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Work place stress and RA

Work place stress and RA


It's a while since I wrote here but I'm hoping you might be able to give me some good pointers as I'm in an unpleasant situation.

I have RA which started in early 2014, so I'm still on full meds e.g. 25g methotrexate. Under normal conditions I'm coping really well - I'm delighted with the improvements my medication has made.

However, my stress levels are high at the moment and it's affecting my energy level to the point of constantly feeling tired, exhausted and out of breath. I'm really concerned, which isn't helping!

I work full time in an office on a PC. I'm finding the work demands hard to cope with - too the point where I rarely have time to finish any work task and many tasks I rarely even start. My line manager is also in the same situation but tells me I need to prioritise every day and not to worry........but I do worry because I don't like letting people down. I'm also working remotely from the rest of my team and, because everyone is so busy, actual phone calls are rare. This means that emails can often be difficult to understand, which adds to the stress.

I have raised my concerns but today I was told that's they way DWP work so I will either need to get used to it or find another job elsewhere. At my grade I'm expected to be able to manage my own work load. Things are unlikely to change.

My line manager has asked me to look at at completing a Work RIsk Assessment, as she thinks I shouldn't be feeling the way I do feel. She essentially saying my approach to work is wrong and needs to change, and not the way they work.

I spoke to another manager today who said that everyone is under a lot of pressure as there's far too much on the go than there are resources to do the work - but I need to find a way to manage in this kind of environment. She said some days she goes home and cries.

I now seem to be at a cross roads - should I stick it out and try to change my approach to work (and not care as much) to reduce my stress levels or should opt out and find another job? Or are there other options?

Does anyone have any thoughts on this which might help me? I'm 57 so still have a number of years work ahead of me but am fast running out of steam.

Thank you


10 Replies

Depends on what you want and how long you've been working there I suppose. I took early retirement from Local Government and love it, but of course, have a great pension. I'd say your stress is down to being a conscientious employee and that is hard to change especially with all the cut backs and so it might be a good idea to look around for a change but think about the pension implications too. Can you move within the service ?. But please do try to ease off it can be hard I know but it's vital to keep healthy before any other consideration. xx



Many thanks for responding. Your words make perfect sense. If I could retire early I would but my pension provision isn't great so I'd rather keep earning for a few more years yet.

I do need to get my mindset in a totally different space e.g. It's just a job at the end of the day and I'm the least junior member of the team so shouldn't feel responsible for everything, especially when I flag my concerns.

But maybe I do need to reduce my hours as the tiredness does affect the way I feel. And I did benefit from an hours lunch break, which ended 7 months ago when business demands and urgent deadlines took priority.

I expect Local Authority resourcing pressures are the same across government. Last year 4 staff members were managing my contract, and now it's just me, with occasional input from my manager. I expect they would expect me to deliver the same work on reduced hours! The only winners are the Contractors, so it's really a false economy.

I'm going to sleep on it and try to relax and hopefully things will improve.




Sorry to hear about your predicament .

I hear what you're saying in terms of how the stress of your Job impacts you and I'd agree with others in saying that stress can very much exacerbate our symptoms, sometimes triggering a flare.

I guess what came up for me was , if you didn't have RA, would the stresses of your job impact the same way ?

If not, would you then feel more able in fulfilling your role- without this level of fatigue etc?

If that were the case then surely it's more about managing your RA in the work place as opposed to just your ability to do your job- if that makes sense?

I would be asking your manager to support a referral to occupational health where they would look at what supports could be out in place to help you manage things better. An example would be a work station assessment, case load management, regular breaks and opportunity to move from your desk etc.

Any corporate organisation has a duty of care in relation to their employees and an assessment of your needs in terms of supporting you in the work place is part of this duty and covered under disability legislation?



Hi Marie

I took your advice today and asked my manager to refer me to OHS - great idea!

She wrote back to ask me how to do it! This is typical of the support I receive from her since I started my job 8 months ago. I'm beginning to think that she loves asking me to do everything for her.

Anyhow, this won't stop me from forging ahead to get my needs recognised.

I've also started to try slow breathing all day - so far so good.

Many thanks for your thoughts



That's good to hear. My advice would be to stress to your manager that you've undertaken your role, with no issue or concern for a significant period. However, since being diagnosed , the nature and progression of your condition, combined with your medication means that whilst you can continue to undertake your duties, you realise that you may require a level of support in the workplace to continue doing so - under disability legislation, they have a duty to respond to this. I would also stress that if you were in a position to self refer to occupational health , you would but that you realise that this is a managerial task . She only needs to call the HR department to familiarise herself with the process!

Don't give up or give in. This condition robs us of lots, including choice- in my view, this is something you can and should be supported with, allowing you to make choices about how and when you continue to work , not something that your made to feel that there's no option but to be forced to work less, look for another post etc .

For all if us , somewhere down the line , this maybe ha decision that needs to be taken but you have a right to have all avenues explored and supported before then.

I genuinely wish you well.


1 like

My heart goes out to you Pole-dark. Let me begin by saying, no one is in your situation. This disease affects us all in very unique ways. We may have a lot in common but like life , it is all about how you perceive it. You know your limits. I was guilty of pushing things to far. I was running two businesses and working fourteen hours a day.

Stress can and will exacerbate your symptoms. Unfortunately, I was incapacitated for eighteen months. I could barely walk. To late to save either business.

I am currently in remission, for what that is worth lol no inflammation but no shortage of pain or complications. I find now that I am somewhat functional I have limited options. To go back to Financial Planning is out as would need to renew five licenses. I know even if I do that I do not have the strength to return to that intensity. I am very competitive. That is good and bad. I clearly am not great with limits.

My new Moto is Live your Best Life , whatever that means for you. Fortunately I have a spouse and have restructured financially to adapt to our new reality.


Hi Damaged

Your life has been hit hard!! Losing 2 businesses sounds heartbreaking. I'm so glad to hear you are a competitive person - I really believe everyone needs to work at their full potential to be fulfilled.

Like you, I have stepped down from the high achieving fast lane. RA was a massive shock to me and I thought my life had ended when I couldn't walk, bend, dress, sleep.....etc. When the drugs actually kicked in and worked I was so grateful. I decided not to waste life and went straight back into work full of enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been easy even at a less senior grade. I probably need to be kinder to my body now and accept I'll never be the same again. Your right, you start to learn your limits.

I too have kids (they're actually adults now!) but, as a single mum I'd like to be there to provide support if they ever need it, so my income is important.

I really wish you all the best in the future.




We are kindred spirits pole-dark. I raised my son, now 38, as a single parent. My two youngest 25 and 21 are my step children. I have raised them from the age of 5 and 9. My daughter is my child. I may not have given birth to her but I have definitely impacted their lives in significant ways.

I had to give up my Pomeranian as well. For me this is still my greatest sacrifice. He is in a home with two young men and four other Pima. This family is perfect for him and he has adjusted very well.

I find the isolation the most difficult. I have participated in many projects but have now joined pen patient voices Network. Hopefully with eight yrs post secondary, I can affect positive change.


Your situation sounds very much like mine. I was working full time up to a year ago but was pressurised into reducing my hours which I was reluctant to do but after a week off from work due to fatigue and nausea Possibly caused by stress I reduced my hours.

I work 22.5 hours split into 3 days per week.

My 2 colleagues work full time same grade. I feel at times I'm expected to cover the same work in 3 days instead of 5.

Hope you make the right choice and hope it helps reduce your stress.


Hi there

Many thanks for writing your experience. I am considering part time hours but, as you have found, this could actually increase the pressure on me. At the moment I do feel exhausted but I believe I'm being far more productive than my peers, without any recognition or reward - actually I get nothing. Perhaps it is an age thing but there's no way of knowing.

I've managed to read around potential stressors today and there are definitely changes which could be made to improve my work. So I'm trying to stay positive and put together a short paper of options, for managers to help me. Then it's up to them.

I'm also asking for an Occupational Health Adviser to help out and provide me with the support - and professional authority- I think I need.

Unfortunately communication with my line manager has disintegrated into very short sentence emails, so we really need a Fresh pair of eyes on the situation. The solution is outside her control too.

I hope I'm not creating even more stress and unpleasant feelings by involving others, but managers can react defensively. I don't want to work part time just yet as I think I can still contribute so much full time.

Perhaps you could consider increased hours again. 3 days a week is a significant reduction. Hope everything works out well for you.



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