Have you ever had a headache that others didn’t believe you had? I have. In fact, I’ve had many, because I am a chronic migraine sufferer. It’s difficult to find people who understand that you may have limits while experiencing this condition and it’s not from a lack of trying. People will look at you, create a snap judgement that you’re “faking”, because they do not understand; what is happening is going on under the surface, or better put, literally inside your head. I’ve been challenged by people before regarding whether or not I’m actually “ill” and my default response is to ask them if they’ve ever hit their “funny bone” (which almost all of us have). When they respond yes, I explain to them that science has proven that when you hit your funny bone you are not experiencing pain or any physical condition, just an emotion. They look puzzled and I let them know that basically each time they’ve hit their funny bone they’ve overreacted for the attention of those around them and made a show of the incident because they are dramatic or didn’t want to work. If they don’t get my point (or the fact that I’m maintaining character for the sake of irony and sarcasm), I continue and provide numerous other examples. For instance, science has shown that hitting ones funny bone right before a serious math exam, or in court while you are in the middle of providing a testimony actually enhances your performance and increases your cognitive functionality and ability to focus especially in areas of memory .
Let’s face it, things happening inside your body that only you experience, but that doesn’t lessen their impact on your performance. If we’ve gotten this far and you aren’t “relating” to anything I’ve said, it may be a good time to stop reading, because the rest of what I’m going to talk about will land on deaf ears otherwise. As established, a person experiencing the effects of an acute migraine cannot attend a heavy metal concert, or lay out in the sun, because they are experiencing a medical condition. This doesn’t mean they aren’t “cool” by not participating; it means they respect their body and are tending to their medical needs so as not to exacerbate their symptoms.
Now, take someone who has PTSD and apply this same logic. Wait, do you know what PTSD is? How about its symptoms or side effects? Not a lot of people do. So, if you did, I tip my hat to you. For those of you who didn’t have the answer, PTSD is complicated like migraines. Migraines manifests differently in people because it effect parts of the brain depending on the location of the headache. PTSD manifests itself different for each sufferer, but there are universal symptoms that provide a causal link, which allows medical professionals to diagnose it. This condition can be as dehabilitating as a migraine or any other internal condition. So, how can you explain to a potential employer that you suffer from PTSD and not incur a snap judgement that you’re milking a make believe condition for favoritism?
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Because in my opinion, there’s no way to disclosure this information and maintain the respect of the interviewer. reasonable accommodations means they need to treat you different and act different to avoid liability, which is something every company doesn’t want to accept. So, do we just keep doing what we’ve been doing and pretend it doesn’t exist to avoid the conflict? Are we the “brave” one who discloses it and ends up unemployed and homeless, but has that quiet reassurance that we were honest in that one interview? Would it be worth it? Or should we do the popular thing and suffer and sink further into our symptoms?