Most professionals who live with a chronic illness are challenged to balance three equally competing demands: career, personal life and disease symptoms. But what happens when a person's body decides that work in no longer an option but the mind and soul are not in agreement?There are several options, says Rosalind Joffe, president of cicoach.com and the author of the new book Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! (Demos Health, May 2008). "Just because you can't do the work you have always done in the way you have always done it, it does-n't mean you can no longer work at all or forever."
Joffe has lived with several chronic illnesses for almost 30 years. She helps professionals, like herself, who are passionate about continuing to work because they know it's good for their state of being. But, as she explains it, the key is to find the right work in the right environment rather than staying stressed and trapped in a miserable job or giving up and leaving work alto" While millions of people continue to work every day with disabilities, the fact is that most people only see one alternative, to leave the workplace altogether. It's true that some may have to stop working for a short period - and for a few, it can be indefinite. But if you have the motivation, you can expand your options rather than only focusing on what you've lost," says Joffe.
She explains that one of the biggest issues many professionals face is self-pity. "Work for any person, regardless if they have a chronicle illness, is important to self-esteem," says the certified coach. "But this is particularly true when you've devoted time and resources to building a career. When your body, as you've known it, "quits" on you, you can find ways to keep working, in whatever capacity possible, so you can stay engaged, continue to feel vibrant and most importantly, to be more than just this sick body."
Some ideas to help include:
o Determining if this is temporary
o Finding out if a new job could accommodate one's needs better
o Seeking out support from professionals and friends
o Creating opportunities for volunteering and contributing elsewhere Additional resources are available at cicoach.com, including The Keep Working with Chronic Illness Workbook. This workbook is a companion piece to her recently published book, Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! Visit http://www.cicoach.com/work-bookpromo.html for more information.