by - December 06, 2017

(Please know this is only my experiences - I am fully aware that I'm quite lucky, have a certain amount of privilege and that not everyone is treated fairly. This is a three part series.)

(Please know this is only my experiences - I am fully aware that I'm quite lucky, have a certain amount of privilege and that not everyone is treated fairly. This is a three part series.)

Having a chronic illness, like Crohn's or having active anxiety and depression can make work, and finding work really scary and difficult. Being out of work can cause more stress and anxiety because you're losing money and unable to pay bills, which can make a physical or chronic illness worse, which causes more get the picture. It can be a never-ending cycle.

After a month of suffering mentally and physically, I felt better and ready to go back to work part-time. However, with work currently being a bit slow (though my boss has been amazing and one of my biggest supports - thank you Mama Ninja) - I had to reduce to zero hours because of my health, and there aren't many hours going at the moment, I decided I should look for another job closer to home/part-time/zero hours.

Currently, my job is based in Hertford and I'm based in Harlow. It involves two bus journeys either way, which sometimes aren't reliable and can take an hour or so, depending on the timetables and connections. This fills me with such anxiety what with my urgency to need the toilet. The job itself is great, I love my fellow management team, my boss is a fierce boss lady, all of my colleagues are my closest friends and they're all understanding of my illness. Just right now, it's not suitable, and that sucks.

I tidied up my CV, drafted a few cover letters for different roles and spent about 3 days applying for jobs on Indeed and Reed, as well as the job centre/government website. There is quite a lot of temp admin work around here, but it's mostly full-time, I decided that I had to at least try for these jobs, even though I'm not ready for a 40 hour week because at least it would be closer to home and maybe I could manage it.

No stranger to any kind of customer service role, I applied for a few other call centre type places - not sales, and no ripping off elderly or vulnerable people with cold calling! I noticed McDonald's which is literally a two-minute walk from my house, were hiring, and they pay £8 an hour which isn't great but isn't too bad.

I got a few phone calls from some agencies, which I've registered with and so far I've been offered five interviews for various admin/customer service roles. One was in Hertford for a debt collection agency, which pays well and is temp to perm, but I decided it kind of defeated the point - I'm trying to work closer to home!

At first, I wasn't too sure how honest to be about my illness. I didn't want to put anyone off thinking I'd be calling in sick all of the time, or that I'd skive off in the toilet, but I decided I have my current job to fall back on as zero hours so I can afford to be a little honest. Even though employers can't discriminate against people with disabilities or chronic/invisible illnesses, some (I'd like to only think some, but it's probably many) will find a way around it and find another reason as to why you're not fit for the job.

I've been honest with everyone I've spoken to about my health, explaining as much as they need to know - which is dependant on the role, but not scaring them off thinking I'll be calling in sick all of the time.

Remembering that my current boss is awesome and a pretty free spirit, I realise a lot of places still aren't cool with tattoos, piercings..or pink hair.

So it has to go. Do I go dark, or blonde? (You can probably guess from the title of the post, but I'll do a separate post about my hair.)

How do my fellow spoonie/chrons and Crohn's family get on with work? What do you do? Are your employers accommodating? Have you thought about a change in career? Do you have any difficulties finding work?

I'm quite good at cover letters and CV writing, so if anyone ever needs any help, feel free to ask and I'll do my best. I know some people struggle with them.

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