I am a 32-year-old single female INFJ UX writer. I work in an open office in a large corporation. I’ve worked there for about 6 years. I also identify as an HSP, as most INFJs would. I know you are going to freak out at me and tell me I need to get married and start a family, stat. And that since I’m unmarried and over 30, I’m probably autistic. I’m working on dating but haven’t met the guy I want to marry yet! I am trying to break the cycle of ending up with manipulative, emotionally abusive men.

Anyway, when I was 27-28 I became very sick and only when I went to a naturopath did I find out that I basically have a chronic illness and essentially, chronic fatigue syndrome. Because of this, I have to be very careful about managing my stress, diet and lifestyle. Any little tweak can send me into flareup mode, and I effectively have to take a few days “off.” I can’t be too social, push myself too hard or sometimes even go to work. This occasionally makes it hard to date, and I hate that I can’t be my best self.

I’ve found when I work from home a few days a week, I feel much better. Because of the collaborative nature of my job that often requires in-person interaction, it is hard to do that anymore — and everywhere I’ve interviewed, it has been the same sentiment (I haven’t asked but it’s been implied.) If I go on a relaxing vacation near salt water, I feel great. If I go home to Wisconsin, I feel pretty good as well. (Nature is good for your immune system, as I’m sure you already know.) There are times I really do feel vitality and health (and people even comment on it!) but just not when I am at work 5 days a week. (I hope this doesn’t sound entitled; I know few people like going to work 5 days a week, but for me it is extra draining, and I struggle with it a lot more than the average person due to illness and being an HSP. And you don’t have to remind me that I’m childless so I have even less stress to complain about.)

I like my job, and I’m good at it. I make a decent salary, more than I ever thought I’d make as a writer. I have a pension, which I know is nearly unheard of these days. I like that my job provides me somewhat of a built-in social network, as so many of my friends are disappearing by moving to other cities or getting married. Since I’ve been there 6 years, I keep looking to move on. I basically need to move jobs to get a promotion. I have a really great work-life balance: I only work 40 hours a week, I don’t check my email at home, I get 5 weeks of vacation, and if I need to leave a little early for whatever reason, no one bats an eye. Everywhere I’ve interviewed, this is not the case.

I consider myself very lucky. I used to work at a major PR firm which I think is where a lot of my chronic illness issues stemmed from — it was very toxic, stressful and combative, and I know now that I cannot handle that type of environment. But I’m unsure if even my current situation is the best thing for my health right now. I keep having flareups. I have to take time off to recover until it happens again. I often have to sneak off in the middle of the day to take naps. But I know that I’m lucky that I can even do that. We had a reorg recently, and I’m on too many projects and in too many meetings, which is making me more stressed and causing more frequent flareups. I work in tech, and sexism and sexual harassment takes a daily toll, especially in an open office where I feel like I have to constantly be protecting myself. This isn’t helping either. I know and do all the stress-management techniques, and I keep wondering if I should look for a remote job or part-time remote job. But I’m afraid I’d feel really isolated.

Oh and my real dream? To be a novelist. I have several side writing projects that I work on outside of work. I have hobbies that I like to do for fun. I love animals and would like to get a dog but can’t in my current apartment due to restrictions. I’m considering moving, but the stress of moving will likely set my stress back too.

Do you have any advice on what I should do about work? Without sounding like a gold-digger, getting married and being able to quit and work part-time would be ideal, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards at the moment. So what should I do?