Teresa Jackson’s Story
I was first diagnosed with my chronic illness in 2004. I was only 28 years old. Initially, my condition only affected my eyes. However, it progressed rapidly over the next few years and began to impact other organs. Eventually, I lost sight in my right eye and started using oxygen. I was declared disabled in 2010.
Losing my vision changed the way I lived. I felt I lost my independence. I had to adjust from being able to drive myself around to relying on other people taking me places I needed to go. My journey became even more challenging in 2014. I left my marriage and moved to a new city. That was a scary time for me. I was in a new city, no longer driving, unemployed and living on disability income, and now a single parent.
During the first two years after my move, I worked on my personal challenges. I also used that time to research available resources and services for people with disabilities and found new doctors to help treat and manage my illness. This is how I found My Employment Options when researching the Ticket To Work Program.
I started working Feb. 2016. I hadn’t worked in over 6 years. The transition was a little frightening, and it took some time for me to adjust. I was afraid of losing my benefits and concerned about becoming sick again. My Employment Options was very helpful through this transition. My counselor, Desiree, has been so delightful to work with. She is always readily available, and she truly listened to my concerns and encouraged me to keep going when I felt like giving up. She also provided great tips and information. Teresa was also helpful in answering my benefit questions.
Their help and encouragement pushed me to become self-sufficient. I was able to go back to school and complete my degree and still maintain full-time employment. Desiree educated me about asking for reasonable accommodations which helped make my job much easier. I’m grateful for My Employment Options and the services and incentives they are providing.
Although this process has not been easy, I have gained so much from this experience. It has taught me to persevere no matter what situation I face, and it has helped me to overcome some of my fears. I have learned to speak up for myself and ask for the things I need. Most of all, I’ve become even more independent than I ever was before. Utilizing the services and resources that are available in my local community and provided through this network, has greatly contributed to me living a meaningful and full life.