Eric's Tips for Succeeding in the Workplace
To have bipolar disorder is to experience constant change. Your mood, energy, impulse control, and life goals could radically transform within a very short period of time. While bipolar disorder is a long, changing process, the workplace is defined by routines and consistency.
Many people ask whether or not it’s possible to work while living with bipolar disorder, and the answer is yes! The road may be full of obstacles; beginning a job or maintaining a thriving career is possible for people with bipolar disorder.
Our society is much more accepting and accommodating to those with disorders today than it was even several years ago, especially the workplace. Here is how to achieve success in the workplace with bipolar disorder:
Track Your Symptoms
Accurate self-monitoring is essential both at work and at home. Patterns of symptom changes can be observed and recorded: are you impacted by the changing seasons or rainy days? Do some work tasks swing your bipolar symptoms more than others?
People with bipolar disorder learn that periods of mania or severe depression last for finite periods of time, and understanding these shifts will provide the information you need to move forward.
Take Care of Yourself
If you find your mood declining or your ability to sleep has become a problem, use your self-help skills! Check-in with your therapist and your prescriber, call a friend or speak with a family member. Only once you have taken care of yourself will you be able to care for others.
Do Not Keep It a Secret
Always advocate on your own behalf in the workplace. Do you have a human resources associate, a union representative or an understanding supervisor? Speak to them!
If a medical provider has diagnosed you with your disability, you are eligible to participate in the Americans with Disabilities Act; you cannot be fired from your position because of your disability. On the contrary, you may qualify for special accommodations.
Use the information you have gathered and communicate this to the appropriate person(s). Chances are you will be provided with helpful resources, and access to the Employee Assistance Program (which provides counseling) or information about the Family Medical Leave Act, which can extend your time off.
Build a Plan of Action
When your symptoms are under control, come up with a plan with your employer that details the course of action to be taken when your symptoms spike. Be honest with yourself and with your employer.
Provide information about previous depressive and manic episodes and let them know what interventions have proved helpful. Be a good listener — your employer may have ideas you have not yet considered.
Know When to Walk Away
Be realistic about the impact work is having on you and your ability to perform duties as required. Not every job is right for everyone; people change, symptoms change, and knowing when to walk away from a detrimental situation should be considered a success. Always be fair to yourself.