Hear from Chronically Capable Founder Hannah Olson, Chronic Illness Career Coach Rosalind Joffe, and Hashimoto's Patient Kathleen Carr about managing productive employment when juggling a chronic condition like hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's disease.
Hi there. Welcome. Welcome to Paloma Health's speaker series. Today, we are talking about how to juggle work with a chronic thyroid condition. My name is Katie. I am part of the team at Paloma Health who is hosting this event. Paloma Health is an online medical practice that focuses exclusively on testing and treating hypothyroidism.
[00:00:28] Everything from the comfort of your own home. And today we have many awesome people with us. Rosalind Joffe is a chronic illness career coach, and the founder of ciCoach. Hannah Olson is with us. She is the founder and CEO of Chronically Capable which is a job platform connecting job seekers with chronic illness and disabilities with employers.
[00:00:52] We also have Kathleen Carr with us who has a Hashimoto's patient and patient advocate. She's going to share a bit about her personal experience, living with Hashimoto's and successfully working. And lastly, Mary Shomon is with us. Mary is a patient advocate. She has been working with and advocating for thyroid patients for many years.
[00:01:12] She's written many books on hypothyroidism and she's going to help us facilitate conversation today. This event is about 60 minutes. We will start with some prepared questions for our speakers and then open it up to live Q and A.So you'll see a chat feature at the bottom of your screen. Go ahead and start dropping your questions in there
[00:01:31] as our speakers are talking questions you might already have or ones that come up as the event goes on and we will get to as many as possible at the end. And without further ado, Mary, I will pass it over to you to tell us a bit more about who you are and what you do, and then introduce our speakers.
[00:01:46] Thank you, Katie. I am so excited that we're talking about this topic because it's one that's very near and dear to my heart because when I was first diagnosed with a thyroid condition, I was working full time out of the home. Not too long after that, I had my first baby and I have been working and mothering and balancing work life
[00:02:10] for 20 some years now. And as we all know, it's a challenge. It's a challenge under the best of circumstances for women who have no health conditions. But when we got Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism, as I do or any chronic condition for that matter, it adds a full extra dimension. So as a patient advocate, myself, and someone who has experienced the challenges of that balance, I am so thrilled to have three absolute powerhouse women with us here today who were going to share a complete wealth of knowledge about what we need to know to figure out how to operate in the work world.
[00:02:55] And maintain our authority, our professionalism, but also to be able to keep our health as a key priority. So I'm going to start by introducing each one of our speakers and they're going to have a couple minutes. Just to tell you a little bit about themselves and what they feel like they're bringing to this topic.
[00:03:19]So I'm going to start by introducing Rosalyn Joffe, who is the founder and president of CI coach. And Katie mentioned a little bit about. Rosalind just has an incredible biography. And I'm going to share a little bit of that with you. She is really focused on helping women and professionals with chronic health conditions to continue to thrive
[00:03:43] and not just survive. So she is co-author of a book called Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working Girlfriend a book that encourages women who have chronic illness to stay employed. She also publishes a popular blog titled working with chronic illness she is recognized as the go-to expert on chronic health challenges and their impact on career.
[00:04:08] And you may have seen her in the Wall Street Journal New York Times magazine, Fast Company, and various disease organization and health journals. She has spoken at the Mayo Clinic conference for employers and insurers, the national multiple sclerosis society. National kidney work stakeholders work group.
[00:04:28] She's got a master's in education is a certified mediator, advanced training and focused practice, ICF accredited, and a medical coach Institute practitioner. So as if that's not enough, she's also an incredibly wise woman with a lot of great advice to share with us. So Rosalind I'm going to turn it over to you to tell us a little bit more about your approach to this topic.
[00:04:53] Thank you, Mary. It's a delight to be here. Talking about this subject. And I'll just start with my story. Tell you a little bit about me and how I got here today. So just over 40 years ago on a beautiful blue sky, hot summer day, I was on a run with my husband and we'd just been married for two months and I fell suddenly to the ground.
[00:05:21] As I struggled to lift myself, I was remarkably weak and I noticed the sky was growing darker. So now after several years of random symptoms, numerous tests and more doctors than I could count, I had a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. MS. I experienced paralyzing fatigue and lost vision in one eye. But after four months, I did get better and I was able to return to work.
[00:05:50] And I thought the life that I'd always known, but I didn't know was that I would never again make any decisions small or large without my health in mind. I was fortunate because the MS at that point was relatively mild. And then 12 years later, and two kids, a husband, and a demanding career, I developed new symptoms, a second autoimmune disease.
[00:06:14] Ulcerative colitis. Which was very aggressive, high fevers, transfusions, hospitalizations. And now I faced issues at work that I hadn't before I was forced to leave within a few months. I just could not keep my job. And I went on SSDI, so I tried to settle in as a stay at home mom. And over time I noticed several things.
[00:06:43] I realized that I could keep up a bit busy pace. I just had to do it in a different way and I struggled, but I mostly managed to meet my responsibilities, even those that were deadline driven or required focus. I become very involved in volunteer work, kids school and various social justice spaces. And yes, there were times I couldn't physically be someplace, but I could still contribute in ways that didn't require my physical presence.
[00:07:14] And I noticed I was much happier when I was using my skills. When I was engaged in doing something that felt like it had value, not that being a mom didn't, it was just a different sense of my value and it didn't have to be momentous. I could be a reliable partner that is when I could set my own pace.
[00:07:37] I could guarantee the job would get done. As long as I had backup. For me, that was the key that the show would be able to go on. Even if I couldn't be there physically. And then a light bulb went on. I realized that work could be a lifeline to normal. Again, for me, it was, and it could be again, a place where I could be more than just a person who was living with very difficult to manage illness.
[00:08:07] And that began to start the start of a journey to figure out what might be possible at about the same time I had surgery that removed the colon and though far from healthy, I was physically healthier. So now in my mind, I was ready to return to the workforce, but there were no resources that no one to turn to.
[00:08:28] How do I do this? And I couldn't go back to what I'd been doing. It was way too physically demanding. So I started to dip my toes and tried various routes-- dip my toes in the water, trying various routes and just experimenting. And over time, I landed in this world of executive coaching, which was very new.
[00:08:49] This was the early, mid to mid nineties, but what was I was able to do here was used a lot of the skills that I already had. And I found that it was flexible. I can set my hours. I can work in person or on the phone if I wanted to. And it had limited physical requirements that absolutely had to be met.
[00:09:11] But over time, I had several clients who were also living with chronic illness and I understood their challenges and their needs and their desperation because they didn't know where to turn either. So I decided to shift my focus to fill a void. To help people like myself with difficult health challenges to figure out how they could continue to work if they wanted to.
[00:09:39] But it was only when I wrote my book in 2008, a long time ago now, that I realized that being able to keep working is more than just, can be and is for most people, more than just this desire to feel valued. It's a crucial factor in a person's overall wellbeing. It affects you financially without a doubt.
[00:10:06] It affects your emotional health, the way you feel about yourself. It affects your physical health. Outcomes research shows that physical outcomes improve among those who continue to work and being engaged in the world and affects your brain health. You continue to use your brain. It works better, but none of that matters if the work that you do is toxic to your wellbeing.
[00:10:33] So that's why I'm committed to helping people figure out how to work. What work they can do so that they can thrive and not just survive. Fantastic. If we're not all inspired already. Thank you so much. That is really fantastic information and we can't wait to hear more of your tips and advice as we get through the rest of the webinar.
[00:11:01]I'm going to move over to Hannah Olson. And introduce her. Hannah is the founder and CEO of Chronically Capable and this is a digital talent marketplace that connects job seekers who have chronic illness and disabilities to flexible job opportunities that are well suited to them and their skill sets. Hannah's own experience navigating her career, right while undergoing intensive treatment for Lyme disease sparked the idea for her company, which was founded last
[00:11:33] spring in Washington, DC. Hannah is known globally for her invisible disability advocacy. So it's not her advocacythat's invisible. It's advocacy for the invisible disability community. And she was recently named one of the top 100 powerful women of 2020. Go Hannah! By entrepreneur magazine. So Hannah,
[00:11:57] welcome today. And tell us a little bit about your approach to today's issue of a work life balance with chronic illness. Thank you. And Rosalind, that was a tough act to follow. That was so beautiful. I felt mesmerized just like I did actually years ago. Just to give you all a quick backstory before I started this business and fell down this journey, actually read Rosalind's book back in 2017 and met with her when I was just coming up with the idea for Chronically Capable.
[00:12:27] So really nice to see you again and share the stage with you today. A lot has changed since we last spoke. So what an honor. To follow you, but really nice to be here today and to meet with you all to give you a bit of context as to why I'm here and what my piece in all of this is. As you heard in my bio, I too have struggled with chronic illness both with Lyme disease and as well as hypothyroidism.
[00:12:51]Obviously Paloma Health is a huge exciting business that I'm a huge fan of these days. But I had graduated from college back in 2017 from Boston university. And at the time I was really in the depths of my illness, struggling with chronic Lyme disease and had a PICC line placed about two weeks after graduation, which for those of you who aren't familiar with a PICC line is essentially a permanent IV.
[00:13:16] So I was locked up about eight hours a day to IV antibiotics and landed a job down in Washington, DC. And at the time, first job out of college, I had no idea how to navigate and didn't know how to tell my boss. And so I chose not to and landed in DC with this PICC line and a week into my job,
[00:13:36] my boss was not okay with me having this at work. And I reached a real tipping point, a few months into this job, of having to choose between my health and the work that I was really passionate about and just as Rosalind said, work gives us a lot more than just a paycheck. And for me it gave me two things.
[00:13:52] Meaning and purpose. And it allowed me to keep fighting. And so it was obviously a really devastating time for me of having to choose between health and my career. And I struggled with, is there a place for people like me? Is there a place for people with illness and disability in the workplace?
[00:14:08] And for awhile, I really thought that there wasn't. I had read Rosalind's book amongst reading different various resources from the government and nonprofits. But what I struggled to find was community and actually be able to connect with employers who got it. And who were able to provide me with the accommodations that I needed at that really crucial time in my life.
[00:14:27] And so I ended up, long story short, started Chronically Capable along with my co-founder. And we were on a mission to really create this connection between employers who got it and who were able to provide accommodations and to connect to those job seekers who were in a vulnerable space. And so we use technology to match job seekers to roles based not only on their skillsets, but as well as their unique accommodation needs to ensure that we're putting the right people in the right job.
[00:14:54] And so in the last year, so since actually October of 2020, we've made about 400 job placements all with a hundred percent retention rate. And so we're getting folks hired and during a really crazy time to launch a business, during COVID, it means so much to me every day getting to just see folks from our community get hired and entering the workplace when years ago, I didn't think there was a place for people like me.
[00:15:17] And so excited to be here today and contribute to this conversation to have one of Chronically Capable's community members here and to have Rosalind as well. So thank you all. And looking forward to answering any questions. Thank you so much. That is fantastic information, Hannah, and again, an inspiration.
[00:15:35]You just got out of college, not that long ago and you're already changing the world. I'm very excited that we have such a good cross section of powerhouse women. And we're not going to leave out Kathleen Carr, our third panelist today. Kathleen is a Hashimoto's warrior.
[00:15:57] And those of us with Hashimoto's know what that means. She has been navigating the symptoms of Hashimoto's and other co-morbidities and other health challenges for more than two decades, for more than 20 years. She works as a nonprofit contract coordinator for community wellness center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is passionate about raising awareness about the challenges and opportunities that come
[00:16:22] with living with a chronic illness. So she's not only an advocate, but she is walking the talk just like all of us she's out there working and living with a chronic autoimmune condition. So Kathleen welcome. Thank you for joining us and share a little with us about how you got to this topic and why it's of particular interest and focus for you.
[00:16:47] Yeah, thanks so much for letting me join you. I appreciate Hannah posting this on the Chronically Capable website, so I can have this opportunity. This is really important to me. Cause like you said, I've been doing this for 20 years and I feel in the beginning, I personally thought I was crazy, cause you're told, oh, your levels are fine.
[00:17:04]You're, you're just making this up in your head. And I would always just push myself to keep working sometimes two or three jobs at a time. And I wish there was a community like this at that time where people could have this conversation. So I it's taken me a long time to start advocating for myself.
[00:17:21] I probably just started doing that with the past three years. I struggled with other comorbidities. I have SIBO and Epstein BARR virus that goes in and out of remission. So it's hard to navigate full-time work. And I just don't have the option for working part-time and I, the work that I do I want
[00:17:38] it to be positive work and to show that I am capable of doing that. So I hope this conversation can help others in community. Terrific. Thank you so very much, Kathleen, we're thrilled to have you here. We're going to go ahead and get started with some questions that we had from Paloma Health and we just have a few for our panelists, and then we're going to open it up for all of you to ask your questions, but no need for you to wait.
[00:18:07] You can be putting your questions in the chat area or comments area at any point that you have a question. Please feel free to put those in because after we finish going through our questions, we will definitely would love to hear from you about your questions for our panelists. So the first question that I have, I'm basically going to pose to all three of our panelists because it's really a a question that's very important,
[00:18:35]I think, to all of us and it's going to be different from each one of their perspectives. So my question is what have you found is one of the key obstacles, or the most common obstacles, for people who have chronic health conditions like thyroid conditions. Cause obviously we're talking to an audience of primarily thyroid patients here.
[00:18:56]But what is that common obstacle or challenge that people with chronic conditions like thyroid disease are finding in the workplace? And do you have any tips for us on how to overcome it? So we're going to go to Rosalind first and see what thoughts Rosalind has about this question of obstacles, which we know is an issue for all of us. Obstacles.
[00:19:21]That's one of the things I think is really important to identify. We focus a lot in our culture on this idea of what are the opportunities that you also need to understand? What are the things that get in our way? So I was thinking about this and there's so many things that can get in our way, including ourselves, which is a big piece of it often.
[00:19:45] But I would say that what's strikes me among the almost thousands of people that with whom I worked over these years is that communication is probably, it's probably the number one issue. Because if you're living with physical, emotional, or mental experience that no one can see unless you share it.
[00:20:10] No one knows what you're going through. And as each of, both Hannah and Kathleen have mentioned, it's the idea in some cases, things are physical and people can see it, but by and large, no one knows what you are going through in facing this challenge. What people mostly struggle with is what should I say about my health?
[00:20:37] Who do I say it to? When should I say it? Where should I say it and how often? Okay. So I would say that's a key element that you want to work on as you and think about in your day-to-day life, as you are trying to keep a job. Okay. Wonderful. Thank you. So communication and knowing when and where is the right time to disclose and divulge some of your information is a key issue.
[00:21:13]Hannah what are your thoughts about that obstacle or some of the key challenges that we're looking at chronic health, chronic thyroid patients coming up against in the workplace? And what they may be able to do to lessen the challenge or overcome the obstacle? Yeah. So I'm gonna speak --there are
[00:21:33] so many obstacles that our community faces-- I'm going to speak to the one that we see the most on our platform. So we have about 50,000 job seekers now registered. And so we ask most of our job seekers, this same exact question is what are the biggest challenges you face? And the number one thing that we see is regarding disclosure.
[00:21:52]And I know Rosalind just touched on this, but just to put into perspective, 60% of our population lives with at least one chronic condition. That's not even including those living with disabilities, and 70% of disabilities and illnesses are invisible, which means that your boss would not know about this disability or illness, unless
[00:22:11] you disclosed. And so would you disclose this to your employer? And odds are you wouldn't and most people don't. I had the same experience myself of why would I tell if people have this fear of by disclosing what is the employer actually going to do about this and is it going to actually benefit me or is it just going to benefit the employer?
[00:22:29] And so we hear this common sentiment from our community on a daily basis. I think disclosure is something that is a touchy subject because it's up to each individual person. And I think something important to note is that it is your choice and it is your option when and how to disclose. However, I will say that from our perspective, of speaking with employers on the other side of the equation, employers want you to disclose.
[00:22:54] And the reason is because they are able to actually reallocate resources to support you as an employee or as an as a job seeker. And so, if they don't know that anyone in their population, in their employee base, has an illness, they might be having gym memberships and beer on tap as employee benefits.
[00:23:11] And they could be reallocating those resources towards mental health stipends, or better healthcare options. And so disclosure in the long run can benefit you as an employee. But again, I think it's important to note that it is your choice when and how to do, but we encourage job seekers to do so in that process. Because if you ask from the beginning and disclose, you're able to get those resources and support and legally your employer has to support you.
[00:23:34] And so while there's so much fear and stigma attached to this-- I understand firsthand. But I do think it's an opportunity for you to connect with your employer and to actually get the support that you need to best be your best version of yourself at work. I have tons of things to say on this that probably don't have time for, but I'll definitely share some resources in the chat as well.
[00:23:55] Okay. Great. Thank you very much. Kathleen what are your thoughts about obstacles, challenges and some of your best practices or best ways to overcome them? So one of the biggest obstacles I faced is getting caught up in this hustle culture. Like we've got to work more hours and do more than our coworkers to get ahead.
[00:24:18]And just recently I've had to take a step back and reevaluate what that's doing to my health. And so that has met me setting boundaries with my boss. There's recently been a time where he was asking me to work 10 hour days, and when I turned that down, he kept pushing it and being like if you don't want to work 10 hour days, you can work coming in work Saturdays.
[00:24:40] And I did have to have a conversation saying this is going to take a toll on my physical health, my mental health, and also, like the work that I'm doing. And I know that if I stay within my 40 hour week, I'm going to be able to give you good work. And you're going to be happy with it. But if you stretch me too far, I'm not going to be able to provide you with that.
[00:25:02] And it was an awkward and uncomfortable situation, but it brought up a new opportunity for me to say maybe I can help you streamline these processes. So no one has to work over time. So even though I was a little afraid that it was gonna reflect on me poorly for not taking those extra hours, it to give me an opportunity to use my skills, to help with that issue in a different way.
[00:25:23] Great. Thank you. That's very helpful. And I think we're hearing different approaches and different ways of looking at these things and it's so important to hear from so many different voices. And that's why I love the idea of your community to have all of these people connecting, to talk about the challenges.
[00:25:44]And kudos to you all for building such a big community of job seekers and employers and facilitating that communication. That's wonderful. I'm going to go to one more question for each of you, and then we're going to start opening it up to hear from those of you who have questions.
[00:26:00] I've seen a few questions coming in and I know we'll have some more. Rosalind, we heard a little bit about your book and you talk in your book about developing the warrior spirit and, we've talked about being a thyroid warrior, but can you tell us a bit more about the warrior spirit and what it means for us in the context of our work-life.
[00:26:23]I can, and actually what I've come to realize is that if I were going to do it again, I probably wouldn't call it the warrior spirit because people have come to me and said, as if they're, it feels like they're in battle. And I do think that part of that warrior spirit, what I was thinking of actually was much more of this kind of as a Zen kind of a mind. And that,
[00:26:52] let's face it, living with illness presents challenges that no one's prepared for. There's no training manual, there's no guidebooks. And one of the most difficult aspects of this is the unpredictability. The not knowing when the why or the what, and when you can create this inner balance. This internal balance, because now I call that the war--
[00:27:18] that's really the warrior spirit, and it gives you the strength that you need because you have faith in your ability to face and deal effectively with the unpredictable. And it's that faith in your ability. And I think both of the other speakers had talked about that. There was, they have faith in their ability
[00:27:42] to face what comes up. And then there's a second part of this warrior spirit. And that is that you're in unchartered territory. This is, as I said, there's no guidebooks here. So not only do you need to have faith in yourself there, you need to have this much more helpful when you have this idea about how you're moving through life that you're moving with focus.
[00:28:16] You are moving with intention because there are so many things you can't control, but where you can take charge, you can set achievable goals and achievable is the keyword. You can tie those goals into meaningful purpose-- the purpose that actually motivates you to keep going on those really tough days that we've all talked about here.
[00:28:42] And you can actually work from this place of strength and at the same time, recognize what your limits are. So you understand your capacity. And finally, to actually identify obstacles, which is a key part of all of this, what could get in your way. So that you can create a plan for yourself, even over the smallest piece of the smallest event.
[00:29:11] I'm going to have to go to this meeting and get on the zoom call, but you have a plan because you know what can get in the way and you know how you're going to face this. So from my perspective, that's the way we can really find that warrior spirit inside of ourselves. Okay my next question is for Hannah. And Hannah,
[00:29:37]you touched upon this a little bit before when you were talking, but there are some ways that companies can very deliberately and consciously make their workplaces more inclusive for people with chronic health conditions such as thyroid disease. So what sorts of things? Some of us are employers,
[00:29:57] we have partners, spouses, family members, friends who are employers as well. What do we want employers to know about improving the the inclusivity and health situation for those who have chronic illnesses? Yeah, this is a question I could talk for a whole hour about, so I'll try to keep it brief and to the point. Starting off, I love to say with any employer that asks us, this question is to start off by knowing that disability and chronic illness inclusion is an opportunity and it's not a chore for businesses.
[00:30:30] And when we actually hire people with illnesses and disabilities in our organizations, this is good for people and it's in turn, it's good for companies because the more that we actually have inclusive and accessible and flexible workplaces and policies, this is key to actually helping everyone work better.
[00:30:46] And so starting off by understanding and reframing that discussion that this is not a chore. This is an opportunity for our business and for our organization. But I like to think of it in three buckets. And again, gonna try to keep this short. So the first is to really start by assessing and in assessing involves listening.
[00:31:04]Starting by actually unveiling the gaps in your current programs and in your current organization, by talking to your employees and looking at representation and leadership. What is our cultural competency on this topic? What kind of accommodations and accessibility features do we have at our organization?
[00:31:21]And how are we speaking to this population and about this population? So starting by really assessing and listening, and these people exist in every organization. This is 60% of our population. This is more than half of people, which means odds are these people are already in your company. So listen to them.
[00:31:38] Second bubble I like to talk about is education, which I think there's not one time you can educate. It has to be something that's continuous and ongoing. And to really understand this population and to put in the work, not just from a leadership pool, but from everyone in the organization to get everyone on board, this can't be something that just senior leadership knows about, but that all employees are continuing to be educated on and supported so that they can be good allies,
[00:32:04] good managers. And to continue that education throughout it, it can not be a one-time thing because this is changing every single day and the needs of the health and wellbeing of our employees changes so quickly just as we saw with COVID obviously. And lastly, I think the last piece is to act and to continue to act which can involve recruiting.
[00:32:24] It can involve reaching out to these populations and actively seeking out. But really not just taking all of these learnings and not just talking the talk, but actually walking the walk and actually putting into practice the things that the organization has learned. Again I could talk about this whole topic for an hour of what companies could do, but I like to think about those three bubbles of assess, educate, and act which I think are the overview categories that companies need to pay attention to.
[00:32:50] Terrific. Wonderful guideline. And are you doing training for corporations and businesses as well as helping with with employee efforts? It sounds like that's something that that I'm guessing that you're involved in. We absolutely do. So we are working very closely with each organization on the platform.
[00:33:09]It's not a, one-size fits all solution when you come work with us. And so we work very closely with each company to unveil those gaps and then address according to each organizations is definitely something we're doing. So if you are a company on here and we encourage you to reach out to us and we're happy to help.
[00:33:26] Terrific. So that's a good resource. For those of us who know companies that may be struggling to figure out ways to incorporate more inclusive policies and approaches, let's get them in touch with Hannah. All right. Our last question, before we go to questions from our viewers today, is for . And Kathleen, as someone who is out there in the trenches ,
[00:33:50] what advice do you have for those of us who are thyroid patients who are working full-time and how can we cope and manage and actually balance our health? With the work that we're doing, what kinds of tips and ideas have you found successful for yourself and for some of the folks that that you are working with?
[00:34:14]So what I found successful for myself is having a routine at work. And that sounds a little strange and some of them they seem un work-related. But I found that if I take care of myself while I'm at work, I still have the energy to put into things I want to do in my personal life after work. And one of these big things is meal planning.
[00:34:35] I find that if I give myself nourishing food. I follow a paleo diet, some food intolerances. And if I know that I have good through looking at work and don't have to worry about running and getting takeout that might make me sick, that sets a good stage for my entire workday. And, on that note, I always make sure I take my lunch break.
[00:34:55] I think it's really easy just to work through things and maybe just leave a half an hour early instead of taking that time during the day. But I always make sure that I take my work break. And during that time, I also make a point, weather permitting to walk outside, whether that's for five minutes or 20 minutes. I suffer from a lot of joint pain
[00:35:13] so this movement during my day lets me relax a little bit. And I also have a Google extension set up that will remind me every hour that I need to stand up and stretch. So that could be me just walking to the bathroom, me taking a walk around my floor or just stretching in my office, but I found that these things help with my fatigue and my brain fog. Just giving my body a minute to move and remove myself from the work has greatly helped me.
[00:35:42]I've also set some boundaries with my coworkers. They're aware that I don't want you coming into my office gossiping because I only have so much energy and that seems to suck a lot out of people when you're in these toxic work environments. And this can also be an awkward conversation, but I usually approach by telling my coworker that sounds really frustrating what you're speaking about, but I've resolved to stay positive in the workspace.
[00:36:09] So if you want to talk about how we can productively deal with this, I'm open to that conversation. But otherwise, like, why don't you tell me what you're doing this weekend to try to divert the conversation. And it's been received pretty well. And really all you need to do is tell the first gossiper that
[00:36:24] that's what you said, and they go and gossip that to everyone else. So when you don't have to have that conversation multiple time. Outside of that, I also do set my office up in certain ways because I suffer from really bad migraines when it comes to fluorescent lighting. So I have a daylight lamp set up in there.
[00:36:43]And that's, I realize that's not always possible if you don't have your own office. But I also have some like light blocking glasses that have made a great difference in the amount of migraines I get every week. So it's all of these little things that kind of add up that have helped me be productive in my personal life and not just at work.
[00:37:01] Terrific. Those are all really good ideas and practical solutions. And I have a daughter who has migraine. I'm going to tell her about those glasses because it sounds like those could be very helpful. We have some questions now we're going to go to from our viewers. And here's a question that actually I'm going to put this out to you, Kathleen, but if anybody else has thoughts about it too, I'd be interested about that.
[00:37:30] About your thoughts? One of our viewers says I get nervous to call in sick. Maybe it's the millennial in me. Any tips that work for you on how to get over the fear of calling in sick and taking the time that you need for your health? Cause I'm thinking, if somebody knows that we have a chronic illness and we call in sick that I'm wondering if that, if there's a fear that's going to be perceived as more, more negatively than it would for someone who's otherwise perfectly healthy calls in and says I'm not feeling good today.
[00:38:01] So Kathleen, do you have any thoughts about that? I could definitely see the perspective, like it is worrisome to be like, oh, I have to call off again. I'm in a position where I have had the awkward conversation with my boss. So they do know that I get frequent migraines and those types of things.
[00:38:16]But I'm at a point where my health comes first. Like I say, it's like a mindset type of thing. This is my health and I want to put this first. And I know that if I take this one day today, I'm going to be able to do better work tomorrow and possibly the rest of the week where I know if I go in with the migraine or feeling really low, that it's going to reflect poorly on me more so than if I didn't color more so than calling, not calling off,
[00:38:42] if that makes sense. I feel like my bad work will just reflect more poorly than calling. Okay. Thank you. I'm going to put this one, this question over to Hannah. Hannah what would the conversation sound like? If someone with a thyroid condition goes into their boss, let's say you're already employed,
[00:39:04]but you want to disclose your thyroid condition to your employer. What's the best way to, to have that conversation, to build a bridge with the employer, rather than to put them on the defensive or to make them feel like you are demanding things that maybe they are not prepared to give. What is there, are there any approaches to slide into that conversation
[00:39:30]more subtly and effectively? Yeah. So we're actually doing we've been doing a workshop on this right now in our mentorship program. And we've been actually framing with our mentees different things that they can actually copy and paste with future employers, because it's something that's awkward and each time it doesn't get easier, it doesn't get more normal to
[00:39:50] tell someone about your illness. I think you just get more used to it. And I think in terms of framing that discussion, we like to talk about framing less on what the actual illnesses and more so on what you need to best perform at work. And so actually, on chronically Capable, we don't even use, we don't ask about your specific illness.
[00:40:07] Or what are--we don't frame it as accommodation needs, but more so what do you need to pest perform at work? And I think reframing not discussion shows the employer that, here I'm able to do my job, but this is what I need to do it best. And that kind of reframing shows that we're still able to do your job and you're not trying to quit or ask for anything different than you had said from the beginning, but it allows you to say that this is how I can be the best version of myself in my workplace.
[00:40:35] And I think, it, the conversation can be different and I think it would really depend on you as an individual and how you want to go about that. But I think sending away from the illness itself, I don't really need anyone to know that I have Lyme disease or that I have thyroid disorder.
[00:40:50] I need them to know that I need to work remotely because it allows me to have my PICC line. I don't have one anymore, but that's the methodology here of less about your specific illness and more so how do you need to best perform. Again I'm going to start sharing some resources in the chat.
[00:41:05] So that way I don't talk too long about this one thing. I would just add to that, what Hannah said is, my message always is keep it simple because we tend when we're really uptight, we tend to talk too much and it just overwhelms the other person. Make it about, say it from a position of strength, even if you're feeling completely like a puddle, because you don't want your employer or your colleagues to feel that you're putting it on them.
[00:41:34] You want the message and you've got to believe it that you can take charge of this and finally make sure that as Hannah said, you, that you talk about this in a way that you just talk about your function. This is how it affects me and keep it in ways that people really can put their arms around. So rather than something that's very I get really tired.
[00:42:01] Everyone gets tired. You just want to be much more definitive so that the other person doesn't feel they need to fill in this space for you. Good points and actually Rosalind, let me take it a little bit further with another piece of the question. And this is a question that I hear very frequently from a lot of thyroid patients and that's, and it's a conversation that they've had with spouses employers, relatives, friends, people in the community where you'll say.
[00:42:34] I, they'll say what is it? That's why. And I have Hashimoto's I have multiple sclerosis, or in my case, I have diabetes and Hashimoto's, and, but what people often hear is, oh, what's the big deal my sister has Hashimoto's and she's fine. She works as a personal trainer, 12 hours a day, or my cousin has MS.
[00:42:57] And she takes fish oil capsules and she's fine. So they want to downplay. And act as if somehow there's something wrong with you that you aren't functioning at full steam. And then some like their cousin, their mother, their sister, or the celebrity on TV, who's trying to sell us something. So what do we do when we come up against that?
[00:43:19] Especially in the workplace where the employer says my wife has X, Y, or Z chronic disease. Why can't you do? She's working full time and she doesn't have any problems. What's wrong with you? So that's a really one, another one of these, so many nuances that come up here. And I would say one of my, the thing I think about a lot with this is we are who we are.
[00:43:42] We bring who we are to how we face this. And that's why a lot of the work that I do really is foundational. So we can't control what other people say. Even our spouses, no matter how much you try to train them. People say things. I say things I wish I hadn't said. And at the end of the day, if you're going to interact with people and you want to be working or just having a relation a life.
[00:44:13] Then you're going to hear a lot of things you don't want to hear. And that's why in the, at the end, it's really about your inner being and how you feel about this knowing full well that most of the time, people are just not going to say what you want to hear now, where it becomes tricky is, and I've had a client who had this happen.
[00:44:36] Her boss had MS and she had MS and she was much more debilitated by it. And it became a competition, a source of competition. And in fact, I've heard from other people saying that people who also live with MS ended up are more judgmental and that's where it can be difficult when someone and else think is judging you for what you can and can't do.
[00:45:03] And that's once again, that idea of who you are inside and how you. What your expectation is in the relationship. And I wanted to go back to the thing when you said Kathleen, which was great about calling in sick. That's another place we just, we feel so bad every time I still do when I can't get some place.
[00:45:26] And everyone I know, knows that I live with this all the time. Yes. But I still feel badly. And I would say that all of that, so much of the way we respond is from how we view it ourselves. And that working through that piece of either, whether it's self pity at that moment, which we all have, and we should, it's certainly deserved or anger or whatever it is the first place to start so that you can really just deal with what's coming at you directly.
[00:46:01] Terrific. Thank you. I think we're going to take one last question. And we do have, there's a few questions that were more on treatment of thyroid issues and diet and all sorts of things. And we love those questions folks, but we can't get to everything and we try to stay on topic, but we have so many recorded
[00:46:22] speaker series discussions about all of these questions, treating hypothyroidism, diet and overall health and purchase. So I would encourage you to take a look at some of those past speaker series and upcoming ones, because we'll be covering those issues on a regular basis. But our last question.
[00:46:41] And I'm going to say who, whoever feels inspired to tackle this one because it may be any one of the three of you when we're talking about people in a management jobs or leadership positions, they often are looking at longer hours, planned and sometimes last minute, unplanned travel, staying late after work, exempt employees, we don't get over time.
[00:47:06] We've got to just do what we need to do to get it done. Are there leadership positions that are crafted to work with someone who has a chronic illness versus against someone with a chronic illness? I guess the other question is, can someone with a chronic illness be a leader or a manager or the top dog at a business or organization effectively, or is it going to be a challenge?
[00:47:33] Hannah , do you want to start us out on that one? Yes, but I was just going to pull up a cool statistic for you first. Bear with me one second. I just heard an awesome report that, that had something to do with this. That's why I was wanting to pull this in, but, in fact, actually, I'll just start just, I won't give you this statistic, but most people in leadership positions don't disclose.
[00:47:55] And I think that's been a common trend. We have seen we see people, we see women often in leadership positions coming up and saying, I'm a woman in a leadership position, but we rarely, if ever, see people in leadership positions talk about their illness or disability. And we need leaders to do that because they do exist again, 60% of our population that is more than half of people.
[00:48:16] And so these people are in these positions. They're not speaking up and there was a great report. So for those of you who aren't familiar there's an organization called The Valuable 500 and they released their list last week with the 500 leaders who are committed to putting disability inclusion on their agenda for 2021. None of these people were actually people with illnesses or disabilities, or at least to not disclose.
[00:48:41] There is a great report, which I'll share in the chat, that was actually a regarding these companies. And even though 15% of our population had a , no one, none, not one of these companies in the top 100 FTSE had a leadership disclosure. And so people aren't disclosing. We do think, I do think that it is possible.
[00:49:01]I'm a leader right now, not within a large tech company, but in, in my own capacity, being able to do this, I think. People aren't speaking out about it. And so I do hope that we start to see the benefits of when leadership does disclose, it encourages others to be more comfortable to disclose themselves.
[00:49:18] And so I'm hoping that people will start to stand up and talk more about this. And let me find that report because it's going to bug me that if I don't get you guys that stat. Great. Thank you. That's really interesting, I've had an opportunity over the years to talk to a lot of celebrities with thyroid problems and I've talked with a lot of them privately because most of them do not want anybody to know they have a thyroid problem and I've always thought like it's weird to me, they want to go out and tell you that they are in treatment, that they're in rehab, that they've had breast cancer, but they don't want you to know they had a thyroid problem. And there was like there's stigmas associated with some of these conditions that are not associated with other conditions.
[00:50:01] So it's always interesting. I've always wished that more people would come out and just disclose their condition as very matter of fact because it is matter of fact, there's a lot of people. We have 30, 40, 50 million people out there, depending on who's counting with thyroid conditions. It's not an insignificant number.
[00:50:19]Rosalind, did you have any thoughts about that issue of whether leaders can be effective with a chronic illness given the long hours and travel and a last minute of it? So my thinking is it's not whether you can or can't be effective. It's does the job meet you? It's, does it meet your needs? And there are going to be some situations where they, it can't be changed.
[00:50:47] It doesn't work, the environment, whatever it is. And the, if you're in a leadership position, it means you've got a lot of good skills. So the idea is to figure out where can you be successful? And Sometimes you really have to take a step back in, in money and you know what you're earning or even in the role, but it really comes down to figuring out what's your capacity and finding the place.
[00:51:15] And I had, it's fabulous to know. I had no idea that there were this many companies out there interested in this issue at this point. I'm not following it the way I used to. And that's phenomenal. It's really, it's definitely a monumental thing to happen for the disability and chronic illness community.
[00:51:34] This was a media movement. So we hope that these 500 companies will now go out and hire folks they'll join on platforms like Chronically Capable, but to hear 500 large enterprise global companies say that they're committed to this is something that we weren't talking about four years ago, Rosalind, when we first met.
[00:51:51]It's really great to see this. That's really well, we have come to the time and I feel like we could keep going for another hour or two easily, because this is a fascinating and incredibly informative group of women. And I've learned so much today from this panel. So I want to thank all three of us, all three of you.
[00:52:14]Thank you very much, Rosalind, Hannah, Kathleen, for all of your incredible information. And I am going to tell you that we've got, there's a lot of links to various things, everything from our past speaker series to the research that Hannah was talking about and variety of other links to various resources all there.
[00:52:34] And I know we'll have that in the recap email, won't we, also, Katie? For folks, some of these links, as well as a replay for today's recording, if you want to go back and watch it again, which I very well may do, because this was such an interesting one. I want to make sure I got everything out of it, but I'm going to turn it back over to Katie and say, thank you again to our three panelists.
[00:52:55] It's been a pleasure having a chance to speak with you. So thank you. And back to Katie. We also want to thank you, Mary, for hosting this conversation. And thank you to our panelists and to all of our attendees for joining us this afternoon. I am very inspired by the focus and conversation around mindset, and we will, like Mary said, send a replay in the next day or so, we'll be sure to include links to just CI coach and Chronically Capable.
[00:53:23]I've also saved all the links that are in the chat and I'll be sure to include those in the replay. Our next speaker series is on June 21st. At this same time. I believe it's a Monday on the topic of how to exercise safely and effectively with Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism. So keep an eye out for that invitation.
[00:53:41] We are excited about that and thank you again to all of you for being here. We really appreciate it.