Forum

not coping

I have been with RRMS for just over a year now and I used to be confident and strong.

I have returned to work after a period of sickness. I am so worried that because of my lesions and my new MS me, I now can’t cope with any stress and will have to stop working. I am in a job which can face stress daily.

Now, at work, even if the smallest, or biggest thing goes wrong, I have these feelings that I cannot shake off. It feels like a panic attack but can last for a day or longer. my ms symptoms grow stronger. I ache with worry. I want to just shut down. I can’t concentrate on anything and I have chest pains.

I need to pay the mortgage.

I feel vulnerable and can’t share it with work for fear of losing my job. I can’t share my cognitive failings with work either,

I am a teacher, I lose my words, can’t focus, struggle with multi-tasking

I am not me?

Arrrgh!

patience

i know what you mean. i was a teacher but took a sideways move to woek for surestart. as luck would have it a change of government led to the funding for surestart being reduced or ended. the local authority wanted very much to keep the focus on inclusion so i became an advisory teacher.

this role was great at first but then became a bit of a dumping ground for other tasks. stress was wearing me down so i took early retirement on ill health grounds.

do you think this could work for you? under law the employer has to make reasonable adjustments. would fewer hours, an extra body in class, time for admin help?

i don’t know your age. i was 50 when diagnosed, nearly 60 now.

access to work can be a big help as they will discuss/suggest reasonable adjustments.

talk to your union rep because although the unions don’t have as much clout, they can still help if only by understanding how hard it is for you.

you are getting stressed and we both know what that does for us.

if things get no better, see your gp and take more sick leave. it’s like when ms moves in part of ourselves moves out.

take care and let us know what happens next.

carole x

Hi Ali

I think you probably do need to share your feelings. Either with work (which isn’t the end of the world; they are required by law to make ‘reasonable adjustments’), or with your GP, who might be able to help, or just with someone who you trust.

Starting with us is a first step. Carole has been pretty much where you are (and I didn’t know she was a teacher! Amazing sometimes that we feel we ‘know’ each other and yet don’t know something as basic as that!) so her advice is sound.

MS is an absolute swine for making you lose confidence. I was OK for the first few years after diagnosis. But my last 6 months at work were a bit of a disaster. I essentially didn’t do much in the way of work at all. In the end, I went on long term sick leave and finally was made redundant. I was a consultant for local government. Mostly I wrote and delivered training courses, but also did a few other bits and pieces, to do with writing policy manuals and helping out colleagues with job descriptions and person specs. If I didn’t work, my little department of the company - me plus another employee and sub-contractors - didn’t make any money, hence redundancy!

I actually went for a job interview after that for a job that was about 3 rungs lower than I had been doing and didn’t have the confidence to do a decent interview. That was 12 years ago. I’ve not worked since. And it does make you feel lousy, not being confident about things that you really do or should, know inside out. It’s taken me years to regain that confidence. I’m 21 years into MS me.

I still have cognitive problems. Words fail me. Multi-tasking is impossible. I simply don’t hear what someone is saying if I’m concentrating on (for eg) writing on here. It drive my husband nuts. He talks and I have to say, ‘I’m sorry, could you start that again, I didn’t hear a word of what you said!’ I can only rarely remember what I’ve read. Even things I’ve written on here, I’ll come across something, re-read it and I’m stunned that I wrote it!

But - I am still me. Still opinionated, still bossy as hell, I still read a lot, regardless of memory, I still do the crossword, still know some things, often facts that I didn’t even know I knew. I still swear like a trooper and shouldn’t be allowed contact with children on account of it. My husband and my good friends still love me. I can still write.

And I’m quite sure that once you regain a bit of your normal confidence in your competent brain and fluency with the language you will be OK. You can’t teach if you don’t have either, so I know you still have it. You’re just a year into diagnosis; it takes time to get your head around life with MS. You will still be you. You will once again be confident and strong.

Sue

Hi Patience.

I totally get what you are saying but it really helped me to share how I was feeling and talk about my MS with my boss. I worked for in the NHS for 12 years and after I made them aware of my MS when I was diagnosed they made adaptations and I was able to stay at work longer than I would have done if I’d not told them about how my MS affected my role.

When adaptations stopped working for me I was offered ill health retirement and was helped by my line manager to complete the forms etc.

There is an awful lot that can be offered to you to make life easier for you. Carole and Sue have offered really good advice (as always),

Hope you get help to get you through these tough times.

Shazzie x

As ever, thank you all,(when I write on here, I feel as though I am having a coffee with good, understanding friends).

As you know Carole, teaching is so flipping dynamic and as lovely as they are, teenagers are so brilliantly demanding. After such a long sick leave, going back into the work place was wonderful. For three happy weeks I pretended that I didn’t have MS. Then I burnt out. Absolutely and utterly floored. And even now, I am knackered and at midnight it is pain that keeps me awake!

As a coincidence though and after a six month waiting list, yesterday,I met with a psychologist. Great timing! As I went in to her room she asked me how I was… and I wept…uncontrollably, for over an hour. Suffice to say that I am now on her ‘to do’ list.

I wept because I am so bloody mad that I am now disabled. And I know that I am going to have to accept it. Sooner rather than later.

As ever, much love Ali x

hi ali that sobfest that you had with the psychologist was exactly what you needed. let’s hope that she can help you. i still feel sad when i (used to) drive past the school. i was nursery and reception in a very mixed race school. i send waves of love to all my little brown, black, white and shades in between babies. wonder what they are doing now.

Fellow teacher here also. I gave up working with often violent EBD children and took early retirement after eye surgery (could not risk being punched in the eye) and continence problems but have continued to work when I want to on a supply basis using agencies. One thing I have found is that the primary cover when I can get it is a lot more enjoyable given that as a cover teacher it is not your responsibility to do the planning; primary kids in general have not had a chance to become disaffected, hormonal or brutalised by the system and it is a pleasure to teach them. Could this be an option. Also, much easier to slip out of class to the loo as there is often a TA Supporting.

Patience,

Even without MS I would have been unable to deal with a classroom full of students. I take my hat off to you. In my (not so) humble opinion I think that you recognise that trying to carry on as before is not the best option when trying to stay as healthy and productive as long as possible. I also understand that paying the mortgage is also a high priority. However if you fight to maintain your old “normal” too hard you might end up with even more hassle. If you can reduce the time & effort in your work by some means (job share - or slight role change) you might find that you can be productive and happier for longer.

Obviously reality and details are much tougher to deal with than the simplistic concept, but once you choose the best way forward and involve those who can help you make it happen you will be surprised that you did not do things earlier. (That may just sound like Micky type BS but that is how things worked for me)

My employer and colleagues helped to keep me working for many years after I was no longer in a position to do my original job in the original way.

I also found that even though my salary was smaller I managed OK and was a lot happier and less stressy.

I wish you all the best.

Mick