I have encountered the same problems as you. I used to work at a Fortune 100 as a product lead until I was effectively managed out due to symptoms of my disabilities: Bipolar Disorder I and “severe ADHD.” Later, while out on long-term disability I was diagnosed with an abnormal brain scan due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which worsened my mood fluctuations and ADHD. The TBI diagnosis was bittersweet. I haven’t worked so I could tend to my health and midlife for the past two years.
I’m not coming back to play. I’m coming back to win. I am building a public benefit corporation for people like us, and stories like ours, at DIID: Divergent Innovation, Inclusion, and Design. What I realized is that neurodivergent folk like us don’t get into elite innovation and design labs because we a) don’t get recruited to those roles b) don’t stick along enough to get promoted into them. Companies want the best and most divergent ideas, but they won’t hire the most divergent candidates to come up with them. They promote corporate survivors and diplomats in favor of neurodiverse and non-traditional talent.
I have determined is that the term “disability” and the stigma behind a mental health diagnosis have a nocebic affect on productivity . Diagnosing someone as mentally ill negatively impacts their ability to perform work at the same rate or quality as others. Stigma is debilitating and in many cases, a diagnosis drives the actual stigma which in turns undermines social health as well as mental and spiritual health.
We are commanded (in my case by judges), to take the medicine and cooperate with treatment. The medicines have side effects that are as bad as the symptoms. They cripple us and undermine our social function and health as they make us seem awkward or afflicted in public—including at work. That is, the stigma of being medicated. We also carry the additional burdens on our pockets, time, and stress levels—(and thereby, ability to produce)—of supervised medication management.
But if we don’t take the medicine we will suffer the symptoms of the diagnosis, but also the stigma of being unmedicated which in many of our cases (mine included) would preclude us from jobs my skills and work experience do merit.
We’re different. We poison ourselves in order to pretend to be normal, and even when we try we are stigmatized for doing it wrong (, eg, “behaving erratically”). Then we have to justify ourselves, etc. to earn a seat but only if it’s not too inconvenient for the company; so we lose opportunities to grow personally, professionally, and socially.
For the record, the EEOC and a dozen law firms blew off my claims of discrimination, even though the paperwork I was given used clearly coded language to describe my symptoms. The “undue burden” clause in the ADA which basically means companies can dismiss our requests for accommodations if they would disrupt business as usual. My disabilities disrupt my ability to do business as usual.
They said helping me would have caused an undue burden. To whom is that burden due?