Journeying into the business world... one undiscovered culture at a time

Welcome to [Per]Suit of Anthropology, a blog dedicated to the exploration of modern business trends and perspectives from the view of anthropologist, with a special emphasis on cultural understandings of work-life balance and disability rights in the workplace. This blog is a way for me to connect two sides of my professional self that I see in constant dialogue. Though the business world and the anthropological world may not believe it - they have more in common and more to learn from one another than readily acknowledged. Topics covered include: Western business practices and the impact of those decisions on socio-cultural institutions worldwide, invisible disabilities, Ignatian spirituality, work-life balance, and some discussion of issues of tourism and its impacts on culture, and common human capital practices in private industry and government.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Job Hunting with Epilepsy

This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay which will run from June 1 through June 30. Follow along and add comments to posts that inspire you!

Since I last wrote for the Relay, my life has changed quite a bit. As many of you know, I was worn out from the whole working mom thing. I couldn't do my job well - the side effects of a grand-mal seizure, and increased medication levels messed with my memory and cognition. Which, when you are a manager at a DC think tank - does no good. I tried talking with my bosses to find reasonable accommodations - and they were really good about it. However, it was quickly becoming clear that something had to give... and it wasn't going to be my health. 

So I left in mid-March, without a new job lined up. But absolutely spent. That first week I was hit by the stomach flu and laid in bed for most of the week. I slept a lot and it took me a good month before I felt the veil of post-seizure depression started to lift. 

Slowly I started getting back out there, having informational interviews, dusting off my resume, and applying to dozens of jobs. But high in my list of job considerations is finding a place that respects my needs to have a calm working environment, that still provides meaningful work where I can grow, without the crazy expectations to be constantly going up the career ladder. 

It. Has. Been. Hard. I look fine on the outside, and my credentials on paper make it seem like I am a go-getter. And I am - until I have a seizure. In the months after one, my brain is like a giant pile of mush. Some days I am coherent and can kick butt. Most days, however, I am just kinda ... there .. struggling to remember bits of conversations, trying to get myself organized, but just wiped out. 

Ultimately I am looking for an employer who will accept me as I am, epilepsy and all. Where I don't have to try to explain away the days when I am foggy, or can't seem to concentrate, or sometimes cannot even answer questions in a coherent manner. Honesty has been my calling card as I interview. I have been pretty brutal in asking tough questions of employers about the nature of work, and hypothetical situations. I do it because I know that a work life that allows me to take care of my health and my family is of number one importance. That a 35-40 hour workweek is the maximum I can do. I have been dropped from interview processes for that reason, and I have turned down completely good job offers for that reason, as well. 

That part has been difficult for me - to pass on opportunities that I know could be exciting and lucrative - that would lead to a life that in many ways would be "easier" financially for my family. But, I am just not willing to take that risk with my health. And the fear of a job taking too much from me is something I don't want to admit gets in my way of pursuing my dreams, but it does. I get mad sometimes that it is a lot more difficult for me to do tasks that I used to take for granted, or that I cannot take some amazing opportunities because I know the hours will be long, or I will need to be available to answer emails at any hour of the day or night. To look a perfectly good offer in the face and say, "Yeah this isn't really going to work for me." 

On the upside, a lot of people I've been talking to admire my honesty in conversations. It helps us all see whether or not I would be a good fit for the organization and the job in question. Many people also respect my need to place myself and my family first - and in some cases I almost detect a longing in their eyes that say, "I wish I could do that!." 

In the meantime, I keep taking one day at a time. Hoping that we can figure this thing called life out. And I remain hopeful that in the long run, my honesty will pay off, and I will find a job that helps me to provide for my family, stay healthy, be a good mom, and also enables me to be the worker I know I can be. 

In the meantime, if anyone has any good leads - send 'em my way :)
Taking advantage of the time off work to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and scenery!

NEXT UP: Be sure to check out the next post tomorrow by Kristin Quinn and Sunovion  at For the full schedule of bloggers visit
Don’t miss your chance to connect with bloggers on the #LivingWellChat on June 30 at 7PM ET.

No comments:

Post a Comment