When I faced up to the realities of being ‘disabled’, my whole world opened up, and life choices became much clearer. I had been doing a little casual work, simple things that interested me, jobs that were easy and had some connection with writing, in a way.
My jobs were as a ‘Mystery Shopper’, where I would read the assignment, the go to the required shop and test the store and their employees on the stated issues. I did this for a couple of years, and I enjoyed being paid to shop, trying on clothes at a variety of different stores, whichever store it was that wanted this work done. I also did Surveys online.
It was a fascinating task, I loved pretending I was somebody else, quite fun, and the pay was OK, not great but OK. I ended up buying more clothes than I probably needed, but so what, shopping for clothes is supposed to be what women love to do! All in all, I ended up in front, in monetary terms, so that was good.
But then, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) hit, changing my life quite substantially. At the beginning, I wasn’t able to drive. But once I was over that, I wasn’t sure if I would still be able to do the Mystery Shopping work. And curiously, I only just realised that Mystery Shopping and Multiple Sclerosis both begin with the same letters. How strange …
When you work as a Mystery Shopper, you have to visit the store you’re told to visit, try on particular clothes, or order particular food. Then, after, you have to report back on particular things. Things like the cleanliness of the shop, placement of items for sale, or whether staff mentioned certain things to me as the shopper. Doing this work isn’t rocket science, but it does require a level of being able to remember things.
Could I still do that? I didn’t know, and to be completely honest, I still don’t know. I may be OK, I’m certainly able to still do many things I did before MS came along in 2010. Do I want to do it though? Would I find it too stressful? Do I really need to have a paid job anyway?
These are questions I ask myself, and to be honest, I don’t want to risk the stress of taking this job back on, and finding myself hit hard by stress. Having MS, and knowing about the effects on my body when things get stressful, makes me OK about not doing the job. Extra money would be fine, although I’m not sure at the moment how much money I can earn without it affecting my Disability Support Pension. So Mystery Shopping will stay as something I used to do, along with lengthy bush walks. That was my life before MS. My life after MS is perhaps quieter, but still interesting. It’s just not too physically demanding, and it doesn’t stretch my memory skills too much.
I still do surveys online, they not taxing on my head, and I can either do them or not, as I wish. I’m happy to say I get a little bit of pocket money doing this, with no stress at all. I love giving my opinion on things, so these surveys suit me well!
I currently do lots of volunteer work, all of it related to writing in one way or another. This keeps me connected with the broader community, and it also allows me to use my brain, writing fiction and no fiction, coming up with new ideas and programs for a writing group I’m involved with. My life was a good one before MS came along. My life since, has also been a good life. Different, but still a good life!