Tell us about a time when you felt marginalized or stigmatized by someone because of your health condition. Maybe at the time you didn’t speak up, or maybe you did – what did you say or what would you have said to take back control and let them know they were out of line?
The times that I felt the most stigma was when I was working before my long term leave before I was transferred to a new location. I don’t like to name companies simply because I still work for them now and they might believe I am slandering their name. It is not that really. More so it is a lack of training in how managers should respond and act towards people with disabilities.
In my case, they didn’t even consider me to have a disability they could help me with or accommodate… because it wasn’t ‘physical’. So that is a limited view of disability. I offered a lot of compromises to get me through this real rough time I was having with pain and medications but all of them were declined. That left me unable to do anything but push through the pain full time. And when I could not, when I missed too many days. I got ultimatums. Miss a day… and there will be this dire consequence. Other vague threats as well… like since I was disabled and the economy being as it is I will be the first to be laid off so I should just do better to show that I am better. But I was Not better.
It was all extremely stressful for me. Unable to work full-time but having to work full-time. Always failing and calling in sick at least a few times a month. And feeling insanely guilty about it.
I wanted to say when I go on a short term leave, which I had done more than once, I do not come back cured. I still have this chronic condition chronically. I wanted to say that you need to treat people with disabilities with respect. And to motivate. Not ultimatums and threats, because we are already really stressed out about something we cannot control and it is not helping by forcing us to do something we still cannot control. I would suggest they rather think about some of the compromises I offered, which are reasonable for someone who is disabled and unable to function fully but would be able to be much more to their capacity with some changes. Not forever, but until they got the treatment they needed to cope with their condition. I wanted to say there is Nothing Wrong with making compromises in the short term to benefit the health of your employee. Rather than threats and ultimatums, painting them into a corner where they get so stressed them pay feel hopeless, desperate and suicidal… as I did.
I am not sure if it was management or upper management. Either way I would tell them to consider more options for disabled employees. When they are at their worst they do need some extra support. Not to be diminished, made to feel like it is their fault they are ill, and that they are letting down every conceivable person they work with and deal with as a customer by missing work. People with chronic pain and other illness have a high rate of suicide. Makes more sense to motivate and accommodate, than it does to break down and threaten when you may be making someone who already feels bad just that much worse.