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    Posted September 11, 2014 by
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    Saving your job from Anxiety


    I began writing about my anxiety and panic attacks just over eighteen months ago, and since, I’ve learned a lot. I received hundreds if not thousands of emails and messages on every platform I use from people all over the world. People like me. People who are suffering.

    Of all of the things I’ve learned nothing is more prevalent than this; anxiety is an epidemic and it does not discriminate. It preys on people in all walks of life. From the rich to the poor, the young and old alike and everybody in between. Nobody is exempt.

    I’ve also heard endlessly and know from my own experience that one of the most impacting elements of this horrible disease is its impact on our day to day lives, and if your daily routine is anything like mine, that means work.

    We all have to work, but when panic or anxiety strike it may make doing our jobs extremely difficult, if not impossible. If you’re lucky enough to have a boss that has some insight into these illnesses consider yourself very lucky. For those who report to someone who has no concept about what you’re going through, that can be a challenge that in itself can escalate your problems.

    We all know and probably expect that when we show up to work sniffling and sneezing or looking generally contagious that we’ll probably be sent home to rest. But what about when you look fine? You look the same as you do every other day, but you’re really fearing for your life and literally incapacitated. Explaining that to a less than understanding boss will likely elicit a confused response and a crooked glare, much like a dog hearing a high-pitched noise. -- I’m writing this for you.

    Like me, many of you have probably missed a good amount of work because of your anxiety, and sadly that can often lead to discipline or even losing your job all together. It seems so unfair. You weren’t playing hooky. You weren’t sipping cocktails at a beach bar and soaking in the sun. You were probably at home crawled up in bed compulsively checking your heart rate, crying, panicking, trembling - The list goes on.

    I’m writing this because I have good news: You have rights!

    I’m often shocked by how little people know about their rights when it comes to the work place, and I want to share some of them with you because if you’re an employee in the US, having to miss work occasionally can be protected, by law. I want you to know this because adding the fear of losing your livelihood mid anxiety attack is hardly comforting.

    There are three main things I want to cover. You may have heard of them before but may not be aware that they apply to you.

    The first is the ‘Family Medical Leave Act’, more commonly know as ‘FMLA’.

    Enacted in 1993, FMLA requires employers with more than 50 employees within 75 miles to provide allowances for people with medical conditions. Before you ask, yes, anxiety and depression are well recognized medical conditions.

    Now, if you work in any kind of industry with a good amount of employees, you’ve probably heard of people taking FMLA and disappearing for a few months to treat their illness. You’re probably thinking that your problems don’t align with such leave, and they may not, but there are other options.

    There is another form of FMLA that I have found to be little known. It’s called ‘Incremental FMLA’, and it’s designed for people like us whose symptoms have sudden onsets and immediate affects, but can often subside within hours or days. Incremental FMLA can be anywhere from an hour to up to three days. If such leave is approved it carries on for one year before having to reapply. This means that if approved, you have a year where you don't have to panic about missing a day here and there, and your job will be protected by law.

    The second law I want to tell you about is called ‘The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990’, or ‘ADA’.

    Essentially this law was designed to prevent people from being discriminated against in the work place due to a disability, and yes, we can be considered to have a disability. If your company employs 15 or more people, you are protected by the ADA.

    So how does this apply to us?

    Well, most often for people with our disability, it may be necessary for an employer to make a reasonable accommodation for us. This can mean anything from a nicer working environment to an adjusted or more flexible schedule. To put it simply, if there’s something that your employer can do to help you perform your duties, without creating an undue hardship on them, you should be asking for an ADA accommodation.

    On that note, before requesting such an accommodation, do read up on what’s considered to be reasonable, and don’t try to use it as a way to try and get a new manager or a raise. Make sure it’s legitimate, and that you can show reasonable evidence to support your request.

    This last one may not apply to everyone, but you should be aware of it because some states do have laws regarding ‘short term disability’. Additionally, your company may have allowances for such leave for employees that do not meet the requirements for FMLA. There’s no point going much deeper into this one, but if you find yourself outside of the scope of these other rights, do ask your employer about short term leave or a leave of absence. It’s better to ask then lose your job because you didn’t know if it was available.

    I do want to be clear, I am not an attorney and have no legal training whatsoever. The things I have outlined here are things that I have learnt over years of working for major companies both in management and as an entry level employee.

    I’m writing this because I know that so often people who struggle with panic, anxiety and depression feel trapped by their circumstances and end up losing their jobs because they didn’t know any better. I don’t want this to happen to you.

    The point here is simple; be informed and educate yourself. If you are suffering, your suffering is real and it is recognized. You may not be able to rid yourself of the anxiety just yet, but you can do things to prevent it from destroying other parts of your life.

    I wish all you of you the best and hope that one day we can be done with this evil pain once and for all.



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