My tremors today are worse than a year ago, however I am continuously working on changing my mind-set: positive thinking has helped me understand that I can easily live with my auto-immune disease and what the specialists diagnosed (?) as ‘long Covid’ and hopefully time will eliminate some of my symptoms. Apps such as Headspace or Calm have really helped me with winding down after a stressful day at work and light exercises such as yoga or walks through the park have maintained my mindfulness. A disability is defined as a change in one’s body that would hinder them from carrying out their normal activities. I always undermined my tremors, brushing these off as if they do not impact me and are so insignificant that I wouldn’t call them a disability. Yet with time passing, I realised that their impact on my life has been significant and I have adapted to new ways of living with them: my exercise routine has been shortened to 10 minutes a day (anything longer than this would wipe me out for days) and in meetings I avoid holding any cups to not draw attention to my shaky hands. Thinking and planning ahead for even the smallest tasks has been really effective in preventing me from feeling uncomfortable in certain situations and it is something that I strongly recommend to everyone who is experiencing anything similar! However, maybe the most important contribution for me has been switching to part-time working: it has really helped my condition and maintained my stress levels to a minimum.
As a freelance architect I soon discovered that our industry is very restrictive when it comes to offering part-time/freelance work. The continuous application process can be very debilitating and discouraging, mostly when you just recently completed a job and looking for a new one. However, with a lot of patience the right opportunity will come along, as it did for myself and the practice was a perfect fit: “Good things come for those who wait” – the old saying still works! Finding the right company to work for is probably the most important factor if you are going thorough anything similar to me. It allowed me to not have to constantly take time off when going for tests, be able to give my best in the three days of working from home and it also enabled me to personally develop in the days off: working on learning new software or even carrying out my own small projects. The decision of taking this big step, the worry of changing from a standard Monday to Friday, nine to five (or much more…) job was huge and scary at the time, however I now can look back and happily say it was probably the thing that has saved and profoundly changed me.
As I am sitting here, reflecting and opening up about my health issues and their impact on my profession, I realise how grateful I am for my friends and family’s support, having people around me that I can openly talk to about how I feel and what I am going through. Without them, my whole experience would have been a lot harder. Then came Architects Benevolent Society: a place where you can share your experiences, your challenges and the solutions you have discovered. I urge everyone to open him/herself up and seek help, as it’s always there…Architects Benevolent Society offers amazing support to those who need it; you only have to reach out and ask for it!
Perhaps my tremors will never go away as I now know I have to adapt to this new ‘me’, where I might not be able to get completely better but where I can try and help others overcome similar effects that have turned their lives upside down. Drawing was never my strong talent, so I will end my little story with an example of positive thinking: my tremors can act as the perfect excuse for my wobbly sketches and never-straight lines!