Multiple sclerosis is a rude disease; it just decides to pop in whenever it feels like. In most cases people are diagnosed with MS between their 20s and 50s, a time where most of us are just starting our careers, thinking about making career changes, or in the prime of our careers. So what are we supposed to do?
This isn’t a brain teaser and there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. If you are applying for a new job or have settled into your current position when MS rears its ugly head, it is entirely up to you if you are going to disclose your diagnosis.
After coming to terms with my diagnosis, I was vocal about it and shared it with my supervisor at the time. You can be an educator of the disease, and an advocate for yourself. With my new employer, I shared it as well with some people in my initial interviews (I had three), and then slowly would disclose to coworkers after I started. Your situation might be different; you could feel differently about your willingness to share in general—much less with your coworkers and employer.
Some things to keep in mind when you are deciding to disclose your diagnosis or not:
Your rights. You should not be discriminated against because of your multiple sclerosis and accommodations can, and should be made for you if you need them. Needing certain accommodations would be one reason that it might be a good idea to disclose, so that you can be sure that they can be made in a timely manner when starting. Think parking, your office location to the restroom, wheelchair accessibility, or a flexible schedule (for those doctor’s appointments!)
If you have other concerns with your rights, check out the Americans with Disabilities Act site. The act showed the U.S. is committed to making sure that no one is discriminated against based on their disabilities. This act is actually celebrating 25 years in July!
How you feel. I said earlier that it is all up to you if you disclose information about your MS or not. You know how MS has been affecting you up to that point, what accommodations you feel you might need. My decision to disclose was to just make my employer aware. I wasn’t having any issues that would make it difficult to work, or any symptoms that were making it obvious that anything was wrong with me.
The bottom line is, don’t let a diagnosis hold you back. If you want a new career, go after it. If you are excelling at your current job, rock on!! Keep moving forward, it is possible and there is nothing wrong with asking your workplace for help and accommodations.
Have you told your employer that you have multiple sclerosis? Has MS impacted your future career goals?
Lydia Gutierrez lives in Columbus, OH with her fiancé (husband August 8, 2015!). Lydia is busy planning her wedding and will be bored when it is all said and done! She has her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University. She was diagnosed with MS August 2014. Lydia recently started a new job as a marketing coordinator and is loving every minute of it! She loves social media and can find her tweeting her other love, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at Twitter and posting pictures on Instagram.