November 26, 2012
I can’t believe that I am finally off my medication. The pain still lingers in my body from fibromyalgia, but in many ways it seems better than what the narcotics did to my body over time. The pain is more consistent, not fluctuating around my medication doses, where the intensity would increase as my body became reliant on the drugs for relief. Though I did experience almost pain-free moments, the overall experience currently isn’t that much different from when I was on medication. Has my body finally started to heal itself?
The psychological part of taking medication is still active in my brain. I feel this panic sensation at certain times of the day, thinking I forgot my medication and feel fear at the potential for great pain. It only takes a split second for me to remember that I don’t need the medication, yet the automatic reaction still lingers. I no longer have to hide my medication when I am out of the house, or spend time cutting up my medication. I don’t have to concern myself with the stereotypes of opioid users, though the stereotypes still exist with people who have fibromyalgia (including my own shame around it). It will probably take some time to get used to this new reality.
When I first began to experiment with various medications prescribed by my doctors, I was in a great deal of pain. I couldn’t imagine living my life in this type of pain every day with no end in sight. I am grateful that my doctors were able to believe me, and give me some relief from the pain. I have no doubt that I needed something, but can’t understand why today, my pain is less. Perhaps my body was better able to adapt with less stress, and better eating habits. Over the years, I have tried many things to relieve my pain, and understand that a magic cure is probably not out there that works for everyone. If this were the case, we wouldn’t have disease. I imagine that the process of disease and healing is a complicated one, though there are many things we know help most, there are many things we don’t know.
The beauty of my own ignorance is that I can’t make claims for other people, nor give a clear path to follow. This makes the process a personal one, each discovering what works best for them. As much as I would like to help others have greater healing, I am not a healer. The blessings of a story, is that we can listen intently, and take the pieces that resonate with us. My story is in a sense interwoven from the stories of others. Constantly experimenting for greater health, both physically and spiritually. I hope that as I continue to make changes to my life, that I will continue to have less pain, and perhaps be cured from what ails my body. However, of greater importance to me is that regardless of my pain level that I will continue to grow in a way that brings me spiritual peace and hope, as well as deeper relationships with those around me.
Blessings to each of you on your own journey….
1 Comment | Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Health, Pain Management, Spirituality | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, health, opiods, recovery | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
November 19, 2012
I am excited about my own journey towards greater health and being part of this journey with you. When I began a new food plan in October of 2012, I had three hopes for myself. 1. To become a health coach as I love coaching other people. 2. To lose 10-15 pounds, as I carry all excess weight in the middle increasing my rate for heart problems (which run in our family). 3. To reduce my symptoms from Fibromyalgia – lesser pain and greater energy.
My particular plan consisted of both vegetarian and gluten-free options. I have always wondered if certain food items could contribute to my health problems. Though I am not yet sure whether it is the change in the food choices and/or the nutrition in the products, I am certain that it is changing my life. My energy has increased drastically, and I am on my way to being drug free because of the reduction in pain. I can’t wait to edit this section with “I am not on medication”. I have found hope after years of struggles. I also have lost 8 pounds so far and have about 5 pounds more to go .
I love the simplicity of this program. I can take things step by step – making changes and learning as I go. I have never cared for cooking, so the easy meals work. I have learned how to cook fish for the first time, and prefer this over chicken any day. My favorite meal is the cappuccino drink once I learned to use the blender to stir the mix with boiling water. I also enjoy the puddings, the shakes and the brownies. I eat the cereal for my “to go” food or emergency food, since the bars have gluten in them. I always liked cereal.
I have spent the last month trying to incorporate the program into my life. I strive for a life of integrity, and desire to live out the words I say in my personal actions. I have read through the book and utilized the study guide to learn some nutrition fundamentals I thought I knew. I have also enjoyed listening to numerous support calls to understand some of the challenges we face and ways to work with them. I was surprised how the simple things could make a difference, and how much there is to learn. Fortunately I can take all these lessons step by step, which is the best way for me to make changes. Much of my hesitation regarding a program switched to amazement at how much wisdom and support was offered to aid me in becoming healthy.
My biggest struggle is social situations. I am still learning how to deal with eating around people and managing the peer pressure I feel, or think I feel. I miss my skim milk and still crave breads and pizza. Fortunately, these situations are limited, and most of the time I am grateful for my new health, less pain, more energy, and that my jeans aren’t tight.
More about the program can be found at http://healthcoachelissa.tsfl.com/. You can also send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or if you want me to send information your way. The idea of this program is to achieve greater health through changing your habits. This could include losing weight, reducing health problems and medications, being more fit, understanding healthier living, learning about nutrition and more. I have been greatly impressed by what I have learned so far, and am excited to share it with you.
On a personal note – I have been married almost 20 years and have 2 middle school daughters. I have a degree in sociology with a minor in psychology. I love reading memoirs, blogging, learning, planning and researching. I enjoy traveling – whether camping, visiting relatives or going to Hawaii. My favorite fitness activities are coaching soccer, racquetball, weight lifting, yoga, and running.
Leave a Comment » | Blog, Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Exercise, Food, Health, Health Coaching, Pain Management | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, coaching, diet, fibromyalgia, fitness, gluten free, health, medication, vegetarian | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
November 14, 2012
I have been taught to believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I want to trust in Him as my Higher Power and guide through this life. I want to believe He loves me and that through Christ’s death, that my sins have been forgiven. At times however I have doubts and struggle to understand my own beliefs. I have had many wonderful spiritual experiences that have impacted my life. I have also had some traumatic experiences and distorted words that came out of a religious context. I find that my resistance drops when I focus on the Spirit and the relational aspect that I continue to feel each day.
I believe there is a spirit in all things, that something spiritual is at work in this world and in my own life. I believe this spirit is relational in nature, that it has the power to change things around me, that it isn’t something I have ultimate control over. I believe in the purity of this Spirit, that this Spirit has the capacity to bring light, truth and wholeness. I believe the Spirit is above all loving, that it is filled with compassion and grace for all mankind.
Turning my will over to a spiritual power is something not easy to do. I like to hold on to what I believe feels concrete, not something that is less physically seen. At the same time, releasing to a Spirit gives me peace, brings me wisdom, and helps me make better decisions. When I walk with the spirit in mind, I am more of who I want to be, also filled with more love, compassion and grace.
Surrender is about willingness. Willingness to let go of what I know and desire and be open to something different. It is being willing to say both yes and no, and seek love and truth. It is choosing to look at myself, striving for growth, while accepting what is.
When I try to control my health problems it doesn’t work. I can’t completely change my course with my mind alone. I can’t always tell when I am holding on to something, but trust the Spirit will guide me as I keep searching. I do not need to be perfect or to have all the answers. I am not the cause of my health problems and I am not being punished.
I do not completely understand the Spirit. I can’t explain the different religions that have a unique spiritual slant. I see a Spirit at work in a variety of people and places that feels similar to the Spirit I follow. I have many questions that I long to have answered, yet realize many of them won’t be. I trust that my Spirit will be with me, and be a guiding force in my life.
2 Comments | 12 steps for chronic pain, Chronic Pain, Spirituality | Tagged: 12 steps, chronic illness, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, spirituality | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
October 26, 2012
I recently took part in a writing study on chronic pain. My understanding of this study was that we were supposed to write about our chronic pain experience from a compassionate perspective. It seemed that the hope was that by taking the time to reflect kindly on our symptoms, it might reduce our pain and change our thoughts about our pain.
Unfortunately for me, I realized writing directly about my pain can actually make me feel worse. I prefer to write more indirectly – what things help me, goals I have, and more random thoughts, than writing directly about all the losses associated with my pain. It is important that when I dive deeply into more of the emotional pain, that I find ways to bring myself out of the emotions. Perhaps this is why I appreciate reality humor. It is a way of looking directly at something, yet finding the humor in it, even if the humor seems rather dark.
Writing a blog about pain, has a way of connecting me with others in similar situations. It is more than just writing about my pain. I love hearing the stories, the thoughts, and emotions of other people. It brings my own truth to light, in a way I might not normally see it. I come away from writing on a blog feeling lighter, freer and with more hope. Perhaps the key is taking the words and using it as a bridge with others. When I write to myself, it is still valuable, but can leave me feeling more alone. When I share my words in the cyber world, I find other fellow bloggers who join with me in our cyber community of pain with hope. Thank you all for making my days a little brighter.
Leave a Comment » | Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Pain Management | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, writing | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
July 10, 2012
Why use 12 steps for chronic pain recovery? It doesn’t seem to make sense that I would compare addiction to dealing with chronic pain. Addiction seems to be self induced, self focused, obsessive, and destructive. We often see a visualization of a drunk homeless man begging for “food” that would go towards alcohol. We imagine the loved ones we knew who lied, stole, and rationalized their habit, while making everyone around them suffer.
The Medical Dictionary defines addiction “as a habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one’s voluntary control.”* It doesn’t mean that a person can’t always control the use of the drug/behavior, but they continue to use more or more often of the drug/behavior in spite of consequences and/or a desire to stop. They often are compulsive and use the drug/behavior regularly as a way to cope with life’s demands.
Chronic pain has similarities with addiction. It is something that is beyond our control, can be all consuming and can drive us to do things we hadn’t thought about before. A person with an addiction will seek more and more for greater high, and a chronic pain sufferer may seek more and more for greater pain relief. We tend to have shame, may isolate, feel alone in our experience, and may focus on pain relief as the cure to all things being good again. Our thoughts and emotions can contribute to our addictive and pain tendencies and the intensity in which we experience them. Most people experience addiction tendencies and most people experience pain in their life time – the degree in which we experience them is what may make us feel unique. There are consequences with chronic pain, and it requires a mind changing (and possibly spiritual) experience to make us whole again even if we still have the physical pain. People with addictions have to learn how to live in the world in spite of cravings and/or giving up something that initially brought relief. Outsiders may look down on chronic pain sufferers as they would with people with addiction, wondering what they did to create such hardships and why they can’t make themselves well again. Those with chronic pain and addictions do not cause themselves to be this way. Certain actions, genetics, experiences and behaviors might have contributed to their vulnerability, but few would volunteer for this path.
Chronic pain in itself is not an addiction accept in cases of self induced pain like cutting. Though our body adapts to the pain we experience we do not need more pain or less in order to function. People are generally not drawn to seeking pain, and we can’t make the choice of whether we will have pain. We don’t create the habit or the compulsive activity, the pain found us. Those who take pain medication are also not automatically people with addictions. Though some of the patterns and physical need might be similar, they don’t necessarily develop the compulsion or obsession of the drug to give complete relief.
When we begin to go from a person experiencing pain to a chronic pain sufferer, something changes within us. Many people are drawn to various addictions to escape the pain, or pain relief methods gradually become addiction. We can feel discouraged because we cannot control our pain or make it go away. Often we find ourselves searching for understanding, evaluating our values and priorities and looking for something to hold on to. Looking at the 12 steps offers a way to surrender to something greater and bring inner wholeness to guide us in the path ahead. By looking into our past, our relationships, our hurts and our harms, we are able better to cope with the times of solitude and bring greater peace into our lives. I believe the 12 steps can be used as a tool for greater awareness, joy and spiritual growth, in helping chronic pain sufferers have a more fulfilled life. The 12 steps are not the only solution, the only path, or perfect in their origin. Yet, as a person with chronic pain, it has offered me hope, wisdom, light and greater purpose for the journey.
* addiction. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/addiction
Leave a Comment » | 12 steps for chronic pain, Chronic Pain | Tagged: 12 steps, chronic illness, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, health, linkedIn, recovery, spirituality | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
July 7, 2012
I have found a great sense of comfort and wisdom from reading memoirs. I love hearing people’s stories and how their lives unfold. I can see a glimpse of how people live in various time periods, cultures and circumstances. I have the privilege of entering into the minds, thoughts and emotions of other people and to expand my own world.
I began reading memoirs in order to make more sense out of my own life. When working through my own challenges, including health problems and family issues, I found that I didn’t always have the skills in order to sort through it. As I started to read other people’s stories, I began to feel less alone, laughed more, and had more hope. I realized that most successful people have gone through numerous challenges and failures, but continued to move forward in spite of it. I could enter people’s stories, and like an AA meeting, could take what I want and leave the rest. A story allows me to listen, absorb, change and challenge my own thinking.
For the past five years or so I have been logging some of my favorite memoirs. Many of these are memoirs of mental and physical recovery, relief organizations, famous people, war, history, and people from all over the world. I will begin sharing this list in a new section called Reading. I hope you will be inspired as much as I have.
Leave a Comment » | Books, Chronic Pain | Tagged: books, chronic illness, chronic pain, memoirs, reading | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
July 7, 2012
Medication is one of those topics that I find more difficult to talk about. I feel more shame and frustration at the need for medication in order to function. The cost, the hassle, the side-effects, the pill take schedule and the politics of it are all reminders that something in my life isn’t right. Like many things in life it can be a love and hate relationship. I love that I have options that can give me some relief, but hate all the other parts to it. I cannot imagine living a life with a high level of pain constantly.
Is it really possible to cure pain with healthy measures alone? I have read numerous books and have heard an abundance of people claim that they have found the cure for various elements and diseases. I am also aware that there are just as many people who continue to struggle in spite of the effort to do anything possible for a cure. I know I feel better when I continue to try new things, as it brings hope that someday I may be pain-free.
I am currently trying to wean myself slowly off of my pain medication to see if my body has adapted to the drug for pain relief. In the past, this has resulted in a clear reminder of why I am on the medication (because my pain level is too high). Though I strongly believe many people need pain medicine, I can understand how a body might adapt to something that one is taking regularly. similar to what I experience because of my strong desire for a good cup of coffee. When I have coffee regularly my body needs and craves the caffeine. Without it, I have headaches. I am willing to continue to drink my daily (or two) cups of coffee because I love the taste and there are benefits to caffeine. With the pain medication I am currently on, I doubt there is any medical benefit other than keeping my blood pressure low because I don’t have the same level of pain.
I have currently reduced my medicine by more than half of what I previously have taken. A few weeks ago, I started my “experiment” in medication reduction. I had been thinking about trying this for months. When the pharmacy accidentally gave me the regular pain medication (not time release) I thought this would be a good time to try this experiment since I could cut the pills. I also was motivated by the drastically lower cost for the medication. Initially I didn’t realize I had a different medication until the pain relief wore off after 4-6 hours. I started by cutting them in half so it would work similar to what I was used to. I had hoped to only take medicine 3x a day, but found that my body did better when I reduced the amount verses extended the time I take the medication. When I attempted to wait 8 hours, the last few hours were pretty dreadful. In the past I have experienced changes in various medications, so I understand somewhat how my body adapts to withdrawal. I appear to be sensitive to medicine since I have greater symptoms on low doses than most people. I am trying to keep myself active so the endorphins will hopefully kick in to give some relief.
Surprisingly after a few weeks, I am finding my body is adapting to lower medication. The evening is much harder as it seems the pain signals are in higher gear. I can only sleep on my stomach, as my back is in too much pain if I sleep on it. I have never been able to sleep on my side as both my knees and back seem to hurt in this position. As when I went on the medication, I find that I feel a bit nauseated especially when I haven’t eaten. I also felt sick when I went on a hike immediately after taking some medicine. I generally do better in the middle of a dose (I take something 4X a day), and find this is a good time to exercise. If I exercise, it reduces my pain level. Most of the time I can make it through the 6 hours without a great deal of pain, but occasionally the medicine seems to wear off before the 6 hours or I wake up with intense pain. As I continue to reduce the doses, I may increase to 5X a day. It is rather funny to watch the pills get smaller and smaller.
Though I am hoping to completely wean myself off of my pain medication, I really do not know what the end result will be. If my pain level becomes too high for too long, my blood pressure increases, my energy level decreases, and I become more depressed. The constant intense and all over pain is more than I have been able to handle in the past. I love being on less medication, am saving lots of money and feel more alert. Unfortunately taking medicine 4x a day verses 2 is problematic with activities, trying to be private, and sleeping through the night. I feel grateful that so far this journey hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined. At the same time, I anticipate the complete withdrawal may be more difficult. I can feel the hope stir up in my soul of the possibilities. I pray that my body and my Gow will bring forth some healing power.
Leave a Comment » | Chronic Pain, Health, Pain Management | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, health, pain medication | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
January 24, 2012
January is a month of new beginnings and reflections. I began the year looking over my value list of what matters most to me. This led me into reviewing the goals I made in the past, and adding or taking away goals I have completed or no longer seemed relevant. Having a chronic illness can be challenging, but it will never take away my desire to dream. Two areas that stood out to me were my occupational goals and exercise goals. These were two areas that I wanted to change in, yet it wasn’t exactly how I planned. What could have looked like failures, in reality were fulfilling my goals, just in a different way. Living with a chronic illness requires a lot of adaptations. Learning to recognize the real value in situations and the having a positive outlook, keeps me moving forward even if the path is down a new road.
When I made my goals for the year 2011, it included many occupational goals. Having worked at my job as a vocational consultant for only 6 months, I was looking forward to learning more about the field, becoming more savvy in social media, and building relationships. Unfortunately shortly after my goals were made, my job position and hours were reduced significantly. Since the explanation for the changes didn’t make sense to me, I was being treated differently than other people, and the standards of procedures were ignored, I began researching about discrimination in the workplace. I later wrote about some of what I learned on my blog. What I thought would have been a big part of my growth in 2011, became something else entirely. I saw a different side to disclosure in the workplace, and how sometimes this can create more tension and mistakes rather than build a better support network. I also became stronger, having to face my own vulnerability, and make decisions on what it is I want to stand behind, or when and where to be silent. I had to adapt to the reality that I am no longer a career woman (I quit my job 6 months later, when things continued to decline) and how this effected by identity. However, I do see that my initial goals were still met. I did become more savvy in social media, and created several websites, one for my soccer teams I co-coach and another on chronic pain. I also learned a great deal through my experience, and was able to see both the positive and challenges of working with a disability. The clients that I met through my job, have changed me to the core. I have seen persistence, hope and joy through my clients, and how the right support can make all the difference.
My world of exercise and health were also quite diverse in 2011. When I went back to work, my standard exercise routine was rather sketchy. I went to yoga periodically and occasionally lifted weights. At the beginning of the year, I teamed up with a couple of girl friends, and trained to walk a ½ marathon. I found that walking wasn’t as difficult on my body, and the gab time was good for my mental health. I also tried filling in on two team sports – basketball and soccer. The basketball team experience was rather disappointing, as I wasn’t aware of positions and where to be, and the team captain wasn’t too happy with a newbie who was short. Soccer however, was so much fun and quite the workout. The team was supportive, and I at least knew the game better from years of coaching my daughters. The most difficult part was driving to the game that was located on the other side of town. No one knew how much it meant for me to have this experience of being part of a team, if only for a couple of games. Having never played as a kid, it was something I always regretted. I realized as an adult, this is one dream I could recreate. Even with my health challenges, I accomplished something big, by taking the risk to be the new kid at a new sport. During the year, I also kept active by helping coach in soccer. My husband and I coach together and often would play and workout right along with our kids. When I couldn’t find the time or energy to exercise on my own, participating in four soccer practices a week really helped keep me somewhat fit.
As I prepare to review and write about my goals for 2012, I will keep in mind the importance of flexibility in my goals. Life isn’t always simple, and there will be lots of detours. As I continue to see the progress I make, it will give me the strength and courage to continue striving towards my dreams. Perhaps along the way, as I reflect on my values, I will realize the dream I had, is exactly the place I am standing.
2 Comments | Chronic Pain, Goals, Health | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, goals, health | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
October 4, 2011
For six years I have lived with chronic pain and fatigue without having a clear diagnosis. Different doctors had different ideas of the cause or possible diagnosis such as fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy and/or myofascial pain. Various testing was used to look for abnormal blood work or physical characteristics as well as medications they might determine swelling or other problems. The continuous normal results brought about a greater focus on pain management and less on the potential cause of the problems.
Having a firm diagnosis didn’t seem to be an issue as my actions would be the same regardless of the label. I found it helpful to put a limit on my search for a cause, as my doctors were diligent in helping me reduce my symptoms. I would continue to do research, exercise and try alternative treatments along with medication adaptations as needed. Even though it wasn’t clear what I had, I did a lot of reading on fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, myofascial pain, MS, and Lyme’s disease as it would increase my knowledge of coping skills and treatment possibilities for various symptoms/diseases.
My identity of being someone with chronic pain felt inadequate. Chronic pain is a very widespread problem with a great deal of variation. It felt simpler to speak of my chronic back pain, as this was my greatest symptom and where I often needed the most adaptation. However the fatigue and widespread body pain also contributed to some drastic life changes. Pain is very subjective, so it could leave me and others wondering if my perception of my pain level was over exaggerated.
Having a diagnosis is necessary for receiving services and treatment. In our society, the doctor’s diagnosis is crucial for all kinds of services. For disability applications, employment services, medication, and treatment, people want to know the cause and have it verified by a doctor. My doctors have always been good about sending the necessary information and reports for my medical treatment, so I never checked into what specifically was being communicated. As I began to seek outside services, such as employment and legal protection, I found I needed to verify the diagnostic label, if there was one, for my symptoms. Surprisingly, doctors don’t always communicate this information.
For years, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in my medical chart. I have heard of this possibility many times by different doctors, but never had it confirmed as my diagnosis. In my mind, and that of many others, this is a difficult diagnosis because of its variations and often “normal” lab work. Though I could see I met the criteria, I didn’t like the psychological stigma it also carried. Initially I was extremely resistant to considering this a possibility, as I was looking for something I felt was more concrete. As time went my I became more open, and found I would prefer this “club” to the “chronic pain club” as it represented my struggles much more accurately.
In many ways I feel as if I have a new identity that I haven’t quite integrated yet. I find myself hesitant to say “I have fibromyalgia” and realize that I still have shame over my own symptoms that I see as inadequacies. I also feel a degree of relief because of the support of my doctor, and having a label that can help me receive further support. This gives me a greater sense of community as the fibromyalgia organizations and support groups are numerous. Having fibromyalgia is part of who I am, yet it isn’t the complete picture. My assets, strengths and abilities haven’t changed because of this disease or because of my diagnosis.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do,” (Eleanor Roosevelt). Today, I will take rest in the assurance that having a diagnosis will guide me in taking steps to a forward focused on what I can do.
Leave a Comment » | Chronic Pain, Health | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, diagnosis, fibromyalgia, health | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
July 7, 2011
Disclosure at work can be a difficult decision even in the best of circumstances. Will it hurt my chances of advancement? Will it give me protection for the accommodations I need? Will it help others to know about my pain and fatigue? Though I wish that honesty really was the best policy, when it comes to disclosure privacy may be the best option.
Many questions are helpful to ask when making the initial decision. Will I be able to complete the essential functions of the job without some accommodations? What am I looking for and is disclosure the process to get me there? I consider the risk associated with sharing particular facts and feelings regarding my “disability”. How would I handle insensitive comments, silence and/or ignorance in the workplace? Am I able to receive the support that they offer me? When would be the best time to share and what specifically do I need them to know in order to succeed at my job? It can also be helpful to know a little about who you are disclosing to, as reactions are usually about their own experiences and circumstances, and less about your particular situation. The answers to these questions aren’t stagnant, they will vary depending upon my health, the duties assigned, my co-workers and other life circumstances.
Trust and effective communication are essential in the disclosure process with supervisors. If I am unable to articulate my pain and my needs, it is impossible for them to grasp its impact. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. When I first returned to work, I wasn’t really clear about my needs in a work environment, because it wasn’t an experience I had encountered yet in my illness. This lack of clarity, made my situation more complicated and created increased frustration. I am much more persistent when I trust someone and more willing to ask for feedback and verify the meaning of key statements. Without trust, it is difficult for me to feel safe especially when dealing with people in authority. Generally specific request are granted, where emotional support is less defined. However, emotional and practical support from a supervisor can make all the difference in the disclosure process.
The ADA provides protection for disclosures but can create fear with supervisors regarding potential law suits. I have found understanding the ADA is helpful in knowing my rights, as well as learning the language of the law. However, an argument with an employer about rights rarely results in a positive work environment. If disclosure is necessary (or apparent) it can be helpful to be clear about the specific request and why this is necessary for you to perform the essential functions of the job. The JAN Network is a helpful resource to learn more about the ADA and accommodations for specific disabilities. Being respectful, kind, clear and persistent will be aide in reducing the fears of the employer. Most requests are best done in person with a follow up e-mail, but this may not be necessary for simple request and/or if the relationship with the supervisor is strong. If an employer refuses or makes excuses it is important to keep accurate documentations in case further action is needed and/or desired.
The issues with disclosure are numerous and can’t be completely communicated in a simple blog. The most important thing about disclosure is regardless of the reaction of others at work, you have value in the workplace. Find supportive people within the work place and/or outside of the workplace to process with whether you choose to disclose or to maintain your privacy. Don’t give up. Look for the gold in your relationships, your periods of growth, moments of service, your strengths, and living out your values.
Leave a Comment » | Chronic Pain, Disclosure, Employment | Tagged: ADA, chronic illness, chronic pain, disability, disclosure, fatigue, fibromyalgia, linkedIn, work | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T