A Professional Path Working Out a Career with IBD
I was first diagnosed with IBD at 27 in 2009. It still feels like a separate lifetime ago. At the time I was diagnosed, I had just started a new job, but was applying for a job that could lead to a career. I got my offer letter when I was in the hospital for my diagnosis, so I guess you can say Crohn’s/IBD and my career have followed one another almost 14 years.
From acceptance to hatred and back again
Throughout these years I have passed through many seasons of my condition. From acceptance to hatred to empathy to anger and then back to acceptance. When it comes to IBD and my job, I feel as though I straddle both sides of a fence. On the one side I want to be public and raise appropriate awareness about my condition. This looks like educating peers/supervisors, working with EEO and ADA programs, and always learning that my tolerance levels for certain types of stressors are different than my peers. The other side is almost a shame/hate to not wanting to label IBD as a disability, because I do not want to only be seen as damaged professionally from IBD issues.
Balance and understanding with IBD has come with time.
I am learning more and more to be gracious with myself. Also to be understanding, but firm with work, with respect to my experience’s handling IBD. No more letting other’s attempt to judge my appearance or functionality from one moment to the next. That I can have a career and progress towards my goals, all the more, because of the additional things IBD has brought me (both good and bad). I think it never hurts to ask and it never hurts to share within your comfort. Each step forward is one more victory for anyone that handles a chronic condition.
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