I was raised by two exceptionally hard working parents. I deeply admire their very strong work ethics. My father actually was working, full-time, until age 80! He built three of our residential homes, all while working full-time.
My mother, astonishingly enough, was still working at age 83! Even at nearly age 89, my mother continues to be a very vibrant, hardworking woman. To date, she has sewn more than 600 little girls’ dresses, which missionaries have distributed around the world. Her goal is to make 1,000. I have zero doubt that she will accomplish this objective.
Given my parents’ influence, it’s no surprise that I grew up with the value of hard work being highly prized. Laziness was a four-letter word for parents who had endured the Great Depression.
Enter chronic illness, stage left. My sheer motivation and dogged deterioration proved inadequate in the context of debilitating, relentless symptoms. I could no longer just push myself through such symptoms, including debilitating fatigue.
Nevertheless, I certainly attempted to do so. I was working, full-time, a full 20 years after being diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. Retrospectively, I question the wisdom of having tried so very hard to continue doing so.
Not having overtly visible symptoms of chronic illness contributed to others mistakenly assuming that, in fact, I was healthy enough to continue working so many hours. I pushed myself to the point of total collapse, multiple times, crying behind closed doors as I arrived home.
Sadly, I had to admit that my persistent symptoms frequently were more severe than those of the very clients I was seeing. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply value that my parents have modeled the value of hard work.
Completing my Ph.D. took an insane degree of dedication to hard work. This achievement was the personification of delayed gratification. Fortunately, neither one of my parents suffered from any form of chronic illness.
Yes, they were extremely hard workers. They posssessed the physical capacities to do so. This family background, I’m deeply convinced, contributed to my stubbornness in initially applying for disability benefits. I didn’t want to appear less than driven and deeply motivated to be a hardworking member of society.