Friday, 25 January 2013

The Illusion of Control

While I stop a long way short of saying Migraines are a good thing in my life, they do teach the occasional life lesson.
The biggest lesson I have learnt over years of Migraine attacks that have been random, frequent, infrequent, clustered, isolated, inconvenient, and everything in between, is that control is definitely an illusion.
Prior to examining the knots that being a Migraine sufferer has tied in my mind and my version of events, I interpreted this lack of control as simply 'I am unreliable'.
This belief has had wide ranging impacts on the way I live my life and I am sure many people can identify.
When I started senior school, I had a Migraine every single day for three, I am finding just thinking about this upsetting. I remember my illness was discussed in class between students and Teachers. Probably, this was the first time where Migraines really impacted on my ability to achieve. The first time where the frequency of their occurrence actually mattered. Previously, Migraines were painful  nauseating and upsetting, but beyond that the impacts were limited.
Since school I have had various jobs, at various levels of responsibility. Let me tell you.... in these workplaces, my Migraines mattered.
Migraines at work can affect confidence and self esteem
Migraines impact can undermine at work
I have been lucky in that for the most part my supervisors and bosses have been remarkably understanding and accommodating, with only the odd person who has been difficult and in a few cases cruel.
It is very difficult to reconcile the need to do a job well and be seen as a valuable contributor with being much more likely to need time off than the average employee. This reconciliation is maddeningly difficult when you already view yourself as unreliable.
It is easy to see how this idea can develop, especially if you are unlucky enough to be surrounded by doubters and people who resent the need to take time off for migraines (and did you really have a migraine anyway? You were fine this morning and you're telling me your suddenly sick now?).
The truth is I still struggle very much with this feeling of not being a good employee, even though I now understand that for anyone control of the uncontrollable is not possible.
As a result of this struggle I have chosen to work for myself, but I would love to develop my approach and views to the point where the idea of working for some one else becomes an option that does not scare me to death.
Recognising that the illusion of control applies to everyone, not just people with chronic illness is a good place to start.

1 comment:

  1. That's really interesting that you feel like migraines have really driven you into the situation where you have to work for yourself. I wonder if there are lots of other people in the same situation but without some ability to work from home. Do you think there are other areas of your life where you have had to give up things that other people take for granted.