"It’s not been easy over the last 22 years, however I’ve built the skills to self manage my condition."

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, in 1997 and further diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a form of liver disease in 2010.

It’s not been easy over the last 22 years, however I’ve built the skills to self manage my condition, one of the key components being communication with my employer. One thing I’ve learned about life with two long term conditions is that people don’t know what the condition is, unless it’s spoken about, and I think that’s the same for most, if not all, chronic/long term conditions.

Work is a huge part of my life and I am fortunate that despite my two long term conditions, I am in full-time employment and actively involved in my hobbies; namely singing and volunteering.

I’m a community mental health nurse, and there are several challenges faced by anyone working within the community, but for me, there are additional challenges, particularly when I am unwell, as I do not always have the immediate access to a toilet that I require.

Over the years, I’ve learned that saying “no”, isn’t always a negative thing and being able to communicate with friends how I am feeling, allows us to tweak our plans and doesn’t leave me (or them) feeling alone or isolated.

When I started this job within the community, I spoke with my line manger, and occupational health department to devise a plan that would allow me to work within my limits. The team respect that I have these conditions and understand that I require various adjustments in place in order to carry out my job to the best of my ability.  As with most employees, I receive supervision every 4 weeks, which provides me with the chance to discuss my health with my line manager and any further adjustments that may need to be put in place, if I feel it is required.

I’m very fortunate that my employers have been incredibly understanding and supportive and I would tell anyone with a chronic condition to discuss it with their employer, or occupational health department if having that initial contact with their manager is scary.

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