Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Am I Ready?

(TW: Mentions of Self Harm and Overdosing)

Recently I've been thinking about where I'm going in life. There's a lot I want to do, but my health either won't allow it, or causes me to struggle to do it. If this is the first post you've read by me then here are my diagnoses:

Fibromyalgia
Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
Overactive Bladder Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Borderline Personality Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (although I'd say this is very mild these days)
Depression
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Agoraphobia

Some of these illnesses aren't as bad nowadays, but others can be unpredictable. After trying different medication, I've come to accept that this is probably the best my health will be for the foreseeable future. So, what do I do with my life?

I've always been an ambitious person, and I do put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve things. This means I tend to do too much at once, or throw myself into things without considering pacing myself. I want more out of life than I'm getting right now though.

I've considered studying again, but doing it with the Open University so I don't need to travel. I looked into a Masters in Psychology. I meet the entry requirements, and I could get the finance I need, but the only thing I can't do is afford the £2000ish required upfront before the loans are paid in. I want to save up for this somehow, but I don't see how I can save much at all while on benefits (they do not stretch far!)

I've considered working again. It should mean more income, and I could hopefully keep my PIP (if the assessment goes well, as I'd have to report a change in circumstances). Could I manage working though? Even the most basic-sounding office job requires sitting up for hours on end (I often have to lie down), remembering a lot of information, possibly walking to different departments, answering/making telephone calls (I'm not as bad now, but still have phone anxiety), bending and reaching shelves (which I can do, but it's very painful) etc. Even part time, I'd be doing this about 5 days a week. Is it worth compromising my health? How many times would I have bad days, and need to call in sick? What about the days when my anxiety disorders give me panic attacks, my depression causes me to need naps throughout the day, or my BPD causes me to feel such self hatred that all I want to do is harm myself? It's a constant battle, and with the (lack of) support I have available for both physical and mental illnesses, I don't see much changing. The more realistic option would be a home based job, but there's not a lot around that offer regular work that would pay enough for me to live on.

I want to move out before I turn 30 (I'm 28 right now), but I don't know how I will manage on my own. Last time I planned moving out, the stress put me into crisis, I overdosed twice, and even now I still have urges. There's also finances to consider, how I would physically cope with running a house by myself, and how my benefits would be affected because of me having to cope by myself. I can't live with my parents forever though.

I went to a family wedding very recently, and one of the usual questions came up from a certain family member; "so, what are you doing these days?". I mentioned that I blog and I vlog sometimes, but of course what they wanted to know was if I was working yet. The disappointment in their eyes when I said "no" was quite hurtful. I quickly followed this up by explaining I'd been thinking about studying or working. They didn't seem satisfied though. Apparently Psychology isn't the right path to go down for work or study. I should be doing Computer Science instead.

As well as working *and* studying, they expected me to take up driving lessons again (I did learn 10 years ago, but failed my test and couldn't afford it/lost my confidence afterwards). They also wanted me to travel to see them more.

It was very hard to explain why I couldn't do some, let alone all of these things. I also felt I wasn't being listened to, I was just being told what I *should* be doing. The thing is, this family member knows at least some of the illnesses I have, yet they don't seem to realise that chronic means lifelong, and that these illnesses affect my daily life significantly.

This has been playing on my mind a lot recently, and I feel like I'm achieving nothing in my life right now. I spoke to a few friends about how I'd been feeling and got some great advice for testing how I'd manage with the workload of a job, as well as some advice about driving. To my surprise, a lot of people my age and older don't/can't drive. The only reason I might take up driving again is if I have children in the future. Apparently, I may have to check with DVLA as to whether (with my conditions) I'm actually allowed to. Honestly, I don't want to drive. It makes me panic, I don't feel safe or in control, and I don't think it's worth feeling this way. I always felt like I had to learn though, for my family if not myself. To be told by a friend that I don't ever have to drive if I don't want to, was really helpful though.

Right now, I can't say I've decided on anything. I'm looking at job vacancies, but I'm also considering whether I'm ready or not. Studying will have to wait, unless I do some free short courses. Driving is something I don't want to think about right now, and I guess moving out will just have to wait until I'm financially more secure (whenever that will be).

In the meantime, I have to look at the little achievements, one of which will be finishing this blog post!

Do you have a Chronic illness (physical and/or mental) and struggle to work/can't work? What parts of your job do you struggle most with? What are your thoughts?


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