Does anyone have any advice for how to communicate with a boss/supervisor about dealing with mental illness?
I know that part of this problem reveals how lucky I am. My husband’s symptoms are about 60% 'controllable with medication and healthy lifestyle choices. Like other people with SZA, the periods of his life where he was symptomatic are usually marked with unemployment, debt, and the dangers those things bring, and it really helps him stay in a healthy place if he has a meaningful job and the routine that a work schedule brings.
Currently, both of us work in the school system, and while he is not a teacher, he works with Special Ed kids. His boss and some of his coworkers are aware that he has a “chronic illness” of some magnitude, but do not know that it is a mental illness, much less schizophrenia. On most days, he can perform his job without showing symptoms.
His coworkers just think he is a quirky guy, and that any stress he has is work-related. My husband is phenomenal at his job, and has attracted the attention of the principal of his school, who has made it clear that he’d love to have my husband working in a higher position than the one he is in now. It’s wonderful to get that kind of feedback, but both my husband and I agree that a higher position might not be the best for him in terms of balancing his own health needs, and he’s completely baffled as to how to have that conversation with his boss.
In addition, he’s entered a period where he is becoming more symptomatic again. We’re in a stable place, he’s seeing his psychiatrist today, a therapist next week, and is very aware that his SZA is “acting up” and causing him to suffer. The problem, however, is that when he is especially symptomatic, he makes a point of calling out of work. I support his choice, because his job is difficult, and trying to perform his duties while symptomatic would be very dangerous for himself and other people. But he’s out of sick days at work, and people are beginning to notice. People who do not know that he has a chronic illness just think he is flaky, while people who know he has an illness are beginning to ask more questions about what, specifically is wrong.
I don’t feel pressured to talk about our business with anyone-- except his boss. My husband is terrified to talk in more specific terms with his supervisor about his SZA because he was kicked out of his graduate school for having a mental illness. (It doesn’t matter that it’s illegal, it’s what happened, and we have no money, time, or energy to fight it.)
He’s missing too many days from work for it to not be a problem. He misses about 1 day of work every week. He’s GOT to have a conversation of some kind. I don’t want him to lose his job, and I’m afraid that it might happen. Does anyone have any advice for this situation? Does he have to reveal that he has schizophrenia to his boss? Could he be fired? Is this an “apply for disability” kind of situation? What do I do?