Advice for colleagues and managers
Video clip: If Gabrielle had regular conversations about the support she needed (or not), it may have helped her manager prepare for the time when she did need it.
Just the idea of what sort of support is useful. I mean, I think I've always been sort vaguely asked - maybe not in my current post, but you know, people have said "Oh, you have MS, what sort of reasonable provisions would you like, would you like a new desk?" And it's like, 'okay, that's really not at all helpful to me'. Like [laughing]. In trying to think about how people have asked what sort of support is useful. And actually really the lack of people asking what support is useful. And I think maybe a regular check-in would have been useful.
And it's something that in my next job I might ask for, that when you first disclose these things, usually the powers that be will come back and say either "Is there anything specifically different - do you need different? Computing equipment? Do you need a different chair? Do you need a different desk?" Or, "Let us know if there's anything you need." It's quite, it’s quite open-ended, and it's - I think I would be greatly benefited by a formal meeting, even on a termly basis. Even if it's ten minutes with human resources or domestic bursar, or - and the supervisor - and just say "Here's what the last term has been like. Here's what would be helpful. Can you tell me about my performance? Is there something I can do to be a better employee?" And have a two-way conversation.
Because it tends to just be we’ll ask once, and that's it. And I do know - and I totally feel that it's my responsibility to communicate back to people when I'm not feeling very well. But it is, it's challenging - I can tell from my current supervisor, because I could sort of had to, had to say – I think I had to say by email - "I've gone fifty percent blind in one eye, I just wanted to let you know. It should be fine. I just might be a little bit slower at stuff than usual." He was so alarmed. And he's such a nice man [laughing]. I know it’s – But you know, having to sort of drop this bomb on him all the time, whereas I think if I knew there was a regular meeting coming up, it'd be easier to just think things through, save up what needs to be discussed, and then have a sort of formal conversation about it.
It's sort of difficult to come back after that initial ask, and say "Well actually, these three things would be really helpful." But it's sort of up to me, and something I've been thinking about lately, of how can I best communicate with people? And maybe it's up to me to say "Can I have a formal interview?" I think maybe if it were more of a policy in the college or the university to just make sure that a regular check-in is happening, that might make it easier for people to ask for what they need.