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Work and Bipolar Disorder


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hiya-

most of you know i'm on SSDI for my MI issues.

when i was in the work force, i went through job after job because i had work problems due to my disorders. i couldn't maintain any kind of balance, stability, or even work ethic. i felt like a miserable failure and the cycle would repeat. i had 13 jobs in under 3 years! and these are professional, salaried jobs, not mcdonald's jobs (nothing against mcdonald's jobs- they're often harder than salaried jobs and very thankless).

now i have a job, at least until i write to my boss tonight and resign. i've been there for about a week. i just can't handle the stress and my work ethic is down the drain. it isn't that i don't want to be productive, it is that every time i try i get discouraged and my will wanders from my tasks. that's the only way i can describe it. i'm also quitting because in the course of my training i've discovered that my job is more pushy sales than customer service (account manager for telecom), and i just can't do that. i think that part is normal anyway. i was taught manners as a child ;) .

so, do you guys have similar problems at work? different ones? how does your BP affect your ability to work?

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My work experierences have been interesting. I have trouble with staying motivated on the job. My attention span is also wavering. I'm not good at retail because I'm not pushy enough and I'm moody and temperamental at times so there's no guarantee that I'll always want to deal with people. I'm also a perfectionist and sometimes work too slowly for the sake of getting it "right." The worst piece of it, related to lack of motivation I guess, is the fact that sometimes I'll just not want to go to work. So I won't. I got fired from a good job for poor attendance and silly mistakes. It's really hard keeping a job with BP. I have a full time job lined up for the summer - I haven't worked full time in 4 years due to illness - and I'm not sure if I can do it.

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I tried to work for a while but I couldnt seem to get my tasks done, get along with co-workers, maintain regular attendence, etc.

So now I'm on SSDI.

The interesting thing is that I am now a full-time student and I can handle that. I get my work done, get along with my peers for the most part, and get to most of my classes most of the time.

But any time I try to pick up any type of job (I even recently tried to do a home based business) I go off the deep end.

Figure that out....

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wow- both of you- i have the same problems exactly! well said! i have a hard time going to work, and once there, staying motivated. like merchante, i have a hard time in retail because i'm just not the "assertive" type (i call most salespeople pushy) and if i can't fathom why someone would pay $65 for some face cream, then i can't sell it, no matter how much i like it (my last job was as an account manager=SALESPERSON for a telecom).

i need to do some kind of work because the SSDI they give me is being garnished due to "nonpayment" of student loans, even though i was paying them- those gov buttjerks (yes, i just made up "buttjerks" ;) ).

at least SSDI checks come in soon, even though i have so much on my bank account right now in bounce fees that half my check will get eaten right there and i won't have money for the rent, so i'll have to go to the National Bank of the Grandparents again...

i need some sort of job and just can't. i've tried working at a gas station, trying to get people to apply for airline credit cards in the airport, and "helping" customers with their phone bills since going on SSDI back in september. SSDI is such a gift- too bad i don't get a bigger check! :)

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Most of you know the severe problems I have had with employment lately--same as all of you, except I am an RN, and when I gfot distracted and made a mistake, it was a big one, and I got fired.

I am starting a new job in the AM--pharmaceutical research, which is very exacting and stressful, but I am only working avbout 3 days a week, so I hope that will help. And I have figured that a lot of my stress on the last job I had like this came from the company and the boss and the doctor I worked for, not the job itself. But we shall see--

BTW--I had applied for a retail job, making $10/hour selling motorcycle tee shirts and stuff--was turned down because my credit history shows that I have tons of unpaid medical bills, because I have't been working. DUH-- Now come on--I don't have the "character" to sell your shit-ass Honda tee shirt to pencil-neck kids and let you pay me $10/hour? Who fucking cares. They even ran a criminal record check on me--like I was going to be handling the crown jewels or something.

I will start getting my social security--$986/month--in August, so I think the part-time thing will be cool. My husband has great bennies, but hates his job--too bad, kiddo, you gotta keep working, you're 7 years younger than me.

I have had some really awful work experiences in the past few years, related to my "illness"--when I cycled like every half hour, it was a nightmare. That was also before the Crohn's was under control, and I would find myself shitting just whenever and whereever, with no control. I was a really lovely employee. It amazes me that any of us can ever get a job, far less keep it, far LESS ever get re=hired by anyone. I sure as hell wouldn't hire me in a million years--

I do well around the house--"15 minutes at a time" and I have a schedule of sorts--well acvtually I use FLYLady.net--but it has helped me get rid of a lot of shit, cause I am a KEEPER of the higest sort.

china

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I work as a private consultant, which theoretically means I can get up when I want, sit in my pyjamas all day and not have direct contact with people unless it's for meetings. The downside is no work- no pay, which was not the case when I was working a regular 9-5 job in a big university. The salary just miraculously appeared in my bank account every month

My very worst job experience was when I was hired to manage the postgraduate section of my faculty. I SUCK at management and I had to deal with horrendous staff disciplinary issues - one example was a guy who'd been warned several times about harrassment of female students, and had to have a formal hearing with union members etc. I lasted in that post for 5 months, then wrote a seriously dramatic resignation letter while I was under the influence of painkillers following some minor back surgery. I sent the letter to EVERYONE I could possibly think of, and still cringe about it.

But basically I was enormously lucky when working there, b/c they refused to accept my resignation and placed me elsewhere. Unfortunately for them this was around the time I started having breakdowns, and I was hospitalised in the loony bin 5 times. I think they were glad to get rid of me when I emigrated to the States.

I battle enormously with my lousy attention span and tend to leave the final completion of "deliverables" (consultant speak hahaha) til the eleventh hour, when I slip into panic mode and screech through everything. I do meet my deadlines though. I thought for a long time that there was something wrong with me b/c I can't cope with interminable dreary work on the 9-5 basis that many (most?) people seem to find acceptable. I work in spurts, but I get things done, I manage to sound vaguely intelligent in meetings and I'm being trusted enough to do a lot of travelling in the second half of this year. So it may be that I've found the right medium for me.

Trust me though, if I didn't have outrageous bills - esp meds and doctors - I'd just lie in bed all day.

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I've worked for the same large corporation for 10 years - I have been fortunate to find work I'm good at (although I hate it) and to have enough motivation to keep me going. A disabled kid tends to make me stick to it regardless of my MI. Now I couldn't leave if I wanted to. Too many benefits and I make half my household income.

I'm what they call "High Functioning," apparently, which I tend to interpret to mean I push myself until I wind up in the hospital.

My ability to manipulate my own mood has gotten better over the years and I suspect that helps a lot. There are some lines I can't cross, though, and I have to take a day off or something.

I take more sick days than a lot of people but since I have a disability it doesn't cause any flak. Overall I'm pretty lucky.

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I dunno - I've been fairly successful work wise. Granted I've mainly worked for my dad so he has been really leniant with me at times. In 2005, he paid me for FT even though I was working PT so I could get benefits while I was cracking up. Even while I was in the hospital for a week. He's understanding about doc appts and for awhile would let me be late or leave weekly to go to tdoc. That being said I work pretty damn hard for him even though I don't want to. There is also the possibility of me taking over the company which scares the shit out of me, but that is another story.

Bad news is I can't slack on showing up. Maybe that is good news. His work ethic is that one shows up unless it is a physical impossibiity, so days off are for vaca or serious illness. While I am at work I may not have that much to do and slack, but that is a different story as well.

All in all I think I am lucky to be working for my dad. I can't blow work off if I wanted to, or there is this whole "letting down daddy" thing that goes back to childhood I guess. The structure is good, the pay is good, the commute is 15 minutes, the benefits are good, I get to work off some daddy issues (or feed into them whatever), he is leniant when I need it, but strict all the other times... It forces me to be responsible. He gets a lot out of it too - he likes the idea of passing the company to a child, he has someone he trusts in the office, he (pretty much) knows everything that is going on with me so can keep tabs, he has a control over me that I don't think he ever had, even during my childhood.

That's my story as coherantly as I can put it.

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I haven't worked since 2005, where I had to quit two summer jobs in a row, ending up in the hospital. I have held jobs down before, and studying too, but it all got too much. I am optimistic that I will get back to work soon.

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In going thru Kay Jamisons text on Manic Depressive Illness, there are widely varying figures but some estimates put it that only about 30% of bipolars are able to sustain work. Pretty shocking.

However, many of the studies are from the late 60's through 80's before most of of our present drugs were available. I suspect that things are improving with better meds and understanding of the disease. Still, it's not an easy struggle.

a.m.

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Believe it or not, I had a great work history until I started taking meds. I worked as a temporary office assistant most of the time, and it was the best thing for me. I did move a lot, so the temp thing fit right in with that. Then I "settled down" and started taking permanent jobs, and medication. While the meds have - supposedly - stabled out my moods, my work history has gone down the toilet. I realized that I just don't like the corporate world and all of it's games. I realized that working in an office as a full time employee was a lot different than working as a temp. The politics were different. In the five years since I've started taking meds and working as a "full time" employee, I've had more jobs than I can remember. Though I did go back to temping for a few years after I quit one job...

I went without a job for long periods of time this year -there were other factors than bi polar, but the major depression and rapid cycling didn't help. I can't work as an office assistant any more, so I have to find another "career".

Right now, I'm working as a cashier in a gas station and I'm actually liking it. I'm not digging the paycheck because I can hardly pay my bills on what they're paying me, but I like the work. No drama, no corporate games, just do the job and go home - I can do that.

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My problems start before I even get the job. The application process has been a big trigger for me. I start getting paranoid that they are calling my references & have horrible delusions regarding what people must be saying about me. Last time this happened I was cycling like crazy between being sure I was the best person for the job, and being positive they were going behind my back to try to have me committed. I function reasonably well taking care of the house and the kids, so dh has always supported my housewife status. Mostly, I thank my lucky stars to have an understanding spouse and well behaved children.

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AM-

that is so interesting! thinking about those numbers in today's terms, i bet they would be only slightly different. i think that because while we have new drugs to treat bp, the drugs and cocktails we take have heavy side effects and often make it imnpossible to work, just given those side effects. our moods may be stable, but who can work on seroquel, a drug that makes you look like a druggie and sleep 15+ hrs a day? or on topamax, a drug that made me so manic i didn't sleep for 2 weeks and did a lot of reckless things on?

i said in my application for SSDI that often the side effects of our meds are as bad or worse than the disorders themselves. and this can really be true. i don't want to hurt myself, and i would if not for my drugs, so i take my drugs. however, without the drugs i can amazingly work and hold jobs. i attribute it to the side effects. my pdoc calls my main side effect "mental blunting". he means just a general "duh". the adderall helps just because it gets rid of the ADD stuff that contributes, but still, i have a lot of side effects and i'm sure we all do.

so, i really don't think it would be much different. judging from this small sample of the bp population here, i see that many of our fellow bp sufferers have the same work issues. i don't know - i think it is 13- how many great jobs i've lost in the past years due to bp.

those stats really helped me to see the picture. thank you.

loon ;)

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I do okay working, at least in spurts. Luckily for me, when I'm hypomanic and 'up' I seem to be able to do a wonderful job. I'm charming, creative, work at twice the speed of everyone else, and everyone thinks I'm great. This seems to carry me through the times when I'm depressed and unmotivated, or irritable and snarky and unable to settle down long enough to do anything. I've always been really lucky in that I've had very understanding bosses who have had a ton of patience with the whole bipolar thing. For me, "Sorry.... bad medication day," has been an acceptable excuse at several jobs. It's also been helpful that at the jobs I've had I'm not usually closely supervised.

If someone looks closely at my resume though, they would notice that every job change has been in February. Coincidence? Uh, probably not.

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Hmmm, I must be the BP poster child... I've been in continuous work for 20+ years, albeit with more jobs than I can remember. I had a rough time over the last couple of years as the dx sort of knocked the stuffing out of me, and then work went really bad, but I'm back again. The meds can now keep me stable and hopefully running at 110%. I can sustain 110% indefinitely and be very, very productive, but if I push it any further it becomes a slippery slope to mania then mixed then depression, so I just have to watch the meds closely.

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this topic got me thinking. I'm not BP but major depressive so i don't get the mania, just varying degrees of feeling down, down, down.

When i think back to my work history, when I'm at my worst I slack off a lot whenever possible, taking long lunches just to get the hell out of there, reading non-work things, surfing the web reading the newspaper online etc. Not because I'm a slacker, not at all. I have very high marks in all my university subjects, am a perfectionist, etc.

Anyway, when I am depressed, unhappy, have no fun in life, and work sux, I just NEED to do these things to stay sane. Sometimes I can only get through the morning with the knowledge that come lunch time I get to take a break, get out of there and buy some food and a magazine to read. That's what keeps me going. Same as I sometimes take many little breaks in the day to do something non-work, just so I don't go mental, it's kind of vital that I do that.

Also my MI makes me tend to be a bit of a loner. I doubt my ability to socialise so just keep to myself. It's less stressful when you dont have to worry what others are thinking of you etc.

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hi all-

hey angeljasmine, i'm the opposite of you. when i'm in depression is when i do my best work. it is like i'm distracted from depression and have a chance to get out all of the creativity- yes, creativity- that depression brings me. when i'm hypo or manic, that's when i slack off. i just can't concentrate or focus my abilities on anything. i'll skip work entirely with lame excuses, do everything to excess, and generally be a harm to myself and others. at work i'm snarky and intolerable. i just sit there and stare at the computer screen, and may crack a joke or two and then go off to help someone (i was an IT contractor/consultant).

sometimes in mania, i'd go to the bar that was in my office building at work, and get totally smashed, and come back to work like that. people on the phone (help desk work) usually loved me and wondered why they got such a happy help desk person when normally help desk drones are robots. lucky for them i was both manic AND drunk! ;) mwhahahah

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I've been working as a manager in a public library for 10 years now, but only 3 years since I've been diagnosed as BP. They are really good about FMLA and letting me arrange my schedule for all my doc appointments and therapy sessions. The work seems harder now that I'm on the meds and I've gone through ECT (my memory used to be better). I do like my job though, at least most days.

Tommy

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I just quit a temp job I had for six months. They wouldn't hire me permanently cause I wasn't fast enough (data entry). I sat there every day paranoid and afraid that they would fire me, and I just couldn't take it anymore. Once I get it into my head to do something, like quit a job, I do it. So I did. Now I'm jobless and freaking out a little. I've been applying everywhere short of retail, fast food, and telemarketing. But I have a problem with not returning phone calls and flaking out on responsibilities.

The few good, long-term jobs I've had, I've screwed up by letting depression get to me. I just get distracted so easily, which slows me down at work.

I'm so jealous of cats, because they don't have to worry about this sort of stuff. Depressed? Snuggle with human. Hungry? Go to food bowl. Tired? Curl up and sleep. Cold? Lie in sun. No worries except for when Owner wants to dress you in a sweater.

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