Saturday, 15 January 2011

Beware, Elephant at Work!

I haven't really blogged about this much, but I have been going through a phased return to work after an ME/CFS crash a while ago. It has been fraught with pitfalls and disturbing situations, but I hope we are now someway to sorting all this out and sanity resuming! I am seriously hoping for a reduction in the stress that I have had to endure over the last, erm, well...... 11months all in all!

What I was striving for was a return to full time hours. The powers that be were not very keen to let me do this, and I don't think it has much to do with their concern for my health!

It's immensely hard to have such a huge knock to your health-an ME/CFS crash, and to have to try to make it back to work. Then to have to go through situations which question your work, your honesty about your health and to have to endure comments which are at best discriminatory is really piling on the pressure. All the pay, conditions and decisions are taken out of your hands and the only one who knows how you and your body is coping -you- is not consulted! All this with the weight of an elephant in your holdall!

When I look at it like this I think it's a small miracle that I have managed any recovery from the 'crash of '09' at all! In my brain-fogged state it is often easy to sit and ponder why this crash has been so much more difficult to return from, and to assume that it is because of a worsening of my ME/CFS or even (God forbid!) that I'm not a spring chicken any more!

This illness is so complicated and reactive to stress. This crash and subsequent climb back have been my longest and most difficult to date, due in no small part to the 'stressful' feel of the process specifically put in place to aid and enable my return to work. CRAZY!

I am sure however, that this process goes quite smoothly for some people, and if all advice from GP's or Occupational Health is respected by the bosses it can have great results. Unfortunately it is the patient/employee who suffers when this does not happen. I can only speak about the process as it was for me.

It would be easy (but not advisable) for me to point fingers of blame and resort to a bit of dirt-dishing, but I won't. I want only what I have wanted all along, for my elephant and I to return to work and to be able to just get on with the job I love to the best of 'our' ability.


  1. Aww glad you feel like it's perhaps coming to an end, finally!!! Good luck and hopefully one day you can leave your elephant at home :-) xxx

  2. To be quite honest I really dont know how you do all you do anyway...and working as well ...let alone full-time. I'm sad that the process of recovery and reintegration has been so hard but you're right not to go thrashing about, ranting and blaming. It would be so easy to do so but that sort of behaviour just eats up useful, positive energy...which you could be using for more positive stuff.

    I hope 2011 is kind and supportive :O)

  3. Hi Zarla. I"m holding a good thought that you'll be able to get your work back and that the people treat you kindly and with understanding. You've been through so much. I'm just glad that you've improved enough to be able to work. Now you just need others to come around and treat you properly.

  4. Thankyou all for such kind words!
    Kitty, I wish for the day when we are all able to leave our elephants at home. Mine are a great deal lighter than I know some are.


  5. Cusp,
    I am much less active than I ever have been. I'm terrible at biting off more than I can chew -!
    None of this messy business has been of my choosing, but, as you say, I haven't the energy to spare on negativity!'s not over yet! We'll see!


  6. Toni,
    I think my experience of ME/CFS seems to be cyclical. I am hoping this good phase will last a long time and allow me to settle back to work for a while.
    Things have had to change though, I haven't done anything with the pony all winter-been so much easier on me.
    I have lots of lovely supportive work-pals, if it weren't for them I'd probably given up long ago!

    Lots of good elephant-free days to all of you,
    Take care all

  7. really hope it becomes less stressful soon so you can use your energy for useful things, sorry it has been so hard.

  8. I'm with Cusp. I'm impressed that you're able to do even half of what it sounds like you are doing! What a blessing and evidence of strong will.

    It can be very difficult to not be further weakened by misunderstandings and resulting further drains on energy given to us by others.

    I guess over time we learn to filter out the negativity and demands people try to place on us . . . difficult in the workplace, when you have to abide by other's expectations.

    I wish you all the best. and much rest in between stressful encounters.

    I hope I have a cycle that brings me to a stronger place some day.
    I can't imagine being able to work even part time.

    Each of us is given what we need.


  9. Ashy,
    Hi there, thanks for those supportive words- I hope nobody else has to go through the same stuff. I am sure things will all come good eventually. Positive thinking!

  10. Lynelle,
    Hi there, welcome!

    I think I know the ins and outs of my job so well that i am a fairly confident person at work. But that negativity and feeling so small when its relentless.....phew!

    In the earlier years my illness was more chaotic, not so cyclical at all, but it has changed over time.

    I believe we can never be complacent with chronic illnesses though, it might change for any one of us at any time, fingers crossed!

    Take care!

  11. Mmm I so hear you on this. I'm returning to work too. I never realised (for example) how important how you look is to people. Some people just cannot compute that if you look well (and "smiley" as someone put it) you aren't necessarily feeling well. It's so odd, as they not only think this privately but actually say it in quite accusatory ways to people.

    Oh well, we live and learn!!

    BG -

  12. Billygean,
    Hi there...replying to your comment has broken many months of blog silence for me! Thankyou!
    I can only wish you well with your return to work, and hope that the comments that wound, change to ones of understanding and support. Your workmates are probably very well intentioned, but certainly ignorant to the struggles you have just being there.
    Working with chronic illness feels hard every day, but some days are better than others!

    Stay strong!

  13. Hi Zarla.

    Sorry not to have been in touch but we have both crashed too and are fighting our way back. I am getting better but Dek is awful at the moment so we don't do very much or go very far. You seem to have disappeared off my face book but I am hopeless and always pressing the wrong button so it may be my fault. I must reinstate you although I don't get on there very often these days. I just wanted you to know that we still think about you and hope that things will soon improve for you.

    Lots of love, Cherryl x


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