This is hardly breaking news, but having fibromyalgia sucks. Indeed, along with other chronic illnesses, fibromyalgia is quite adept at throwing a monkey wrench into even the best laid plans. In my opinion, this is due to the unpredictability of the onset of symptoms and the negative psychological impact that that unpredictability promotes. If you have fibromyalgia, it may seem downright hard to plan for the moment, much less the next day! So, what does that mean for those of us who are working or looking for work?
What I’ve come to understand through personal experience is that the people surrounding me can fall into one of six categories: 1) the knowledgeable and supportive, 2) the knowledgeable and enabling, 3) the knowledgeable and uncaring, 4) the ignorant and dismayed, 5), the ignorant and dismissive, 6) the ignorant and plaintive. Sometimes people may bounce between categories.
What does any of this have to do with work, much less the title of this post? Simple: if you have fibromyalgia and are still working or looking for work, you must be prepared to encounter these people. You must understand how what you do or don’t do will be viewed by others.
I know, for a fact, that there are some people who see me using my illness to gain unfair advantage (ignorant/plaintive), or see me as being lazy when I am in the full swing of flare-up (ignorant/dismissive). That’s my reality. Still, there are other people who see my illness as their opportunity to be my personal saviour (knowledgeable/enabling), or see my illness as a moment to share their personal grievances (knowledgeable/uncaring). Of course, there are those precious few who take the time to learn about the illness and ask how the can be of help (knowledgeable/supportive), or are willing to ask me about my illness and feel tremendously sorry for my situation (ignorant/dismayed)–not that I require a pity party.
Hopefully, your workplace environment or potential employer is/will be filled with the latter two. I’m crossing my fingers for you and me.
Since the onset of my illness, I have done my best to understand how to continue achieving my goals, being a productive member of society, and improving my overall well-being. It’s no simple task, I assure you, However, I am the passionate, persistent, patient, and people-person type, so I believe in achieving the perceived impossible.
As I look for work, putting out my positive, law of attraction, vibes into the universe, I am holding strong to a new rule: understand my limitations, exceed my expectations.
I cannot pretend that I do not have fibromyalgia. I cannot lie to a potential employer and promise what I know to be literally impossible. What I can do is:
- Examine myself carefully,
- Celebrate the progress I’ve made,
- Write down my strengths which will be an asset to any company,
- Explore my weaknesses and look for jobs that diminish rather than promote them
- Express gratitude for where I am right now in my life, including what I do and don’t have.
- Create a Vision Board to “see” where I’m going (perhaps this should be first)
- Wish the best for others who do or don’t have my illness. Being jealous of the progress of others will not help you progress.
- Work quietly on improving skills that may come in handy.
- Welcome positive suggestions and support, even if it doesn’t seem like something that may be initially interesting to you, you never know…so remain open.
- Consolidate yourself (yes, it’s an odd choice of words, but the best for me, I assure you). Pull yourself together as best you can. It’s easy to feel fragmented when you have a chronic illness. Sometimes you may even see yourself as two people who are warring over the same body: the healthy you vs. the unhealthy you. It’s time to pull all your parts together to make a stronger whole.
Don’t dismiss your skills, hobbies, talents, whatever. They may have the potential to get you to take the next step on your journey to living successfully with fibromyalgia.
Until Next Time,
P.S. I’ll keep you updated on the job search. Wish me luck 😉