Friday, April 2, 2010

Working With My Chronic Pain

I've always worked. My first job was at McDonalds when I was 15. I worked through high school and college and all the years since. That is until about 2 years ago when, after 2years of struggling with these out of control migraines, my husband and I decided we could afford to have me take some time off to get my migraines under control. Working had become an intense struggle. I felt miserable but had to push through in order to get my work done. It was draining and frustrating. I've always been a hard worker but it began to seem like most of my hard work went into faking some sense of normalcy. I thought if I could just get some time to really focus on getting better then I would be able to return to work. Here we are two years later and I'm not doing any better.

I feel so fortunate that I have my husband and we are able to make ends meet with his income alone. But every day I don't work is a struggle. Working has always given me a sense of independence and the wonderful feeling that I'm contributing to this world. I liked having places to be and people to coordinate with. When I was working I felt connected to the community. Not having any of that now is hard to deal with.
I can't help but feel like there is now a power inequity in our marriage. In my head I know I'm contributing a lot to our relationship. I do everything at home; all the laundry, cooking, cleaning, ironing, bills and budgets, care for our dog, shopping and errands. I don't know why I feel so guilty about not working outside the home. Sometimes I joke about being a housewife minus the kids and money, but it's just a cover for all the guilt and shame I feel when people ask what I do.

On top of the guilt I struggle with the what ifs of the future. What if this doesn't ever get better (a scenario that seems more possible every month)? I feel like I would just be a burden on my husband. Perhaps he would tire of taking care of me and want out. Or...what if something happened to him. I would probably have to move back in with my mom. But that isn't a good plan for the future. Maybe I would be able to get on disability, but that wouldn't be enough to support myself on. Will I ever be self sufficient again? What if I do get better? How do I reenter my career after years away because of illness? How do I explain this kind of a gap in my resume? Who's going to hire someone like me when there are so many other candidates without health gaps? We no longer live in the same state so it's like I still have connections or relationships with people who know my value as a worker and a human. This is all so overwhelming!

On top of the guilt and what ifs I have a tremendous amount of sadness over all the loss my health has imposed. I still have the same dreams and desires as I did prior to the nasty intrusion of chronic pain. However, they all seem quite out of reach today.

I don't really know what to do with all this.

If I could just find a job with descent pay and flexibility to work from home and wait out the pain before returning to my obligations...


  1. I am in essentially the same boat. I am not able to get a disability pension because of my partner's income, yet that income is not quite enough to support us both. I am taking charity from family and it makes me feel terrible, not to mention my family members are unstable, which makes the help they provide unstable as well. I am just able enough to be incredibly frustrated with my lack of employment, but too disabled to take on a "regular job".

    I think there are more of us in this situation than we think, but it definitely feels very lonely.