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To Work or Not to Work with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

It's a Tough Decision!

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Updated June 13, 2014

Q:"I have watched my ability to do my job, e.g. getting projects done, responding to emails, working with people, answering very technical questions, going down the tubes. But I am very stubborn and persevere, trying to work harder in order to meet the requirements of my job. ... The frequency of bad days is increasing, creating the need to "push on through" and then working harder on the good days, thus triggering some more bad days. (By way of example, it has taken 30 minutes to write this email when it should have taken only 5 minutes.)

"So, when is it time to hang it up and go on disability? Do you just keep trying until you have completely failed and are fired? Do you struggle on until someone hits you in the head with the proverbial 2x4?" - Pete

A: That's a tough question for many of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and one I wrestled with myself. I was like you and tried to just keep pushing myself, which of course didn't do my health any favors.

Two things combined to make me see that it was time to quit:

  • I realized my job was getting everything and I had nothing left for my children (who were 2 & 5);
  • I realized I was probably going to lose my job sooner or later because I was missing a lot of time and I was barely competent anymore, thanks to brain fog.

Some things to consider include: Are any positions available that would be lighter duty or fewer hours? Could a change in hours or other reasonable accommodation help you keep working?

If you do opt to file for disability, remember that you may be able to file while you're still working - which is a good thing, since it can take years to navigate the system. Here's more information on that: Filing for Disability While Working.

Best of luck to you, whatever you decide!

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