Tactics for working with chronic illness

By emrosebaz: For More Info, Go Here…

In 2015, I caught a nasty virus while travelling. The virus is long-gone but it left behind Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS). PVFS is a chronic illness (similar to ME/CFS). It’s a bummer, and makes working tricky.

In December 2018, after 10 months off work recovering, I started a new organisation design project with the wonderful People and Culture team at Addaction. During this project, I learned a lot about how to cope with working and having a chronic illness. I hope that writing about it might help others who have chronic illness, and perhaps even healthy folk who struggle with modern work. I wish we designed our organisations to promote good health so that we didn’t have to “cope” with work, but that’s another blog post.

I did have to develop coping strategies, or tactics*, because having PVFS feels like my central nervous system has been shredded. This feeling increases the longer I spend around people I don’t know very well (like my colleagues and clients on freelance projects). I feel it in my mind (racing thoughts) and in my body: intense fatigue, the glands in my throat swell up, my eyes burn, my temples pound, a tenderness creeps over my lower back, my hamstrings ache like I’ve been deadlifting, and my heart beats super quickly. The whole experience feels… “jangly”. Biologically, it’s a false flu, my immune system mistaking people interaction for infection. Which is frustrating because I really do like people, and my whole job as an organisation designer is persuading them to do new things.

To avoid jangliness and make work more sustainable for me, I developed the tactics below.

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