Looking for Work with an Invisible Illness

As luck would have it I had my first in-person interview since loosing my job in February during Invisible Illness Week. My health issues were definitely a factor in loosing my job. And, to be very honest, I’ve struggled like most people with chronic health problems with the questions about working. How long will I be able to work? And, at times, how much longer can I keep doing this? How much more can I take?

Woman peaking over a Hire Me sign

Do you think they’d get the hint? Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But being rather stubborn, and having a family to support, I’ve been looking for work. I’ve had some requests for additional information, a few phone interviews, but this was the first real interview I’ve had. It’s the kind of job I have been looking for. It has all the things I like to do, involves my strongest skill set and is in the location I’ve been trying to get to. This could be the job I have dreaming of for years.

Only I have to wonder if this is the right time for it. I had hoped that without the particular work environment I had been in, without the tough commute and without the long hours my health would improve a bit. No such luck. If anything think I may be getting worse. My days seem to be non-stop fatigue, brain-fog and pain.

So I go into the interview after having been flared up for a few days, and I should preface this by saying I got a strange vibe about the interview from the first email I got  from them, thinking that this should be interesting. I was right. I forgot the names and versions of software I’ve used, I forgot the title of books I’ve read. I’m pretty sure I didn’t make sense a couple of times. In general, I sounded and acted like someone with an invisible illness.

You know what? I don’t have a problem with that. I do have invisible illnesses. This is who I am. This is what happens when I’m tired and stressed.

The thing is, you can’t exactly look across the desk at the person interviewing you for a position where the ability to communicate clearly and professionally is a high priority and say, “Sorry, I am having a really bad case of brain fog right now – can we take 5 minutes? Oh and my mouth is so dry from my Sjorgern’s flaring that I may lose my voice, can you get me a glass of water? I’d get it myself but the fibro is killing my legs.” Okay, you could say it but you and I both know that you would never hear back from them. You probably wouldn’t hear from anyone else because it wouldn’t be long before people started to hear about it.

Artistic photo of pills

Maybe it’s time to be realistic.

I don’t know what to think right now. Obviously I didn’t do well in the interview (I don’t think they did either, but that’s a different story for another time), and I’m really not confident I could perform in the position that I’d want to. And that is so scary. As someone who was always praised for their work ethic and dedication and their ability to communicate, the fact that all of those things are basically shot to hell at this point is just gut-wrenching. And knowing that basically there is nothing I can do about it makes it even worse.

This is the time to be realistic and reevaluate where I am physically, mentally and emotionally and what is possible. I have an appointment with my new doctor next week, and that will tell us something too. Then I have a may have to change tactics a bit. It could be the kind of work I look for, it could be something that allows me to work from home. It could be having to take a step that I’m not necessarily mentally prepared for.

Just like everything else with invisible illness, I’ll take it one step at a time.


So About Starting Over…

A few days after my last post I lost my job. The good paying, decent health insurance coverage, sole-support of my family of four job. Yes, it was also the job I hated, the job that was taking a huge toll on my physical and mental health and generally making my life a living hell, but it was a JOB! I have a family to support and complicated health issues to try to manage and it becomes very difficult to do that when you suddenly have no means to do that.

All of my plans on taking time to think about what I wanted to be and where I wanted to be were scattered into the wind while my family have gone into survival mode.

IMG_0396Not that we haven’t tried to look at this as an opportunity for us. When I told the kids I lost my job that this was our chance to do anything. Where did we want to live? At first they picked London. But given we don’t know anyone there, had no job opportunities there or means to get there to look for job, they agreed that might not be the best idea. Instead we decided to move back to western Pennsylvania where my husband and I grew up and most of our family still lives.

I’ve been doing some freelance work, combined with the severance package we made it through seven months, longer than we thought we would. My husband’s gotten a part-time job working retail and is on the verge of getting a full-time job, which is great. But the benefits won’t start for 90 days, and we’re can’t keep paying for COBRA (well maybe we could but that would be pretty much his whole check). My next freelance project that I was told to clear the end of July, all of August and some of September for at a full-time level of effort has suddenly been put on hold, so I now I don’t have work (or money) coming in.

But, if there is one thing I know, it’s that things tend to work out the way they are meant to. Whether I like the way they turn out or not. I’m trying not to worry, because we all know that worry only makes health problems worse.

For now, the kids are registered in school. The oldest has started her Freshman year of marching band and having a blast. The youngest is looking forward to starting a new school far away from a bully problem we couldn’t get rid of back in Virginia.

As for the blog, I think I’m back on track. If for no other reason than giving me a place to put some thoughts….and things…

So stay tuned. You should be hearing a lot more from me!