I had an extremely difficult time watching my career come to an end. It was the last thing I ever thought would happen, so when it did I took it hard. I did all I could to hide my cognitive problems from others. I fumbled my way through each day knowing that life was changing yet refusing to acknowledge those changes.
As a computer programmer, I could meet any challenge thrown at me and beat it. I developed some amazing systems and was proud of my accomplishments. When multiple sclerosis came along and began disrupting those abilities, I didn’t like it one bit. I would try programming but just couldn’t get my brain to function.
I struggled with everyday things too like trying to remember if I had washed my hair while in the shower, so I would wash it again just in case or forgetting I had something in the oven even with a timer set. Who could burn a casserole with a wonderful smell filling the house and a timer going off? Me!!! So, to get confused looking at code, the very code I, at one time, could decipher in my sleep…that was devastating.
The day I made my decision to resign, I cried. Not just one tear either, a flood and an ocean of tears. I covered it up well, but my heart was broken. Having to walk away from my job made me feel like a failure.
It’s been close to four years now and I still miss my job. I find myself trying to do in depth programing from time to time, but I can’t seem to do it without a cheat sheet for even the simplest of tasks. I’m still smart, I’m still me…I’m still an amazing person.
I do my best to try and stay focused on the big picture. My career wasn’t who I was. It was only a small part of my life. I am so much more than the things I can do… and so are you. For some reason, we put our identity in things that don’t really determine who we are. You aren’t a chef, a fireman, a store clerk, or a nurse. You are an amazing, wonderful, strong, inspiring person who has a lot to give even in your weakest moments.
I know it’s scary, the unknown. “How will I? How can I? What about? What next?” I know, it’s terrifying to take a step forward when you can’t even see the road in front of you. But regardless of how you feel, I can tell you with confidence that you aren’t a failure, stupid or broken. You are a somebody…and being a somebody is the best thing anybody could ever be.
Oh, and another thing… you aren’t multiple sclerosis either. Don’t ever forget that! You are so much more!