I am a female in my 40s who has not worked for 9 years due to severe personal trauma and health issues (PTSD, depression, back/spine injury, sciatic pain & fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue). I am in various degrees of pain every day and because I must alternate sitting and standing (I cannot sit for more than 1-1.5 hours at a time nor stand for more than about 3 hours at a time, nor bend or squat without pain) I was almost always declined jobs I applied for in the past, & the few (unskilled) jobs I did get didn't last long due to increased and debilitating pain.
Also I am not that confident engaging with groups of people and the prospect of being in the workforce again is very daunting. But I must try again after a long hiatus as I cannot spend the rest of my life doing nothing.
My work experience is all in hospitality and with animals. No university degree/higher education. My last boss now has dementia so references are not an option, & given the length of time as well.
I did volunteer at several animal organisations in the last few years but had to leave all of them within a few weeks or a month each time because of my back pain. So I don't want to mention these places to a future employer because of course if they knew the reason for leaving why would they give me a chance?
Regarding study, I find it extremely difficult to focus and finish anything. I have attempted several college courses, I either didn't finish or couldn't get a job upon graduation. I have also tried counselling in the past which did not help.
I want to start volunteering again (in disability care) in view to hopefully get a paid job eventually but I honestly cannot think of what I can say to the typical interview questions such as What are your strengths? What can you bring to this organisation etc.
I hope I'm not doomed spending the rest of my life like this. I so badly want to be a normal functioning individual but everything I try I seem to fail at. I don't feel I would fit in as a Client in Disability Care as the clients there aren't like me- they look disabled and I look normal. I don't judge disabled people as I feel I am too in some ways just not in an obvious way. Instead I'd like to see if I can help them... or perhaps I too am not functional enough to do even that? I do have an empathy for those who cant help themselves & have a disabled relative.
I feel if I was allowed to ease into volunteer work very gradually (& sit/stand as needed) I may just do ok with it. But it seems to even volunteer you need to answer all the interview questions like when applying for a paid job. I am certain I will not succeed at an interview if asked the standard questions.
Please advise me on what I should say, I do believe honesty is the best policy but am worried Disability Organisations will not consider me as a volunteer or a staff member, but perhaps only as a potential client instead! I am against the idea of becoming a Client as I need to focus on being functional for a change, not focus on being dysfunctional! Also I am on a Disability Support pension myself, another thing I would rather not tell them until if and when I am offered a paid job. If that happened I would happily go off government benefits to work again.
Any Employers reading this, particularly in Disability Care what do you think - would you take me on, even as a volunteer, if I told you all this?