How Do I Avoid Talking About My Illness At Work?

People at work seem to want to know details about my chronic condition. I’ve told them that I have fibromyalgia, which is why I sometimes miss work. They ask questions about my medications and doctors. I’d rather not discuss these things. It doesn’t help that they talk freely about their colds, headaches, surgeries, hot flashes, etc. What should I do?

I know this one! I know this one! Instead of answering questions you’d rather not, I’m loaning you the phrase I use with people who are just too damn interested in my health: “Oh my god I can’t imagine a more boring topic than my dreary doctor appointments,” and then I quickly ask them about their colds, headache, or hot flashes. It helps that I am actually interested in their colds, headaches, or hot flashes, but if you are not, practice assuming a rapt expression during their recitation.

When all else fails, pretend you just got a super important phone call.

You could also just say: “I’d rather not discuss it,” but I’ve tried this and it never works. Ever.

This letter was originally published on December 2, 2014 at

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