Should You Tell Your Boss You Have MS?
Young adults with multiple sclerosis share how they handled the decision to disclose their condition at work.
The decision to tell your boss or coworkers about your MS diagnosis is one of the biggest decision you may have to make. Young adults share how they handled it to help you make the call that's right for your career.
Rafe: I got the phone call that I had masses in my brain, and I immediately called a really close friend at work, not knowing anything. But I needed to give someone at work a heads up. Kim: I didn't disclose to my boss or my co-workers, and then I had to disclose it because I had to go on an infusion. Rafe: For anyone who's diagnosed and you're nervous about telling your boss, or your manager, or whoever it may be, you just got do it. You really just got to do it because you're going to go throughout your life with this illness. So one day you're late for work because your legs don't work, and you're afraid to tell them. How can they sympathize? How can they understand? Kim: At the time, my fatigue spells were really bad. So I felt like I needed to tell them, just in case I needed to sit or I needed a moment. So I told them after I got the job because I didn't want that to affect it. Even though people say they don't care, but they really do. It does matter. And I wanted to be on file because I was afraid that if something happened, they wouldn't know what to say if they called 9-1-1. So I felt like I had to tell them. But everybody was pretty cool about it. Nafisa: I was in an interview, and he asked me what makes me different from other people. First thing that popped in. my mind was like MS. Oh, my gosh MS! And so at the moment, I was just kind of like, "What makes me different is that I have MS." And he was like, "Wow, my mom has MS!" And then it was just kind of like history from there. He was understanding, and he knew that if I said, "I can't" he didn't take it as like me being lazy or me just not want to do it. He was super understanding and was just kind of like, got it. Rafe: I might be wrong, but I like to think most people are not out to get you. And how can work support you if they don't know that you're afflicted by something that you can't control? Brooke: I get to work from home, so they kind of don't need to know. Not that I wouldn't tell them. It just hasn't come up. And I think that it's best to tell people so if they ask, "Why are you calling out so much?" I can just say, "Oh, well, I just need a rest day." "Or I have to go for an MRI and it's going to take four hours and have to wait in the office for two hours. So that's why I'm calling out." Kristine: I told my direct manager right away. I felt, you know, just being as transparent as I can and just to nip it in the bud as early as I could would allow us to also be able to figure out a routine and a schedule that would work for the business as well as myself.