How to Survive at Work Despite Your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms?


CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) is a health condition that can be as severe as depressive disorder or disseminated sclerosis. It can ruin your performance at work, incite conflicts with fellow workers, and even have you fired or demoted. Troubles at work may lead to further financial, psychological, and emotional stresses, which can aggravate your condition. Taking actions to reduce worksite pressure, modifying your work plan, and learning effective coping skills may significantly improve your performance and reverse the painful downward spiral.

When you are newly diagnosed with a health condition that is incurable or has no predictable end, you deal with a set of intimidating challenges – medical, professional, social, and emotional – as you learn in how to manage it. For people in the midst of developing careers, it could be difficult whether they should disclose their health conditions to supervisors and fellow workers.

You may be worried about how other people will react. And because CFS symptoms are undefined and still are not fully recognized by some experts in the medical society, perhaps you are worried that your superiors won’t take your condition seriously. You can be become anxious, even dismayed at the effort of concealing your “little secret”; you realize that you will not be able to deal with your normal workload and perform well. You may also be concerned about your financial obligations. If you can’t work, how will you cover your daily expenses?

If you’re applying for a job, you may feel vulnerable. Do you need to tell a future employer about your CFS condition, will he be okay with your special requirements? You may even feel that you need to hide your condition to improve your chance of getting a job.

The decision to notify others about your CFS condition is an entirely personal matter, one that you need to live with, whatever you decision is. After you tell them, you won’t be able to take it back. However, for many people, honesty isn’t negotiable. They feel being forthright can reduce their stress level and allow them to know exactly where they need to stand. For others, disclosing about CFS can become very risky; they fear loss of status, embarrassment, and the burden of knowing that your condition is no longer a secret. So should you tell them? The decision is completely up to you.

The aftermaths of disclosure can seem imprecating either way. Certainly, you can be demoted to a less important job position for being sick and consequently your benefits and salary, may be significantly reduced. You may try to deal with your illness by using vacation and sick time to rest each time your symptoms are especially debilitating, but what happen when your vacation or sick days is running out and still can’t go to work? You can’t risk being fired, due to financial issues. Answering this dilemma won’t be easy, but there are ways to weigh in your options.

The only good way to decide whether you need to disclose your situation is by dispassionately reviewing your situation and taking these factors into account:

Considering your work culture: Does your work only require you to work with a computer? Then you should consider disclosing your CFS condition and determine whether you are allowed to work from home for a few days each week. In not, you may need to find another job.

Considering your employer: Are your superiors receptive and open, or are they intolerant types who despise those who go home “early” at 5 PM? Hopefully, you have the former, but if you don’t, you should tell them that your CFS symptoms prevent you from working properly. If your CFS symptoms reduce your performance, you should take time off or even resign your position and if possible work at home.

Considering your fellow workers: Are your co-workers super-competitive and always look for your soft spot? However, if they are supportive, you should honestly tell them about your condition. If you can’t find a good way to disclose your situation, confide in a close colleague you consider a good friend and elaborate an effective strategy. Perhaps your colleagues will be more acceptive if they understand that you are not simply slacking off after a wild party last night. Certainly, you may need to consider for other more accommodating job if your colleagues consider you “too soft” for having CFS symptoms.

Your HR (human resources) department: Will the head of HR department back you up and agree to accommodate your special requirements? Only you can choose how much to tell to your supervisors about your CFS condition. On the plus side, notifying them about your CFS diagnosis is a good way to safeguard your legal right to retain your job. The HR department should have a valid confirmation from reputable medical institutions about your disability.

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George Cranston

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