3 cheers for my bookshop team of supporters
I’ve talked before about what it’s like for me to be a migraineur entrepreneur (especially one who LOVES her job and could easily work overtime every single week if she didn’t have health conditions and concerned loved ones to reign her in). I recently made the decision to be open with my employees past and present when it comes to my health conditions and my limitations, and, despite some early anxiety about coming totally clean with them, the results have been phenomenal.
Between my migraine disease and my psoriatic arthritis (two conditions which were made significantly worse by a June 2012 car accident), I have days where I am just a mess and need to take it easy at work. It’s supremely difficult for me to walk out of the bookshop without doing “just one more thing,” even during evenings when I’m not working. The other day I dropped by the bookshop during my few days off to say hi to friends who were visiting from out of town. I swear it took superhuman strength not to fix that book that was alphabetized incorrectly or jump on the second computer to look up a book my bookseller was having trouble locating.
Sometimes I spy a box that needs moved, or a stack of publisher catalogs that should be tucked out of the way. I reach for the stuff that needs to be moved and hear a voice call, “Janet!” or “Don’t lift that!” or “I’ll get that for you!”
It’s the army of amazing booksellers who have my back (pun intended)! They want me to be well and, because I was so very frank with them about my chronic illnesses and my limitations, they will step in and make sure I don’t engage in self-defeating, potentially injurious behavior. It’s hard to admit that I need to just stand by while a 20-something employee can toss boxes of books into the back of my car with ease. I sometimes try to pick up a lighter load so I don’t feel utterly useless, but a sharp look from one of my booksellers will stop me cold.
Christmas week was really rough on me, health-wise. My booksellers stepped it up during the busiest time of the year, pulling extra hours and even working solo when I wasn’t able to make it in for my shifts due to migraine and back pain. Not only were there no complaints from them, there was also a slew of kind notes, emails, and texts. They let me know that I was not only their boss but their friend, and that they want to be notified if I ever need anything. Keeping me as healthy and happy is important to them not only because they need their leader to be present but because they really care.
I can’t say for sure that revealing your illness to those you employ or manage is always a good choice, but in my case I can say I was met with resounding success. If you entrepreneurs with migraine out there have an inkling that your folks will be compassionate and understanding about your illness, I’d encourage you to seriously consider “coming out” to them about your migraine disease, especially if you are having a rough time and could use some extra help. Oftentimes, people will surprise you with their eagerness to help and pitch in.
Are you a business owner or supervisor with migraine disease? Have you let your team know about your condition, or do you keep it a secret? What’s the rationale behind your stance?
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