It’s nearly two years now since my last day of paid employment. I drove away from the pub that night presuming I’d take a couple of weeks off, feel better and return to work. Little did I know that nearly two years later and barely 4 weeks ago, I would be driving away from the pub once again but this time I knew I’ll never work in a pub again.
On May 1st, 2008 I got the keys to my first home. I was in a full-time position, had started a pension and could see my career path laid out in front of me. But as we all know, Fibromyalgia, and more latterly Psoriatic Arthritis, is no respecter of age, sex, status, career plans or relationships. So what happens when you can’t work anymore?
Just two years ago I was working in a job I loved and I could see my future ahead of me. I’ve always worked in physically demanding jobs as a lifeguard, gym instructor and most lately as a barman. There are numerous physical demands made of bar staff, including long hours, working shifts, standing all the time, taking deliveries, changing kegs. That’s not to mention the mental demands of concentration, remembering orders, working with cash and being ready for whoever may walk in the door next.
The job while being demanding provided me with financial rewards, the opportunity to work with and meet lots of people, socialize and chat to people and also the psychological rewards of self-confidence, achievement and self-worth.
Now I have none of these.
I am unable to work and unable to socialize with my friends without extreme planning and sacrificing a few days either side of going out for dinner. I have lost friends and relationships due to my fibromyalgia and even when I can go out, I haven’t a bean in my pocket to spend as it is all earmarked and spent on bills and my mortgage. I have all day everyday off but ask any teenager about their summer holidays and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to pass the time without spending even a little money.
I’ve written here before about my depression and about how my confidence and self-worth have been eaten away to reveal a man wracked by stress, anxiety, isolation and devoid of self-confidence. No one could choose this as a lifestyle, I am unable to work and as well as the financial loss I’ve borne it has impacted on every aspect of my life.
The final straw in my pub career came on a Saturday night after a big rugby match. I was completely worn out and in agony. Who would want to be served by a barman falling asleep on his taps, limping as he walks, unable bend to pick up a glass and whose hands shake so much he can’t guarantee a full-pint? Frustration, pain and fatigue brought me to tears and I, the same man who fought back to play football after two cruciate knee ligament operations, walked away from my counter.
And here I am in 2013 and what’s changed since I bought for my home? I have fibromyalgia and arthritis, I’m no longer in paid employment, I live in a home I can’t afford, I have no career path, I’m single, I’m depressed, I’ve no self-worth, I can’t socialize with my friends like I want.
I say none of this to play the poor mouth, I say it because it’s true. Using my medications and treatments I am much better than I have been but still not good. As someone once said; “a lot done, more to do”. This has been my experience and I would need to do more investigation to know if where I am now was inevitable once I lost paid employment.
I think this is how it has worked for me; Pain, fatigue, etc. etc. led to my physical difficulties, which made my job impossible and since both of these happened I’ve suffered the social and psychological impacts in my life. It’s not important whether the illnesses or the lost employment had a greater impact on my life. Truth is it doesn’t matter, this is where I am now and I need to get better as a man and treat all aspects of my life.