Feb 2019: This post will be updated soon as I no longer have a ‘normal job’ due to pain. I’m leaving it here in case it still helps people in its current form!
I find myself in the blessed position of being able to hold down a job, while still battling Fibro. The more people I connect with on Twitter, the smaller proportion of the population of Spoonies I think I’m in.
But it’s not always easy. I think the only way it works now is the fact that I run my own business – i.e. I created my own job.
Early Days of Fibro
When I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I was in an accountancy firm. That meant stressful deadlines, strict budgets and bosses who really only wanted me to be healthy so that their work got done. That’s not the same as genuine concern for your wellbeing.
— Warrior Beads (@WarriorBeads) August 14, 2015
Eventually, my constant pain and tiredness meant I was less and less able to perform my job role properly – and I hated that. I’ve always tried my best at anything I do. But with my health declining, the evidence to support that wore a wee bit thin.
So when I said I would try and start my own business, in this they were really supportive and let me go part time to see if it could work. Which it did.
Balancing Fibro and Work Now
You would think that running my own business, by delegation and planning, I could actually dictate my hours. The reality is, although I love what I do, I now have multiple bosses (my clients), rather than just one or two managers. That means multiple demands, which can be really hard to work through when suffering from Fibro Fog.
I’ve learned that most people are the centres of their universes. It’s hard for some to understand who or what is a priority, if it isn’t them. This can be overcome through careful communication, but that’s not always the case. So you can be tempted to push yourself “because you feel you should” – even if your body is crying out for rest.
I am grateful to have an amazing supportive wife, I would hate to have to ‘go it alone’ with Fibro. As she works in the business as well, she implements the following to help with my Fibro:
- Varying the types of work I do – mostly to save my hands, which have really suffered over the last year with Fibro pain.
- Only planning one meeting a day and as few as possible over a week. As cognitive function is hard, meetings can make me feel totally wiped, even if they are just an hour or two long.
- Starting at 9:30am. Mornings are not good with effects of medication, Fibro Fog and low energy. So while a lot of people in the UK start work at 8.30am or even earlier I start later, but usually finish later.
- Providing Food: might sound trivial, but low-calorie snacks and proteine sandwiches (think epic amounts of chicken) both help to keep my energy up.
Getting the Balance Right
The last step I have had to do is go down to 4 days a week. My main challenge with this is to not feel lazy. Not working Thursdays is not lazy, it’s giving my body the rest it needs. So I have a physical and a mental adjustment to make. I have had to learn to not add guilt (of thinking I’m lazy) onto my condition else that will make things worse. I am still working and I’m still working more than 30 hours a week, so despite working 4 days, it’s still technically a full-time job.
Ironically to get ‘balance’ I’ve had to emphasise rest time more – which means I had undervalued it for too long.
Balancing Work and Fibromyalgia – What Works For You?
What works for you may be different to me. So please feel free to share your tips or advice in the comments. You never know who you might be helping.
May the Force Be With You. May It Make You Strong.