Ashley, I just ran across your story today, and I SO empathize. I have struggled with pain, fatigue and a variety of other symptoms since 2005. I was on disability a couple of times while I was still working, because I couldn’t function physically or think clearly. I was laid off from work while out on disability the second time. I’ve been to tons of doctors over the years, and finally about three years ago I was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia. The powerful and risky drugs I took for lupus did nothing for me but made me more sick. Currently, I am just being ‘treated’ for fibro and I am doing pretty well, with my fatigue and pain levels typically tolerable and my cognitive function better than it used to be. But I am not the same. I still miss my old self, with boundless energy and ability to hike and bike all day. However, dealing with a chronic illness has forced me to explore and develop other, non-physical aspects of my life and personality, and this is making me a better and more well-rounded person. So we have that at least, right?
I am very fortunate, it turns out, to have been laid off. The stress from my previous career was clearly exacerbating the disease process. As I said above, I am feeling better now, so I decided to change careers. (That I was able to do so is still amazing to me, because for a couple of years around the time of my layoff, I thought I might have to pursue long-term disability). Currently, I’m in my last two semesters of a graduate program in nursing. There have been many weeks in which I didn’t think I’d be able to continue out of sheer exhaustion and cognitive issues, but somehow I have. I am very grateful for accommodations at my university available to me because of the ADA.
So ultimately, I have been very fortunate. I sincerely wish your situation was not so difficult, and I am in awe of your accomplishments and efforts in spite of your illnesses. I wish for you a very good day today, and solutions to your symptoms sooner rather than later. Consider me a follower now, and I will check out your blog as well. Peace to you.
(Sorry my thoughts are a bit disjointed here; I'd like to spend more time rewriting this to improve the flow, but I have a ton of homework to get to).