Chronic illness and job loss can present unique challenges, especially regarding career and job uncertainty.
This comprehensive guide aims to support and guide individuals with chronic illnesses who are uncertain about their job future or steady employment.
We will explore practical approaches for coping with change, maintaining health, and finding new opportunities.
Table of contents
Dealing with unemployment and underemployment when you have a chronic illness.
I want to share my personal experience with you.
I recently found myself in a situation where I unexpectedly lost a position that provided a little less than 1/3 of my income.
I decided in 2020 that self-employment was the best thing for my health, and I knew the risks I was taking in times when employment might not be steady.
But, I accepted a contract for a company that embraced people with chronic illnesses and thought I’d have some stability or notice if things went sideways.
Ultimately, nothing and no one is safe – no matter how great you are at what you do.
I might have had a night of high blood sugars, and had to wake up to pee every hour.
I might have brain fog from sleep debt or a lack of energy overall since diabetes can be draining and taxing on your body and brain.
Living with a chronic condition means your 100% may look slightly different from anyone else’s.
When you lose a job you’re counting on, it’s terrifying and stressful to feel like you have to choose between things like food, rent, medication, and other areas of your budget.
Underemployment can make you feel undervalued and unfulfilled, while unemployment can leave you feeling lost and hopeless.
But I want to tell you that you are not alone.
There are ways to cope with these situations and become stronger on the other side.
Hopefully, I can share actionable tips that have helped me navigate similar challenges.
Don’t give up hope – sometimes, the worst happening is an opening for something better.
Coping with Job Loss and Uncertainty
Healing from job loss can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing.
You may feel a sense of grief and overwhelm after losing a job.
If that job was a part of your identity, or you were proud of your work, there are a few ways to get through the grief of being separated from something you were passionate about.
- Acknowledge your emotions: Losing a job or facing uncertainty can trigger many emotions. It’s important to acknowledge and process these emotions.
- Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional support during this challenging time.
- Prioritize self-care: Focus on maintaining your physical and mental well-being by incorporating self-care activities into your daily routine. This could include exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.
- Set realistic expectations: Understand that the job search process may take time. Patience and perseverance are key.
- Move on, seriously: You may wonder why this happened. And while it’s OK to voice your concerns and feedback to your previous employer, their mind is made up. There isn’t much use in spending your energy wondering about the details. Plus, if they didn’t want you in your position, they won’t change their minds once they pull the trigger and release you.
- Ask for help: tap into your network – there’s always someone who knows someone who can help. You may find a job lead, or a great connection you hadn’t had before.
Health Management After Job Loss
Your health should be your priority.
I know it isn’t easy even to imagine focusing on yourself now. However, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
If you are not doing physically and mentally well, It’s hard to stay energized, and present.
- Communicate with your healthcare provider: Keep your healthcare provider informed about your job situation and any changes to your health condition. They can guide you in managing your health while navigating career transitions and insurance loss.
- Develop a routine: Establish a structured routine that effectively manages your health needs. This may involve scheduling regular appointments, taking prescribed medications, and prioritizing rest.
- Apply for assistance: Check out mutual aid organizations for your illness, and also look for coupons, or other types of financial relief. If you were a full-time employee, depending on your state, you may be able to collect unemployment to help you make ends meet while you look for new work opportunities.
Developing a New Career Plan
Planning your next move is essential. If you’re looking for new work, it’s time to spruce up your resume and portfolio, and apply for new positions.
- Identify transferable skills: Assess your skills and identify those that can be applied to different industries or roles. This will help broaden your job prospects.
- Research alternative career paths: Explore industries or professions that align with your interests and abilities, and accommodate your chronic illness. Look for flexible work arrangements or remote work opportunities.
- Upskilling or acquiring new certifications: Improving your skills can enhance your qualifications and open new career opportunities.
Networking and Support
- Join support groups: Connect with others who share similar experiences. They can offer valuable advice and support in navigating career challenges.
- Utilize online platforms: Leverage professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to expand your network, connect with potential employers, and stay updated on industry trends.
- Ask for mentorship: Find a mentor who can guide and support your career journey. They can offer insights based on their experiences and help you navigate the job market or help connect you.
Financial Planning and Resources
- Assess your financial situation: Determine your current financial standing and create a budget that accommodates your needs during the job transition period.
- Explore additional income sources: Look for alternate income sources, such as freelancing or part-time work. This can provide financial stability while you search for a long-term career solution.
- Understand health insurance options: Familiarize yourself with health insurance plans covering your medical needs. Research government programs or nonprofit organizations that assist with healthcare costs.
It all boils down to this.
Navigating job uncertainty with a chronic illness can be challenging, but with the right strategies and support, finding new suitable opportunities and maintaining your health is possible.