We recommend starting with a job with a low number of hours. It may not be your end-goal dream job, but it gets you back into the workforce. Even part-time work will start building skills and habits, build your resume, and bring in some income.
Even if it’s not wildly inspiring, starting with a low-hours, low-stress job will allow you to see how you’ll manage your work life. Consider it a trial run.
If successful, you may be able to get more hours at your trial job, or it may be time to find a new or second one. Take it slow. Don’t stay somewhere that doesn’t treat you well, however.
Tips for Working with a Trauma Disorder
- Be kind to yourself. Recognize that you’re dealing with something challenging. Taking things slow is okay. Take breaks when needed and focus on self-care.
- Focus on figuring out your triggers and how they may affect your ability to work. This will help to avoid situations that might make things worse and help to manage your symptoms better.
- Find support from people you trust, like therapists or support groups, and let them know what you’re going through. Don’t cut off your support system when you’re struggling. Consider talking to your boss or HR department about your disorder – it’s challenging but can help in the long run.
- Be open to accommodations that can help to make work more manageable. It can be easy to shrug off accommodations when offered. Try not to do that and consider them when offered to you; they might help. Your employer might be able to help you with a modified schedule or other adjustments that could help you do your job better and maintain your mental health. Be sure you’ll be able to get time to attend therapy – now is not the time to stop it.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Advocate for what you need, set boundaries with your coworkers and boss, and stand up for yourself in negotiations. This isn’t easy, but it’s important.
Remember that dealing with a trauma disorder is a lifelong process. Take your time and be kind to yourself. Prioritize your mental health through your job search, process, and beyond.
Look into Flexible Jobs
There are many types of flexible jobs available. Additionally, some jobs not advertised as flexible might have options for flexible scheduling if you ask for accommodations for your disability. Here are a few types of flexible employment and how they could be accommodating.
Remote jobs can be done from any location using a computer and internet connection. Work can be done from home. Remote jobs can be accommodating in many ways, from allowing control of your environment to the comforts of not having to interact face-to-face with coworkers. The commute is pretty short as well.
Remote jobs will allow you to minimize triggers and reduce the stress associated with being in a crowded workspace. You can take breaks and lunches in the comfort of your own home. Any physical symptoms that might accompany your disorder can also be managed from your home.
Hybrid jobs involve working part-time from home and part-time from the office. These give the benefits of remote work and the social outlet of the office environment. This can be a good solution for those who struggle with isolating themselves but may get overwhelmed and burnt out if they’re working on location 100% of the time.
Freelancers are self-employed. They offer a specific service to clients on a project-by-project basis. They are free to choose their clients, rates, and work hours. Freelancers can be many things, i.e., artists, writers, web designers, app developers, accountants, interior designers, etc. Freelancing can be a good choice for people with trauma disorders because you can choose projects and clients that align with your comfort levels. You can set boundaries and manage your workload to avoid overwhelming situations.
Part-time jobs involve working fewer hours than a traditional full-time position. This provides flexibility for people who want to balance work with other things. Part-time jobs can benefit people with trauma disorders, especially if they’re just returning to the workforce.
Flextime jobs allow employees to control their hours within certain pre-agreed-upon limits. They can adjust their hours to fit specific needs (i.e., childcare, appointments, or other obligations). Flextime jobs can be helpful to those with trauma disorders because they allow working around your schedule.
Gig Economy Jobs
Gig economy jobs are short-term, on-demand work arrangements. They often involve working with platforms or apps that connect people with temporary or part-time work opportunities, such as driving for rideshare services or delivering food. Gig economy jobs can help those with trauma disorders by providing a flexible income source. You can work at your own pace and select gigs that align with your energy levels and capabilities, working the hours you want.
Job sharing involves two or more individuals sharing the responsibilities of a single full-time position. Each person works part-time, allowing for greater flexibility and work-life balance. Job sharing allows those with trauma disorders to have reduced hours while still employed. They can also have a collaborator to lean on who can provide support when needed.
Seasonal or Temporary Jobs
Seasonal or temporary jobs are only available for a specific period (i.e., summer or holiday). They allow people with trauma disorders to work for a limited period without long-term commitments. You can choose a less stressful job that fits within your coping abilities without wondering if you’ll be able to maintain it forever.
Flexible Schedule Jobs
Some employers will offer flexibility in work schedules. They’ll allow employees to choose their start and end times within a designated range. This can help employees manage personal commitments while fulfilling responsibilities. Flexible schedule jobs can help people with trauma disorders adjust work hours around therapy sessions or other self-care. Additionally, if anything is triggering, it’s easier to step away, come back, and adjust the scheduled hours for the day without it being an issue.
Independent contractors are self-employed. They work on a contractual basis for various clients. They have greater control over their work arrangements, setting their rates, selecting projects, and determining their work hours. Independent contracting can be helpful to those with trauma disorders because it allows them to choose projects that align with their current needs. They can negotiate deadlines and work arrangements to accommodate their well-being.
As an employee with a disability or disorder, you can request many accommodations from an employer to help you perform your job to the fullest. We recommend you look into accommodations beyond what is listed here and reflect on what you do in your own time to ground and help yourself. Those things can be your accommodations. Do you find that the smell of citrus helps you to stay focused and keeps you from spiraling into a triggered headspace? Ask if you can keep an orange-scented candle on your desk at work. Accommodations can be catered to you; they won’t always be the cookie-cutter ones that are the ‘classics’.
Be prepared for your employer to request documentation for accommodations. If you are not professionally diagnosed with a condition you request accommodations for, they are legally allowed to deny your request. That being said, some employers won’t request documentation.
Modification of Tasks
These types of accommodation can include many things, including, but not limited to…
- Moving a particular task to a backroom so you’re no longer doing a job surrounded by as many people or by the public.
- Adjusting deadlines.
- Providing additional resources or support. This could include adding visual aids, captions, etc.
Access/Allowance of Fidgets
You can request to be allowed access to fidgets while working.
Modified Break Schedules
You may be able to request additional or extended breaks to decompress in a quiet place.
Emotional Support Animals
Some workplaces may allow the presence of emotional support animals.
Mentra: A website designed to support neurodivergent people in the process of getting jobs.