If you are just looking for different people’s experiences, mine’s a bit of a mixed bag.
I was diagnosed two years ago, at a lot older than you (44). I never had any time off work due to MS (other than the inevitable hospital appointments) either during or after diagnosis. But this was made easier by the fact I already worked from home anyway.
I’m sure I would not have quit voluntarily, but I was beginning to struggle. Last appraisal didn’t go too well, even though the boss knew I was ill. I think, in part, because I was never off sick, and didn’t keep bleating on about it, people forgot there was a problem. I don’t have any outward signs, like a stick or wheelchair, so there wasn’t really anything to remind anyone I wasn’t fine.
Then, a couple of months ago, I was made redundant for reasons unconnected with my health. My company screwed up on a big contract (it’s been in the news, but it wasn’t G4S), and had to shed more than 1200 people.
The thing is, now it’s happened, I’m questioning whether it wasn’t a mixed blessing, and whether I’ll ever return to work. I’m already missing the money, as I don’t have a second income from a partner, so am dependant entirely on my redundancy package, and what savings and investments I already had.
I’m not missing the work side at all, however. I’m not sure I’d realised just how much it was dragging me down, and how much the everyday petty politics and bureaucracy took their toll on me. And that was even though I didn’t work in a conventional office, and probably had to put up with a lot less of it than most people.
I’ve signed up for a couple of courses, with a view to perhaps doing freelance proofreading and editing from home. If I’m honest, I don’t think it’s ever going to make more than a bit of pin money (if that), and is hardly going to be a glittering new career. But it might be the most I can realistically commit to. At least I’d get to choose the amount and type of work I took on; I wouldn’t have to accept a contract I didn’t like the look of.
Is any of this “advice”? No, I don’t really think so. Just telling you how it’s been for me. I think, if fate hadn’t intervened, I’d probably have literally died in that job, or gone on 'til MS made it impossible, instead of just hard. I don’t know if I ever would have seen for myself when to stop.
Of course, 46 is a lot different to 26. If I’d been made redundant 20 years ago, but already ill, I probably wouldn’t have had the option of semi-retirement, or “downshifting” to something less demanding. It’s still a sacrifice now, but I’ve got more of a safety-net than I would have had back then.
It really just depends. I suppose, if I hadn’t been made redundant anyway, a compromise would have been to reduce my hours, and see how that worked out. But I was always rather reluctant to do that, because not only your pay reduces, but all other benefits in proportion, including holiday, pension contributions, and redundancy pay, should you ever become eligible. Which I did - so I’m thankful I hadn’t stepped down to a three-day week, otherwise I’d only have got 3/5 of my severance package, no matter how many years I’d worked full-time.
All things to consider…