As of this week, I'm officially part time at work. I now work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday Friday with a midweek break and I couldn't be happier. Over the last two years, I have solidly battled with my health, ran myself into the ground working and juggling a busy social life and probably made myself worse in the long run. I was always that person that took on more than she could handle at university and when I started working full time, I threw myself at everything I could eager to climb the ladder of my career.
Over the last year alone I've had over 40 sick days, including time off for a serious operation and coming to terms with not one, but two life changing chronic illnesses. My world as I knew it collapsed and I was left with agonising decisions about my future. As I struggled to get through each week, one question that weighed heavily on my mind was what should I do about work? I'm almost 25 and supposed to be on a clear career path to a bright future, not thinking about my 'retirement'. Quitting altogether would have not been financially viable, I would have lost my home and put a huge strain on my marriage, but working full time was becoming less of an option. Approximately three months ago I was called into a meeting with my managers who realised I wasn't coping, it was them who realised how out of my depth I was before I had even realised it myself. That meeting was my breaking point, but also a big relief. I no longer had to hide how I was feeling. I cried, admitted defeat and pondered about what to do next. They put me in touch with the companies HR lady who then suggested going part-time, something that surprisingly hadn't really entered my mind and after much debate I decided to have a trial to see if it could work.
After only a few short weeks I noticed a tremendous difference with my energy levels, stress levels and overall wellbeing. Of course it didn't deter the pain, but feeling happier in myself was a huge help. Colleagues noticed I had a renewed passion for my job while I was at work and my husband said I was seeming a lot happier. During my time off, I found myself developing new hobbies such as baking, sleeping more and also focusing on my blog - things that help distract me from the pain. I'm not going to lie things initially were a little bit tighter on the purse strings, but they have been for months as I was having random days off work to cope with the fatigue. By going part time, I was at least able to keep track of the some of the days I've had off and I was pushing myself more to get through the days when I was in the office.
Just before I went on annual leave in December, I finally changed my contract to permanent part-time. I had mixed feelings about this - in one way I was sad that I no longer felt physically able to maintain a 5 day a week job, but on the other hand I felt relieved and somewhat freed. This new day off meant more blogging time, more time to recuperate from my strong medication and more time for myself, because living with an illness is almost like having another full time job.
My doctor said something quite thought provoking a few months ago. She said: "You have all your life to work and if the UK government has anything to do with it, that will be at least 40 years from now. Your health is far more important as it is something that decreases in age rather than gets better, but you can always learn new things once your health is under control." Sometimes we all need a break to recuperate, it doesn't make us weak, in fact it makes us stronger in the long run. Swapping the 5/2 for the 4/3 is me taking my 'me time' while I'm still young so I have a greater chance of doing the things I want in the future. Right now, I have no regrets.
Have you ever thought about working part-time?