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Readers Respond: The Effect of Bipolar Disorder at Work

Responses: 138


Updated April 30, 2009

Bipolar disorder may have a significant effect on your ability to perform your job, to get to work, or to hold a job. How have you been affected by having bipolar disorder?

Living the BP Life and Changing

It is so comforting to read all of these posts. Knowing I am not alone helps me. I am 26, had BP for years and got diagnosed back a few years ago. Unfortunatley due to the health insurance situation in the country I couldnt seek help until recently. I almost lost my job, my amazing soon to be wife, spent money like there wasnt any tomorrow... the whole shebang. Now i am on Lamictal and I control my triggers, talk about my disorder with my fiancee, and have a good support system. The only down part is my job. They absolutley will nto work with me on controlling my triggers, and when I went to them telling them they needed to be flexible with me to avoid a manic episode, i ended up in HR with the head of HR explaining myself in which I had to tell them I am BP2.. looking at my options there to help make it better. But life is so different, and makes me greateful I got help before it ruined everything in my life.
—Guest seeingbetter things

Figuring it out

Reading all the responses I see a common thread. We all seem to want to be better and to be understood just the way we are. I was diagnosed with BP2 in 2003. Last year I had to take a medical leave of abcense and joined in an outpatient psych group. I think finally my meds are correct. Now I realize the job I've had for the past 3 years is all wrong. Its highly stressfull and has caused a decline in my overall health. After a needed medical procedure is completed next month I'm going to resign and begin teaching elementary school in a smaller town. Now I'm 50 I think I may have begun to get the hang of this thing we call life. Lol! ;-)
—Guest Molly

Stressed Out

Hi Im 29 years old been working at my new job for almost a year. Everday Im at work I feel like im being harrassed and picked on by my employer and employees. I went out on a stress leave from work and just returned. I decided that I would go part time because full time seemed to be to much and I was starting to get fustrated with work 40 + hours a week. I was called to the office and told that I needed to leave the property and be evaluated by one of there psychologist guess what now IM REALLY PISSED. So whats going to happen I have to sign a release and there going to find out im bipolar and have PTSD well guess ill be fired. What the hell now im really stressed out worried if there going to say that im not able to work because of my condition what am I to do Im just so dame stressed!!!! Im taking my meds and I was planning on having a better and brighter future look like all my dreams have gone down the drain What am I to do.
—Guest cole

Bi Polar is a happy fun feeling!! NOT

The ups and downs are insane. The ups have a crash, and so do the downs. Its' incredibly draining, and you'd think with it so frequent that we'd ajust and work around it somehow. . I know there is a balance, and fighting it will only increase these symptoms. Be proud of who you are, because im sure you've been through plenty! and now you're on your way to a good thing. Thats one of the plus sides to BP. your idea's are grand, they always include something that will result in a benifet for us, and they are always more then we can chew. but often, and i say often not very confidently, but often, its something that we can manage, and we will do good!! Yes, the stigma and ignorance from public eye is overwhelming, and can cause most of us to withdrawl. Sometimes the pychotic phase in an episode can cause so much damage, and then we are left with the broken-broken pieces. Perhaps if you're on the negative side of your bi polar in life, you could be on the wrong medication, or misdiagnosed
—Guest Ang

Energy ups and downs

Everyone at my work is aware that I am bipolar and it doesn't seem to faze them...one coworker is often worried that I will get overwhelmed...but I assure her that I'll let everyone know when I'm overwhelmed. I can handle a lot and I want to. It means that I'm healthy. My energy level can be hard to manage. There are period where I want to just stare at my screen for hours or anything but the task at hand. What helps is that I've talked to some coworkers about this and they've assured me, it isn't just bipolar people who have these ups and downs of energy. Everyone in the office experiences some form of it. We sometimes work as a team to promote healthier habits that will increase our mood and energy...like taking a walk at lunch, drinking more water, etc. I'm so lucky. My last job was the exact opposite and I felt like I was pushed out when I reported I was bipolar and was having difficulty with the work. I would never want to work in an office like that again.

running away

i run away from people. i tend to love them but not be able to prove it. so people think im false. so im always avoiding this stress this is why im always running from every job i get and the reason im always afraid to go to work. to have relationships with other people that arent the ones who already know you and understand you. im always afraid of what people say about me when im not around. but then again this is just normal. this is just the way people are. people always talk about everyone either they like this person or not. the thing is i always thought id be false if i was friend to someone and then talk bad things about her. but then again this is just the way people are...
—Guest carol


I can't get up and make it to my job on time. I've been extremely lucky in that my boss understands what's happening. To make up for the time I'm late, I stay past "quitting time."


I 'm going to make an appt with the dr. Im not sure if its social anxiety or bipolar. My problem has been keeping a job I have been like this for years my husband thinks I'm lazy and dont want to work.I do I just either quit or leave or dont go at all beleave me knowone wants to be this way.It's tough and its even tougher when some people abandon u or get upset because they think your up and down because you want to be and you don't want to be.
—Guest gretchen

Perhaps a Benefit?

When I look at my department, and the reduction of people over the years due to layoffs, I wonder if perhaps my bipolar disorder is the reason I still have my job. There are only three people left in my position, and each of us is a 'statistic': the Female One, the Black One, and the Mental One (me). I wonder if they're afraid to let me go because of a potential discrimination lawsuit.
—Guest Carlson

cafeteria clerk

i work 40 hrs a week with bipolar 1 sometimes it is very hard i have very understanding people to help me out im so thankful
—Guest DeeDee Thomas

Cannot work full-time

I am bipolar and cannot work a 40-hour week. I either get manic and nervous-or depressed. I am very poor at multitasking, and I cannot handle meanness or being micromanaged. I am working part-time and going to a day program for a couple of hours three days a week. I wish I could work full-time, but at least I have friends, a nice guy, and pursuits that serve my community.
—Guest bibiana

It Just Gets Harder

Working with Bipolar is extremely hard. You can't discuss it for fear of being judged, but when your employers ask you what's wrong lately and why your performance has been slacking, its the only explanation, and it sounds like excuses. I don't want to even work anymore. I loved my job when I got it. I was so happy! It was my dream job. Now I am scared to even go in because I am in a low and people can see it and keep asking why I'm not my bubbly self. I try to brush it off and say im fine, but I just can't hide my lows. To top it off, i have been like this since i was three and i thought i had it under control. i just upped my dose of meds, just in time for a low to kick in and for them to not work. I get Vertigo from too much stress which has made me pass out and vomit at work....this has been hell.
—Guest barely there

I've dealt with it

I was diagnosed with Bipolar when I was 16 and I am now 23. Sometimes I'd max out my aunt & Uncle's credit cards on the most stupidest of things, like I bought 5 of the same really expensive jackets that I thought I needed. I would walk for miles and miles and sometimes not come back for 3-4 days. I'd finally crash and the thoughts of suicide I had were terrible, I'd feel like that for a week, My uncle literally took everything out of my room and locked himself in there with me just to make sure I didn't hurt myself. When I was finally diagnosed it all made perfect sense. I'd feel overwhelming guilt after my manic episodes, and I was forever saying sorry to the people that I'd hurt. For the past 5 years though, I've taken control of my life. I am now married and have a little girl, I'm on medication and I never forget to take it, I'm also in University studying Psychology and Criminology. I find coping with my condition much easier when I have something to focus on. It gets better!
—Guest Maddee

help me

here in the philippines its very difficult to be diagnosed we only have few psychiatrist, but i know i am a bipolar, i have the same symptoms as you have and im a teacher and im messing up my job right now i dont know is there any future of me beingteacher. im scared of my future now after reading your messages, i lost best jobs ever and i dont know if ill evr have another one. sometimes i am aware but i cant be bothered and im affecting my children, im not with them and my partner is in a denial state that i have one. pls help
—Guest jai

mother of a bipolar teen

Hello all and hugs all round...as the mother of a bipolar teen I acknowledge your pain..I see many of the things you describe in my own daughter..she has had a real struggle since her diagnosis of bipolar 2 at age 17. K is a smart, creative, caring person who has learned the hard way about who to trust and who to offer her caring and compassion to..she is stable right now but has been through the 'ringer' as you all have...some things we have both noticed though..Fall is especially hard for K to cope and the suggestion of a SAD light is something we will try-also a daily vit. D with the lithium that seems to help right now..finding a job that isn't stressful, exercise, being kind and accepting of herself, realizing that she has to live life like 'an athlete'..a lot of regularity of habits and sleep patterns to maintain a balance. Trying to avoid 'drama' whenever and wherever possible. Awareness and acceptance that while K has limitations she can still live a good life.Love helps.
—Guest J.S

Marcia Purse
About.com Bipolar Disorder

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