Migraine sufferers are often reluctant to tell employers about their condition, sometimes with good reason. Those who have never experienced chronic migraines have a difficult time understanding the tremendous impact it can have on day-to-day life. Being upfront about migraine pain, treatments and triggers can make a world of difference in your workplace and doesn’t have to be a headache for your boss, either.
Here are six guidelines to help you inform your boss about your serious chronic migraine condition:
1. Know what you want
If you’re thinking about discussing chronic migraine pain with your boss, there’s probably a reason. What are you hoping to achieve? Obviously goals will vary widely by individuals, but most migraine sufferers are simply trying to avoid triggers:
Overhead lights or monitors are too bright
Strong odors in work area
Insufficient or inflexible breaks to administer medications
Pressure to participate in activities or consume foods that trigger migraines
These, and many similar issues, should be fairly easy for any employer to address with minimal hassle or expense.
2. Know What Your Boss Wants
You likely already know what your boss wants: reliable, productive employees. Communicate to your boss that you will be a more productive, reliable employee with only a marginal investment.
3. Plan Ahead
You should keep a few things in mind before you approach your boss about your condition.
You need to dedicate an appropriate time to talk. Make sure you set an appointment in advance to ensure you have the full attention of your boss when you are ready to approach the subject.
You should have a clear and concise idea of what you are going to discuss. Ultimately you want to convey two points: Your condition is serious, but with reasonable necessary accommodations, you are able to do your duties with integrity. Everything you say should be emphasizing one of those two points.
Don’t be afraid to bring documents such as printouts, URLs, notes from your doctor to support your claims.
4. Enlighten Your Boss
Unfortunately even those closest to us often harbor wildly inaccurate assumptions about migraines. So what can you say to your boss to make him or her understand the seriousness of your condition? Here are a few facts you may want to include:
Migraines are recognized as a neurological disease by physicians and government agencies.
Migraine pain is not psychological, insignificant, or curable.
Treatments vary in effectiveness by each individual and even by migraine. There is no guarantee migraine pain can be managed in any given episode.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes migraines as one of the top 20 causes of disability in the world.
It is estimated around 37 million Americans suffer from migraines.
Migraine triggers are highly variable among individuals, but there is no clinical evidence that stress is one of them.
5. Outline the Accommodations You Need
A common side effect of migraine pain is, unfortunately, missed or reduced quality of work. This is an inevitability for most migraine sufferers, and not something most employers would consider a minor concession.
6. Keep in Mind That Bosses are People Too
It might not always seem like it, but your boss is human too. Your employer will appreciate forthright, honest information about your condition and most likely will be willing to help improve your work environment. After all, you and your boss both have a lot to gain from being able to address your chronic migraine pain.