Ever since I was a teen, I planned on being a working woman. At that time my plans were out of an idealistic view of what I thought it meant to be independent (not sure I was planning on being a wife and mom at the time) but still, I knew myself and that I liked working and the sense of accomplishment it brought. I would consider myself an almost Type-A personality so checking items of a to-do list and having a sense of routine puts me at ease.
I went to college for Music Education but realized halfway through my student teaching that the classroom was not for me. That was also the semester that I became ill and was diagnosed with endometriosis. Determined to find my dream job (and finally answer my call to the ministry) I began my graduate studies with an emphasis in Pastoral Care & Counseling. Thanks to illness, it took me 6 years to complete a typical 3 year program but I finished! I feel in love with chaplaincy during my half-unit of CPE but the long hours are keeping me away at this point.
So for now, I am an 8 to 5’er in a job that has nothing to do with either of my degrees but is still one that I enjoy (most days). While it does bring in added income and a sense of accomplishment, it also depletes my energy quite a bit, especially in my current state of health. While I’m doing what I need to do to get by, I’m working on figuring out a way to start my dream job which will include continuing writing here at A New Kind of Normal, finding ways to speak more and share my testimony, and open a non-profit to offer counseling and support to individuals with chronic illness. Anyone that has ideas on how to get started on any one of these things please let me know!
I get many questions about why I work since I struggle so much health and energy-wise, so I thought I would share some of my reasoning & answers with you. I have also asked 3 other lovely ladies to share their stories of working with chronic illness which will be featured over the next week or two! We all answered 8 pretty standard questions that are often asked when one works with chronic illness so hopefully our stories can help enlighten you!
1- What are your illnesses? endometriosis, Celiac disease, fibromyalgia & IC
2- What kind of work do you do? My title is Operations Coordinator but I oversee the administrative office of the maintenance area for a university. I provide customer service, handle invoices, and telecommunications.
3- Does your work match up to what you have a degree in (if applicable)? Not in any way, shape, or form!
4- Are you working because you want to or out of necessity? My current job, I am working out of necessity for health insurance. After my temporary disability this winter, we were hoping that I would be able to stay home but when I was denied health coverage by my husband’s plan, it was back to work. My time on disability did let me know that I would go absolutely batty without some type of job but I would like more freedom to be able to choose my work not based on health insurance.
5- How does your work affect your illness & overall health? At the present time, it consumes pretty much all of my energy but before this recent resurgence of endo, it would fatigue me quite a bit but I as still able to enjoy my evenings at home with my family. My job at times can be stressful which can add to flares as well.
6 – If you had the option, would you quit? I don’t think I would quit working all together but would look into the option of working part-time.
7- What is the positive benefit of working with chronic illness? The income is an obvious bonus but I enjoy the interaction with my coworkers and feeling like I am part of a team.
8- What is the negative aspect of working with chronic illness? Not having the energy I would like to after work hours is definitely a negative. Also with a limited number of sick days, I don’t always have the option of taking time off to rest when I’m flaring.
If you work & have chronic illness, I would love to hear your answers too!