So, a little more personal information about me:
I graduated from university almost 2 years ago now and haven’t found, what I call a ‘proper job’ yet. I am employed – I work as a shop assistant in a cafe and bakery in town – but finding that ‘degree relevant’ job that would blossom into a full blown career still eludes me.
Now, not that I am ungrateful for all the help and support I’ve received from my employer and co-workers whilst going through my diagnosis and treatments of Crohn’s, I have always been looking for a graduate opportunity to grab me and take me away from home. Now more so than ever before does that still sit top of my list of priorities. Only know its abit more complicated.
I came across this on a application form today:
“Please give details of chronic illness or disability”
Not a mandatory field for completion of the form but none the less it stopped me in my tracks. What do I put in that box? Should I be completely honest with a employer that could, at the end of the day, not hire me, let alone look at my application? Or should I live secretly with my disease?
Anyone who knows me will tell you that the latter is not something I would ever do. I talk openly and honesty about most aspects of my life, why not about this? Well, I do still believe that. But when it comes to explaining and talking about my Crohns, sometimes, less is more. Especially around new people and those who can’t be trusted to keep anything to themselves. Mostly, I come to realise that I don’t want the whole world to know there is something wrong with me. I have accepted everything about my new life with positivity and high spirits, but there are days when a many number of small and mundane things can spark me off into a dark spiral. I would rather keep that to myself. So, unless I venture it first – in confidence to a close friend – Crohn’s is not up for discussion. End of.
So, when it comes to work, how much do I say? I will obviously want someone to know the extend and possible consequences are of me having this disease and starting back at work. Potential issues that could arise; like my lowered immune system, my fatigue, my eating habits and my need for breaks. Slowly does it. Time off for hospital appointments and for my Humira treatment. They need to know the details of my condition. But I don’t want everyone watching me, waiting for something to happen, making sure I am fine every 10 minutes. I just want to go back to normal, or as much of that as I can do now.
This sort of thinking occurs every time I meet someone new. I constantly wonder if I should say something, when asked the question: “So, what do you do?” – at the moment, nothing. I used to work, before I was ill. Its not something you want to discuss with ’strangers’. Sadly, I think this more when I meet a guy. At the bar. Through a mutual friend. In a pub. I get terribly unlike myself and shy away from questions or getting involved in a conversation. I hide away. I am terrified of taking that step. I used to not be like that, I didn’t have a care in the world whether he thought this or that of me, I was just myself and it had its moments of paying off. But now, I’m so unsure. It just boggles my mind on how to even just meet someone and start something new again.
The advice I get about this ‘dilemma’ varies from “Why are you thinking about this at a time like this?” to “If they don’t like you for who you are then they are not worth it” to the simple “Stop being silly, you’re wonderful”. But honestly, it prays on my mind alot. If – god forbid – anything serious happened to me, I would want someone to ‘share’ it with. Friends and family, of course, but that someone who just gets me. Who knows me – pathetically – inside and out, wholeheartedly. Sounds mushy and vomit-inducing, but I crave that so much now that I am alone and had to deal with Crohn’s on my own. It is very lonely having a chronic illness – no one truly understands and when they say “everything will be okay” and “I understand” eventually you want to yell “HOW THE FUCK DO YOU UNDERSTAND?! DO YOU GO THROUGH WHAT I GO THROUGH!?” No one, but other Crohnies, understand.
I guess, in the end, it all comes down to the details; how much I am willing to share and how vulnerable I am willing to be with another human being.
“Accept me, flaws and all..”