Welcome to UNVAELD where unlocking the full potential of your workforce becomes your competitive advantage.

Navigating work with my chronic illness.

Living with chronic illness can be a challenging journey, especially when it comes to balancing work and health. This complex intersection of life often goes beyond the conventional challenges we face in our professional lives. In my case, living with not just one but twelve different diagnoses, including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and its complications, Irlen Syndrome, and more, adds a unique layer of complexity to my daily life and work.

 

The Struggle with Memory and Cognitive Functions

One of the most significant impacts of my chronic illnesses is on my memory and cognitive functions. While I might have a strong potential to excel in my work, my ability to consistently deliver is hindered by the unpredictable nature of my conditions. On days when I experience flare-ups, my symptoms worsen, and I struggle even with the simplest tasks, like answering a phone call. This unpredictability has a profound effect on my job performance.

For instance, imagine being in the middle of a call, trying to assist a client or customer, and suddenly experiencing a brain freeze or losing your voice due to pain and fatigue. It’s a challenging situation that I’ve faced. To manage such moments, I’ve had to develop strategies, like transferring the call to a colleague or utilizing email communication. However, these adaptations aren’t always foolproof and can still lead to dropped calls, which can significantly impact my performance evaluations, especially in a call center environment.

 

Performance Metrics and the Impact

Performance evaluations in a call center primarily focus on metrics like the number of calls taken and dropped calls. Unfortunately, these metrics often do not consider the quality of the interactions, especially for individuals like me who might struggle due to their chronic illnesses. During one particular performance review, I experienced a decline in my performance rating. This drop coincided with my official diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization.

 

The Long-term Challenge of Chronic Illness

Chronic illness isn’t something that can be resolved with a simple solution. It’s a lifelong companion, and it affects every aspect of my life, including my ability to work consistently. At times, I have abundant energy, and I’m highly productive, but it can shift to periods where I’m unable to perform even the most basic tasks. This inconsistency makes it challenging to maintain a stable level of productivity and performance.

I initially believed that my workplace understood my situation, especially as I had been transparent about my health journey. However, during the performance review, I felt let down. Instead of offering support and accommodations, there was a strong emphasis on the quantitative metrics, which did not reflect the complexities of my situation.

 

The Need for Empathy and Support

In such workplaces, it often seems like there’s an emphasis on superficial perks like office parties and games, but when it comes to addressing the real challenges faced by employees with chronic illnesses, the support is lacking. There is often a lack of understanding of cases like mine, where we struggle not due to lack of dedication but due to the unpredictability of our health conditions.

 

The Courage to Choose a New Path

Ultimately, this experience led to my decision to leave my job. It was a tough decision, as I genuinely loved what I did and was highly skilled at it. However, the lack of support and the inability of the system to accommodate my needs made it impossible for me to continue.

 

Coping with the Emotional Toll

Coping with chronic illness in a work environment brings about feelings of guilt, abandonment, and a sense of losing purpose. It’s a daily battle, and despite the setbacks, I’m determined to find new avenues where my potential can shine without the rigid constraints of conventional employment.

 

Conclusion

Living with chronic illness and navigating the workplace is a challenging journey. It requires understanding, flexibility, and empathy from both employers and colleagues. While the road may be bumpy, it’s essential to remember that individuals with chronic illnesses bring unique skills and perspectives to the table. With the right support and accommodations, we can continue to contribute meaningfully to our workplaces and society as a whole.

 

Be updated

Register for our mailing list.
Gain early access to our free professional hub and community now.

Be updated

Curious about what we offer?

UNVAELD Professional Help

We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.
We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.