Migraine Disclosure at Work
How can I tell my boss that I am incompetent? I know I’m not, but that is how I can feel while in the midst of a Migraine attack. I have this disease that does crazy things to me; not only physically, but cognitively too. My mind was always something I could count on and valued.
My boss understands Migraines and was actually my first Migraine teacher. His wife takes preventative medications for Migraines so he ‘gets it’. My boss also likes to get the information he needs and to have it accurate. That’s really not unreasonable or too much for him to ask.
Let me give you an example of how good he can be. Not too long ago, I had a lot on my work plate with hard deadlines that needed to be met. I left work early the night before my boss was scheduled to have a day off. He called me while he was out to check in on me. I probably downplayed how I was doing and went through a list of things I needed to try to get through during the day.
I think he could tell how I really was not myself. Against my protesting and my poor judgment, he MADE me go home. Under normal circumstances, I would have recognized I was past my go home point, but with the hard deadline looming overhead, my boss being out and just generally wanting to deny my Migraine, I couldn’t see I HAD to leave. As always, he was right. I went home, medicated myself and slept it off until the next morning.
I have come to call myself a want-to-be perfectionist. I don’t like being wrong, giving out wrong information or forgetting things. Like all of us, I try to be a good employee and have been working to come up with better ways to do things and especially to not forget anything which is imaginably a very tall order.
With chronic Migraines and Migraine medications, it can be very challenging to not forget things or at least to stay on top of work at an acceptable level. Sometimes I can also have what I call either delayed hearing or delayed remembering; neither of which I will readily admit to anyone as having.
As you can presume, I have a hard time acknowledging, even to myself, when I have a Migraine. There are probably many reasons for this, but I think I can narrow some down to that I don’t want Migraines, I don’t want to be perceived as weak, I have to keep going and I just want to be ‘normal’. When any of these reasons are present, it can make me feel like I am losing to Migraine. I can be very competitive even if it is against a disease I cannot always control.
Because I have difficulty even admitting to myself when I have a Migraine, I have a hard time telling others when I am feeling off too. This is where some of the struggles can come into play at work. It was hard for me to hear that I may not be trusted any longer because of the misperception that I was purposely withholding information during a conversation around an issue because of a delayed remembering episode. I want to be forthcoming; I have no reason not to and have many battle scars to prove that.
I don’t know if that made any sense, but basically because of a Migraine memory issue, it was believed that I intentionally held back information until I was questioned to the point where the information came out. My brain was not functioning at its right level which embarrasses me and can make me feel incapable of sustaining my employment.
I don’t like excuses, but especially from me. I think because I fight even acknowledging to myself that I am in the midst of a Migraine attack, that I feel it would sound like an excuse. Worst of all would be if this ‘excuse‘ made it sound as if I was pretending to have a Migraine to get away with something. I would never do that especially because of the stigmas surrounding Migraine plus it just wouldn’t be ethical. I believe these stigmas can make it harder for me to say something since I don’t want to add to these misnomers.
I am open at work about having Migraine disease; just not as much while I am having an attack. I also know that I try to be cautious of all of my actions during a Migraine because I may not have the proper work filters in place and I’ve learned that it’s better to err on the conservative side of any work conduct that can be easily misconstrued.
How open are you about your Migraine attacks at work? How do you modify your behavior during a Migraine? Should I be more open with folks and would it hurt my job if I were? With such an understanding boss, am I wrong not to give him this information all of the time or at least more often? At what point do you leave work because of your Migraine? Do you have any tricks that help you with your memory?