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Disability Narratives

Gabrielle has had several short-term contracts at the university. Although her line managers have largely been supportive, the unpredictability of her relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and endometriosis has affected how she goes about her work in several ways.

Image representing Gabrielle© Disability Narratives


at the time of the interview – 2016

Gabrielle works in a college library. Ethnic Background/Nationality:
White American.

Extended biography

at the time of the interview - 2016

Gabrielle has worked in various roles at the university over the last four years. Two weeks before starting her first job at the university, she experienced double vision. After seeing several doctors, she was given a provisional diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis - it was not until a second clinical episode a year later before she was definitively diagnosed.

Gabrielle contacted the manager for her new role, who told her not to worry and that she could start when she was ready. Although Gabrielle had continuing problems with her eyesight for the next few months, she was able to start her new job with minimal adjustments.

Gabrielle was advised to try and carry on with life as normally as possible. One of the difficult things she has had to manage is the unpredictability of her symptoms and episodes. For example, fatigue can come on quickly or build up over time and it can be difficult to fully describe how these symptoms affect her. Gabrielle said that this difficulty in predicting how things will progress means that she sometimes struggles to discuss her needs with line managers.

Do what you want to do, as much as you can. That will help, help with some stability. But also an awareness that you're going to have to be flexible, because stuff's going to come up.

Gabrielle also has endometriosis and has had to have a number of surgical procedures that also meant that she needed a few weeks off. Managing symptoms of MS and knowing that she might need to take leave during her short-term contract, Gabrielle often puts pressure upon herself to work harder when she is in work. However, stress has the potential to affect her MS. The temporary nature of her roles has also meant that it is hard to develop the relationships with managers so that she is able to ask for time off for (or to prevent) fatigue.

As Gabrielle has been employed on a number of short term contracts she has had to consider when the best time to tell people about her conditions is. Her preference would be to start work and show how she can be a valuable employee. However, circumstances such as needing time off for surgery have meant that she has had to tell her new line managers about both conditions very soon after starting in a new role and she worries that this does not show employers how hard she is able to work.

Biography at the time of the interview - 2016