Today I’m going to be talking about work and the Importance of Work when you have Fibromyalgia. Let’s be clear I’m talking about work you can actually do. If you used to do a demanding physical job before your Fibro diagnosis the likelihood is that, if not initially, as the condition progresses you will not be able to sustain this. But there is a good chance if you consider all of your skills there are other things you could do.

Who is likely to get Fibromyalgia

Whenever I join a new Facebook Group or Online Community I am often struck by the number of people who, like me, were highly productive people before Fibro entered their lives. I certainly don’t have any official statistics for you but reading so many people’s stories it seems that Fibromyalgia is not a condition that inflicts the lazy or unambitious but rather seeks out life’s overachievers. Of course, I would love to hear from anyone who can contradict me. Is there anyone out there with Fibro who before the condition rose its ugly head “Just went to work for the money” I’d be happy to be proved wrong. As an overachiever work is naturally important.

What do I count as work

This week I have been on Annual Leave from my day job. Have I still been working though? Absolutely. This blog is very much my baby at the moment so I have used some of my time to install a new theme, play around with the layout and generally give it a bit of love.

I recently talked about why I enjoyed playing Taonga and the sense of achievement it gave me to complete new levels. Well, this week I have been playing it like a Military operation, I have written list of what needs doing when and I have set timers to remember to do actions when I can.

I have begun the epic task of categorising all my Craft Supplies and this is going to be a massive undertaking and it will require a lot of time and effort to complete the project.
I have been doing some crafting, partly to use up some of the part-used materials I had left after making Easter Cards. I really don’t like leaving half-used sheets of decoupage. Spare things like Sentiments go into a box so I can check the box first if I am using a paper kit that doesn’t contain sentiments.

You may not agree that all of these things are work. So let me define work to you in my terms:

Defining work to you in my terms:

  • Work gives you a sense of purpose
  • work allows you to have a sense of satisfaction when you have done it well
  • Work absorbs you enough to distract you from the pain
  • Work provides a community and brings you together with like-minded people
  • Work provides an opportunity for creativity to spark
  • Work encourages us to be the best version of ourselves.

What about Money?

Obviously, money is vital to modern life. In an ideal world, we will all receive money for doing our work but that is not always the case. At the moment I am in the lucky position of having a job that pays me and ticks most of the items on my list. But throughout my life, I have been in other situations.   Having a job that I get no pleasure out of whilst having a voluntary job that meets all my needs. Being a student ticking all the items on the list but having very little to live on. Being out of work and finding projects to satisfy me and stop me from losing all motivation in the long and challenging road back into employment.

Counting my Blessings

Once again I have to state that I am pretty lucky. I have work to do (both paid employment and my own work) that is within my abilities, Unless I am having a really bad flare up I am able to do the majority of things I would like to. Housework is my main failing as the physical nature of it requires more than I have to give and believe me I am not happy at all about this. Being a bit of a perfectionist I have to work hard to turn a blind eye to my failings.

Advice for those who doorway to work has been closed

What Next?

So what happens now if you have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or another Chronic Health Condition and you can no longer do your work. Perhaps it was too physically demanding or maybe the stress levels are unsustainable and you simply have to give up your work. Or the decision has been made for you and is now out of your hands.

Review your skill Set

We all have a much larger skill set than we are aware of. Quite often people find themselves in a position of defining themselves in terms of what they do for a living but it is very rare that this is all we are able to do. For readers in this country, we have the National Careers Service. Their skills health check is really useful for considering what skills you do have and encouraging you to look at things in a new way.

What if I feel too ill to work?

We are all different and our Fibromyalgia symptoms are all different. I quite agree there will be things that some of us can do whilst others can’t. I am certainly not here to judge anyone’s ability to contribute but to talk about making the most out of what we have been given. Learning to live with a Chronic Health Condition goes through several stages and there is a good chance that at some point on the journey you will question your abilities and maybe feel unable to work anymore. I certainly have and at times still, do on a bad day.

Cut the commute

I’ll be honest the hardest part of my working day is the commute to the office. This is only about 15 minutes each way which may seem nothing to someone without health complications but if I’m honest the journey each way is harder than the job at times. If you are similarly affected the best advice I can give you is to try and find some way to occupy yourself from home.

To conclude the Importance of Work when you have Fibromyalgia

I have come to the conclusion that when I am productive, occupied and focussed I am living life to the fullest and I am winning. I think it is fair to say that all of us are trying to retain as much of our former selves as we can and not letting chronic health grind us to a halt. Why should I let Fibromyalgia define me completely? If I stop and give in to it not only will the condition have won but also the pain will be far less bearable.

Have you ever been in pain then totally lost yourself watching a program on TV or reading a book until you can’t even feel the pain anymore until the program ends or you put the book down? That is what happens when you work and if the work is something that you love it is even more satisfying.

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