is a business plan: which will have roots with some of the things I’d been attempting to do for the past three years. It also helps now that, because of LDEEP, I know what my potential net worth — my salary — actually should be. I’m going to be consulting and editing someone else’s work and using the above, along with some of the program leader’s input, as potential templates.

There is also something else I could do in addition to this that might get some pressure off my back and advance my connections and knowledge further. I know that I am going to have to do some hard work no matter what I choose, but at the very least I can choose what work that will be.

And that’s what it is about for me. Personal agency. The fact is — another fact is — I’ve realized how far I have come. LDEEP’s nine to three schedule makes me keep daylight hours and I actually feel a lot better than I have in years aside from the morning departures. My headaches are more manageable when they happen and I actually go to sleep at midnight now.

It has also gotten to the point where, when I come in to the centre, I socialize and work with my peers and this, along with some directed activities, actually makes me feel better as I can focus on a task at hand: or, really, enjoy a conversation. We are all different in this program, and there is a lot we’ve learned about each other.

I also know what I am going to do now. I’ve realized that I can go to the workers and tell them about my concerns: that I don’t have to do all of this on my own. They are there to help us and I need to remember to do that. I might need some time in the morning and that shouldn’t be an issue. I might need clarification about a task.

And, even better, they might have some suggestions for me. Next week will be our final session. We will have assignments to do, but I have my own assignment now that I can begin to focus on starting Monday. I also feel a growing sense of relief. After next week, I can finally pace my own time again. I will still be going to the centre and interacting with the workers and my peers, but I won’t have to be there as stringently as before. I know my stressors and I can pace myself accordingly.

And look at how far I’ve gotten from where I was. On my Facebook today, I wrote something for my status. I said that I’m starting to feel like my life has just begun.

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So, if you have read this far, here is your reward. As you’ve seen from the article image, I got my copy of Doctors in Hell: an appropriate title when all things are considered. So here is an excerpt below, just for you. I just got the hard copy today.

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Perhaps, when you get right down to it, it’s not so much that I’m trying to get my life back. Rather, I’m beginning to realize that I have the potential to make a whole new life entirely. And that, my friends, is a very important feeling. I think I will leave you with that for now. Until next time soon.

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About matthewkirshenblatt

I am a writer and blogger living in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario in Canada. When I'm not writing for the Sequart Research & Literacy Organization and GeekPr0n, I tend to write science-fiction, epic fantasy, horror, literary and mythological revisionisms, and generally weird fiction stories though I have been known to make poetry, television and comic book scripts. Also, when left to my own devices I tend to write weird and strange hybrid creative opinion piece articles like those you will find on this Blog. I am also very interested in comics, video games, Star Wars, table-top role-playing games, Neil Gaiman's works, H.P. Lovecraft, vampires, zombies, and budgies.
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