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Career Crunched


Kitsakatsa
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I don't know if there is anyone with some advice? I work in a Management job, and today I had a discussion with my Director about how I want more opportunities for growth and how I feel that I'm being held back. I've worked very hard for my degrees that these are the things that my brain wants. At the same time, I am about to fall over and pass out. My main symptom is nausea and today, it is out of control. My Director has been very understanding about my illness and very supportive, but I feel that even though I fight through the illness, it has held me back. Does anyone else feel that they are split between wanting to achieve more in life or work, but can't get over the fact that rolling into a ball under their desk is a compelling plan?

Half of me feels like I should be on disability. Half of me feels like I want to be very competitive in the career ladder.

How can I be happy either way?

Kits

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I completely understand what you mean. There are times that I wonder what my life would be like if I wasn't sick. I think about how much more I would have accomplished and where I would be right now. I had to give up a lot of my hobbies because of this disease. I used to do sports, act, write, I write fiction, when I can, and I like to think I would be published by now if I didn't need 10+ hours of sleep each night and didn't need the time to recover from my thrice weekly (or more) flares. I also wonder about where my fledgling "career" would be if I could spend the 80 hours a week in the lab that is suggested. The thing is - I just CAN NOT do that.

I look back at it and realize that without this disease, I wouldn't have learned to manage my time as efficiently or learned how to ask for help and not feel guilty about it. It's all a compromise. But, life in general is a compromise and it's about priorities. My health HAS to be my number one priority. I also have to learn to live each and every day for what it is. If I can go to work today - great. If I can stay all day - even better! Most people I've found respect me for what I'm doing even though I'm sick. (This may be different with you- I work in the research portion of the medical field- and am sometimes viewed as a very interesting project, as most know something about my disease.)

Sara

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Sara,

I too work in the medical field. I wanted to read your post slowly to make it last longer because it really does speak to me. If I try and advance my career, I may lose it all together and I may have to commute to a hospital that doesn't have my doc and everything all set up for me (+ commute!). I can see higher jobs that I could really do well at PRE POTS. How would it all work out now?

Thank you for the affirmation that health has to come first. It is true. I have gained some gifts from being sick that I otherwise wouldn't have had. Patience for one thing! It really is a challenge to turn off the thing in my brain that makes me want to go after more.

One ingredient of a good story is life experience. I hope that you do become published and that all adversity will be a pathway for you to create what you're after. Let me know when I can buy your book!

Kits

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Yes, I go back and forth with the thought of taking on more responsibility and advancing my career or staying where I am now. But ultimately I feel like I?m still not 100% so I don?t think it would be fair to myself (or my firm) to jump into a new opportunity now. I?ve definitely learned from this POTS experience that you need to put your health first. Other opportunities will come along. Listen to your body ? it will tell you what to do.

Same holds true for other things outside work ? there?s a dozen things I want to do (hobbies, travel, etc.) but I?m learning that maybe now is not the time for them. Taking time to heal, recover, or at least manage my illness the best I can now ? maybe I?ll plan out my ultimate vacation or take on online course - plenty of time to rule the world later. :)

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I completely understand what you mean. I think that's great that you are working though!! You are obviously trying very hard to keep up with your job. It is so hard to want to achieve so much in your career and yet be held back by your health; something you have no control over. I am finishing my Bachelors online right now, and have wanted to teach kindergarten since I can remember! It would be too much to go through student teaching for me (full time for a year, 40 hrs/week), so I kind of have to put the dream on hold. It is very hard, but one thing I've found that helps is to look at alternatives that you can do NOW, which will help you to get to that dream later. For example, since I can't major in Education and do student teaching, I am completing an Interdisciplinary degree in Psychology, Sociology, and Education. I figure I can work with children in a different way (more "behind the scenes", something flexible, etc.) until I am fully able to commit and put everything into the teaching profession.

Is there a way you can "move up" and take on a little more (maybe not necessarily "more", but something different, a new role, etc.) at your job, while still maintaining some type of the flexibility you will need, at least until you are better? Maybe if you talk to the Director, there is some special project(s) you could be assigned to with more responsibility but that you could still tailor to how you feel, etc.? You never know how or if someone is willing to work around you at your job!

Adding in something a little different that still lets you move toward that dream of climbing the career ladder may really be of big help to you (as getting a Bachelors in a related field and working with children at some point to work up to teaching has been to me). Also, little hobbies that don't take up much energy (reading, scrapbooking, etc.) can really help to feel productive when you have the energy (although I know extra energy is hard to come by!).

Chrissy :)

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I completely understand! I'm a middle school teacher, and I really want to go back for my Master's degree. Right now, though, it's all I can do to drive the 20 miles home from work each day after working all day. Some days, I also feel like I should be filing for disability. But I really love my job, so as long as I can manage to stay upright and work, I'm going to continue. I have OI and NCS. My principal knows about my illness, and she's very supportive. My co-workers know what to do if I hit the floor. This is my fourth year to teach, and so far, so good! Just hang in there and try to find positive things daily. Maybe one day, they'll find the cure!

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This past March, I had to leave my position as a middle school language arts teacher. I was exhausted, sick all the time, and finally landed in the emergency room.

I filed for disability, and in the meantime am working as a private violin instructor. Thank God for spare talent.

I'm working on a novel.

I blog.

I clean the house where I'm living, do the laundry.

A lot of the time, I feel like a purposeless blob, a waste of bone and skin tissue. I wonder what was the point for me to exist if this is the way its going to be. I'm depressed a lot, but try to hide it.

So, that doesn't really help you, but I can say I know what it feels like to be held back because of your illness.

Sorry for the downer post reply. <_<

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My perspective is a little different, because I developed POTS after having worked for several years after graduating. I worked way too hard at my job...to the point where I was running myself down. After getting POTS, I was really using every ounce of my energy to get to work and actually work, that I didn't have time to do anything else and felt very frustrated and unfulfilled. I didn't mean for things to be that way, but that's how things turned out and I was just going along with it.

Getting sick has changed my priorities a lot. I've taken some time off of work and it has done me wonders, and I will go back to the same job and look for something else that is easier and pays less. I realized that I want to have a job that permits me to live life, rather than having a life that permits me to just do my job. This is a very hard realization to come to when you have spent your life working toward something.

Some of my female friends face the same issue b/c they're having kids - it's a little different because having kids is usually a choice and a good thing, whereas we're dealing with a horrible illness. But they're feeling the career crunch too and it helps to talk to them.

Sometimes I wonder whether there's any such thing as a dream job. It seems hardly anyone I know is happy with their careers - even the healthy ones - most people work too hard, don't like their bosses, don't get paid enough, want a career change, want to be promoted - there is always something!

I still feel a twinge when I hear about what some of my friends and classmates are doing. And I see jobs that seem really fun and interesting and think "Oh, I could do that, if only I were healthy." And I see things that I want to buy, and realize I need to save my money because I could be making a lot less. Mostly, though, I'm just happy taking care of myself and not having so much pressure.

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I can certainty empathize with your issues. I have held myself back at work whilst my health has been impaired and then continued in a more junior role to take the pressure off a bit. My job is pretty hard and stressful and I felt that taking a more responsible job could just tip me over the edge.

The thing is, I have done this for a few years now and my bosses are all saying that I am doing the more senior job anyway, just not getting the recognition for it. I am (hopefully!) about to rectify this with a promotion. It doesn't stop me feeling nervous about the situation.

There are a number of things that have helped me carry on at work and have positively influenced my decision. Firstly, there are several people with the sale role as me at work. If I am too unwell to go to work, someone else can cover. I have also been able to introduce some flexibility in my hours which helps (eg. go in a bit later on a morning).

I don't know if I have made the right decision in taking a promotion, but I would say that it becomes increasingly difficult to work at a role below your capabilities both at a personal level, and I found is distorted the structure at a wider department level.

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I have often felt torn. I"m lucky that my worst symptoms did not kick in until after I"d finished graduate school and gotten tenure (I"m a professor). I definitely feel my health has slowed me down in the past years, but fortunately my job is flexible. I'm trying to get revved up about some new research projects, but know that I can't go as full steam ahead as I once could. One thing that makes me tremendously sad is that traveling for conferences and research is a big part of my work, and I've had to put that on hold. It doesn't disqualify me, but definitely gets in the way. In whatever small way, I still want to be considered a "player" in my field.

I do know that I'm better off mentally when I have non-health related things to focus on. If I can put some non-excessive , decent quality time into creative projects, no matter how small, I feel a lot better, and less like I"m identified by my illness. I imagine this wouldn't have to be work related, but it's good to cultivate other parts of myself. Sometimes easier said than done.

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Hi,

I used to be very ambitious and wanted to complete my PhD in Psychology. I had to quit because of my health. I had to stop working for the same reason. It took me years to accept that I could no longer work as I identified myself with my job.

After having almost died several times over the last few years, I am happy to be still alive an be able to go out an do some things by myself. It's funny how you see life in a different perspective and your values change when you get so close to death. I don't want the big things anymore. I want simple things, my family, my friends and to appreciate the moment I am living.

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