Navigating the Workplace with a Disability
I am known for being an active member in my surroundings. Whether in university, my community, or my close circle, I am either involved in something directly or lending support behind the scenes for the success of others. Yet, rarely do people know I am a person living with invisible chronic health complications. It comes as a surprise to many around me—some do not even believe me, while others neglect the whole relationship. I would have kept my health complications to myself if I was able to find a place in the working field. Nowadays, being one of the vulnerable people to COVID-19, means I have to work from home. My two majors are in the humanitarian field, which means most job opportunities are constructed to be in-person. It’s been difficult to find those kinds of jobs that exist remotely.
After searching for a job on my own with no hope, I started seeking support from non-for-profit organizations. Here are their common reactions when they see my work and health resume (and yes, I do have a health resume from my doctors—you have read that right). For my work resume, career counselors are questioning why I am having a hard time finding a job with my level of experience. Then they see my health resume, and their face drops. They try to find a resource that first meets my needs. Yet, they are faced with the dilemma and systemic gab—organizations that help people with health complications do not accept someone with work achievements because they are viewed as capable individuals that can manage on their own. Here is my response to the false perception of my complete independence:
I am as healthy as I can be with the medical aid I receive.
I am as functional as I can be with the resources that meet needs.
I am as average as I can be with the accommodation to help me be me.
Without any of those, I am disabled and made to be a burden on society. Automatically, the response I receive is to be on social aid for the rest of my life.
Despite my accomplishments in the society, my numerous years of experiences, and my desire to work, I am not able to find the support to build my independance outside of university. Society sees me as an incapable person based on my health CV and demands me to live like a burden. There was a time where I thought I would never be able to finish my bachelor degree. However, with the right support, I completed a double major in psychology and human relations, completed a two-semester internship, held a job during my studies, maintained a couple of volunteer positions, and cared for myself. I used to let others define my ability, but now, I am fierce to show those who judge my capability without giving me a chance to try and see what I can do. All I need is a chance and a place for my needs to fit in.
Many people in Canada have a health condition that requires accommodations to have a better quality of life. There are invisible health complications such as arthritis. A working person will not appear sick in front of their superior, yet they are in need of work accommodations for optimal function. Also, not every job environment can be suitable or adaptable. So once a person is diagnosed with a chronic illness, they will have to adapt their whole life and might even need to change their career because of the limitation it puts on the person.
How come people with health complications are accommodated during education but once they are in the working field they are perceived as an additional cost and a headache to deal with? I feel that I need to break these invisible social norms that affect people trying to cope with health complications and fit in the working field. Do some employers still think that hiring women is a costly deficiency because women get pregnant and experience sickness more than men? Are people with health complications seen as not cable or less capable than healthy individuals? When will we begin to implement equality and equity in all aspects of society?
Despite all of those challenges, I am working hard to forge a career path for me and for others who might be experiencing some or all of what I have been through. Since no one has taken the initiative to advocate for us, I am stepping up to do so. As I have faced many challenges in my life and I had no guidance in how to solve them, my creativity has always led to great results.
I was approached to do coaching and counselling for the people who know my credibility and ability to go beyond delivering. So thanks to their trust and support, I was inspired to self-work and create my own way in life. Yet, I am not going to stand only for self-employment. I demand inclusion in society and acceptance.
For counselling and life coaching, please feel free to reach out. The first hour is free!
You will be the judge whether you want my support during your journey or not, so take advantage of this. Book now: firstname.lastname@example.org
Need to get something off your chest?
Book a free vent session today.