Returning to Work

In the last few weeks, I have started my phased return to work.  So far things have gone well; I work from home, just a few hours a week as and when I can and I have no targets or goals dictating what I do.  As work environments go this is very gentle and I feel extremely lucky to have had such support from my supervisors.  In time I will move back to an office and slowly increase my hours and workload.


I have to say in the weeks leading up to starting back at work I was quite apprehensive.  Not so much that I would be overwhelmed but more that I would feel useless; like a spare part or a shadow of my former self.  Certainly, if I had returned to work six months ago I would have, without a doubt, been very frustrated with myself.  Not being able to do routine tasks I had previously found so simple would have weighed heavily on my mind and I would have, inevitably, allowed feelings of hopelessness, jealousy and self-pity dominate my thoughts.


But I feel that my outlook has changed.  I never used to have much self-confidence when I was younger and I looked, even clung, to others, particularly those whom I wanted to model my life or career on, yearning for positive feedback.  I fell into the trap of believing that if I was better at my job than my peers then that was validation that I was a good person and therefore I would be happy.  Or that if I had expensive possessions then that meant others would think I had a good job or was successful and therefore I would be happy because I assumed other people would assume I was happy.  If you can follow that, is that not just ridiculous?


And along came ME/CFS, which has been a great leveller.  It has taught me that there are far, far more important things in life than a job title or a career or even accumulating possessions.  Keeping as healthy as I can, seeing friends and family and appreciating what I have is far more rewarding than pining or striving for something that, ultimately, I have no control over whether I succeed at or not.  Today, I face challenges that are far greater than anything I have faced at work and I am beating them, or at least I am not letting them get the better of me.  Yes, I get frustrated, yes I have regrets about missed opportunities and yes this illness grinds me down – I wouldn’t be human if it didn’t.  But I see things differently now, I have different values and I have different needs than I did prior to becoming ill.  I have learned that success and self-worth is entirely a matter of perspective.  I control my perspective and you control yours – don’t let anyone tell you different.  I choose to be a success because every morning I wake up and I struggle through my day with all the pain, exhaustion, nausea, confusion and isolation that it brings, and when it’s over I go to bed knowing I will do it all again the next day.  I shall not be defeated.


This is why I feel so different about my work, at the moment I am doing nothing other than answering emails and some simple online training packages.  Before I was ill this would have been torture, but I am loving it.  Do you know why?  Because in spite of having ME/CFS I am doing it.  It may well be all I can do, but I am doing it.


ME/CFS takes so much away from us but it has given me a new perspective on me and my life, and for that, weirdly, I am grateful.

Author: Jonathan

Hello! My name is Jonathan. I have ME/CFS and have done so for around 2 years. I live in rural Aberdeenshire with my wife and our dog Trudy. I am originally from the Outer Hebrides where most of my family still live. After school I left home to study psychology at The University of St. Andrews and moved to Aberdeen after graduation. In 2004 I joined what was Grampian Police, now Police Scotland, where I have enjoyed a varied career in a number of operational, community and partnership based roles including a 2 year sabbatical working in residential child care. Prior to developing ME/CFS I was a keen cyclist, runner, climber and skier. I love the outdoors, always have since I was a child, and I try to spend as much time outside as I can. I have never blogged before so this is a whole new experience for me. I hope you will enjoy the journey with me!

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