The importance of Social Support systems…. and identity

I was reading a Blog from another person with Parkinson’s ‘A soft voice in a noisy world’ and he made this comment, which resonates with me.

“If you choose to isolate yourself and avoid the camaraderie of others, you are missing a vital component of your support team.”

This is so true and I often say that part of what keeps me going into work, day after day is the team that I work with. I was asked recently if I had ever considered broadening my experience and working on another Ward. My answer was a definite ‘No!’ Work is not just about going in and performing a role, doing the tasks required of you in whatever job or profession you are in, it is so much more.

The people I work with are a huge part of my support system. I think sometimes it can be easy for those that support us to think that a job is just a job. It is more than that! I was meeting with a patient and his family recently and the subject of return to work came up. The son – well meaning, I’m sure – said to his father that he could come and live with them for a while, while he recovered and that he needn’t worry about going back to work. He said that there was plenty of little jobs around the house that would keep him busy.

The patient then turned to his son and said, ‘It’s not just about filling in time and keeping busy, it is about feeling like I still have a purpose in life’. Sure, the son could find him jobs to do around the house, but would that feel perhaps like he was manufacturing things to keep him occupied I wonder? The patient had been working for many years and now having had a stroke, overnight this could be taken away from him. We each of us have a view of ourselves as people and part of that view, or how we see our identity is often wrapped up in what we do for work.

I remember when I started working many years ago when my youngest child was about 2 years old. Sure, we needed the money, but that wasn’t my primary motivator. I felt that I needed a part of my life where I was not just someone’s wife, or A, B or C’s Mum. I needed the feeling of being valued for the work that I did, outside of my role of wife and mother. Where my identity was defined not through others, but that my worth was in what I as a person could do.

How many of us are still defined by our work? How would we feel if – like my patient – some well-meaning person said, ‘why don’t you stop work and enjoy life?’ Perhaps work is part of enjoying life for us? Seemingly overnight, we might go from being known as a Nurse, a Secretary, a taxi driver, whatever role we did in our working life to losing that identity and having to find a new one.

Hopefully, for most of us, when it is necessary for us to give up work, it will be an active choice and one we welcome. Not, one where we feel we have no choice and it is forced upon us.

Published by kiwipommysue

I work in health and have been with the same supportive team for over 7 years. They are all aware of my diagnosis and this helps tremendously especially while I get used to the idea of my diagnosis. My parents both had Parkinsons, so I guess my odds were higher than most.

2 thoughts on “The importance of Social Support systems…. and identity

  1. Yes agree works not only cash and supporting your family but a purpose but what happens when the workplace decides your not needed ?
    Balance is got to be the aim i now find part time and good hobbies best thing people need to be in your life


    1. I know it is difficult to feel cast out by your employer because of a perceived disability, long before this condition should have been problematic. It is good that you are moving forward and found another job and have also reduced your hours and hopefully spending more time with your family. Make the most of life that you can and focus on the good things like family not on the negative act of an employer that doesn’t deserve brainspace in your head.

      Liked by 1 person

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