Let’s just say, it is NOT easy being a journalist who has #myalgicencephalomyelitis on top of all my other disabilities.
When any form of physical and mental exertion makes you physically sick and unable to keep up with breaking news, it takes a toll on your mental health too. I have devoted my career to broadcasting and have been a journalist since starting my education in media in 8th grade. It has been over 13 years, and while I once THRIVED in the pressure cooker environment that is a newsroom, I find each breaking news day harder to bounce back from.
When you are disabled, you already fear losing your job on a daily basis due to your health, but when you KNOW you aren’t keeping up with someone who doesn’t have your conditions? When you KNOW there is an abled bodied director out there who would do just about anything to have your position in a top 100 market?
When you are disabled, you realize there will always be who would do your job for less money no matter how much they are paid because they do not have health conditions that cost the company money. It doesn’t matter that we know there are legal protections, we also know there are ways to get around it, and sometimes when you know you are struggling, you can’t quiet that little voice in the back of your mind.
Talk about a trigger for depression and PTSD.
I thought that I couldn’t ask for help or tell my colleagues how hard it was on me without them realizing I am theoretically too sick to be reliable like a supervisor needed to be, and that I would be losing my job during the pandemic. That fear was the catalyst for months of mental illness relapses without me even realizing it.
Before advocacy, I used to find my self worth through my directing work. I got my full time directing position at the age of 19, and by 20 I was a full time prime time director. At 21, I was promoted to weekend production nightshift supervisor. I had worked so hard my entire life to hide my disabilities and to not let my MHE define my future, and i never expected to become even more disabled than when I started my career. I didn’t realize what pushing yourself relentlessly for over 20 years could do to an already genetically dysfunctional body.
The last few months I started communicating more with my station and asking for help—I realized since my disabilities and conditions are rare and invisible, I can’t assume people know the pain and stress I am in.
I am so thankful I spoke up and used my voice and shared my struggles with my superiors—instead of being anxious that I will lose my job because of my conditions, I am now relieved that my station is doing everything they can to make work easier on me.
We can not expect people to just understand our pain, we must vocalize it in order for our support system to help us adapt to our ability;
I am so excited to say I am no longer the weekend supervisor, but a prime time weekday director now for the first time EVER! I get to have normal weekends with my family for the FIRST TIME SINCE HIGH SCHOOL (I am 26 and married now).
I never thought my pride would allow me to be weekday, but I can’t explain the feeling of knowing I can still do what I love and put my health first at the same time 🎬
Yesterday was the first day in so long I was able to slam out 3 prime time newscasts without sitting on the edge of my wheelchair during the show and I finally feel like me again only because I asked for help...it does not make us weak, but stronger when we can admit we need help.