Not working in the time of COVID-19

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Hello. I’m sure many of us are not working right now. Many people have been put on furlough or forced to take unpaid leave or like me are getting paid to not work until the organisation can provide the infrastructure to work from home or the office reopens.

At first it was fine. Like I had plenty of things to do (still do tbh) and quite frankly wasn’t well enough to work anyway. But now Easter is over and everyone’s working and more and more people in my organisation are getting laptops to work from home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful to be able to spend the time on my blog, on reading more and on looking after my health.

But there is a sense of guilt. Despite circumstances being completely beyond my control. And the purpose in my life is not what it was last month.

I want to go home and see my family but when lockdown ends, the office will likely reopen and by which point I will be expected to be in the office infrastructure to work from home or not as I’m still in my probationary period.

There will be too much guilt and worry to book the annual leave to go home because by which point I may not have worked for nearly two months.

On what planet do I deserve annual leave?

I also don’t really need it, asides from the fact that home is the other end of the country. So for me to spend a reasonable amount of time at home and ideally limit the damage to my ME I could do with a good few days of annual leave when work requires being in the office.

I don’t know why I feel guilty because this is all out of my control and it is currently illegal to travel home. I can’t. Or I can but I’d be risking a fine and it’s morally wrong.

It’s not like I’ve wasted this time and I could have otherwise used this time to go home or do any of the things that may require annual leave in the future. So it’s all irrational and stupid.

But I think in todays society it is all very natural to have this guilt over not working. Because society would have us believe that our worth is our productivity and that that productivity is somewhat meaningless if it’s not related to a job. That’s not true.

Not in the slightest. We are all have worth regardless of our employment status.

Is anyone else having feelings of guilt?

Mental health in the workplace

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Maybe this isn’t the best time for this blog considering the majority of the world is either not working or working from home but I feel like the same points still stand. And if anything not working/working from home can bring up more anxiety, and I predict even more so when the time comes to go back into the office.

A workplace environment can bring up a lot of anxiety, and resulting depression. It may also lead to eating disorder tendencies coming back due to anxieties about eating in front of people, not having sufficient breaks or not being able to eat the same food.

I know my mental health is often associated around the workplace. Be it thinking no one likes me or thinking I’m not good enough. I’ve also found myself getting anxious over how often I get up from my desk in the office environment. Especially in the office I’m in right now, where my job does not require me to get up to go to the printer on a regular basis.

I find as a perfectionist, the pressure gives me a lot of anxiety. The pressure to be perfect. Which is hard when I have chronic illnesses that make being perfect impossible.

If you find your job is negatively impacting your mental health remember it’s okay. Especially if transitioning to a new role. Take time for self care, take time for hobbies.

Try and find the positives.

Many workplaces also now have mental health first aiders if you find yourself in a crisis at work.

Remember to open up to others. Don’t bottle it up. You’ll likely be surprised to find that other people have been through similar things. We all have mental health and although we won’t all experience a clinically diagnosable mental illness in our lifetime, everyone will experience certain lows and a level of anxiety. Also sharing a problem really helps, bottling it up only makes it worse. If you have no one to share with 7Cupsoftea is a good website for this!

Don’t stress about what you can’t control. I know many people have been and are still worried about their job security during this pandemic. You can’t control that. So try not let it eat you away. By all means come up with a plan but don’t catastrophise.

It’s okay to get help. By this I mean professional help. If you feel you would benefit from therapy or medication then that’s okay. You do you. Do whatever helps you. (Providing it is safe, non-destructive and isn’t going to harm you or anyone else)

Finally, don’t beat yourself up. Your not weak. Your not pathetic. Your not melodramatic. Your human. Beating yourself up is only going to make your mental health worse.

Stay safe everyone. Look after your physical and mental wellbeing and I’ll see you in my next blog.

 

Staying mentally sane in self isolation from the self isolation expert.

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The world is currently in an unprecedented state. Countries going into lockdown, boarders closing and asides from those of us who still have to go into work (Me, when it’s safe to do so) we are all being asked to stay inside our houses. What a dream! An actual dream. I’ve definitely been told that when I’ve been really sick with ME and largely stuck in the four walls of my bedroom.

Being stuck. In the confines of your house, or room, be it with family or alone can be really bad for your mental health and your relationships with others. I understand that, I know that. Being stuck anywhere, especially if you are easily bored, irritated, like to move and exercise and benefit from changes of scenery is hard. So as an expert in this field and as someone currently self isolating due to COVID-19 symptoms + I’m at a higher risk than the average person I thought it would be wise to share some tips.

  1. Don’t think of it as being stuck. Change your perspective, think of your home as your sanctuary, your castle, your safe haven. If you change the dialogue around how you feel to more positive dialogue this can definitely help keep your mind in check.
  2.  Try to keep things clean and tidy – tidy space tidy mind. This is something I really struggled with when bedbound and still struggle with but it definitely makes a difference.
  3. Get dressed, shower, make an effort to look pretty – I promise you it makes so much of a difference to your mental health if you make this extra bit of effort even if your not going to see anyone. I’m not saying you need to wear a full suit or a full face of make up but get out of your pyjamas.
  4. Lists lists lists – it doesn’t need to be a full schedule of your day hour by hour if that’s not your vibe but if there’s things you know you need to do write them down on a to do list. It is very satisfying to get them done and will at least reduce the social media time wasting feeling behaviour that I feel we’re all beating ourselves up over at this time.
  5. Stay connected. We may be distant geographically but we can stay together. Use social media to stay connected, find live streamed events and activities, phone your nan.
  6. But be mindful of how your using social media! There is a lot of anger out there right now. Curate your feed. Spread positivity and not hate. Don’t spend hours looking at the news, it’s nothing but COVID-19.
  7. Move your body – if you can. It doesn’t need to be much at all and can be just a few floor based/bed based exercises or if your fit, healthy and feeling it can be much more intense, especially if your able to panic buy workout equipment. Movement is really important for mental health, I find it is definitely helping set me up for my day and put me in a positive mindset no matter how small.
  8. Try something new. Do that thing you always wanted to do but never had the time. Learn that language, learn to draw, read that book, watch that TV show. Having a new hobby that can be done inside the house can fill the gap left by that hobby you are now unable to do for the time being and take your mind of the news.
  9. If you have space make the most of it. If your lucky enough to have a garden use it, if you have separate rooms that you can go into – use them. If you only have one room then try and use different sections of the room (I.e do your best to not stay in or on your bed all day)
  10. Don’t be too hard on yourself! I feel like there is a lot of pressure to be productive and monetize our time in social isolation. To get fit and stay in shape. Don’t give into it. It is only natural to be spending more time on social media in these times, to want to just eat sugar and just not be very focused. Do what you need to do your you, and only you. You are doing the best you can and we will all get through this!

What even was this week?

Seeing as I don’t really have the cognitive energy for a proper post I thought this week would be a week in the life.

Monday I had an ultrasound before work. Oh don’t we love those bright and early trips to the middle of nowhere to get an ultrasound. Fortunately this medical centre wasn’t as in the middle of nowhere as my previous ones but it was out of the city. I think it was clear which is irritating because it means I’m going to have to push to ensure that referral is made which I really don’t have the energy for but such is life. I found it was painful though despite the fact that the ultrasound wand wasn’t pressing too hard on my abdomen. Asides from chaotic, work was actually okay on Monday. Horray for one day in which I don’t go home and have a mental breakdown. (Okay an exaggeration but Friday hit hard).

Tuesday work got all the more chaotic and I had a climb after work. Honestly I was going to train hard but I ended up chatting and projecting a few things as my bod was struggling. I did get a burly swirly that I was proud of and some roof work so was still sore mind you!

Wednesday we worked again and still chaotic from Tuesdays happenings but it calmed down a little. I had the most efficient service in boots ever when grabbing my prescription and then climbed at the women’s group. There were loads of us this week which is incredible to see! I took it quite easy cause injuries and shit but tried to get back on the roof and que soreness.

Thursday I wasn’t doing good with my ME but got through work regardless. No rest for the wicked hey? A few things made Thursday a really bad mental struggle. I don’t want to provide details on here cause privacy of myself and others. I also don’t want to give the wrong impression about my feelings towards anyone because it’s not at all one person and part of it was I didn’t have enough energy to feel happy. I was essentially a shell of a human who went home, made dinner, had a bath and then slept.

Friday I came into work feeling more rested and more positive as a result. Even with some pretty hellish cases and some phone calls to make! I’m definitely becoming more confident talking to applicants on the phone though and it’s nice to see some progression there. It hit rock bottom after a talk with my manager. (Yes I’m kind of implicating here but I honestly don’t know who or what or idk. Maybe I’m just an awful person.) But I came home cried. Drank tea. Tried to make myself less empty shell so hard to see her way through the next 10 and a half months in this job if she even passes probation like and a little more (faux) positive for an evening at the wall.

The evening and night really made my day. I didn’t really climb well or much because endometriosis hurt like hell but got a couple of projects and then went out out and um didn’t sleep cause chronic illness hates me and alcohol and a normal 22 year old. I felt pretty horrendous (not hangover or drunk horrendous) until 2pm and then madly headed to a climbing competition. Didn’t do particularly well – there were problems there that I know I have in me but just could not do on the day! Either because my joints were playing around or due to general strength issues even once knowing the beta! But had a good time regardless and enjoyed socialising and not having to put pressure on myself.

And that concludes the post.

Hopefully next week will be more positive and less painful. Despite many little wins and moments of joy, can’t say it was a great week!

A week of prevailing and failing through pain and fatigue.

It’s time for another week in the life. This past week has been characterised by lots of pain, lots of fatigue, getting lost and climbing.

Monday was my first day on the difficult cases at work and it was so much more fun than work has been! I found it much easier to get through the day with a little more cognitive stimulation. I went for a climb in the evening and took it easy as my elbow was causing me pain at work and I didn’t want to do any further damage. I spent a lot of time chatting to people which is one of my favourite things about bouldering and did a lot of technique/route reading practice and flashed a purple (v3-4) for the first time ever! (Yes I flashed a V3-5 over xmas but different centre so I’m taking the glory again.) Although I love projecting I really want to get myself more consistent and that purple was an important step towards that.

Tuesday was a bad endo day and not great mental health day as I was a stressed out mess over the GP appointment I had the next day and pain wears you down. I got home and I just couldn’t and hilariously enough the pain just got drastically worse once I was home. Isn’t potentially having endo, potentially having PCOS, potentially having something else all together so much fun. Anyway. I went to bed early got 11 hours sleep and on we go to Wednesday.

I had a GP appointment and she actually took me seriously and listened. I had to find my way to the hospital after the appointment and got a little lost cause the cold and google maps drains your battery. But, I found my way and got the 3 viles of blood taken. I am also getting another ultrasound at some point. I think of the transvaginal variety. Absolutely not looking forward to that! Went into work for the afternoon and god were the cases bad. Or maybe I’m just a bad caseworker. I then climbed and not gonna lie my right bicep is still sore as we were doing endurance stuff and being me, I may have pushed it a little too far but it did feel really good to be in the training area, doing actual exercise like the old Han would be. I also resent a purple after the session which is mad! I’ve never resent a purple before. *Slight disclaimer here is yes in grades, yes 4 years ago, yes before I took 3 years out* It was another sign towards me slowly getting myself towards my goals.

Thursday was a horrific endo day. How I worked and smashed my stats I will never know. But anyway, I got home, applied for a law event and then accidently napped. Woke up, got ready for bed and then slept for another 10 hours.

I felt beyond dreadful on Friday. But I powered through the bad cases and got as many grants as I could. Didn’t hit stats but what can we do. Not much. I literally just crashed when I got home and ended up with that horrendous midcycle migraine. You know the one so painful that you can’t eat, can’t do anything, can’t tolerate any light but also can’t sleep. It was traumatic.

Nevertheless, I took myself on a trip to rock over on Saturday and although I didn’t explore the whole wall, I spent 4 hours there! My hands were a wreck! I really enjoyed the different setting and movement that I had to do even on “easy grades”. I also felt super fancy on duotex holds and flashed a super fun lil v4 and the first few moves of a v5!. I did however aggravate my elbow again and have somehow aggravated the left one as well. My pain was horrendous Saturday night so again late night but got 10 hours sleep and still feel like hell so trying to rest as much as I can.

Lots of learning, subluxations and theatre.

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It’s time for another week in the life. I’m definitely considering two posts a week so I can do more of these but still write the awareness raising, life lesson and inspirational posts.

Anyway lets begin.

Monday was a work day. That 9-5 life. The cases were certainly better than they had been over the last few weeks but not great so I got 22 grants. Not enough but I’m not defining myself by my work stats or any other type of grade or number. 22 is so much better than the 10 I’d been scraping! I went home after work, ate food and tried to work on a family specific training contract application.

Tuesday I started shadowing some of the harder cases although I don’t think I quite braved taking the mouse myself then! The “red cases” like the red boulder problems I’d love to be stable on by the end of 2020 are such a huge step up! Lots of cognitive power and stress and disappointment. But I definitely appreciated a chance to learn something new and to give my wrists and fingers a break from standard desk based tasks as my joints have been struggling this week. I climbed in the evening and not gonna lie it wasn’t the best session and it was hard to not feel deflated but I did what I said I would and took it easy! I flashed the new set V1s and 2-3s of the day and started projecting some “swirly’s” which I feel in my soul so hopefully I’ll have a chance to get back to them. I also did an advanced footwork class and did my first ever roof move (on a v7 to practice heel hooks). I also very much realised my core needs work and that is part of why I’m still struggling with overhangs despite my technique on them improving. But hey, after being largely bed bound for so long what can I expect?

Wednesday, I was running on not much sleep. I’ve been struggling with sleep this week. With a combination of nausea, pain and noise from the pub next door it has been hard! Anywho. I felt super ill when I woke up in the morning and the coughing fit I had caused my right ovary to act up for the rest of the day. However my energy improved throughout the day and despite my joints feeling dreadful I went climbing (yes again). There’s a womens group on, on a Wednesday night which I like going to as the people are nice, most of them are better than be and give me useful tips which allow me to be the best me and it gets me trying new things on the wall without feeling silly. This Wednesday especially was incredible. It was quite chill, we spent a while just catching up and chatting before warming up. There were some new people there and it was the first session after Christmas so a lot to catch up on! Not gonna lie, I didn’t do the 10 squat jumps we were meant to as my body just couldn’t. I would have collapsed. (Just a warning sign to the ME flare that later ensued. I accomplished two v2-3s that I had been struggling with, due to fear more than anything else and realised that actually if I commit, I can do those big moves. They look scarier than they feel! I also resent a v2-3 in a more technical and much easier way as well as getting another v3-4 with some help and support from the more experienced members of the group. That’s what? 7 v3-4 problems I’ve now accomplished. Mostly slabby but it’s start to reaching my goals despite chronic illness. My muscles were struggling hard on Wednesday. Those little legs of mine were just not okay. I think this is why I fell of a V1 that I have yet to conquer (at a low height) and partially dislocated my elbow because I was a tit and put my arm down. I (yes am a tit) and continued climbing on it, so to this day. My elbow is still not 100%. But anywho. Good session and I came out of it feeling so positive and uplifted and it just reminded me of why I love this sport so so much.

Thursday was another learning at work day. I think it was Thursday that I really started to find my confidence with these red cases. In the afternoon the ME flare ensued so I got home and binged spinning out, curled up on the sofa. I couldn’t sleep that night cause the pressure in the back of my head and the dizziness so another not enough sleep night but such is life.

Friday was an interesting one. Even more confidence on those reds although I was feeling so unwell in the afternoon that I was just like “no. I can’t.” Honestly the pressure in the back of my head and the dizziness resulting meant that I was close to going home sick because I had visions of another car park incident. Hilariously enough. I didn’t and then (more Hannah may or may not be a tit) I went climbing. Because of my elbow I took myself to awesome walls as being on an auto belay would minimise the chances of making it worse (no high impact falls. Just low impact collapsing in a heap when it gets you down). This was my first time on a rope and colourful holds for 5 years or so. MADNESS. But it was great (although exhausting). I think I just completely forgot how to rope climb at the beginning of the session so I was using my arms too much which lead to v quick “shit I’m done”. Nevertheless, I ended up staying for two hours and I don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard. I’m not exactly sore from it but at the time it felt harder than any climbing I’ve done for years! I flashed numerous 5s. There were 2 I couldn’t do, but I think because I was so tired by the time I tried them. I also on sighted a 6a and 6a+. For a first rope session in a while I think that’s something to be proud of. I very sloppily got up most of a 6b, that I probably could have done in two parts but I tried numerous times and got more solid at what I could do however couldn’t find a way around my lack of quad strength and the fact that I couldn’t push to much on the wall with my right arm due to my elbow. If I go back before a reset it’s a project I’m definitely coming back to. I also tried two 6b+s which I know I can do all the moves of in my soul but stamina and the unique difficulties I have with balance, struggling to feel my hands and feet on the wall as well as stability and power meant they just were not happening. I for whatever reason undercrimped? Is that a thing. I realised today that maybe that hold was meant for a toe hook so might try that if I go back to it. It was a good session but bloody exhausting. I am definitely a boulderer. I don’t know when that conversion happened. (Think I could also be a lead climber tho cause my issue with top rope is the rope gets in your way sometimes!) I realised if I am going to do the whole competitive paraclimbing thing there is a lot of work to do! Although it probably is better to compete this year as a practice run for when I’m hopefully stronger and have a chance of doing well so…. paraclimbing nationals at the end of the feb may indeed happen.

Saturday was HAMILTON! It was incredible. I mean it’s Hamilton of course it was. I really liked the Eliza who was on (don’t know whose cast right now in the west end soz). I mean I literally cried at burn. And then the tears just continued. If you know, You know. I also really loved Jefferson! He was great fun. And King George always is. My collarbones wearnt’t in place all day and my neck was feeling unstable but it was so worth it! Isn’t Hamilton always?

Today, I finished spinning out and asides from trying to make sure I have semi order in my flat I’m really trying to rest. I can barely stand up so not hard. But also is.

I hope you all had a good week! I will be back with another post next week.

Working, Climbing and Endo Flare’s

Disclaimer: All climbing pictures are of me in 2016.Seeing as last weeks week in the life went down so well I thought this weeks post should be another week in the life, so without further ado lets start.

Monday came, as Monday always comes. I had work cause 9-5 life so of course I did and blew up some balloons and did some more shadowing. I also noticed that I was feeling a lot more settled than I did last week, which was nice. I cancelled by BT contract and ordered a data dongle (which hilariously got delivered home home) I had climbing in the evening as a signed up to a technique coaching which was really chill and a really nice refresher of all the things I know but are really hard to put into practice once your on the wall and panicking. I also pushed myself put of my comfort zone and achieved things I wouldn’t have been able to do when I was stronger a few years ago because they would have been so far out of said comfort zone. I used to do V5s on slabs but put me on an overhang and no. Now I’m a consistent V1-3 (almost). It makes me really happy to see how much I’ve come on just in a few weeks really! I’m not amazing but I’m improving and trying my best and that’s what matters.

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Tuesday we won fourth place for our decorations at work. I did more cutting, more shadowing and we had a few snowball fights. My endo pain was really bad on Tuesday and not in that sort of majorly overcompensaty way but in that I’m kind of overcompensating but also very easily irritated and if you know me well enough very much showing it. I came home roasted some veggies tried the quorn chicken fillets which are the closest thing to chicken I’ve had without actually being chicken. Blew my mind. When looking to try and empty my dropbox I found my graduation – realised just how cringe I look just before I go up the 2nd time. Deffo not TV material nor photogenic. I then found it funny that me. Me of all people graduated top of the class. If you think about it, I spent most of first year unable to sit through 30 minutes of a class without beyond excruciating endometriosis pain cause it really affected my bladder at the time. I then relapsed into ME and ended up largely bed bound. It was thanks to my uni being so helpful and moving me to the centre of campus for third year that I could attend any lectures atall. I fought through severe pain, pain I cannot deal with now without getting close to losing it. I’m honestly so proud of myself. I may not have a graduate job but that’s okay. I know I will one day.

Wednesday was hell on earth. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to at work cause of where I was sitting and my assigned reading took an hour. With the extra reading I assigned myself another hour but it was v boring and v slow although I was fortunate enough to get told to go home early and being the team player I am – I posted a letter on my way home. I feel like my line manager is a bit too touchy feely false nicey. But I don’t know. Such is life. I seem to attract people like that. Like seriously so I’m used to it and I’m happy and once I start doing actual work I’ll be happier. My endo was causing some kidney pain in my right kidney (well presumably cause the patterns of pain) and my left ovary and I partially dislocated my right ankle on my way home. I went climbing and we did some dyno work and I tried campusing for the first time! It was very fun although I have no upper body strength so had to rely on swinging alone and as a result couldn’t get far. The campusing also caused my endometriosis to flare and lead to some intense pain from kidneys down.  I also did two blues (so like V2/3 ish)  that I couldn’t do on Monday and I did them with ease. Funny that isn’t it. Also story of my life. Can’t do something one day, flashes it the next.

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As a result we sported the sleep deprived Han on Thursday. And v nauseous and ya know when you start getting those contraction like pains in your uterus. That was me. But I had log ins at work. Worked numerous cases and asked if I needed to go home more than once but did I actually go home early? Nah. The thing with being chronically ill is that it can always get worse. And what then? Working full time with them is about utilising those sick periods and sick days carefully. And do you know what, it’s a balance I need to learn to strike. I’ve been working full time (different roles) since August and not one sick day yet, I plan to keep it that way although what with me wanting a gyne referral and a laparoscopy it won’t. And the nature of chronic illness in general is that it won’t. But a     girl can dream. I got home, tried to get some nutrition in me and then felt beyond unbearably sick so didn’t move all night. It had fortunately eased before sleep time though because otherwise it would have been another sleepless night.

Friday I didn’t feel great when I woke up and wasn’t sure if it was PEM from the climbing sesh on Wednesday starting or just my ME being it’s usual self and interrupting with my mornings. We had a team pizza lunch at work which was nice and I definitely established that my ME symptoms were PEM throughout the afternoon. I literally came home. Napped. Got up to get food and ended up stuck on the floor. So yah PEM.

Fair to say I then didn’t get out of bed until 10am this morning! I’m currently in the library to upload this and do some application work then I’ll go back home and rest and probably make Christmas cards to keep me occupied as I don’t think I’ll be well enough to read the challenging book I’ve started and I only decided to make xmas cards today! With 4 days to go. Yes I know my stupidity.

One more climb before Christmas! Likely Monday after work as the climbing bug has hit me hard again. And I would miss it too much otherwise. Will take it easy if I’m half as pre-syncope like as I am today but gonna go!

Happy holidays everyone. I’ll be back next week with the big 2019 post!

A week in my life as a working girl

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I was contemplating writing a somewhat inspiring and helpful post this week but honestly, I just want to write about the last week of my life. Because it has been a week. The stress, the tears, the triumph and the pure bliss. The hilariously bad health, the feelings of inadequacy and the realisations. It really has been a week. And that’s without discussing the state of UK politics. No, I am not happy and yes I am worried about the future of the country – especially for the disabled, and chronically ill. People like me. Who rely on a fully functioning NHS to manage life? But that aside let’s talk about my week.

So, Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday. I think my ME finally caught up with me on Monday, I couldn’t stand up at all when I woke up and finally got myself sitting up and to the end of my bed. Maybe that was a sign that I should have called in sick. Not sure how “Hi I’m having an ME flare” on my first day on team would have gone down but to tell you the truth, I didn’t even think about calling in sick. Something just didn’t click. I never learn to tell you the truth. I put on a mask at work. A façade that works better than it needs to and probably works to my detriment.

Work happened. I don’t really have much so say about what happened. Did a little shadowing because not much else to do when you don’t even have a computer log in. Learnt some stuff. Kind of like my team, kind of don’t. Basically, an average job. I get home, get my incorrect contract, putting me at a grade higher than I actually am. How one makes that mistake – not just to me but another person, I don’t know. But such is life. On Monday, I very quickly realised how much of a mistake it was to go to work. I got home, had a drop attack and was on the floor unable to move, sit up or anything having seizure like shakes. Made me realise how disgusting the hallway is as well as that I really could do with investing in a wheelchair or at least a walker to help prevent these things and allow me to get around the flat when I’m that bad. Do I have that money? No? Do I have any money? Also no.

Tried to sort out my Wi-Fi and spent a ridiculous amount of money in doing so. No WIFI is a common theme this week and every week since I’ve moved.

Tuesday was the first day I got the stick out in this city. There’s been plenty of times I probably should have been using it before, but Tuesday I knew I had to after Monday nights events. Did more shadowing, cut out some Disney characters (no I do not work at a primary school!) but not going to lie I did enjoy being a bit crafty. Also had an awks chat with the deputy line manager, cause walking stick does that. And not that I’m not open about my illnesses, I am to an extent – especially on social media, but I’ll never say anywhere near all of it because I just can’t. It’s a defence mechanism and it’s impossible. I also had to go see my GPs pharmacist about meds which was fun. Luckily, she agreed I could stay on them all! I was having an endo flare on Tuesday. Weird cause my periods just finished and asides from the birthday party and v bad breaking free sesh interrupting my sleep I had excruciating pain. I do sometimes have an issue with endo pain that ice helps to an extent, but ice also makes it worse. It was a simultaneous heat ice job for sure.

Wednesday the endo flare was worse but did that stop me from climbing. No. Did I need it, and did it reduce the pain in the moment. Yes. Do you know why because passion is the key to dealing with chronic pain. Passion is how I succeeded in my degree and passion is how I now climb again. Had fun, did things that would have been a no brainer 3 years ago but made me proud to be capable today. I think my technique is better today than when I was able to do some V5s back in the day. As my endo pain was bad and I partially dislocated my left hip (as I often do climbing these days) which made the pain worse once I was back, I forgot to stretch and definitely felt that I was tight Thursday morning! Although I was walking unaided Thursday which is always blissful.

Thursday was stressful after work. Like too many places to be at once and it was the all-important voting day. Work itself was okay. I got even more of an impression that the biggest characters really are not my sort of people but hey in 9 months I can be gone if I want to be and I will be if I get a very specific training contract or the law commission research assistant job. I realised I missed those simpler times when I could just research family law all day because let’s face it. Academically, I’m definitely a family and child lawyer. Practically, we’ll see, I feel I could sink my teeth into and love many areas. I’m enjoying employment right now and find that interesting due the fact that it has both business and personal sides to it.

On Friday (today) I finally understood the habitual residence thing on the family law court orders and got to look at another family law court order. Not expected in my current job! I also did more cutting and shadowing and definitely have the impression that certain people think I don’t try enough, don’t care and are definitely not my sort of people but I can be nice and respect and like people for the purpose of work. Also, that’s the minority. I just need to not get too affected by it. Went home, had another drop attack which aggravated the ankle I injured by falling when climbing down on Wednesday but hopefully not too badly. It was healing nicely. I still have no Wi-Fi and thus no stable internet connection, but I think I’m going to invest in a data dongle as I can’t deal with this whole engineer thing anymore. And for my health and productivity I need that stable connection. I missed out on finishing my Stanford scholarship application by the deadline because I didn’t have anywhere to go that was quiet enough to film and had a stable and fast enough connection. And fine. I wasn’t getting in anyway because lots of other things went wrong and to tell you the truth, I like working, I don’t want another three years of full time education unless it’s to do a PhD and specialise and some scary stuff is happening with my health right now that needs dealing with. I also need to get this endo surgery sorted and honestly if I can get the referral that will motivate me to stay in one place until I have closure. I’m having a flare and it’s not okay. I need to know if it is or it isn’t and the pain is so excruciating that I need to grow up, woman up and get that surgery. It’s the only way to know either way.

I can’t deal with my health in America. So silver linings and all that. Sometimes things aren’t meant to be and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean your not enough. It just means things take time and we are all different, all have different priorities and god has different plans for all of us.

 

The stresses of working full time with a chronic illness

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I should not be sitting in the library on my birthday near tears over numerous things that have caused this. And one of those is working whilst chronically ill related, and others are just indirectly linked somewhat because growing up with chronic illnesses has made me feel inadequate. It’s made me feel like I’m less than. I’m caught between constantly having to prove these illnesses and feeling this overwhelming need to push myself harder than most in order to prove that I’m a worthwhile human being.

It sucks.

I’m literally two seconds away from not going home for Christmas because it’s too expensive, I’m not being paid my full wage this month and I’ve only just found out and because I know I need time out for medical appointments, and I already have one holiday day this month I can’t ask for the 27th off – which would make it a lot cheaper and less likely to put me in a flare.

And that’s just the half of the near tears. I also have a GP appointment during work hours next week which I need to tell my deputy line manager about. And normally I’d arrange out of work for GP because that’s self motivated and self started but this is about getting my medication which I absolutely need by Tuesday. I’ve already reduced my dose in order to do that and I can’t reduce it any further. I moved up north to do this job, so I’m with a new GP. The GP is being pedantic and won’t issue my repeats until they’ve seen me. So I try to negotiate outside of working hours but without me running out of meds beyond what is manageable and I can’t. This means that I have an appointment next Tuesday afternoon and have to leave work at 3:45 (if I get an uber) – which although I really can’t afford I’m gonna have to.

So I can’t be nice and fluffy about it. Just asking – or saying more like gives me so much anxiety. Especially when I’ve been on reduced hours these past couple of weeks and what if someone asks why it couldn’t have been done then. I mean I have the answers. I honestly didn’t realise the GP would have to see me until today. They’re repeats after all and next Tuesday is literally the earliest day that could see me. It’s not my fault, but I feel like it is.

I feel like it creates a bad impression of myself and that comparably I’m making excuses not to be in work.

Which I am absolutely not. I will happily make up the hours by coming in an hour early or whatever configuration they would like. But because organisation policy says to make appointments outside of work time I feel like it’ll be looked down upon and that it may even impact me passing probation.

The entire situation is ridiculous. And I know it’s not just me who feels like this. There’s so many others who feel that because they’re chronically ill they have to try 10X harder to be liked and respected. I think that’s the problem with how society views disability as a whole and how it’s represented in mainstream media.

You’re either an inspiration because despite your disability you’ve done groundbreakingly amazing things or your just lazy and not trying enough. I don’t want to be lumped in the not trying enough pot so I try too hard. And it’s so hard to stop that. But sometimes enough is enough. At the point I NEED my medication.  Being in so much pain your in tears is  nasty – which is why I need the gabapentin, that and because it is potentially addictive dependency is a thing. I know if I forget to take it for too long I get nauseous and then it gets to the point where I literally can’t get off the bathroom floor.

I would like to highlight that dependency and addiction are two different things. I class addiction as more of a mental and psychological dependency – generally because of positive side effects the drug has that are unrelated to what it is for. Dependency however is more of a physiological reaction from your body getting used to being something for so long. Dependency is why with some drugs you have to taper down – in order to avoid debilitating withdrawal. This isn’t necessarily because your addicted. It’s literally standard protocol for some prescription medications. 

The reason I can work is because of the meds I’m on thus I need to get the meds on time. I have bills to pay. I have adult responsibilities.

I want to write this post to send a message that A) Doctors please please be more flexible. I don’t know what the solution is here. I don’t know how the NHS can resolve the issues with getting a medical appointment at a convenient times without GPs lives being even more about work than it already is. Maybe it’s making telephone consultations for a prescription review standard common practice. Hey maybe even facetime.

B) Employers please realise that us chronically ill people are some of the most anxious, stressed out and concerned about our reputation people you will ever manage. Being chronically ill in itself is a full time job. We are also some of the most hardworking and dedicated people. Even if you also managed x who had the same condition and you think they were better, missed less work, went to more social events it doesn’t mean we are trying less than x. It just means these conditions are highly variable and we all have different levels of responsibility outside of work.

C) If you are chronically ill and working full time, even if your conditions are under more control than mine are and you for all purposes feel well most of the time you are amazing. Stay strong and all of that cheesy stuff! Please don’t ever feel bad for putting your health first. I know we’re all quite bad at that anyway. I push myself to work when most people absolutely wouldn’t do. I even do this thing of overcompensating and acting extra bubbly at work on a worse day. And find that’s my choice, that’s what I need to do. But I shouldn’t feel bad for prioritising appointments over an hour of work if I can’t negotiate them out of work within a reasonable time scale. (That time scale is different for each appointment too!) Remember the Equality Act 2010 and the reasonable adjustments. Now doesn’t mean you’ll get everything. I can’t get flexible working until I’ve passed probation and that would really help remove this medical appointment stress but such is life. But it does mean that your employer should allow you to take that time for medical appointments, ideally without making it up. (because there are difficulties with that for people with a condition like ME.). Now I always will offer to make it up but that’s just me.

Anyway. This was a lot longer than I wanted it to be. But hoping someone else can relate and that we have all learnt something even if it’s to just not be so hard on yourself.

 

Working full time with a chronic illness

 

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Working full time with a chronic illness is rough and if you cant then that’s okay.  I also think whether your employer is supportive enough to make the necessary reasonable adjustments or indeed if those adjustments are reasonable. (I’m just about to read about that actually as despite being out of law school I’m still a law student at heart and law is power. Especially knowledge of employment law if you ever end up with a shitty employer.)

But anyway this blog post is going to give you some tips as to how to manage it if you’re at all in a position where you can. But firstly I’m going to say that if you’ve been in one place if employment for a while you are likely to be treated with more respect and given more leeway. Office politics. They are your best friend when in your favour and worst friend otherwise. If you see inequalities in those ways then unfortunately you’ll just have to deal with it if your coming back into the workforce.

On to the tips:

  1.  Be honest with your employer/line manager but not too honest – this is an interesting balance to strike but essentially if your not honest they’re not going to know if you need extra support and if you’re too honest they’ll start thinking your not up to the job, not trusting you, being completely and utterly irritating and just cause major anxiety.
  2. Only apply for jobs you have a reasonable chance of being able to do successfully. I.e if you can’t stand up all day don’t apply for a job that requires that.
  3. Ask for the adjustments you need and if they don’t give them to you take it up to the employment tribunal (Not straight away cause that shit costs money. Understand why not and if you can’t go to citizens advice for advice as they will know more of the nitty grittys of the Equality Act 2010.)
  4. Work in a way that works for you as much as you are able to.
  5. Appreciate that your going to have good days, bad days, average days and everything in-between. This is okay and it doesn’t mean your failing.
  6. If you can help it, don’t work for an agency – I don’t know if it’s real or imagined but I definitely feel a disparity between me an agency worker and so called “real people” (the not agency workers). Also although agency workers are gaining more legal rights they’re not 100% on par yet.
  7. Health first – by this I mean please take a day if you need to. I am useless at this myself but I help others are less so.  You need that time to rest and recuperate and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it.
  8. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. Otherwise you’ll be ordering a hell of a lot of take out.
  9. Believe in yourself, god, the universe etc. – I feel like people with chronic illnesses are often overly hard on themselves and overly critical. Try not to be, you can do this, you are enough. I believe in you.
  10. Final tip is to prioritise. You won’t be able to do all the things. Working full time is exhausting and so to successfully balance that with your other responsibilities, family, friends, hobbies, volunteering will be near impossible and will require successful prioritising and allowing time to rest.

I hope some of these were useful and helped if you’re in the position where you are currently working full time or looking to work full time whilst dealing with a chronic illness or two.