How To Tell Your Employer About Your Narcolepsy
Last updated: January 2023
Working a full-time or part-time job with narcolepsy can be highly challenging.
Not knowing how they may react, or how you may be treated afterward, are only some of the fears that many of us feel when deciding whether or not to disclose our condition at work.
But at some point, our condition may start to affect our jobs to a point where we can no longer hide it and eventually will have to give some sort of explanation.
Narcolepsy has affected the way I work
I can tell you from personal experience that sitting down with an employer and having this conversation is arguably one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do.
As someone who prides themselves on being a dedicated and competent professional, I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I still sometimes see narcolepsy as a weakness when it comes to my ability to do my job the way I once could.
It’s something that I’m trying to overcome, but I believe that no matter how we feel about it, how we approach our employers is something that we do have to think about at some point.
Ways to approach the conversation with an employer
Here are some ways that can hopefully help with approaching this in the best manner:
1. Reveal only what you feel comfortable with
For me, this is one of the most important things to consider before approaching your employer. If you have decided to disclose your condition, it doesn’t mean that you have to share details that you aren’t comfortable with. Share only what you feel is pertinent to your job or give them a general overview.
2. Know your rights
It’s always good to understand what your rights are — not only in your country but within your organisation so that you can protect yourself should any issues arise. Talking to HR could also be a good way to get advice on company policies and support on how best to approach the situation.
3. Make your employer aware of your needs
With narcolepsy, we know how important naps are for many of us, so this might be an important topic to address with your employer. A 30-minute or 1-hour nap could make such a difference in helping you to have a much more productive day and hopefully, employers would understand and support this.
4. Seek peer support
If you have colleagues at work with whom you feel particularly comfortable sharing your condition, this might be something that could also help you. Getting advice from someone within your organisation could be great, as they might offer you unique insight that people on the outside wouldn't be able to.
5. Practice self-care
Our health needs to be above anything and everything, and that includes careers. Personally, I know just how tempting it may be to push your limits sometimes because of pressure from work or even your own work ethic.
I’ve been guilty of putting my job above my health, and this never ends well. Eventually, it will catch up to you, so it’s just not worth it.
Do what feels right to you
At the end of the day, I think it’s completely up to each individual to decide whether or not they want to disclose their condition at work. No one else will have to deal with the aftermath of our decision but us, so I do not judge anyone’s choices.
The important thing is to always do what feels right to you!
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