Fibro Blogs, Fibromyalgia

Finding a New Job When Living with Chronic Illness

I have been working in theme park entertainment for over 6 years, and worked my way up to a manager role. However, the role is no longer suitable for my health. Don’t get me wrong, my managers have been understanding and made some adjustments such as not working over my hours, having split days off, and more recently being able to work from home some days or half days. However, it is still too much, I’ve achieved all I want there, and I’ve decided it’s time to move on.

It was a scary decision to make, considering how accommodating my managers have been, but I thought if they can offer such adjustments, other employers can too.

More time with loved ones!

First when I was looking, I tried for home working jobs, but I enjoy being in an office and having people to talk to, and it gets me out of the house so I’m not cooped away all day. So I was fairly open with either home working or in an office, as long as it was a short drive so I wouldn’t waste most og my energy getting there.

The main priority for me was to find a job that doesn’t involve weekends. I have worked weekends my entire career so far and now I have my partner I want to spend as much time with him as possible. Having weekends off would mean we could go on so many more adventures, even if it’s just a relaxing day at home together playing the xbox.

I wanted to find a job that meant I wouldn’t go over my set hours, with a decent length lunch break. An office role such as an administrator so I wouldn’t have the stress of managing an entire team anymore.

On the left a flare up caused by a long day at work. Before I had adjustments, I would work up to 12 hours with over 20,000 steps rushing around a theme park!

After 6 weeks of applying for anything that might work for me, I was offered an interview for one out of the 10 roles I had applied for. It’s an administrator role in a university.

The interview would consist of a written test and then an interview with a panel. The invite email was very inclusive and specified that if I have a disability I can email to arrange extra assistance. I did so and was able to get an extension on the time limit for the written test.

Arriving at the university, I was very nervous. I haven’t had an interview outside of my current workplace in years. I didn’t know what to expect and I was worried I’d get lost or the brain fog would hit and I’d blank.

Thankfully, the workplace was very accommodating and all the staff I met were lovely. I took my time answering questions and when I got flustered I asked for them to repeat the question, and they were very helpful and patient. 2 hours later I was offered the job! I asked for some time to think it over, for which they gave me 3 days. It is always worth asking for some time just so you don’t rush into things, and it gives time to think up any questions you have for the hiring manager.

I am pleased to say I accepted the job. It’s Monday to Friday, with no overtime working and no weekends. In the university’s onboarding procedure, every new starter fills in a health questionnaire for occupational health, of which they have their own internal department. I don’t start the job for a few weeks but they have already been in touch about adjustments! I’m so excited to get started and be able to have more control over my health once again.

Top Tips For Finding A Job When Living With Chronic Illnesses:

1. Ensure the company has policies in place to make adjustments (this is a law in the UK but some organisations have better accommodations than others). Do some research before you apply to check this.

2. Be honest about your health conditions (once again it is against the law to discriminate against disability). They have a duty to make suitable adjustments, don’t suffer in silence.

3. Find a job that suits you. If you have flare ups at certain times of day you can search for a job outside those times. Or if it varies, find a role where you can choose your start and end times. There are many flexible jobs out there now and many jobs offer flexible working options.

4. Be confident in your abilities. You cannot help that you have health conditions, and you are as good as anyone else applying for that role.

5. Find something you will enjoy. You don’t want to waste your little energy on a job that doesn’t gave any benefit to you. You want to finish your day knowing you’ve made a difference.

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