1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Readers Respond: The Effect of Bipolar Disorder at Work

Responses: 151


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? Share Your Stories

Such inner sadness

I understand so much of the comments here! I have extensively suffered my whole life trying to just be normal and keep a job and feel happy inside. No matter what I do I just break down many days per week and can not keep a job full stop. I am so upset knowing that I can't support myself and to top it off I have no family or wealth at all. The suffering I have had can only perhaps be comprehended by other sufferers. I smile as others cringe and cower from death... I genuinely look forward to the peace I will have and the escape from human beings who in the vast majority make me deeply unhappy due to the selfish and cold calis ways. Good luck to all of you and remember Life is over rated!
—Guest Paul

BP at work

I was just diagnosed bp1 in July with the worst depression I've ever had. I've dealt with this disease since I was in my early teens I'm 23 now so 10 years is about right. I've had dozens of jobs got laid off and quit more than I want to count. Stress triggers my episodes and lack of sleep. My jobs have always been chaotic as has been my performance some weeks, months I can't even perform simple tasks assigned other times I can handle everything and more no problem. My current job means I'm a plumber with great insurance and a boss who understands that some days I can not function. It's been stressful these last 6months since my meds turned me into a rapid cycler 3 weeks depression to 1 week manic to 1 day "normal" then rinse and repeat over and over. I was missing 1-3 days of work a week and my boss was completely understanding. I'm just hoping I don't get fired or laid off but so far I can say I'm employed. I can't say it's been easy, but the future looks hopeful.
—Guest Noah

I wish I had never told them

My boss treats me like I have the I.Q. of an infant. She has told me before (back when I couldn't stick up for myself) that I should find a new line of work, because this wasn't the right one for me due to my 'issues'. The assistant manager told me they fired someone bipolar after a common issue because she was a liability. I don't feel my job is safe. I have a B.A. but I am working part time in retail because I can't find anything better. My meds have ruined my memory; I can't remember most of what I learned in school, nor can I remember peoples' faces. I feel like I have to try twice as hard as my coworkers to make it look like I am good at my job. Also, my coworkers know I have bipolar and have no issues with it. The store manager who replaced the one who hired me has decided I don't belong in this job due to my 'issues'.
—Guest Nuke


I can relate to so many of these stories. I was diagnosed at @ age 38. I have been dealing with the diagnosis for about 9 years. I taught young children most of my life and think I am a pretty good and patient teacher. My main symptoms are periods of depression/sleepiness and anxiety brought on by stress. when anious I have difficulty with my memory, names the most. It is embarrasing to forget children's names. A new principal and teacher that were very passive/aggressive put me over the edge. It is too overwhelming to teach. I tried subbing and that was worse. I can pull it off but come home so exhausted I had no life. I have been staying home this school year. I love writing and illustrating kids books so I have a creative outlet I love that keeps me in my field. Maybe I will make money with it some day. My husband is not really happy that I am not working. He makes good money but has his own anxiety issues too. He seems to be coming around. Guilt doesn't help.
—Guest Tara Fischer

having trouble getting a job

I have not been diagnosed yet but looking at the pattern ive been having for the past 4 yrs and having a close friend tell me that he can see several of the symptoms i am pretty sure i have some form of bp. Anyway ive been having problems with keeping a job because i get too overwhelmed or very stressed or depressed and quit. Because of my record of quitting i feel that no one wants to hire me....and why should they all i ever do is leave anyway...what do i do i seriously need income :( and always try to to my best to stay and tough it out.
—Guest lisa

I haven't been diagnosed yet...

I have worked in the legal field for over 13 years. My first job I quit after my grandmother passed away and they told me that I had 4 days of paid leave. I was offended and used that as my excuse. The next job I had wasn't as structured. I was allowed to make my own schedule and worked 20-30 hours per week. Also, my boss seemed excited when I couldn't focus on the cases and I wanted to clean out the office or redecorate his. He hired me to do a number of other odd jobs for him from painting his condo (I'm an excellent painter) to helping his 80 yo mother learn how to use the computer. When things got rough he didn't care that I missed work. Probably because he was not required to pay me but it was still extremely helpful. I could work as much or as little as I needed to. At one point I became so focused that he was able to take on a large enough case load to hire another employee to help me. I haven't been able to find steady work since. I'm realizing I'm probably bipolar
—Guest Guest St. Louis


Those of you who are able to work, please tell me what you do that helps you be able to work?! I want to work but get stressed out on the easiest of jobs. The last two years I haven't been able to hold a job longer than one month and most only two weeks. I really, really want to work and would love to get ideas on how to cope with the ups and downs. I'm in a manic phase now. I just had my lamictal upped to 200 mg from 100 and feel much better than the hypomanic and depressed periods. I've been going through several moods a week sometimes a day. Anyway, right now I"m manic so I think I'm rambling but please tell me the ways you guys control your triggers and deal with the daily ups and downs. Holding out a small glimmer of hope that I can work. Thanks!
—Guest Donald

In a web

Because I can't use my disorder as an excuse to call out, I have to lie. Then I spend the whole day not only depressed, but also with extreme feelings of guilt and self loathing for letting my boss and coworkers down. I am close to my first disciplinary action so I worry incessantly about it. I've been able to manage my disorder before. But to be around people is really painful. Its getting so hard to appear normal for any length of time. I finally found my niche and if I screw it up, I'll never bounce back! Never.
—Guest Candy


I've relapsed this past week. My moods just went from happy, to irritated, and to depressed. It is really hard for me to keep a job. The past couple of jobs I've had has been stressful and every time I reach my limits, I would relapse. My changes in moods are associated with auditory and visual hallucinations which makes it really difficult for me to maintain my cool at work. Concentration is difficult for me because I keep getting these horrible brain fogs or zombie daze. What can you do? Just deal with it I guess. The longest job I've held was for 5 years but with breaks. I've had problems with attendance because I would relapse, mostly due to stress. The company closed and so I did a couple of odd jobs after that. Maybe I am running away from stressful situations. It really does suck.
—Guest Blue

Less stressful work still overwhelms me

I figured working from home would be the solution to my being able to work with bipolar, but I am finding that, just like with out of the home work, even the least stressful of work overwhelms me somehow or the other. How in the world can I make a comfortable, fulfilling living?
—Guest PoppyBlue

Stuck in the wrong job

I have bipolar type 1. It seems to have gotten worse over 20 years, but I have sought help and feel like it's more under control than ever before. Still, the medications don't work all the time, and where I really have problems is at work. I got laid off my job 3 years ago, I know that was my employer's nice way of getting rid of me instead of firing me. I had problems concentrating, and being manic at work, making my co-workers uncomfortable. I have a temp job now, I have been trying for 3 years to get a regular full-time job, but I think I come across as odd in job interviews. I have 15 years experience in my field, and I feel stuck. When I first started this career, I got knots in my stomach the first week driving to work. Somehow I kept at it for 15 years, and it's all wrong for me, especially now, I can't do to well with the stress. But it's hard to change careers, especially in this economy. I feel scared that because I can't concentrate at times, I will lose my temp job.
—Guest jdub


I have been terminated from almost every job I have had.The latest one I loved,worked at Lake Mead for the National Park Service.o lasted one month

public accepting you disorder

Most of my close friends accept my disorder and treat me as they would anyone else. It's the public that won't.

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

Share Your Stories

The Effect of Bipolar Disorder at Work

Receive a one-time notification when your response is published.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.