Oh the memories of that 9 to 5 existence. Well, actually, an 8.30am to 7pm and then never quite switching off in the evenings and at weekends existence.
Now, for me, the prospect of a full day’s work is a distant memory and a future dream.
It’s been nearly a year since I last managed to do so; since then I’ve been signed off work. The most I’ve managed is the odd hour or two here and there.
The amount of energy just going to work sapped from me really took me by surprise. A combination of apprehension over whether I’d manage to do what I used to do, being overwhelmed by the kindness and good wishes of my colleagues, and then the unwelcome sensation of brain fog and blurry eyes once I started doing some actual work has taught me that pushing myself through that process isn’t good for me.
For now, I am lucky enough to be able to do some work from home – and average of 10 to 15 hours a month. A month! It’s a far cry from the time when I’d manage that much work in a day.
There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere!
So where does work fit into this?
Well, we’re all different, with our unique version and pattern of symptoms and our own individual circumstances.
I am incredibly lucky to have a fiancé in full time work and an employer that’s gone above and beyond to look after me.
But, that said, I have still spent considerable time thinking about how I may utilise my skills in a different way if I end up not being able to go back to my job.
I love writing. I can write anywhere. Indeed these posts have been written in bed, I the lounge, in coffee shops, and this one is being done on board a flight to Scotland!
My point is that there is a way to make a living, if needed, that doesn’t involve being in a physical workplace, or working traditional hours.
For me, that writing could be journalistic, or promotional, or simply the book I’ve got inside me that I’ve never found time to write.
Of course I also need to be aware that writing tires me, so I must be careful to manage my energy levels and expectations of what I can achieve.
If you’re anything like me, being off work is frustrating and upsetting. I love my job and I just want to be back there doing it. But there’s every possibility that I won’t be going back any time soon.
Accepting that, instead of fighting it, is an important step in the right direction. Just as I’ve learned to pace myself – to avoid my battery running flat leaving me bed bound – I now know pacing my mind matters, too.
But I also need to feel ‘useful’, as I’ve written in a previous post.
We are lucky to be living in a time when traditional work days and work places are fragmenting, when technology means we can do more things anywhere.
You may have a creative skill and could write or draw or paint from home. You may have an educational or coaching skill that you could deliver via Skype. You may have previously worked in retail but could transfer those skills to running an online shop.
The point is that, however much you miss what you used to be able to do, there is probably something you still can do – even if it’s only for a few minutes a week.
That’s if you need to work. If you are financially secure, have a partner who works, or have access to a benefits system to support you, it’s vital you don’t feel guilty about it. That network is in place precisely for times like is and people like you. It’s hard to think that you deserve it, but the sooner you can think of it like that, the sooner you can focus and save your energy for things that matter. Worrying is not a good use of that scant resource!
How have you made work fit into your life with ME? What hints and tips do you have that others may appreciate? How have you let go of the ‘old you’ who likely worked too many hours in the first place? Share them with other Zonked Club readers so we can help each other.