Juggling a business, a day job and a chronic illness – Fibromyalgia and me… a day in the life

3791462175_1e45ff47d2_o Running a small business can be a challenge. Running a small business whilst battling a chronic illness like Fibromyalgia is a whole different ball game. This is a day in my life - business versus Fibromyalgia. When I first started Annie By Design I had some big plans. I wanted to make awesome jewellery, I wanted to sell it to all manner of people to brighten their lives and most of all I wanted to work my own hours and do my own thing. As time has gone on the desire to work my own hours has gradually turned into a need rather than a want. When I started out I never imagined I would be building and running Annie By Design whilst also battling a chronic illness. Fibromyalgia is described as "a condition in which people describe symptoms that include widespread pain and tenderness in the body, often accompanied by fatigue, cognitive disturbance and emotional distress. Symptoms of Fibromyalgia can vary from mild to severe". I have mild Fibromyalgia but it is hard to describe what mild actually means. Some people only have 'flare ups' which means they can go about their daily tasks with no problem until their fibro rears its ugly head and they end up bed ridden for a week (or more). Other people have severe fibro and struggle with constant pain and are unable to do normal daily tasks. I am somewhere in-between. I am not bed ridden however I do struggle on a daily basis with some elements of my illness. On a Tuesday I work from home doing all things 'Annie By Design'. When I wake up I see how I feel. Some days I am not in a good way from the start and I either try going back to sleep or I stay in bed and read blog posts or pin items on Pinterest. On a good day I get out of bed and plan my day. If all goes to plan I make some pieces, take some photos, work on pitches for blogs, upload items to Etsy and do lots of other good businessy stuff. I don't have good days very often. Some days my hands and arms hurt so much I can't grip the pliers to make ear wires or hold the torch long enough to make rings or even head pins. If the pain eases I can do small bits and pieces and I often find that I can do things in the morning then have to stop for a while so my hands can rest and then I can pick up where I left off in the evening. Other days my hands work just fine but my legs ache which means I get fidgety and can't sit still for too long. Sometimes my hands and legs are ok so I will stand and solder and then my back starts to ache after about 10 minutes and I have to sit down. I then alternate between sitting and standing for the rest of the day. 6341991185_8e73bcb655 Headaches are the next monster to zap me. I can go weeks without one and then out of no where it feels like I have someone trying to crack my head open with a nutcracker. This usually coincides with pain in my neck and shoulders which is partly caused by the Fibromyalgia tender points and partly by me hunching over to relieve my headache and tensing my muscles. Other times I just have knotty muscles from working and they can bring on a headache. To be honest, I am thankful that aching hands are more of an issue than headaches because at least with achy hands you can still read or watch videos - headaches tend to nip that in the bud. So, let's say I have had a good day, managed to make some items and take some photos and I am happy with them. Now it is time to list them. Or not thanks to the not so wonderful symptom called Fibro Fog. Imagine your brain is telling you something but by the time it gets to your mouth or your fingertips it is all skewed. I will often be talking away to someone and I can't find the word I want (the simple ones are the worst) or I start to slur my speech slightly or trip over my words. Typing can be difficult too. I can type paragraph after paragraph and when I read it back over I notice that many of the letters are transposed. At least of quarter to a third of what I have written is spelled incorrectly but the first and last letters will be in their correct places it is just that all the letters in the middle are mixed up. This means that spell checker will not understand what I am trying to say but I can read every word I have written. I then have to read through the whole thing again and fix all the spelling errors. Not only can this be time consuming (an Etsy listing can take 20 minutes to type up) but it upsets me when I see all the red squiggly lines under my words telling me they are incorrect.  And please don't ask me to hand write anything. When I was in grade 6 my teachers taught me how to write in cursive. I adored the swirls and the elegance of cursive so I continued to write this way every day, I had some of the most beautiful handwriting and I was proud of it. Now I struggle to hold the pen for anything longer than about 4 sentences and my writing looks like something a four year old churned out! 3922977291_f254d6b372 When the day comes to an end I am either exhausted from trying so hard or pleased with myself and ready to tackle the next day. I go to bed, I can't sleep and the roundabout starts again. Too add to this I also work a day job four days a week so I can pay my rent and my medical bills. It can be difficult getting through an 8 hour day at the day job and I am often to tired or sore to do much when I get home. I work as a receptionist and things that is used to do without much thought are now a lot harder to do, I have to really concentrate rather than just going by memory, I have to double check spelling in emails and bookings and I now dread answering the phone. Annie By Design was always my dream and my passion. Now, more than ever I want to make it my full time income so I can work my days around how I am feeling rather than struggling to be at a certain place by a certain time and work a defined number of hours. It is becoming increasingly difficult to work the hours required by a day job so working from home provides the balance between earning a living and managing my illness. I could apply for government benefits however, the hoops they make you jump through to obtain these benefits would zap me of energy and I would prefer to be self sufficient that rely on government handouts. Slowly but surely my business is beginning to find its feet, fingers crossed that Annie By Design can soon support both my Fibromyalgia and I. If you have a chronic illness do not let it rule you. Don't fight against it as you will exhaust yourself, structure your life so you can work around it. It shouldn't dictate to you, you should dictate to it. If you have a chronic illness I would love to hear your experiences. Don't die with the creativity left in you.... ~ Leanne

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