To tell or not to tell, that is the question

I’ve been grappling with this question for years. How much should I tell my boss about my medical condition? On the one hand, I want them to understand some of the odd things that I do. Why I am so neurotic about prepping my classes (I must over prep, so I can still get through a class when my headache is so bad I can scarcely recall my own name), why I sometimes seem so withdrawn and antisocial (having taken my meds, I am saving what little energy I have for my classroom interactions later in the day), why I might be on edge or overly sensitive at times (wouldn’t you be if you’d had a headache for weeks on end with no relief?!), why I keep the lights off in my office, why working through lunch is not an option, why I need structure, why last minute surprises are so unwelcome… I know that it would probably help if my boss and coworkers understood why I do all of these things, but then, they could never REALLY understand (even my husband can’t really understand)… and armed with this information, would they be prejudiced against me in a new way? Instead of just thinking I’m moody, would they begin to see me as a liability? Would telling them bring new understanding that would dramatically improve my work situation? Or would things just get worse? Will they see this as a weakness that justifies skipping over me for promotions and tough assignments (rather than working with me to make the conditions right for my success)? The problem is, I can’t know for sure. I won’t know how they will react until I actually sit down and tell them all of the details of my condition. And since it is a condition that doesn’t show up on x-rays or in blood tests, I’ll just have to hope that they are open to my doctor’s diagnosis and don’t think it is just all in my head.

Interested to hear how others have dealt with this problem.

Here are some articles on the subject:

http://voices.yahoo.com/chronic-health-conditions-tell-employer-5443439.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/20/health/20patient.html?_r=0

Evidently there are lots of people out there dealing with this issue.