Using a diagnosis to describe what happened isn’t often helpful.
It places a person in a diagnostic box that’s hard to get out of. I call this an “identity straitjacket.”
You think that you’re doing so well that you’d like to tell others so that they can cheer you for having done so well. Not so fast. Not on a job. Doing so cost a friend a promotion.
Like it or not claiming the diagnosis–a clinical term–to talk about yourself can color how people respond to you. Yet rightly so a diagnosis is simply something you have, not who you are.
I’m only five feet tall. I have dark brown eyes, black hair, and pale skin. That’s a part of who I am–and I don’t equate the illness with being a personal characteristic like these things are.
It all comes down to the action(s) we take to manage our condition. This is all that matters when working at a job and having to request a reasonable accommodation.
As long as a person is able to manage their condition in a positive and proactive way–then I say the diagnosis is irrelevant and it’s almost secondary as a guidepost for what we can do.
Thus on the job if you ask me it makes more sense to talk about a functional limitation when you need to request an accommodation.
The goal on the job and I dare say in ordinary life is for each of us to exceed the expectations other people have of us.
Disclose that you have SZ or BP or whatever you have and your co-workers will often suddenly have a negative expectation or impression of you.
This is how it is in a lot of offices.
I say: disclose only if you need a reasonable accommodation under the ADA Act to be able to excel in performing the functions of your job.
Yet the choice is ultimately yours.
I’ll end here with some encouraging words:
You do not need to be entirely symptom-free to hold a job.
I’ve known a couple of peers who still heard voices and had full-time jobs.
Yet do you think they told their supervisor that they heard voices?
In the next blog entry I’ll talk about how to create your own accommodations on the job with or without management approval.