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Can BP'ers be teachers? Can teachers be BP?

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I was wondering if there are any teachers out there who have BP disorder. My pdoc actually told me that it is not a good job for me(too stressful). I didn't like the previous 2 schools I was at, but this one, I loved. I worked at an Art Charter school and taught my favorite subject-math. I had my "meeting" with my principal yesterday and the first thing he said was, " I'm afraid I have bad news." Ya think! And he wouldn't tell me why. That is something that is really driving me insane-not knowing what I did. Sucks. I know I was kind of "stoned" on all my meds and people noticed (including students). Some students threatened to start a petition to get me fired. Some other kids went to the other schools where i got fired and knew about it.

IMHO, kids today are respected above teachers. As a teacher, you are too busy trying not to do or say anything stupid. God forbid you give someone an "F". Or give them a referral. I know from experience with me and others that if you give out too many (not sure how many is too many) then you are more than likely to get the axe. It is not polically and legally correct to be a teacher without walking on eggshells.

I know-it sounds like-"You're a teacher-why???". I can't imagine doing anything else. I have never worked a "9-5" job where you work every day and every week and all summer. I know this might sound bad , but I especially like making a fairly good salary for working about 9 months out of a year. Just when I think I can't handle it anymore, I get a random day off, 2 1/2 weeks at Christmas, spring break, and, best of all-summer-which I get paid for. (4 more days).

Are there any other teachers out there who are coping with the oxymoronish teacher/bipolar combo??

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Mel , I think your pdoc is full of shit.

I work with children in many different situations, and it was not my having bipolar1 if there was a problem.

Hell I had problems, emptying trashcans or getting out of bed for weeks, or being all over the place, if as VE is referring too, the meds are not right.

Don't give up on you and what yhou want to do.

Do find new pdoc, that is so willing to just give your career the boot, and not look elsewhere, listen to you, see you.

And please do look at how are your meds working for you?

I know it sucks to make med changes, but that is much better alternative, and healthier, right?

If that is problem, just going on my gut, and what I let happen to me.

Good Luck

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Hey Mel,

I'm not bi-polar but I do have major depression and am a teacher. I think it is an incredibly stressful job but I find that I can manage part-time better than full time. I currently work four days a week, with Wednedays off, and having that day in the middle to recoup is important. Esp. after days like today where a kid got me so angry that I tossed his rubbish back at him and ranted. I'm still exhausted after it, and disappointed that I let him make me so angry...

I think the holidays are great for managing the stress as well - personally and professionally.

Anyway, teaching is managable if you have to right support. Hang in there! The world needs devoted teachers.

Maybe get your meds checked, consider part-time.



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Thanks for the info. and input. My pdoc doesn't take my insurance anymore, so I have to change pdocs anyway. My neuropsych. just recently became a pdoc and she is very positive and upbeat(which is sometimes annoying!) but I think I will go back to her. I was waiting for summer to change meds. because I didn't want to get fired for flipping out and I was functioning ok-I think. Maybe not. I am so not looking forward to going to work today. But this is the last week before summer and I still get paychecks all summer.

Just a little question: VE- I read up on those websites and the thing that really sticks out for me was (of course, the only negative thing) that out of all the professions, teaching is one of the few where you can't be a teacher(at least if anyone knows you are MI). And, worst of all, I read that the state can deny or revoke your license if you are MI. Is there any truth to this? I would really like to ask for accommodations and use the ADA for protection for getting the boot at my next job(if I get one). Of course, I would have to tell them After I am hired or else I probably won't get hired anywhere. It's kind of like being pregnant and starting a new job-to tell or not to tell.

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That sucks that you lost your job... and it's kinda depressing for me because I want to teach. I have plans (once I figure out how) to finish my education and teach English as a Second Language. My plan is to teach either High School or Community College. It's a downer to think that the job may be too stressful for someone with MI because after considering my options for a good and long time, I thought it would be the perfect job for me.

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(not a teacher, but am BPI and deal with my nieces teachers on an almost daily, sometimes multiple times in a day, basis)

I would think that being MI (and treated) would give teacher an advantage with kids. Except for the stress that it may cause for the teacher. I know that I had some REALLY "eccentric" teachers in HS and I was always more comfortable with them. Even if sometimes they were a little extreme.

As far as kids nowadays, I totally agree to a certain extent. It appears (to me) that kids nowadays are kind of wussified/pussified. I don't agree that they should be treated like I was as a teenager, but with all the over-protection they get now...I just don't know how they are going to get by on their own. I think that's probably due to the fact that many kids now are being raised by kids that went through what I went through as a child/teenager and perhaps that is why their parents are so over-involved, over-indulged and over-protected. Nothing like having been ignored as a child to cause one to "hover" over your own child. [Just my thoughts. Nothing to back that up.]

I know that here in our state (OK) teachers don't get paid for summer break. They have to find temporary work during summer. Then again, they are seriously underpaid here for the job they do. They don't get the benefits I think they should either. But that's a separate rant best for another thread.

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I don't know about teaching, but I can vouch for the fact that is pretty obvious you can't be a nurse--1 job lasted 6 weeks, the other 4 days. Hmm--

I was doing pretty well, I thought, but obviously my various MI's have interferred with the memory I have/had of how to BE a nurse, what to do and when and how. And I am almost 100% sure that if I was "out" about my BP and ADD, I wouldn't even have gotten an interview--so add nursing to that list.

Mel, I know how you feel--but hopefully you can get things together and go back in the fall.

Just another very unfair thing--I guess I just never expected any of this to happen, and I just don't know how to deal with it.


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i'm not a teacher either, but i dealt with them in k-college graduation, so i can empathize.

i hope you get to go back in the fall.

have you considered substituting? i have a friend now who is graduating with his teaching certificate and will be subbing. he's not MI but does find teaching to be stressful, and can subsist on the sub's salary, so only wants to do that.

i swear some of my teachers were bipolar or depressed, or in the very least quite stressed out. i think that you need to be careful in that profession, because the kids can be terrible and make it worse for you than it already is. however, maybe with a med change you won't look stoned and will be able to be yourself more and not be so affected by the meds. i know that when i was taking some of my old meds that everyone at work thought i was a stoner. i've never inhaled let alone been a stoner! :)

i would say this to a pregnant woman too- coming out about your MI has its share of advantages and disadvantages. obviously a pregnant woman will have a very rough time overcoming that discriminatiopn. personally, if i were pregnant but n ot showing and looking for work, i'd never tell them.

as far as coming out about MI, i've had mixed results. you're supposed to be protected under the ADA, however we all know that you can get canned for any reason they invent. all you have to do is say the wrong thing once and they'll harp on that as termination grounds. that happened to me in one of my jobs and litigation is still going on over a year later. i'm suing them under the ADA, and of course, they claim i did this and that to be canned. however, all my performance reviews rocked, so they're going to have a difficult time proving that i didn't get canned because i asked for accomodations. i only asked to be able to go to the docs and for a phone that lights up and instead of ringing (so my ptsd doesn't get out of whack).

then i've also had good experiences with telling, and good and bad experiences wtih not telling.

in this new job i have, i haven't told yet, but i think i'm going to claim that a "neurological" problem needs to be addressed, hence i need to get out of work a little early once a week to go to the doc.

you could always claim to have a neurological problem or something. it is kinda on the border of being wrong medically, but it is neurological in a way, right?

that's just for those a-holes who think that we're going to spazz out because we're bp. the only reason i ever spazz is because i'm given mroe to do than i can do, or because i get treated like crap. if they were just a little more reasonable maybe i'd never spazz. ;)

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I think "referrals" are something the teacher gives out as a form of punishment. at least this was true of my educational years. like the 1st one is a paper stating how you disbehaved and a parent has to sign it so the teacher knows the parent knows. and then the 2nd one would be lunch detention...etc etc...

and i was an angel and only received one referral in my whole schooling - and that was because i couldnt do a freakin pull-up in gym when i was 15. ;)

mel - i didnt want to say this...but will now. yes, i too have seen the websites that talk about some states/schools not giving credentials or licensure to people dx'd MI and/or taken MI pills in past.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Thinking back and thinking realistically, i now realize that I was under a great amount of stress this past year. I was taking extra meds almost every day to hold on to my sanity. I thought I was fine because "fine" to me seems to be "not batshit crazy". I had a lot of emotional distress, irritability. I'm wondering if teaching is not the best thing for me to be doing and what kind of job I could have that doesn't involve working 8 to 5 daily in a high-stress atmosphere. Any ideas?

DB- Did you have a baby yet? And congrats, BTW. I haven't been around here in a long while. It's because I was working full time, going to school full time, and having two small children full time. No time! Anyway, how can anyone know about your dx or rx with privacy laws?

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I am a middle school art teacher and I just finished my 13th year. I'm also have bipolar, ADHD, and anxiety.

I looooooooooooooooove my job. Love it. It can be stressful but I've had many jobs that I found to be more stressful. For the most part the rewards far outweigh the disadvantages.

I've had a few years that were really hard to get through, especially one year when the wrong combination of meds made me very sedated. There has been some bumps, but for the most part my job is the most successful part of my life. I've been really stable for the last three years. God bless life experience, therapy, and medications.

So it is absolutely positively possible to be both bipolar and a teacher.

What troubles me is that your post mentions a lot about loving the hours, but mentions nothing about loving the kids. If you don't love the students- get out! I have a lot of patience for mental illness; I have no patience for teachers who aren't in it for the right reasons. It devalues those of us who are trying to improve the world one kid at a time.

I'm pretty open about being bipolar. Most of the people I work with know I have it. I assume my principal knows I have it. Although I've never specifically told her that, I'm sure people talk. I've even revealed my bipolar illness to bipolar students and their parents. It isn't anything I thrust in people's faces, but it isn't something I'm ashamed of, either.

In my state you cannot lose your license for being ill. Of course, you can lose your license or your job for doing bad things while you are ill- that is another matter entirely. My union and my contract give me more job security than someone in business would have.

Anyways, that is my experience.

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AC-Thanks for the input. BTW, I did not mention this, but I do love the kids! That is why I went into teaching in the first place. I wanted to help people and have a meaningful job and make kids feel good about themselves. The problem is not with the students, it's with me. I'm starting to think I have been on the wrong med. combo. But I'm so sick of changing meds. It's such a crapshoot. My illness has had a detrimental effect on my job for the past 3-4 yrs.- since I was first dx'd after taking Cymbalta and flipping out at work(I was teaching, and I reaaaalllly flipped out. E.R. flipped out). I am certified to teach Art K-12 and have been trying to get a job teaching art, but, unfortunately, they are hard to come by.

I was really surprised to hear that you are open about your illness. I can't imagine telling anyone i work with. Someone I worked with was talking about how people who are bipolar and have kids are being abusive by giving birth to someone who may develop BP. Another person said that BP's have 3 things in common: they are vindictive, pathological liars, and sociopaths. Another person was talking about having a relative who is BP and all the talk was centered on said person being a freak. Florida must be really different than Ohio. We have a statistic in Fla. that 50% of teachers quit teaching after 5 yrs.

My dh is thinking about going back into mgmt. so I can be a stay at home mommy. My kids will be starting kindergarten and 2nd grade next year, so it would be way low stress. At least maybe i can "regroup" and get med. adjustments so I can be a stable teacher. Plus I am writing a book, so I would have more time for that.

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Someone I worked with was talking about how people who are bipolar and have kids are being abusive by giving birth to someone who may develop BP. Another person said that BP's have 3 things in common: they are vindictive, pathological liars, and sociopaths. Another person was talking about having a relative who is BP and all the talk was centered on said person being a freak. Florida must be really different than Ohio. We have a statistic in Fla. that 50% of teachers quit teaching after 5 yrs.

I'm sure that there are a few people that I work with that hold these opinions, but they don't express them to me- it is entirely possible they say it behind my back, but I can't do much about that, so oh well... I made the decision to be "out" and I'm sticking with it. The thing is, if those of us who are functioning members of society don't get the word out that we're here, people are going to base their opinions on the bipolars they hear about- the ones who are psychotic, the ones who commit crimes, the ones who are totally out of control. I usually get "wow, you don't seem like any of the bipolar people I've heard about- you are so normal." And that is because most of the people who are functioning (relatively) well are in hiding. I have enough issues in my life, trying to live in the closet would send me over the edge. I also suck at keeping secrets.

That being said, I am definitely taking a big risk. I understand that being "out" isn't everyone's cup of tea. I just feel the need to be a mental health advocate. Every single time I hear a derogatory, ill-informed, or down right stupid remark about mentally ill students, I speak up. I don't make a huge deal out of it, but I don't let it go, either.

I am pretty stable, however, at least in my professional life (personal is another matter entirely). I'm really good at what I do and I know how to hide it when I'm having a less-than-optimum day. I know when to take a sick day. I know when to avoid a 'triggering' circumstance. I know when to keep my mouth shut. I know when to apologize when I step over the line. A lot of this is due to some brilliant medication. The other part of it is just having this damn thing for 40 years- nothing beats life experience. I try not to repeat my mistakes.

I have lost jobs because of my illness, but both of those instances were before I even knew I was bipolar. Maybe someday my medication will stop working and I'll lose a job again, but so far, so good.

I don't know how different Florida is from Ohio. I think all states have a pretty high teacher turnover rate in the first five years. I think in some ways this is really sad- teaching conditions are usually pretty hard for new teachers- they get the "worse schools", the "worse" rooms, the "worse" students, etc. In other ways I think the teacher turnover rate is a good thing- I want the people who aren't cut out to be good teachers to quit.

I don't think manic-depression is uncommon in art teachers, by the way. I know of two other art teachers who are bipolar. There have been several studies that link bipolar illness and artistic gifts.

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Hey there Mel!

I've been a behavior therapist for years and also worked in schools and will start teaching full-time next year. I found that my BP gives me an advantage, but then I also teach special ed. The thing about teaching is that you have to constantly interact with EVERYONE. Kids, other teachers, administrators, janitors, parents, therapist, social workers, etc. You can't go hide in a cubicle, you know? That's been my main problem. Even if you tried, one of the kids would find you anyways.

I have had some really rough times, where I ended up in the hospital, but everyone thought I had the flu. I guess I really don't know what to tell you except don't stop doing what you love because you have BP. That's going to make you feel worse. Find a way to work it out. There's always a way.

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Guest isaacb

Hear hear, Artchick! I agree that being "out" is certainly not for everyone, but I too feel a sense of obligation to be a bit of an advocate, especially since I have a fairly mild case and the right medication. My symptoms have never been more than a "low" night since I got on this med five years ago. I don't go out of my way to talk about it, but it comes up in conversation at least once in any three day period, with friends or people I'm getting to know and feel friendly acquaintance with. I have never received any negativity about it, but as a twenty-something my generation is far more open about these sorts of things. Marilyn Manson and most of pop culture during the 90's made it almost trendy to be "crazy". People more than 5 years older than me tend to be a little more concerned at first, and my parents' generation I usually don't bring it up with unless conversation leads that way or they see me taking my pill and ask. I get that "you don't seem bipolar" bit very often, and have actually had a few medical professionals say that I was "the least bipolar bipolar" they had ever met. I have good meds and I'm lucky, is what I always tell them.

It is sad and disappointing to hear the things people say about bipolar disorder when they don't know I have it. I'm fortunate to have a job where they couldn't really put much pressure on me about it if they wanted to - I work at a facility for the profoundly mentally retarded, where most of the residents and a great many of my coworkers are on some sort of med regime. We were iced in one day and I ran out of the pills I carry in my pocket, meaning I couldn't go home to get more until the ice cleared up. One of the nurses that I had been open with took me aside and asked me if she would need to get an emergency dispensation to give me some of the same medication that they have on hand. It didn't end up being necessary but I was very glad to know I had coworkers I could count on in a pinch.

On being a teacher, I agree with other posters that the comments of the pdoc are insensitive and false. Yes, there is stress associated with the job, as there is with any job, but a person's ability to handle this stress versus some other job's stress are dependent entirely on one's personality, and whether or not teaching is a passion for them. I was unaware that there were states that forbade people from getting a teaching certificate if they had ever had a dx, or taken psych meds. Does anyone have a list of which states these are? My generation have almost all been on something at some time, for depression if nothing else. I am surprised that having such a blanket policy hasn't been taken to court by some civil liberties group. Then again, unofficial policies are even harder to combat, so it might not solve anything.

I couldn't imagine teaching at anything lower than the college level, but I simply don't have the temperament for it. In a time where k-12 teachers of any stripe are getting increasingly hard to find, it is pure folly for something like this to happen. Yes, if one's behavior merits attention, concern, or disciplinary action then it should be addressed through the methods and systems that the school has in place for dealing with behaviors and actions of its teachers. Whether or not these things are caused by bp or not is really not an issue - it is the behaviors, not the intrinsics, that an institution should seek to place controls on. If all else fails, you could always come to Texas - we need teachers desperately and I know for a fact that at least three of my teachers struggled with MI during my public school years. One had to be hospitalized but eventually returned on a part-time basis until she could get back into the routine. I know that there can be a lot of "quiet pressure" put on teachers but there is no official policy. And this was in a backward, rural school district where you would expect the most blind bigotry from the populace.


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