While this may be a touchy subject for some please keep it open minded and understanding.
I am curious to hear other people's experiences or stories about kitchen workers at any level (head chef, line cook, dishwasher whatever) who suffer from physical or mental disorders, whether it be yourself or a coworker. I am someone who suffers from terrible anxiety and have a speech disorder and while I just get up and go to work everyday (now at a line cook level previously at a sous level) without thinking about it I don't ever sit back and reflect.
I never give myself any credit and when I think about it it's amazing how much I have to do just to get up go to work. My anxiety is terrible by average standards but I have made huge strides from a few years ago in high school where I couldn't even function. I can't compare my anxiety to an "average" but it's very tough just to stop worrying about work non-stop for me. My speech disorder is so embarrassing that I only vocalize when I need to, not to mention that being so quiet people often wonder what the hell is the matter with me and think I'm just unfriendly or cross. This has been tough especially at new places because even when I perform very well like I currently am at my new job even my boss is thinking I'm weird because how little I talk but still tells me what a good job I'm doing. I don't tell anyone because I can fake it enough to get through the day but it still hurts when people think I'm an @sshole for not initiating conversations or keep one up, or when I act like I don't want to socialize and have fun with everyone at work when in actuality I do but am too embarrassed. When I say something that comes out wrong and people laugh because they don't know I have a lot of trouble speaking it really eats me alive and just reinforces the insecurities. FOH can be the worst about this at times.
I am bringing up the subject because I used to work with a deaf line cook who I ran into at the supermarket. I asked him how he was doing since the restaurant we used to work at was sold. He wrote on his pad and pen that he hasn't been able to get another cooking job (over a year) since our place closed, and he was very talented cook. No attitude problems, no alcohol or drug issues, just got up and did his work everyday and did it well. I feel bad for him because I can only guess his lack of being able to find a cooking job for over a year is an employers reluctance to hire someone who is deaf, for practical reasons (safety?) or just inability to want to work with someone who is deaf. At times I feel like I want out of kitchens because of my anxiety and speech disorder but when I see someone like him I can't say I have it as bad because at least you can't see my struggles in an interview. At times I feel like I to quit but at the end of the day my passion for wanting to get better and learn as a chef motivates my drive more than any obstacle that's in my way.
Would love to hear others experience about physical or mental disorders in the professional kitchen.