Written by: Lucie Petrelis, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can certainly be one of them. Whether you're newly diagnosed or have been living with MS for some time, managing your career while dealing with the challenges of this condition requires careful consideration and strategic planning. This article will explore practical approaches for navigating your professional life as you face obstacles due to your MS symptoms, progression, or recent diagnosis.
For individuals living with MS, adapting is a skill that becomes second nature. When it comes to your career, this skill becomes invaluable. If you've been living with MS for some time, you may have already encountered changes in your abilities and energy levels. Similarly, if you're newly diagnosed, you might be tackling the uncertainties ahead. Embrace adaptation as a core principle; be open to shifting your approach to work tasks, whether breaking them down into smaller steps or finding alternative methods to accomplish them. Your life has changed, and the way you approach your daily work must adapt to your new reality. Consider it as an act of self-love and self-care.
Information and allies
Both newcomers and long-time MS warriors should tap into available resources. To be well prepared, familiarize yourself with workplace policies around accommodation, remote work, sick leave, short-term replacement, and flexible hours. Engage in open conversations with your employer and colleagues about your condition, fostering a supportive environment - especially if you are working in a place that is actively promoting a diversity, equity, and inclusion action-based culture (The time has come for companies to prove their good intentions through tangible actions!). Be aware that internalizing your daily struggles and pretending your life is the same as before your diagnosis could negatively affect your health and well-being.
Living with MS demands that you become attuned to your body's signals. Make self-care a priority, not just a luxury. Prioritize sleep, proper nutrition, good quality rest, and regular exercise at the intensity that is aligned with your body to support your overall well-being. Regular short breaks in quiet spaces with the possibility to lie down throughout the workday can help manage fatigue and cognitive challenges. Remember, by taking care of yourself in implementing new practices and behaviors, you're positioning yourself for a sustainable career and quality of life.
Resilience in the face of challenges
The hurdles can feel overwhelming for those dealing with daily symptoms of the condition. It's vital to build resilience to navigate these challenges.
Developing a supportive mindset involves:
Acknowledging your emotions and physical discomfort.
Communicating with others.
Focusing on what you can control and do differently.
Always giving your body what it needs – even if it is to rest on every occasion.
Additionally, living with MS offers an opportunity to change perspectives on priorities and lifestyles.
Setting adaptable goals for success in the face of multiple sclerosis
Whether you're newly diagnosed or living with MS for some time, setting achievable goals is vital. Identify your strengths and passions and align your career goals accordingly. Especially for those that have a physically demanding profession, reconsidering a different career path should be envisioned. If your career ambitions have shifted due to your MS journey and made you reevaluate or redirect your long-term vision, it's perfectly okay. The key is to set goals that consider your current circumstances and create a roadmap for your career that is both realistic and fulfilling. A valuable secret method is to take baby steps, check in with the body to ensure this is the best direction, adapt if needed, and decide what to do next.
Community and connection
Connecting with others who share similar experiences can provide immense emotional support. Engage with MS communities and other people living with MS, just like you, in person or online, to exchange insights, strategies, and encouragement. These connections can remind you that you're not alone in your journey and that others have successfully navigated and adapted their careers while living with MS. For a more professional approach, work with a coach that can support you in transforming your limitations and perspectives.
Whether you're stepping onto this path for the first time as newly diagnosed or have been walking it for years, managing your career with MS requires a unique blend of adaptability, self-care, and resilience. Your diagnosis does not define you; it's a part of your story that makes you who you are. By embracing change, using available resources, and prioritizing your well-being, you can continue to pursue your career ambitions confidently. Remember, whether you are an MS newbie, more experienced, or even an old-time classic (such as myself!), you have the strength to face challenges and thrive in the workplace and in all sectors of your life.
Do you need support handling your daily life differently at work and home while capitalizing your energy in the best way? I am a life coach specializing in Multiple Sclerosis and an MS patient who has overcome many limitations and is living a fulfilling life. Reach out to me today, and together, we will embark on a path of empowerment, growth, and true self-discovery.
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Here are some additional resources for general information about MS:
National Multiple Sclerosis Society The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a leading organization in the United States dedicated to improving the lives of individuals affected by multiple sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing comprehensive support and educational programs for individuals with MS and their families.
Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation is a global network of MS organizations from around the world.
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a national nonprofit organization that provides vital services and support to individuals with MS.
MS Trust The MS Trust is a UK-based charity that focuses on providing information, support, and resources for people living with MS, as well as healthcare professionals.
I focus on raising awareness on MS – Multiple Sclerosis, ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, sexuality and gender identity topics, and on how to redesign our reality in a way that makes sense to us and brings us joy every single day.
Lucie Petrelis, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Lucie Petrelis is a certified life coach supporting individuals with ADHD and MS to redesign their life in a way that makes sense to them, and that is based on their needs. At 22, she temporarily lost her ability to walk and was suddenly diagnosed with MS, forcing her to rethink her life’s perspective and priorities. Twenty years later, her diagnosis of ADHD gave her the gift of finally understanding the root of so many of her challenges. Using the power of her stamina, positivity, and proven methodologies, she inspires and drives others to take their life into their own hands, re-structure it, re-prioritize it, add a lot of joy in it, and above all be proud of who they are. Her motto: Your challenges are valid.