Anywhere I’ve ever worked, I tell my coworkers I have migraines. Usually I’ll slip the detail into conversation if it comes up or I’ll write to my new boss about a month into a job and say “I have a terrible migraine have to stay home and lie down in a dark room.”
When I was a kid, my mother had chronic migraines so I know what they look like and have even gotten a few over the years. Not recently. But migraines are a good cover. The truth is, of course, that I have bipolar disorder. My moods are well-managed and I’m as capable if not more capable than anyone on the job. But once in a while something gets out of whack: I might lose too much sleep a few nights in a row and start to see myself slipping into mania. Or during the times when I am fighting off depression, I may need a last-minute appointment to adjust medication or talk through my mood.
This morning I wrote an email to coworkers to say I had been up most of last night with a migraine . In truth, I was up much of last night, not because of a migraine, but because my mind started racing. And so I invented the acceptable sickness.
Really, I just needed the sleep.