Should I share the fact that I have Crohn’s with my employer? Frequent bathroom breaks and several missed days of work have got the gossip pool talking that I may have a drug problem. I certainly don’t want to lose my job, and I hate that people wonder what I’m up to, but it’s also embarrassing to talk about.
First of all, most coworkers have something in their life that they would rather keep private (excessive gas, body odor issues, heavy periods, mental health disorders, relationship problems, skin conditions…). While they may not share your exact condition, odds are many people around the office will be able to relate. Whether or not to disclose really depends on your personality; if you’re a people person, open up with coworkers and just mention you have Crohn’s. Don’t be surprised if others chime in that they too have this condition or that they have a friend or family member with Crohn’s. That’s usually the way these conversations go. Also, just think about it: if you had an artificial leg or were bound to a wheelchair, your coworkers would accept you and your handicap. Because yours is a “bathroom-related” condition, you’ve stigmatized yourself. Frame it differently: you have a medical condition, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Whether or not you choose to share with your coworkers, I suggest a short note to the boss to (1) say that you have Crohn’s, (2) provide a link to some info about inflammatory bowel diseases (https://vivantehealth.com/gut-health/digestive-health/), and (3) and to thank him/her for understanding. That should be sufficient.
– Susan F.
MSW/LCSW and Vivante Health Sherpa