This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from . Follow along and add comments to posts that inspire you!
Since I last wrote for the Relay, my life has changed quite a bit. As many of you know, I was worn out from the whole working mom thing. I couldn't do my job well - the side effects of a grand-mal seizure, and increased medication levels messed with my memory and cognition. Which, when you are a manager at a DC think tank - does no good. I tried talking with my bosses to find reasonable accommodations - and they were really good about it. However, it was quickly becoming clear that something had to give... and it wasn't going to be my health.
So I left in mid-March, without a new job lined up. But absolutely spent. That first week I was hit by the stomach flu and laid in bed for most of the week. I slept a lot and it took me a good month before I felt the veil of post-seizure depression started to lift.
Slowly I started getting back out there, having informational interviews, dusting off my resume, and applying to dozens of jobs. But high in my list of job considerations is finding a place that respects my needs to have a calm working environment, that still provides meaningful work where I can grow, without the crazy expectations to be constantly going up the career ladder.
It. Has. Been. Hard. I look fine on the outside, and my credentials on paper make it seem like I am a go-getter. And I am - until I have a seizure. In the months after one, my brain is like a giant pile of mush. Some days I am coherent and can kick butt. Most days, however, I am just kinda ... there .. struggling to remember bits of conversations, trying to get myself organized, but just wiped out.
Ultimately I am looking for an employer who will accept me as I am, epilepsy and all. Where I don't have to try to explain away the days when I am foggy, or can't seem to concentrate, or sometimes cannot even answer questions in a coherent manner. Honesty has been my calling card as I interview. I have been pretty brutal in asking tough questions of employers about the nature of work, and hypothetical situations. I do it because I know that a work life that allows me to take care of my health and my family is of number one importance. That a 35-40 hour workweek is the maximum I can do. I have been dropped from interview processes for that reason, and I have turned down completely good job offers for that reason, as well.
That part has been difficult for me - to pass on opportunities that I know could be exciting and lucrative - that would lead to a life that in many ways would be "easier" financially for my family. But, I am just not willing to take that risk with my health. And the fear of a job taking too much from me is something I don't want to admit gets in my way of pursuing my dreams, but it does. I get mad sometimes that it is a lot more difficult for me to do tasks that I used to take for granted, or that I cannot take some amazing opportunities because I know the hours will be long, or I will need to be available to answer emails at any hour of the day or night. To look a perfectly good offer in the face and say, "Yeah this isn't really going to work for me."
On the upside, a lot of people I've been talking to admire my honesty in conversations. It helps us all see whether or not I would be a good fit for the organization and the job in question. Many people also respect my need to place myself and my family first - and in some cases I almost detect a longing in their eyes that say, "I wish I could do that!."
In the meantime, I keep taking one day at a time. Hoping that we can figure this thing called life out. And I remain hopeful that in the long run, my honesty will pay off, and I will find a job that helps me to provide for my family, stay healthy, be a good mom, and also enables me to be the worker I know I can be.
In the meantime, if anyone has any good leads - send 'em my way :)
|Taking advantage of the time off work to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and scenery!|
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