Managing the Workplace When You Have AS

By Roy Stevens
Updated 2024-03-28 18:24:42 | Published 2021-04-19 17:44:59
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  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
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    • Discover the world of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) through our dedicated iMedix Blog section. Learn about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments of AS. This area serves as a guide for individuals living with AS and their caregivers, offering information and tips for managing this chronic inflammatory disease.

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I had a decade-long career in the financial services industry, providing support to successful investment and financial advisors who managed extensive stock portfolios for wealthy clients. The pressure to excel was constant, whether I was on the phone with clients or completing paperwork for new accounts. The advisors I assisted were high achievers and expected efficient results. I believe I thrived in this industry because I, too, am a determined individual. I worked tirelessly, arriving early each morning with my cup of tea or latte, and often stayed late. As an associate, my days were long and filled with client meetings, form preparation, and communication with accountants. I would return home exhausted and in chronic pain.

While sitting at my desk, I could manage the pain. However, I felt self-conscious and embarrassed when I had to move around the office. Thoughts would race through my mind, wondering if anyone was watching or if my knee would give me trouble. I began to resent my body for the limitations it placed upon me, as my colleagues seemed unaffected. The recurring daily cycle of pain and embarrassment added to my frustration.

Nevertheless, I persevered, determined not to reveal the extent of my struggles to the advisors I supported. I feared the consequences of being vulnerable. Fortunately, I had a compassionate and supportive colleague at one of my positions. I confided in him about my history of pain and surgeries, finding solace in his understanding and empathy. Having someone to share laughter with made the workdays bearable.

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Here's the truth: you push yourself at work, hoping for recognition and advancement. Despite your pain, you put on a brave face, fearing that revealing your struggles would hinder your progress. You feel scared, ashamed, and guilty. My advice to you is this: if you have a colleague you trust, open up to them about your experience. It is beneficial to have someone who understands when working with chronic pain. My colleague made a difference in my life, and knowing he was there made my days a little easier.

Now, let's address your situation. Are you in so much pain at work that you find yourself crying in the bathroom stall? Do you count down the minutes until your lunch break, desperate to escape the pain distracting you from your work? Are you always helping others, even when you just want to go home and rest? If any of this resonates with you, I have some advice to offer.

Throughout my healing journey, I have learned valuable lessons about working with a chronic disease. First and foremost, pushing yourself to exhaustion is not worth it. I used to believe that working hard, even on Saturdays, and sacrificing time with my family would prove my worth as an employee. But the truth is, you do not need to prove yourself to anyone, not even to yourself. What matters most is how you feel about yourself and whether your work aligns with your values.

Life is too short to remain in a job that drains your energy and spirit. If you have a desire to leave your current role but are afraid to take the leap, take the time to discover what truly ignites your passion. Find a job that fulfills you and aligns with your values while also compensating you appropriately. You deserve to work in a role that makes you feel good to your core. Taking one small step towards this courageous change will bring profound love and appreciation from your heart, body, and soul.

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