Bipolar at Work
Although bipolar patients share almost same sufferings in their struggle to fight against their mood swings & rapidly changing thoughts that result in impulsive behavior, but amongst them, those who are working professionals have to put extra effort to act normally to secure their job. It’s somewhat easier to tackle with your mood swings at home because normally your family is aware of it. They may not understand your state of mind exactly same as you but at least you know that they have accepted you with your illness and in most cases they are willing to cooperate with you.
For a working professional, it’s harder to cope with his swinging thoughts and changing moods. He is sensitive and less tolerant than others but his colleagues don’t realize it. There are many occasions like cracking jokes, taunts, sarcasm, office politics, or as simple as work pressure that could be potential triggers for any unwanted situation for a bipolar. Sometime, a casual conversation with colleagues or serious discussion in board meeting disconnects him from his present and engages in some personal, domestic or other irrelevant issue, he keeps on thinking and trying to draw a conclusion but fails to do so.
Job dis-satisfaction is another issue faced by us. Like for me, maintaining a job for a significant period of time is much harder than getting it. At the time of joining, I get super excited for my new job and salary package and soon this excitement changes into frustration and later desperation to quit. My friends use every means to get a job and then they keep doing it for 2-3 or even 5 years. I always wonder how they could do it for so long. In these 4 years since I passed from University, I have 5 employers on my resume. I resigned from my last job in December 2012 and unemployed right now. What makes me feel good is that none of my employers kicked me out, I’m the one who kicked the job 🙂 well in any case, I lost the job !! There was a time when I was extremely worried if I could ever have a stable career like my friends who are now at decent jobs and good positions. I had a shining academic journey with distinctions; in fact I was one of the favorite students of teachers. Now I see my friends, who passed with poor grades, excel in their professional fields.
This has been a great trigger for my depression in last few years. I used to blame myself that I am not competent enough to excel in professional life. Recently, I read if my disease has some connection with job inconsistency. I was pleasantly surprised to know I’m not the only bipolar patient who is going through this. Almost all bipolar people face some kind of difficultly in managing their disease and its outcomes on job. Also, there are some tips available online how to cope with this problem at work.
I have developed my own coping strategy. I accepted myself that I’m a patient suffering from a mental disorder. Well, I know it’s hard to accept. We all take medications to live like a normal person. There is absolutely no harm in it. But we should not think that these few medicines could make us a normal person. We are diagnosed as Bipolar and we take medication and therapies to ‘control’ our illness Not to become a normal person. Bipolar treatment teaches you how to treat your illness, and you can treat it well when you realize it and accept it. You don’t have to TRY TO BE NORMAL PERSON. You can’t do that because you cannot get this disease out of your mind. OK I seem to be talking rubbish, let me come to my point.
When you realize that you are a Bipolar, then you develop your own treatment. For instance, Job inconsistency, I was very disappointed with my job performance and frequent thoughts to change career. Now I said Ok, this is a serious problem and I have to face it all my life. So counseled myself that my friends who have stable jobs are not Bipolar, of course they must have their personal problems but not suffering from any mental disease. They neither have to struggle with their own thoughts nor do they take medicines before going to sleep. They too get happy, sad, depress, laugh out loud but don’t have a fear to get into bipolar depressive or manic episode. It means they are different than me and I should not judge myself on their scale or any normal social scale of a successful professional.
I read that some people have to take even 2 years of break from work and I cannot realize the effort they put in to get back into the field. I’m sure there must be single parents struggling with their disease and earning to feed their children. There are some bipolar patients who are in sales and marketing, and have to work under too much pressure of sales target and deadlines.
OK getting inspired by it, I should apply for job that matches my skills and let’s see what happens. What if I get a job and then quit it like before… So what? I will get another job.. Oh, but it doesn’t look good on my resume.. well who cares, life is a far more greater than few employments. There are thousands of things to do and millions of ways to earn. Most important is, your happiness. Get a job, enjoy your work, and make your ‘identity’. Explore yourself.
When I thought on these points I get confidence in myself that if they are doing then I can also do it. But the key is not to compare you with ‘normal’ people. When I see my friends making good money I lose my self-esteem but if I read about bipolar patients doing well in their fields, I get enough motivation to move a step forward.