I'm writing this article because I would have appreciated someone warning me about unknowingly pushing myself into a severe relapse of PVFS (ME/CFS) a few years ago (when I was struggling to keep my full-time job).
Most working ME/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) sufferers face the same kind of problems at some point during their illness:
Should they continue work? Should they cut down? Or should they stop completely? And if they stop where will the money come from?
Unless you're on your way to full recovery, ME/CFS and FM and full-time jobs (especially demanding or stressful ones) can be a recipe for disaster. So if you feel that you're ‘running faster than your legs can carry you’ (so to speak) then please LISTEN to your body.
Be VERY careful because you walk a VERY fine line when you push yourself as a ME/CFS or FM sufferer. It's all too easy to get worse, but soooo difficult to get better.
I remember when I worked full-time and commuted into central London during my brief remission a few years ago. Three pitiful months was all I could manage! By the end of it I was on my knees and heading into a massive relapse that ended up being more severe than before. And this time I was much worse. . .because this time. . . I became housebound.
But while I was working I tried my best to ignore the ‘warning signals’. I kept thinking 'I'll be ok - everyone gets tired'.
But inside I knew - it was a different kind of *tired*. And it was not ‘just’ the unrelenting fatigue and exhaustion either. As you know, when you have ME/CFS or FM, you get a heap of other debilitating and uncomfortable symptoms too.
My advice to anyone suffering from ME/CFS or FM is to take a VERY serious look at how your health is going. What is your body telling (or sometimes screaming at) you? If it feels like you're on a ‘downward spiral’ then maybe it's time to stop and take stock of the situation. How much can you cope with? How much longer do you think you'll last? Deep inside you know.
The decisions that we make - about how much our bodies can and cannot take, are not to be taken lightly. Remember that ignoring the state of your health and just ‘hoping for the best’ is a decision in itself, and this decision to ‘carry on regardless’ can have very severe consequences.
And since it's often extremely difficult for sufferers to get better, the last thing you want to do is to actively *worsen* your condition and make it even more difficult for yourself to recover. Worst case scenario - you could push yourself into a severe relapse where you can't work at all, so prevention is better here.
Having said that, I do know that we all need money to live on!
Going part-time can be an option. But if you're not well enough to do that, then leaving work altogether (at least for a while) may be the only solution.
The very worst thing to do is to leave it to the very last minute - when you're so bad that you can't even get out of bed anymore. Believe me that can happen.
You may be eligible for some state benefits. Try getting in touch with your national ME/CFS or FM Association - they should be able to give you some information about which state benefits you could apply for.
You could also try getting in touch with your local ME/CFS or FM group. If you ask at your local doctor's surgery, or if you type in your local area along with some keywords into Google or Yahoo on the internet) you may be able to locate them. If you have ME/CFS, just remember that your local support group might use the term ‘CFIDS', ‘M. E. ', or ‘Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome’ instead of ‘CFS’.
Your local support group should be able to tell you about state benefits, the contact details of your national ME/CFS or FM association, and maybe even about good local doctors who are understanding about your condition.
And of course, if you are unable to hold down any kind of job (but are well enough to do a couple of hours of work here and there), then I encourage you to consider working from home. I really believe that starting your own project from home can bring you happiness, accomplishment and independence - as well as financial stability. All YOU need to do is bring motivation and perseverance to the table.
- SIDE NOTE -
If you're short on money but want to learn a little more about how you can earn money from home, check out the ‘free stuff’ section here:
- SIDE NOTE -
Please don't take this article as my trying to discourage you from working a job - it is not my intention to scare you or to sound negative. In fact, if you are managing to successfully hold down a demanding job you have my full admiration!
The point of this article is to act as ‘a warning beacon’ to those of you who ARE struggling and stumbling blindly on with your job, well aware that you're on a downward spiral with no sign of getting better.
If that sounds like you then please do be careful - and constantly listen to your body! Just remember that without your health you cannot be of much use to anyone ? even yourself - so take care of yourself first.
'Keep it real’ so to speak. . .
Prevention is always best - and it's never truer than with CFS/FM.
To read more tips about how to manage and deal with your ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome visit:
Copyright, Claire Williams, 2004-2005. All Rights Reserved.
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Claire Williams is editor of sleepydust.net and has suffered from Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome since 1995.
She created sleepydust.net to help ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia sufferers deal with their condition - from handling their money worries, to recovering from their illness.
To learn more about working from home when you are chronically ill or disabled, visit: http://www.sleepydust.net/WORK-FROM-HOME.html