Working with Chronic Illnesses

Working with Chronic Illnesses

Freya talks about working with chronic illnesses

As a charity run by disabled people, for disabled people, BuDS works hard to provide reasonable adjustments for people working. This includes flexible work hours and working from home.

Freya talks about her experiences running the Fair4All Card Scheme while living with chronic illnesses.

Ordinarily, creating and running a project at a younger age is challenging for anyone, let alone a person with complicated health issues. My health has a substantial impact on my life, and especially my ability to work. I need flexibility in my day-to-day life, and often work at odd hours of the day and night. This compensates for the hours lost during the day when I was unable to work.   

Not knowing whether you will feel appalling or amazing when you wake up makes it especially difficult to plan out work and meetings. I am blessed that BuDS is incredibly flexible when it comes to working, and I’m no stranger to doing a meeting from the comfort of my bed under a fluffy blanket (with my camera off of course!). This is a really good example of reasonable adjustments working well. In any other workplace, I would have to call in sick if I couldn’t get to the office, but BuDS understands that I just need to be able to work in a different way.  

Working while dealing with health conditions has taught me a lot though. How to ignore the feeling of a hedgehog rolling on your knee while in an important meeting comes to mind. It has taught me a lot about resilience and knowing when to allow yourself a rest. The Fair4All Card team is amazing when it comes to covering for other people. I know that if I need a week off to manage my health, the rest of the team will be filling in the gaps until I re-join. I’ve also learnt how to work around problems my health may present. Through a combination of lots of different things, my memory occasionally just decides to have a nice holiday, and gives up for a week or two. I learnt early on to write everything down and organise it so it’s easy to come back to, otherwise that important task that needed doing will never be remembered again.  

As applications manager, I see a lot of different health conditions on a daily basis. Having several myself elevates my ability to support others through the application process. I just have to ask myself ‘what would I want if I was in this situation.’ I have a Fair4All Card myself, and it gives me so much more confidence when I need to leave the house – especially as my disabilities are not obviously visible.  

Something people with chronic illnesses and disabilities are asked all the time is ‘would you get rid of your condition if you could?’ To this, the answer is I honestly don’t know. While it would be nice to remove many symptoms of my conditions, my identity is also formed around growing up with health conditions and changing my life around new circumstances. I have learnt so much from working with my shaky health, and had a number of amazing experiences that I wouldn’t trade for any amount of good health, working on the Fair4All Card being one of them! 

All this being said, I hope this gave you a brief insight into life working with chronic illnesses, and the unpredictability that can unfold!