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Ulcerative Colitis When Job Searching – What’s Better…Explain it or Not?

been while since recent typing up this story from today (Aug 7th..getting ready to celebrate father's 65th in Maine!)

been while since recent pic…me typing up this story from today (Aug 7th..getting ready to celebrate father’s 65th in Maine!)

What a great question, to mention or explain your ulcerative colitis (or IBD) or not when you are doing the job search, the interview process, or once you have started.

It is not an easy question for many, and maybe one size does not fit all.  But why not spend a moment and re-visit this topic if you have thought about it before…

I was moved today by an email from a special UC’er.  Her name is not important (and I told her I would not mention it in this message) but I think much of what she wrote may pull back memories for many of you regarding the interview process.

And, maybe some of you will have very different experiences, who knows..?  Maybe even similar.  The world treats us all a bit differently from time to time, and unfortunately not everything is fair, but we must move on.

Below is a clip from the email I received, and I hope that for some of you, it will be a reminder that letting the truth out doesn’t always cause problems.  Thanks for letting me share some of your email(to the special emailer of the day:)

And I’m really interested to hear if others have had experiences either way you would like to share on this job searching/should you tell them about the colitis situation or not scenario…heck, I’ve been through this several times since getting diagnosed.  (I’ve always told them prior, I think that’s the best way to keep stress free instead of holding info back…and all has been good)…but surely things are different for some, and the thinking behind is different from others for some very good reasons too!

Best to all of you,


Here’s the email:

It has been a year since my diagnosis and, all of the information, messages and stories really do help; I am doing well. I was recently offered two jobs and, for the first time, I had to decide whether or not to disclose my diagnosis. In both cases, I decided to do so, so that my potential employer would know that there would be times when I needed to leave my spot “post haste.” I was met with kindness and care in both instances. I hope that others have similar experiences; it is a challenge trying to decide how and when to disclose. This condition makes me sad some days. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wish for the days when I didn’t have to wake up extra early or think about where the nearest bathroom is, but, you know, truly, I am appreciative of where I am today and that is all that matters. Everything looks a little different these days, but, I’m trying to keep moving forward. On a side note, because I am an English teacher, my smart ass son said to me, “It’s okay Mom, now you just have a semi-colon!” Spoken like a true teenager. I am always wishing you and my fellow UC’ers good health, a dash of patience, a smidge of faith and a large scoop of humor. Be well! And, thanks! :)

11 thoughts on “Ulcerative Colitis When Job Searching – What’s Better…Explain it or Not?”

  1. Hi there,

    A very interesting read. I have been in your situation and have decided to NOT reveal my disease. Simply because (a) there is no law stating that I have to. (b) it’s a personal thing that I choose to not disclose. (c) I’m in remission. As much as employers are not supposed to discriminate against people with disabilities/illnesses……they do! I used to work for a recruitment company so I know. The best advise I can give, is to keep it to yourself until you are actually offered the position. If and when you flare there after, you can let them know then. If they attempt to sack you for being ill then all I will say is, they will have a court case on their hands. This illness has nothing else to do with anyone else. If you were flaring at the point of the interview then by all means disclose it. If not, don’t bother

  2. I had a flare up in 2013 after being made redundant. Instead of taking time out to get better, I raced around like a headless chicken trying to get a job asap. I battled through commuting and interviews in pain (and with obvious logistical challenges). I got my job but spent the next year fighting a worsening flare up that eventually required hospitalisation. I didn’t tell my future employer at interview as I work in an industry not known for its empathy but have done since and they have been quite understanding. Still not sure I would disclose upfront but I would definitely take time out to get over a flare up before starting a new job.

  3. I am so glad this topic came up. I need help and advice as well. I was diagnosed in August 2014. Went into remission for a year. Then had my first flare. Recovered but still maintain mild UC with 2-4 bowel movements a day, mainly in am, and sometimes after lunch. After 17 years I just lost my job, got laid off due to a re-org. My last job I managed my own schedule and travel schedule even though I was in sales. Was very fortunate. I have accepted a new job starting in Oct. I am scared to death. I will be traveling a lot and in my car a lot and working with someone one on one daily training and traveling in the car for hours at a time. Since I am not in remission and it’s been awhile I got frustrated with my first GI and now have found a new GI the best in my city I’m told my many people. I explained to him my concerns. He said based on how my new colonoscopy turns out he believes initially I should go on biologics, Humira specifically. If this works I should be ok doing my job I am hoping? Of course I have been looking for a great sales opportunity working from exclusively at home or working in a office but I have not been successful flinding a ideal opportunity that would pay me what I need to make etc. But I did find the one sales job I mentioned earlier. Again I hope humira works for me. Any idea on how long it takes to work ? Any other ideas or thoughts ? Currently on lialda 3-4x daily, azasan 150mg, vsl3 2x a day for mild UC , diareah, blood, urgency 2-4 bms a day, I know my situation could be worse. Look forward to your comments.

    1. Heyyy ! I hope things get better for you but I see you will be starting Humira soon. Well I was on Humira from Feb 16-now. My dr just took me off because my body was fighting against the meds. I was sick almost every other week with some sort of infection. Every time I took my shot I will experience severe pain in my abdominal area and more diarrhea. My first dose of humira was heavy, I took 4 shots the first time and every 2 weeks after I took 1 shot. That was the worst ever medication I’ve tried. I’m now in the hospital with a chronic flare up. So I hope Humira gives you better results since it’s said to be one of the best on the market. I’m not about to start Remicade infusion every 8 weeks through an IV. I’ve had this Crohns Colitis since Sept 2014 and it’s been a struggle with medications. Good luck to you .

    2. I am in your shoes. I will be starting Humira soon. I was on Asacol and then Lialda for years. I am tapering off of prednisone. I am hoping for positive results. I lost my job due ti excessive bathroom use. I am 52 and was diagnosed at 23 years old. I have recently been in and out of hospitals since April. I think we should look at it as a positive solution. My GI doctor has has great results with it. Good luck to you.

  4. Hi Chuck,

    I’m sorry to hear that you are not yet in remission. It is a very distressing disease.
    I was also in a bad flare last year. Spent most of 2015 in hospital as nothing I was given worked. I relapsed from prednisolone 4 times. In December my consultant had no choice but to put me on biologics, I was fearful as to whether it would work, would I suffer bad side effects etc. At this point I felt I had no choice but to go ahead with it. I was absolutely gobsmacked because with immediate effect of being given Infliximab (Remicade) my symptoms disappeared. My appetite came back (that day), my frequent BM’s stopped. Now for me this is a miracle drug. It’s not Humira but it’s the same principle. I know many people on both Remicade and Humira that have their quality of life back. I have been in remission for 8 months now and feel amazing. My only regret?……that I didn’t go on it sooner. I have no side effects from the biologics, apart from sometimes feeling fatigued but that could be due to UC itself. I am self employed spend 2 hours a day travelling and have no worries about being caught short. If you have channelled all your options then I would recommend biologics. I only have 4 months left on this drug then will be medication free for the first time in 4 years.

    1. Have you tried Nicorette gum or patch? It’s better than immune suppressing drugs. I’ve never become addicted to it. When the stress improves, I don’t need the gum to remain in remission so I easily go off it Do a google search for details. I don’t think a doctor will prescribe it yet but years ago, after seeing the stats on smokers and UC I started using it for flares. Now they are doing studies on it with good results. Still not mainstream I guess.

  5. Elaine J

    I mentioned it at a job interview in 2002. I got the job, and am still with the company. For most of my tenure, my UC hasn’t been a problem, but when it did start to cause me grief over the last few years, they were very kind and allowed me to change my hours to suit my changed circumstances. I would always advocate being honest whenever possible, but appreciate that others may have had different experiences.

  6. I’ve been out of work since 2006 because my Colitis got so bad I was seeing the doctors almost everyday. I was on DVR (Dept. of Vocational Rehabilitation) which paid for some of my schooling from 2006-2012. Afterwards, I was “let go” because I had surpassed the allowed time for my education, and my files “got lost”. They also went through some changes and had a good worker but after a year, she had to leave and I once again was on my own. She was the only one to understand that flareups and other illnesses were going to happen while the other workers said that I was “taking my time” and the other clients who also had it had no problem.

    After I finish with my AA next spring, after 11 years of working on this degree, I am looking at seeing what Goodwill will offer job wise or at least help me with my resume and interviews. Then I can ask them what advice they have etc. Hopefully also, my Colitis will behave and my other health issues are resolved.

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