Is Huntington’s Disease Interfering with My Work?

Is Huntington’s Disease Interfering with My Work?

There is some evidence in the Huntington’s disease literature that suggests people with the gene may lack insight into how they have started to show signs of the illness. This terrifies me for several reasons, but for the focus of this column, I’ll discuss the possible effect this may have on my job, what I plan to do about it, and what you can do if you are having similar thoughts.

I’m worried about making mistakes.

I work independently at my job. A great deal of the work I do is completed on my own without any oversight or follow-up from a supervisor. What if I start making little errors here and there that I don’t even realize I’m making? If no one is actively reviewing my work to watch out for mistakes, then I’m concerned they could be missed if Huntington’s disease began to impair my abilities.

I’m worried about procrastination.

I’ve had issues with procrastination for a while now, and working in a role that’s independent and self-managed, it’s easy to put off work I dread doing. I find myself falling into this trap repeatedly, and it’s not unusual for me to get behind in my paperwork for a worrisome period. My documentation can be weeks behind at times, and I fear it could start to jeopardize the safety of what I’m doing.

I’m worried about my irritability.

A couple of years ago, I had a verbal altercation with someone in the community when I was working. It was not with a direct client, but someone connected to a client and not a person with whom I should have been arguing. I lost my temper because I felt this person was being disrespectful toward me and the work I was trying to do. I have now come to understand that this is a trigger for my irritability.

In this situation, I should have left the scene, but I didn’t. I escalated the event by becoming even more disrespectful and acting unprofessionally. At the time, I had to explain the situation to my supervisors, and it was an episode I’m embarrassed about and sad it ever happened in the first place.

Today, I have more understanding of my triggers and what causes my irritability to escalate, so I feel more comfortable that I would act differently when faced with a similar situation. But what if I don’t? What if this episode was a sign of things to come as my journey with Huntington’s disease continues?

What am I doing about it?

I’ve been thinking about making some changes in my work life for a while now. In order to be proactive and take some control of my situation, I decided to move into an area of my work where I’m not independently managing long-term projects and clients. I’ll be transferring to a position in which I’m more of a “floater,” helping other colleagues with their projects and workloads.

I’ll be dealing with one-off activities and then moving on to other tasks, rather than juggling many different issues and problems and answering only to myself. I’m training my replacement, so I hope to be in the new area within the next few weeks. Although the change hasn’t yet taken place, I’m already feeling much more relaxed and happier with my work situation.

What can you do?

If you’re having concerns about your work or experiencing similar stresses and anxieties, take some time to reflect on what specifically is causing these emotions. Is it the workload? Is it the environment? Is it the colleagues? Perhaps there are some steps that can be taken to help improve your quality of life in the workplace.

Talk to a counselor. If you have an Employee Assistance Program at work, contact them to see whether they can connect you with someone to talk to confidentially.

We spend a huge amount of our time at work. If stress and anxiety are becoming issues for you, it won’t be good for your health, whether Huntington’s disease is the root of the issue or not. Think about what you can do to start improving your work life and turn those thoughts into action.

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Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.

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