Disclosure – Revealing health issues

By February 3, 2014Advocate, Caregiver, Consumer, ePatient

Disclosure: The act of revealing something. How does disclosure impact life for the disabled, chronically ill, or their caregivers? Disclosure has a threshold: before disclosure, after disclosure. Revealing something that may impact success or perception. I have multiple sclerosis, mental illness, am an amputee, have a son with autism, am very short, have chronic pain, manage my father’s care on the other coast. I’m applying for a job, college, a loan. My situation has changed, I’m newly diagnosed, I’ve taken responsibility to support…..

There’s legal implications: non-discrimination; fitness to do job. There’s personal style and boundary implications: I am who I am; it’s nobody’s business. It’s situational, personal, risky.

A human resource specialist would probably tell you that you only have to reveal something that affects your fitness to do a job (look on the job description) such as ability to climb stairs as a mailperson when you’re wheelchair bound. Beyond that it’s up to you. I disclosed that I had MS while looking for a job since I write about it on this blog. Probably didn’t get several jobs because of it. I’m comfortable with that, a calculated risk. When I was diagnosed, my advisor instructed me to tell my employer right away, to start non-discrimination protections. From there it’s situational. I may be be more likely to disclose a change if my employer, supervisor was family friendly and the job allowed for flexibility. Harder if others depended on predictability of my presence, such as shift work.

It’s personal – be ready to answer questions about your illness, disability, or caregiving. Find a safe person(s) and have them ask you about it. Think through answers, accentuate the positive. Sleep on it, try again. Companionship on the health journey – who to include, how to invite, how to protect. How have you handled this?

One Comment

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