Being in control of your own workload and schedule for such extended periods of time put you (well, me anyway) at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes time to look for work. Well, work in the real world. Where you are not approached for work on your terms but you have to seek it out, apply for it and then wait for the dreaded phone call, or lack thereof. I have reached that bridge that I have not been on for a long time and I have to cross it.
Looking for a job with chronic pain.
First let's talk about the financial stress working only part-time and or being on disability gives you. Next to nothing. Even less than nothing is when there is only one person in the house providing for everyone including the person on disability. I personally received from disability for one month what I used to make in one week! I am not the only one in this position.
Bills are past due, you are juggling who to pay and when, downsizing cable TV, letting your cell phone shut off and the list goes on and on. As if that stress wasn't enough you have the mini heart attacks that come every time the phone rings knowing somebody looking to get paid. It's not only headaches, tension, and increased pain that are the result.
Second lets talk about what it does to your spirit. You are not who you once were. You cannot do what you once did. You have guilt, shame, and cannot fully express it because you feel it would make you seem weaker than you already feel. It's emasculating, humiliating, heartbreaking, and embarrassing. To tell a landlord you will be late, or call the electric company and ask to be put on a payment plan, or to have to tell your kids they can't do all the extras at gymnastics because it cost too much, even though all the other parents seem to have no problem paying for it. It all adds up to nothing but more stress for our already taxed, beaten and exhausted bodies.We reuse vacuum cleaner bags because we can't afford to buy new ones.
We don't get our hair and nails done because we can't afford it.
We don't get a massage after a hard day at work because it hurts too much, and even if it didn't hurt, we still couldn't afford it.
Forget new make up or magazine subscriptions, drinks out with the guys, shopping with the girls, trying a new vitamin or supplement....none of that is really our reality.
Well, just get a job and we'll be able to have more money to get those prescriptions, haircuts, an extra gym classes for kids. Hhhhmmm.. Let's think about that for a minute.
Your hands, fingers, and wrists will hurt from filling out all these applications. Gas time and energy is greatly drained going from place to place. And the mental capacity you have to have for the 20 minute "assessment test" they throw at you for the on-line applications might as well be a vacuum stuck to you ear sucking your brains out because you feel like you have none left by the time its over!
Tip: try to find a generic one online and print it out, make copies and you may be able to leave your copy instead of filling out the new one every time .
Trying to remember all the dates, supervisors, phone numbers and addresses with brain fog is practically impossible. You have to make sure that you have it all written down, saved in your phone or your notes or address book.
The anxiety of interviewing whether it's fog, anxiety, cognitive issues, or the fact that you're just out of practice is also stressful, and that's only if they call you back, which most places don't bother to do that anymore.
Tip: Write down what you want to say with some practice questions ahead of time. Run through it out loud in the mirror or with a friend so you will seem confident and ready.If you are still not sure, take notes with highlights and bring them. Notes can show that you are prepared and thorough.
So, now back to the job search.You can't sit too long, stand too long, bend over too much, lift heavy objects, or be in a loud environment. You can't be in an environment with a lot of different smells, odors or chemicals. You can't be in charge of too many tasks with deadlines a a time, or in a position with high stress. You need to be able to take time to move and stretch every once in a while, be able to take your medication when needed, water or food at the appropriate times so your body doesn't begin to get tired, shut down or you become increasingly confused.
Oh, and don't forget you need to find some place that will allow you times and days off for flares, doctors appointments, illness or anything else that might come up. We know how we can catch EVERYTHING that's going around.
Do you tell your prospective employer that you are on disability? Will they treat you differently or refuse to give you the job? Will coworkers treat you differently or expect less out of you because they know you have a chronic condition? Will they think you are looking for exceptions, or just seeking attention? Will they talk about you behind your back, or talk to you at all?
Do you have presentable clothes for your new work environment? There's another added cost before you have even received a paycheck! Should you try to find a job you can do at or from home? How do you find one? Are they scams? Are you at "that age" (which quite frankly at the speed we progress can be only 30!) where you need to take a class to refresh your skills or learn new ones? Can you afford it? Can you even do it?
I will stop here because not all experiences are this way. But for those of you who it is, you are not crazy! We go through this and it's not fun.
Some of us are lucky and find a job with an understanding boss, great co workers and we are very lucky. Some us never tell our bosses and we push and push, and keep going and going, even when it seems utterly impossible. This always come with price, but we pay that price for the sake of a paycheck.
We do what we have to do sometimes, regardless of what we CAN do.