When you have a chronic illness, it’s easy to worry about how it will affect your job. You might even be afraid to tell your boss or coworkers about your difficulties because you worry your illness might cost you your career.
Even if you are upfront about it, your illness might cause you to struggle some days more than others.
Several laws protect you from losing your job due to a chronic illness, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Still, that doesn’t mean you won’t have trials at work. One day you might feel perfectly normal, and the next day it could be a struggle to make it out of bed.
What can you do when you have a chronic illness, but you’re still working a full-time job?
Be Honest with Everyone
If you’re on the fence about telling your boss about your illness, it would be best if you went for it. They are more likely to be understanding when you are upfront about things. If you have to ask for days off of work without a reason, that looks much more suspicious. They might even think something about you that isn’t true.
However, when they know you’re dealing with an illness, they can be more patient with the time you need away from work or with adjustments you might need to make it through the workday.
It’s also an excellent idea to talk to Human Resources (HR) about your condition. That way, if concerns about your job ever do come up, everyone with authority within your workplace knows what you’re going through.
Ask for What You Need
Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations that can help you to do your job each day. Your accommodations will depend on the type of illness you have, of course. And yet, even small adjustments to fit your needs can make a big difference.
Talk to your employer about working from home a few days a week, or working different hours. If sitting for long periods affects you, ask for frequent breaks or a standing desk. Alternatively, you may need to ask for a specific chair or arrangement for your office to remain comfortable and not in pain throughout the day.
When you have already talked about your illness, many employers are happy to make a few changes to keep you onboard, so you can do your job efficiently and effectively.
Make Yourself (And Your Health) a Priority
Your health always comes first. You might feel pressure to work harder at your job to “make up” for your illness. However, if you don’t take care of yourself, you may experience more frequent flare-ups than usual when it comes to your symptoms.
You could also experience burnout, which can cause extra stress and weaken your immune system.
While having a full-time job with a chronic illness is undoubtedly possible, you need to commit to listening to your body. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising if you are able, and listening to the advice of your doctors.
Work is important — it can provide a sense of empowerment and independence when you need it most. But if you’re not taking care of your health, you may not be able to work as effectively as you’d like.
If you are struggling to strike a balance between work and your chronic illness, please contact me. Together, we can go over more ways to juggle both. You don’t have to give up on your career. Instead, we can talk about things you can do to keep working while managing your illness on a daily basis.