Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Friday, May 30, 2014


I'm doing well at my new job. I'm getting used to the documentation requirements and the layout of the different buildings. My patients, of course, are wonderful. Primarily I work in little towns surrounding my city. They are all farming communities, so most of my patients are farmers. They're used to working hard and are generally willing to do what I suggest. I'm working with some lovely women with wonderful personalities right now. It's fun.

My coworkers have also been great so far. Maybe physical and occupational therapists are just cool people! It's always nice when I enjoy the people with whom I work. I've worked three, four hour days the past two weeks. It doesn't sound like much, but it's worn me out, nonetheless. I hope and expect that will get better soon. Next week I'm bumping up to three, six hour days.

As a new employee, I've had to fill out tons of paperwork. That's typical, so I was prepared for it. However, one of the forms I had to fill out led to this post. The questionnaire asked, point-blank, if I had a disability. I could answer "Yes," "No," or "Prefer Not to Answer." The question stopped me in my tracks.

On the one hand, I do have a disability. On the other hand, disability questions typically refer to something other than mental illness. I was uncomfortable with the question. I don't feel comfortable revealing my mental illness unless it gets in the way of my job duties. If I don't have a relapse, my illness doesn't get in the way. So should I say yes or no? What would you say?

I ended up picking, "Prefer not to answer," as my option. I felt like I'd be lying if I said no. But I didn't want the probing follow-up questions a yes answer would likely have initiated. And really, I'm not sure it's any of their business unless I can't perform my duties. But then again, maybe telling them up front would make things easier if I do need accommodations down the road. I just don't know. And doesn't preferring not to answer say something, too? Like I've got something to hide...

I'd be interested to hear what many of you think. Have any of you had to answer this question? What did you say? And if you haven't had to answer it, how do you think you would? Why? I didn't necessarily like my answer, but it was the best choice, I thought, of the three options I had. So that's what I picked. How about you?


Tina Fariss Barbour said...

As far as I can remember, the only time that question has come up, it has been in conjunction with whether or not the disability would interfere with my ability to do the job. I have answered no, because it hasn't interfered with my ability. I have never had to go on disability because of my mental illness, for which I'm grateful. I'm surprised that the question would just be, do you have a disability. That seems discriminatory. I guess the laws are different in each state. I think I would have answered like you did.

Anonymous said...

The question as you wrote it in your post does not appear to define what they mean by disability. My opinion is that, we all have a disability of some kind. We also all have many strengths. I wonder what the reason is for the question to be asked at all. TMary

Irene said...

I would agree that we all have disabilities. I would have answered no. But I admire your integrity. Interesting thoughts.