Why I Still Work with Fibromyalgia

I have worked all of my life - barring a short spell of unemployment back in the 1980's - I like to work.

Until I was made redundant in 2011 I worked full time in all of my jobs - I've been a policeman, a packer and quality auditor in a plastics factory, a coordinator of a national youth enterprise scheme, a business adviser and social enterprise consultant. I have worked for British Telecom as a buildings inspector and ripped my fingers to shreds splitting moulds at a tyre manufacturers, I've guided wealthy theatre goers as a front of house attendant at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, London. I've chased debts in the accounts department of a national cable TV provider, sold advertising space over the telephone and been a general manager of a small courier firm. Quite an interesting and eclectic mix of roles I'm sure you'll agree, and all of these positions have been full time roles - working a minimum of 37 hours per week - though the plastics factory never let me work any less than sixty with overtime!


My roles have ranged from sedentary telesales to hard manual labour but, from my mid thirties all of my jobs have been office based - except for my current job.

These days I work just sixteen hours a week.
I now work as a Customer Assistant in a small convenience store - where "Every Little Helps" - it's not a bad job. The pay is poor (but within 'industry standards!) and it can get very labour intensive with lots of heavy lifting and stacking, but for only sixteen hours I can manage. It helps that my shifts are consecutive - three evenings per week - which gives me four days off in which to recuperate.

I'm often asked "Why do you still work?" especially in such a physically demanding role when I could be sat behind a desk? I've pondered this question myself a few times and the only answer I've come up with is that 'it gets me out of the house!'

Yoga is often recommended as a good therapy for people with fibromyalgia and my doctors have all advised me to 'get a dog' so I can take it for walks - yoga sessions cost anywhere from £15 to £35 per session and a dog could cost as much as £500 plus vet plan, plus food! (I do have a dog anyway!!)

In my job I am constantly bending and twisting, lifting and lowering and, for all that it is a small convenience store I must walk at least three miles per shift around it! However, I get paid for it!

So, why do I work?

1. It gets me out of the house
2. It provides much needed exercise - for which I am paid

I love meeting people. I have always been a very social animal. Social interaction is high on my list of priorities for life. The more people you have in your life, the better your life will be are my watch words. I've seen old friends and family members who alienate themselves from everyone. Do they look happy? No. Can they call on friends in times of need? No. Do their friends call them up for no reason other than to just chat? No. It is important to me to maintain friendships and make new ones whenever I have the opportunity to do so - my job gives me this in spades - plus I get paid for it!

So, why do I work?
1. It gets me out of the house
2. It provides much needed exercise - for which I am paid
3. I get to interact with other human beings - for which I am paid

I have a mortgage, wife, daughter, three cats and a dog (the latter being a new addition to the menagerie!) The mortgage enables me to sit in my riser/recliner armchair watching TV until the cows come home, it enables me to stay dry when it rains and warm when it's cold outside - it's a roof over my head with security (providing I pay the mortgage every month for the remaining 11 years - for which I need to work!) my wife and daughter and the menagerie of pets make the mortgaged house a home. A home gives you a sense of belonging - something I also get from working.

So, why do I work?
1. It gets me out of the house
2. It provides much needed exercise - for which I am paid
3. I get to interact with other human beings - for which I am paid
4. It gives me a sense of belonging - to a group of staff as well as the customers I serve
5. It enables me to maintain my home - for which I need to pay!

Sure, working with fibromyalgia is difficult most of the time - even when my employers make concessions for my illness by giving me lighter duties - and I do suffer for most of my recuperation period, but by the time my first shift is due again I am raring to go - not simply to get me out of the house but to provide me with everything I need from life.

When the time comes for me to give up working - and I know this could happen at any time given my condition - I will lose some of the above, but hopefully I will still have the friends I've made and the home I've paid for.

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