Career Advice for Young Adults with Psoriatic Arthritis
When I was in high school and faced with trying to choose a career, I had an extra consideration my friends didn't have. What type of job would be arthritis-friendly?
Growing up with juvenile psoriatic arthritis, I knew I would eventually need to decide on a doable job. At the time, I thought finding an arthritis-friendly career was as simple as choosing to find a desk job over a more active position. Boy, was I wrong.
Starting a career with psoriatic arthritis
I hadn't even considered other career elements that could aggravate arthritis, like sitting too much, working long hours, or repetitive movements. Even things like mental stress from deadlines can trigger pain.
While I would've chosen the same job even I could go back in time, I wish I had someone who's has been through it to give me some guidance. If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self about the struggles of starting a career with psoriatic arthritis, I would tell her this.
There are going to be some hard decisions
You're going to have to make some difficult choices along the way. You may choose to move closer to your job, so the commute isn't as grueling on your body. You may have to pass on a dream job because the demands are too intense.
Your second-choice offer would allow you the flexibility to work from home or offers better healthcare benefits. It's hard, but you have to make the right decision for your health.
You don't have to be a top performer
If you were an overachiever in school, you might be tempted to keep up your streak of perfectionism like me. But don't burn yourself out before you even get started. Try to break the habit. I'm not saying to be lazy by any means, I'm a very hard worker. But you should do your best, within reason.
It might be tempting to work late or put more effort into a project than necessary. And sometimes, the long hours will be necessary. But, if you're working through lunch and at night every single day, you're going to burn out very quickly.
Accommodations can go a long way
It's your choice to disclose your diagnosis to your boss. There are pros and cons to deciding either way. Keep in mind, you can't get accommodations unless you disclose why you need them.
I have an interesting work accommodation. When I still went into the office, I worked the same eight hours as everyone else. But I came in and went home earlier to avoid the rush hour traffic. Since I took the subway, I could sit for most of the journey, and it's often faster, even if I have to stand.
It made a massive difference in my pain levels. I also have the benefit of working from home when necessary, which has been so helpful.
Find what works
And last but not least, it's okay if you need to try a few different jobs to find what works. I know it's scary, but don't be afraid of making a change, especially if it will only benefit you in the long run.
If a job is negatively impacting your health long term, move on! It's not worth feeling drained and not having the energy to live your life. You are worth it!
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?