It’s been another hard week but somehow I’ve made it to friday. I think even a ‘well’ person would have struggled with my workload this week! I honestly believe that teaching part time is like having a full time job. I spend my two days off marking, assessing and planning. Teaching full time is like having two jobs. You have the nice bit, teaching, then the paperwork. Oh my goodness, the paperwork is relentless! 

This week has had me thinking about how hard it can be to continue working when you have a chronic illness. I consider myself fortunate, I’m still working despite how much FND breaks me. I know many people with my condition have had to leave work. The thought of this scares me. I think if I didn’t work, FND would consume me and I would be even more poorly.

So, I want to put together a small list of what I do to manage my illness with working. This is, of course, personal to me and it won’t work for everyone but if it could help anyone that would be great! 

Here it goes … My FND work battle:

1) Work with your boss. I am extremely lucky to have a compassionate and understanding boss. We have spent a lot of time together, in order for her to understand my limitations. As a result, we are able to work out my timetable so it’s flexible and allows for rests in between. This makes a huge difference and I know that I can be open and honest when things aren’t working out.

2) Organisation. This is a huge part of managing my illness, home life and work together. Keeping organised elevates unwanted stress. It helps my week to run smoothly and gives me some rest breaks (even if they’re not very long). 

3) Routine. Alongside organisation, my routine is key. I have built a kind of internal body clock and this way everything runs smoothly. My routine means that everything gets done and this means I can relax during those rare breaks.

4) Support. This has been my biggest adjustment. Since falling ill with FND, I have had to accept that I just can’t do everything. Part of this acceptance has come from CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and Fatigue Management. I realise know that if I push too much and try to do everything myself, I just end up exacerbating my symptoms. My family and friends are a vital part of me being able to work. I really couldn’t do it without their support!

I hope that this helps anyone else who is trying to work or return to work whilst living with a chronic illness. It won’t work for everyone and honestly, it’s so hard. I completely understand that many with FND don’t work and would definitely never judge that. However, for me, this is what keeps me going. I work as much as I can and as hard as I can for my two wonderful boys. Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to increase my hours if my health improves but for now, all I can do is try my best!

Thanks for taking the time to read my story.

Charlotte xxx