Fibromyalgia and working outside the home might seem like a daunting task but it can be done. No matter where you work there are certain things that you can do or your employer can do to help you stay employed.
Many of us who have fibromyalgia tend to keep our symptoms to ourselves because we don’t want to seem to be sissies. Well folks, this might not be the best approach. Your employer and you coworkers need to know when you are fatigued, are in pain and are stiff. It’s the only way they will learn to understand why you act the way you do on certain days.
If at all possible ask if you can take more frequent breaks. If you work in a situation where you’re on your feet a lot check to see if you can sit at your station rather than stand all day. If you have to take a day off because of the pain see if you can make up that time by coming in early, staying late, or working on a Saturday. This might sound a little odd but also see if a cot could be provided so you can nap during your lunch break. A 15 – 20 minute nap can do wonders to keep you going in the afternoon.
When you talk to your employer about your fibromyalgia you can use lists provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network. Having these ‘official’ lists can sometimes influence an employer to take you more seriously.
In conjunction with the things already mentioned your employer can:
- Provide written instructions and to-do lists
- Provide a day planner or calendar
- Help prioritize your duties
- Reduce the distractions around you
- Allow you time to contact your physician or support network if you need do
- Be concise in giving instructions
- Give reminders of deadlines and meetings
- Let you use stress management techniques
- Provide information regarding counseling and employee assistance programs
- Keep physical activity to a minimum
- Have someone else do any heavy lifting
- Have the appropriate lighting. Flourescent lights can trigger migraines and body aches.
Fibromyalgia and working can be compatible. Individuals who have fibromyalgia work full-time, part-time, and work from home depending on their situation. I work in a restaurant and am on my feet five hours a day three days a week. Would I like to work more? Absolutely yes but my pain and stress tolerance won’t let me. I worked full-time up until 7 months ago and had to leave a job I loved because of the high stress and other factors that contributed to my pain, fibro fog, depression and other stuff that goes with fibromyalgia. In my part-time position I’m back to being able to smile, be friendly, have 85% less pain and sleep better at night. I know others who are full-time nurses, teachers and other professional people who deal quite well with their situations.
My point is, you need to do what YOU are ABLE to do. Your employer can help you by accommodating you as much as is reasonable. If you’re working full-time or part-time talk to your employer and see if they are willing to make some adjustments to help you have a better work environment. Most employers are willing to do what they can to keep a good employee comfortable and on the job. With your employer’s help fibromyalgia and working can go together and you can continue to be a benefit to whatever job/profession you are in. If fibromyalgia and working full-time don’t fit together anymore you might have to consider going part-time for a while, finding a different job, work from home when you can, or even start a home based business that you can work at your own pace.
Like I said, I work in a restaurant part-time but I also have this web site for a little added income. One person I know makes a living selling on Craig’s List and Ebay. This person does remarkably well now and has for the past several years.
Unless your fibromyalgia is at a point where you absolutely can’t do anything you might even find it beneficial to stay working as much as you can. A job can help keep you active both mentally and physically and it helps keep your mind off your troubles.
Fibromyalgia and working