Expressing All of Us on Our Jobs

The John Legend song “All of Me” talks about romance. About bringing all of each other to the table when you’re in love.

Yet the lyrics apart from the love angle testify to not living in hiding in any kind of closet.

Giving all of ourselves—to each other; to our recovery; to a work project—is the way to go.

This is where acting true to yourself comes into play. For a long time I’ve had empathy for gay people who have been told to submit to conversion therapy.

The more I turned around in my head the beauty of appropriate self-disclosure I saw the benefit in living life on full-tilt as the one and only you.

The full truth: I’m a quirky artist who thinks differently and sees things differently. My unusual approach has allowed me to help people craft resumes that get them job interviews that have led to job offers.

As a professional librarian with a career services niche I’ve been more intrigued lately about how and whether a person should bring all of yourself into the equation when interacting with others on a job.

Alas there is a hierarchy of disabilities. Bipolar and schizophrenia spook people. Often they Stand Back 500 Feet after you disclose to them.

It comes down this is: do you equate your illness as being part of your identity. Do you think others should accept your diagnosis as a normal part of your life or of who you are. Do you want to be outspoken in every arena of your life about having a disability.

July is Disability Pride Month. In early July I will talk in greater detail about this.

In ways what I think runs counter to what a lot of Disability Rights Advocates believe.

The last blog entry for this month will unpack the reality of how and when to disclose.

It could sound like I’m asking readers to do as I say and not as I do.

Taking up blogging on any topic carries a risk when you’re searching for a job.

The intent in celebrating that you have a disability is to empower yourself in a world where individuals with disabilities are seen as different or to be pitied.

No way to pity. Way to deciding for yourself whether you want to disclose on a job.

Illness and Identity and Career

This is going to be a carnival of three related blog entries on the topic of illness and identity and career.

In conversation with a peer friend I asked him to clarify something I had been thinking about on the topic of illness and identity and career.

The friend understood: There are different pieces of ourselves. We’re not just one thing. We can talk and write about life outside of mental health.

For months now I’ve been interested in the Venn diagram intersection between illness and identity and career.

About how people choose to identify themselves to others. Some of us right off will tell people: “I’m disabled.” Some of us will say: “I have a disability.”

In my life I prefer to be identified by my name or by my personality traits or by what I’m passionate about.

This extends to labels outside of illness that people commonly use to identify themselves. Why should we have to label ourselves at all?

Years ago a workshop leader told everyone in her course: “If you name it, you can claim it.” I understand that this is the underlying dynamic in using a “hook” to describe yourself.

In work emails I would rather write after my name: Christina Bruni (Author/Advocate).

What I would ideally like to use is: Christina Bruni (Chris/Christina) to identify myself apart from a preferred personal pronoun.

It’s a matter of a person’s individual preference whether they want to talk about their illness in ordinary conversation. Or whether they choose not to disclose as a matter of course.

The choice is yours whether you disclose, how you disclose, who you tell, and when.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about advertising yourself as a whole person instead of dwelling on symptoms and illness.

Self-Disclosure on a Job

In reading the book Dress Your Best Life author Dawnn Karen gives the best strategy for self-disclosure on the job. She is a therapist with a focus on fashion psychology. Karen also teaches at FIT.

Though she is a therapist I think her professional ethic as regards disclosure should hold true in every workplace.

Disclosing personal information depends on “the content of the disclosure…the rationale for the disclosure…the personality traits of the client…and the specific circumstances surrounding the disclosure” according to Zoe D. Peterson writing in Psychotherapy: Theory Research Practice Training.

Credentialing lived experience is predicated on the peer specialist acting with the utmost professionalism.

A paid peer specialist doesn’t have a license to practice medicine so cannot advise a person to stop medication or tell them how to wean themselves off medication.

A paid peer specialist can “hold up a mirror” to their client by disclosing. Yet the act of disclosing should not take the focus away from the client’s feelings and needs.

What you disclose should be directly related to the issue the client is expressing.

Disclosing your mental health issue on a job is a matter of personal preference when you’re not a paid peer specialist.

I recommend reading Dress Your Best Life because it is a one-of-its-kind deep dive into how you dress affects your mood presentation and success.