Putting Your Health First
Last updated: September 2022
My health has never come first, I have always been a workaholic that would do anything to advance their studies and career. I worked multiple jobs through high school, full-time corporate to put myself through my bachelor's and moved up to an even faster-paced role after graduating. At 23, I was living large and happier than ever. I worked downtown at a wonderful firm and knew this is where I would thrive for at least the next 5 years. However, life had other plans and 6 months into this role, I started to get sick. I pushed through for a long while, not realizing that this was not going to leave anytime soon...
Here I sit, a year after taking on my dream position, interviewing candidates for my role. My AS diagnosis came in summer 2022, it's all so new, but part of me has known for the last 6 months that inflammatory arthritis was wreaking havoc on my body. I was grateful my firm was flexible with me these last 6 months, allowing me to work hybrid and supporting me through all the unknowns. However, I know now that it is right to walk away.
I simply cannot do what needs to be done; my mind nor body work in the same way they did when I was hired. I have accepted this, but not without a heavy heart. Driving has been a huge trigger for my arthritis, my hands, knees and ankles cannot handle the daily commutes and only add to the misery. Being confined to a desk all day, no matter what supports I add to my station, only causes me to focus more on the pain I'm feeling. I know change is necessary and my role needs someone who can give 110%, while I can't even give it 50% of me these days.
I beat myself up over thinking of resigning for many months, calling myself a failure and telling myself I could push through all this if I was stronger. The truth is, I am EXTREMELY strong and doing my absolute best. That is what matters and taking a step back from other areas of life to focus on my health is not failing. It is quite the opposite, I will thrive in a new role that has better accommodations for my illness. I am NOT defined by the amount of hours I work in a day, I am NOT just a career. I am a loving, kind-hearted person who is trying their best to adapt to a new reality.
I hope you all can find this same kindness and acceptance towards yourself, as the mental relief I have felt from allowing myself to take a step back in life has been tremendous. You are not defined by your productivity, sometimes you can only simply survive and that is more than enough. Sending hugs to all you warriors.
Have you ever had to take a leave of absence from work due to your symptoms?
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