“How do you hold a job with chronic pain?” This is a question I get asked all the time. Now, I will say upfront, I am only working casually at the moment because I am a full-time student studying at university. So, I do not have a full-time job and I am aware for women who do work full-time, their story might be different from mine. Actually, all our stories will be different, because we are all uniquely individual. I am simply sharing my experiences and hoping they can help.
I am incredibly blessed to have the job I currently have. It is not a job I expected, or honestly, particularly wanted at the time, but now I absolutely love it. I work in Self Storage. At the time when I applied, I was desperate. I was unemployed and quite frankly, bored. I was studying but I needed something else to help keep me motivated, plus, of course, money. I know we all joke about money growing on trees, but it would be so nice if it did. Anyway, I interviewed, got the job and was happy simply having some sort of income. Little did I know, I would work with a variety of incredible people, have so much fun, feel satisfied and proud of my work, PLUS make amazing friends. Who knew storage could be life-changing?! I could talk about how much I love my job for a long time, so I should get back to the main point.
Now, as I mentioned above, I work with so many incredible people. From the very beginning, I have felt safe and supported. This has allowed me to feel comfortable telling my manager or whoever I am working with the struggles I face with Endo. The difference it has made, having a team which is aware of the pain or even just aware that sometimes I physically can’t complete all the set tasks, is amazing. I also know they always have my back and are willing to help me cover shifts, or give me 5-minute breaks at work when I need them. I know this is not always the situation and I understand how fortunate I am, but if you feel safe with your work colleagues, talk to them. It makes work so much easier!
I find talking about jobs or working with Endo almost an awkward topic because everyone has different symptoms and pain etc. However, I don’t believe Endo should stop you from having a job. I am sure I will get messages from people saying the opposite and how they can’t function and honestly, I am sorry you feel that way and that sucks. But, if I am blunt, life has to go on and in order for me too, well, survive, I need money because as I said, it, unfortunately, it doesn’t grow on trees. I know the pain gets out of control and there are days you have to call in sick, of course! But, I believe by talking to your colleagues you aren’t only making it easier for yourself, but you are raising awareness and finally bringing this awful disease into the light! Honestly, if your manager or colleague doesn’t respect you for sharing, change jobs. I am being serious. Sharing this sort of stuff is tough and can be embarrassing for some, but if someone doesn’t respect you because of it, ditch them. You deserve better.
I know telling your work team doesn’t fix everything, but it sure as heck has helped me over the past few years. So give it a crack and let me know how you go.