I am continuing to answer questions about fibromyalgia as a member of the Fibro Blogger Directory. The most recent being do your symptoms interfere with work or school?
I see both work and school as being the same, consisting of hard work and dedication. In the simplest form, the answer is yes, fibromyalgia interferes with every part of our lives so unfortunately that includes work.
Fibromyalgia is first and foremost a chronic illness with pain as the main symptom. This makes a lot of physical jobs out of bounds to us, but working on a computer all day sat down also hurts. Basically there is no easy job or task when you live with chronic pain. I recently wrote a post about my personal experience of working with fibromyalgia.
I find even when my pain is manageable I struggle with work. Fatigue causes the brain to act up, not being able to focus on simple tasks and not even being able to get the right words out, making you feel stupid.
You really need an understanding team around you whether at work or school. People who you can be honest with and who know when you are having a bad day.
It is really hard to be honest about your illness but for your own good and for those around you, you need to. The more honest you are with them, the more they will be able to help you.
Many adaptations can be made at work or school, you just need to ask for them and explain what you need. You will find that if you pit in the hard work they will help you as best they can.
There are various things you can do to help yourself manage the symptoms at work or school:
1. Stress can make our symptoms a lot worse. A way to combat this is by making a list of tasks you need to complete and prioritise the ones you need to do first. Don’t set yourself a deadline but just have a continuous list to follow whenever the fog hits and you forget what you need to do
2. Following on the theme of fibro fog, also keep a journal of how to do things, even if you think they are easy, write it down so that when you are struggling to think you can rely on what you have in hand instead of having to ask for help.
3. But please do ask for help when you need it. I am still learning to do this as I love to go above and beyond and never say no. But I am slowly learning to say when I’m having a bad day and need a break.
4. Take a day off when you need it. Again something I am not good at, but after crashing hard at work a couple of days when I knew I should have stayed at home, I’ve learnt the hard way.
5. Once again just be honest about your illness. If you feel like your colleagues, friends or managers have given you tasks you cannot do or need help doing due to your illness, have a private chat, to catch up about how you are getting on. Trust me, they do care.
6. Make sure you have a bag full of medication and a survival kit for any eventuality. I always take a huge bag to work with me and it has heat patches, every kind of tablet for any symptom, water and of course my notebook with important information to remember.
7. Have a space in your school or work place that you can relax in when you need a break. We need to take more breaks than most, so discuss with your manager or teacher about an area that means you are not doing any work there. When you sit in that area you need a few minutes to rest. It really helps knowing you have somewhere to go when you just need a few minutes.
8. Lastly please pace yourself. I always overdo it and feel all the worse and end up being useless at work after working too hard. You end up making it worse, so be productive in small bursts and take those breaks.
I hope these tips help you as much as they help me manage my symptoms at work. It is never going to be easy but if you do all of the above it may help you do what you love, even if you cannot do as much as you used to.