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Working When You Suffer From Bipolar Disorder

Updated on July 10, 2017
LonnieSmalley profile image

My bipolar disorder makes it challenging for me to work and hold down a job, but I've learned a few helpful hints along the way.

Working with bipolar disorder

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Bipolar Disorder Job Tips

Hi there, I want to thank you for reading my article. Hopefully I can give you some information that may help you if you're suffering from bipolar disorder and are having difficulty holding down a job.

I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder about a decade ago. During that time I found it difficult to stay at any place of employment longer than two weeks—thanks mainly to my moods and anxiety. I always had a fear that people were judging me, and no matter how well I did I was on the verge of getting fired, at least in my head. Looking back, I realize these were silly thoughts. At one of these jobs I was actually named the employee of the month—but I decided not to go back to the job anymore.

I wouldn't even bother to tell companies that I quit. I would just not show up any longer and hope that they mailed me my paycheck. Sometimes I got one for the work I did, and sometimes I didn't. The times I didn't I just accepted it as a loss, and I didn't go back to pick it up.

For six years or so while I was not on that occasion for my bipolar, I had to depend on my wife to make all the money for my family. I was a stay-at-home dad for our three children. I actually found that difficult to do when I wasn't on my meds because I was irritated easily. I eventually got help due to Medicaid, and I am on quite a bit of medication for my mental illness.

My current job, however, I've held for almost five years. The main reasons I'm able to hold down this job are that I am taking my medication regularly and that this job allows me to work from home on my computer.

I've come up with a few tips to help others who suffer from bipolar disorder, or any similar mental health issues. They are listed below:

  1. When you do accept a job offer be sure to let your employer know about your condition so that they possibly will be more understanding when your mood changes strike. Most employers are willing to work with you at least a little bit and some even will allow you to miss days if you are in a depressive episode. It really depends on the employer and since bipolar disorder is a disabling illness concessions are usually made.
  2. If you suffer from anxiety try to find a job where you don't deal with the general public. Possibly even look into a work from home position like I'm doing. I moderate and engage on various clients social media pages. I've also heard of people being successful at teaching English over their computers via Skype as well as doing medical billing or transcribing documents.
  3. Try to find something that you enjoy. They always say if you find a job you enjoy, it doesn't feel like you're working. I enjoy using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, so my current job as a social media content specialist is a perfect fit for me. I don't really leave my home, so social media is really my only link to the outside world.
  4. See if you can start out part-time to determine whether or not the job will trigger any bipolar issues. For me, I was unable to work in retail, food service or face-to-face sales. I did like to do telemarketing assuming the cubicles were large enough where I didn't see my fellow employees. However, I still didn't last longer than three months at this type of job. In fact, my family owns an automotive repair shop and I couldn't even keep that job because my family seems to trigger severe anxiety whenever I'm around them.
  5. If you're on able to work try to get on Social Security disability. I know most of us hate the idea of having to accept money from the government but sometimes it is the only choice. There is no shame in having a disease like bipolar disorder and not being able to work. The process can take a while to get on disability especially with a mental illness so I suggest you contact a lawyer first.

I hope these tips help you in your job search or at the very least makes you realize you're not alone when it comes to having difficulty working when you suffer from bipolar.

I love this quote and find it to be wise words to live by!
I love this quote and find it to be wise words to live by!

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Another great flow about bipolar and just mental illness in general.
Another great flow about bipolar and just mental illness in general.

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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Bipolar is tough! I have two children with it, and I have anxiety myself! We go through periods of time where no one is thinking normally! One of my daughters has other issues as well, and once she ended up in the state hospital. That was when we were able to get her on disability, and it has been a life saver for her. Whenever she tried to work, she would become both physically and mentally ill. She is able to maintain at home on the medications. The other daughter, however, with the help of medications, has been able to stay employed. We do a lot of problem solving and cognitive behavioral therapy to help each other!