Monday, March 9, 2015
I have been really fortunate to be able to work from home for quite some time. It started about 9 years ago, when I was working from home partly out of "convenience". My employer allowed me to work from home 1-2 days a week because my daughter was younger at that time, and it helped with keeping her out of daycare. I am actually quite surprised, in retrospect, that I was allowed to do this, but I am grateful for this. When my OCD was at it's worst, about a year ago, I really started working on a self-help ERP program. I have made a lot of progress during this time, but the truth is it is still affecting me very much. I also am having a lot of physical problems, which are making it difficult for me to function. I am sure that both problems feed off each other, but they are both there. I sometimes think I legitimately have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I have most of the symptoms--severe fatigue where it doesn't how much I sleep at night. I am always exhausted. I wake up feeling like I was in a fight overnight. Half of the time I feel "drugged" or weak, and I am no medications, other than thyroid medication. I have my thyroid checked regularly and it is always within normal limits. I have muscle aches and soreness, I have trouble concentrating and remembering things often I have headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It does affect my life significantly. That and of course, the OCD. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome seems like a "catch all" diagnosis, when nothing else is found, but it's symptoms are real and have a negative impact on quality of life. But what does all of this have to do with the title of my post--work dilemma? Well, last summer when things were getting real bad with my OCD and physical symptoms, I started giving all of my available hours only from home. I only work on a "prn basis"--less than 24 hours/week), so I turn in the hours I am able to work each week. For the last set of hours I turned in last week, my manager asked when I would be able to start working in the office more again (they know I am having "medical problems" currently, but nothing more than that. When I said I didn't anticipate the ability to do that for another 6 months or so, she referred me onto the HR department, whom presented me with the Americans with Disabilities Act Paperwork. Now, I face a dilemma. I am very reluctant to give out my medical diagnosis or any information to my employer. Looking through the paperwork, it doesn't appear a diagnosis is necessary however. It seems more that the medical provider just has to agree that I have a medical or physical impairment that affects the ability to do my job, and that I should be allowed to have "reasonable accomodations", which would be working from home. I would love to hear from anyone who has experience with this. There is such a stigma with OCD that I don't want to throw it out there. However I believe that OCD or CFS would qualify me to work from home right now. There is no way that I can afford not to work right now. I feel that by working from home, I am still able to make an income and feel that I am contributing to society. The other problem, is that my primary physician really does not know the extent of my OCD. I have mentioned to her that I have OCD in the past, but I'm not sure it's even written in my medical record (we have never had more than a very minimal conversation about it). I'm not sure she would even realize how disabling or severe my OCD is right now. I do have medical documentation of my OCD from when I saw a psychologist a few years back. So, she would have to know I am not just making this up. Who would be able to make this stuff? Who really would choose to live this way? I am concerned that she will want me to start seeing a therapist regularly for my OCD if she does sign paperwork to make "accomodations", and the next problem lies in that I just don't have the money right now for OCD treatment, at least not the kind that would actually be life-changing for me. I've considered leaving the OCD out of the picture and just focusing on the Chronic fatigue, as I think I would qualify with that diagnosis. Truthfully, I am embarrassed about this, and I just don't know what to do. It is causing me a lot of stress. I am approved to work from home (without ADA paperwork) for another 2-3 months, but after that they will not schedule me unless I can come into the office, or if I have the ADA request approved. I don't want to label myself with a disability either, but I know that OCD is a disability. It has affected my life so much, and because this disease is so misunderstood--I'm not sure that other people understand just how severe and debilitating it can be. So the dilemma I face, is do I go the CFS route and then enter in OCD if that doesn't work? Or am I just outright honest from the beginning? As I mentioned earlier, financially I just don't have the money for treatment right now. And if I know this is hanging over me at work, it may give me an extra push to work on some other things. I realize that any information I give my employer is confidential, but I still have concerns about that too. What if when they find out I have OCD, they think I am not competent to do my job? (Even though I get good evaluations on my performance). What if they end up denying my request, and then I have to find a way to face going into work again (before I'm ready), and on top of that now my HR manager and actual manager both know I have OCD? I don't know where to go or what to do. I have an appointment with my primary physician next week, and am hoping for some advice prior to that. Thanks, friends.