Hoping for a flexible career while living with chronic pain

July 19, 2012

Still hoping for a career in spite of living with chronic pain and fibromyalgia

Some days it can be difficult to reflect on the career losses of living with chronic pain.  I look around at friends and family members with dreams of accomplishment and the ability to carry it out. As a young child I dreamed of being a psychologist and a writer.  I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people who were suffering.  As I grew older my dreams became more sophisticated and branched out to potential paths yet the heart of it remained.  I love counseling and coaching people and enjoy the healing power of writing.  Friends have commented regularly on my insights into living and wisdom to sort through complicated situations whether in writing or in regular conversations.  I also love doing research, strategizing and developing systems that can aid a group of people. 

When looking ahead, I still see many barriers.  I read through Craigslist and am drawn to many career opportunities in social work, strategic planning, the legal field, research, writing and social media.  When I read through the details it can be difficult to imagine myself in a structured job that doesn’t allow flexibility for my bad days.  Add in commute and preparation time and my energy level can be drastically reduced.  During my work days I found I could work roughly 15 hours a week, but it still made life outside of work challenging.  When most of my energy went into work, it left a lot less for my family and responsibilities at home. 

I still have hope that a new career path will open up for me.  Writing and consulting can have the flexibility I need, yet allow me to contribute to others.  Perhaps there could be a way for me to return to school for a masters or doctors degree in counseling.  This is also a job I could do part time, though internships could be challenging.  My experience with chronic pain in both these categories would be helpful.  As much as I enjoy my current life, I miss the value, the people, the stimulation and the growth that comes from having a career.   I will continue to make the most of my daily life in spite of my pain, yet keep the dream alive for something more. 

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