Someone recently asked me how I know when to tell people about my condition. They asked me if there were sure signs, or if there was a specific timetable for sharing the news about my illness. I assume this person meant to ask if I used something like a 90 day waiting period, after which I would discuss my condition with the person.
Maybe you have a formula for when and how to tell people about your condition. I have yet to find a specific method that works. Instead, I consider the following things, does this person need to know this information, or is it a case of too much information for them. Do my neighbors need to know about my health? (For the record and in the name of disclosure, it depends on the neighbors.)
Does my employer need to know? This depends on if my condition may cause me to miss work, require accommodations, or anything of that nature. Even the most supportive of employers, following laws, can sometimes feel as if you won't be as reliable when you have a chronic condition.
It does provide an opportunity to educate employers about chronic conditions. In one of my previous places of employment, discussing my health, opened up the employer's eyes to what a chronic disease even is. (The director of Human Resources had no idea that asthma is a chronic condition.)
For me, it comes down to how I feel about the person and the situation. Not everyone needs to know me as a lupus patient; instead, they need to know me as a friend, educator, manager, expert, coach, and so on.
How do you know when to share something so personal and vulnerable? Have you found a formula?