Young Aussies share how hard work can be with an invisible disability
Working in any capacity can be a tough gig. Managing stress levels from pressures to know your shit and perform well runs you down, it’s pretty standard.
Existing with a disability or chronic illness adds a whole other layer of management and self-care that fully-abled people will never quite understand.
But what if this disability or illness isn’t visible to those around you? How much do you share with your boss and workmates? What happens when you need to take time to take care of yourself?
It’s a very tricky thing to navigate, and it’s incredible the amount of people that wrestle both their work life and sometimes-challenging health. If you don’t have to do this yourself, chances are there is at least one person at work who does.
PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke with a range of people with different invisible disabilities and chronic illnesses about how they manage their work, their life, and what they do to juggle the most demanding parts of their lives.
Emma works in the AFL’s media department in Melbourne, and manages the high-stress, high-demand job with her ongoing health struggles.
On a day to day basis, she’s working hard on footy broadcasting, websites, and clients whilst also juggling Meniere’s Disease (which affects her inner ears), IgA Nephritis (which affects her kidneys), Menorrhagia and Dysmenorrhea (chronic pain from her period), severe chronic back, neck, and knee pain, and arthritis forming in her joints. She’s 26.
On top of all of these physical things that affect her daily ability, Emma also manages her diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
It’s an absolutely whopping amount of stuff to have on her plate, and she makes sure she takes time to take care of herself when needed.
“My kidney issues are really touch and go, I just have to make sure my body stays healthy and pick up on any signals that I can feel will turn into an episode of the disease, which is similar to how I manage my Meniere’s.” Emma tells PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“The days that I can't manage to get out of bed, I still make myself, because I feel horribly guilty about taking any days off work ever, even though I have such a supportive and understanding workplace.”
Emma says that her work is aware of her chronic pain issues and has given her nothing but support and assistance for her physical wellbeing.
She tells us that her favourite trick for when she’s not feeling her best is a good session of chick flicks with her friends, and copping some wisdom from her Dad on the phone.
Family is a big support base for Rory, who runs a hostel in Coffs Harbour with her dad, whilst also juggling her photography business, a two-year-old, chronic migraines, severe anxiety, and chronic pain from a traumatic accident in 2011.
“I take a lot of pain killers, I use heat packs and mindfulness to try and get through the bad moments.” Rory says of her pain management.
“I also have a very supportive partner who completely understands my condition because he is an accredited exercise physiologist, and he is the first person to pick up the slack when I'm having a bad day.”
Rory tells us that her pain medication is expensive and shitty on her body, but knows that she doesn’t have any other options at the moment.
Her specialists have told her that she’s ‘too young’ for pain treatments that are considered quite invasive, but also that she shouldn’t be taking medication for too long.
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