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I'm involved with IT/biotech and have been since college. My "career" is spattered with good jobs that ended within 10 months of my start date due to BP.

I just got fired from my latest job. I actually am relieved...

...and then went to the pdoc.

She told me I am not permitted (in her medical opinion, obviously she cannot physically stop me) to work or even go to school. I am also to file for SSDI NOW.

I've been so up about it, so sure that I could "beat" BP.

How can I pass my time? Volunteering? I've got to do something or I'll REALLY go psycho!

--------unemployed loon-------

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whatever happened to work and study being...therapeutic.....?????

(((hugs))) sounds a horrid position to be put in....and they tell us to stop being victims of our MI etc.....

Volunteering is good.....you could also write a book! ....take up a new hobby, some kind of craft type creative thing, something that inspires you...what inspires you?

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Did she say you won't ever be able to study or work?  It could be she thinks that at this point you need a rest from stressors and triggers.  Maybe she thinks you would stabilize if you gave yourself a break?  Maybe applying for SSRI is a backup plan?

Either way, don't panic.  Take advantage of your break to get some rest and recovery; find ways (I forget, do you have a therapist to help?) to keep yourself from obsessing about work or your hopefully temporary restrictions.  If you don't trust her advice, consider getting a second opinion.  And if you don't have a therapist I very very strongly suggest getting one.  Whatever happens you need someone to help you deal with this.  CBT is highly recommended, but I've found regular old individual therapy with someone familiar with BP has helped tremendously.

Stay cool and good luck.

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On the bright side, you wanted to quit anyway.  On the downside, you'd like to have a life.  No one in their right mind would expect you to feel better about yourself languishing on the couch with a supply of Pringles.  Maybe your psychiatrist simply feels that your judgment and the general course of your illness are going to keep tripping you up until you've managed to get your bipolar under control, and you need to focus to do it. 

If you're anything like me, your impulse is to run off and get completely involved in something else again, and then that something takes on a life of its own.  She might be telling you that you need to settle down for a while, acknowledge life-as-is, and figure out how you can realistically proceed from here.  Your signature attests to a string of lost jobs, hospitalizations, and so forth.  Perhaps your way of going about life has ultimately been unrealistic by now, and you need a break from responsibility while you get things sorted out.  No long-term commitments.  Just life as it flows. 

I think volunteering is a good idea.  Developing a home hobby might be another.  Create a personal project, like a garden or whatever, something that doesn't involve great amounts of constant thought and lets you exist in the moment.  Don't jump into anything too big.  This might give you the opportunity to learn your limits and how to exist within them.  We don't always have to be pushing them.  It's possible to live within one's space. 

It sucks that you got fired again, and it sucks that they wouldn't grant you reasonable accomodations even when you asked for them, and yes, it sucks to be told you need a time-out when you don't agree.  I remember your posts, but I don't really see you from day to day, so I don't know if your psychiatrist's justified or not.  Discuss things with her.  Fighting tends to be counterproductive, but discussion is good.  Maybe she can give you a better idea of why she's refusing to sign you off as sane for school. 

For what it's worth, I think you're capable of accomplishing kick-ass things.  It's just pacing that's a little off.  Keep looking, and you will find your golden mean.

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Hmmn. That's a tough one. I can imagine taking some time off to get things together but being told not to work or go to school seems kind of, I don't know, harsh. Do you agree with her? What would you like to do? Can you afford not to work for a while? SSDI takes time to kick in. I'm sure there are a gazillion things you could do, but the danger is that you'll sink into a pit from lack of structure. I dunno. Volunteering is always good.


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Thanks guys, you've all raised good questions and given good ideas!

She said that for right now, no work and no school. She said she'd watch the situation and tell me when to work part-time (her great idea of self-sufficiency) and do the grad school thing.

LMNOP hit it on the head (like my mom probably dropped me, but that's in the Springer section ;) ) that I really want to just blaze my way forward, into the wild unknown, into new and unused territory. And if the territory is used, it had better be Certified Pre-Owned.

The course of my illness is that I basically have a mood and anxiety state I can control pretty well until you throw something else into this galactic blender, then uncheese hits the fan. I'm daunted that someone I respect so much thinks I shouldn't go to work AT ALL right now, or EVEN school.

This is what happens:

January- am gainfully employed but hate my stressful job and want to kill my boss and customers (I work in IT)

Feb- I get fired for "bad customer service skills"

March- on unemployment, not looking for work

April- interview for jobs, am edgy and mixed

May- Start work! Love work! Go Go Go!!! (Abba's Dancing Queen is playing in my head...!!!)

June-August- love work and get kinda manic

Aug-Dec- go sledding in the summer down into the pool of BP depression land

I have roughly 4 major moods during the year and there are cycles that happen rather weekly or biweekly in there for extra pizzazz. I've been through no fewer than 5 professional jobs in 3 years and my resume looks like the latest US budget deficit.

The problem is that I am eggshell fragile. I don't know if I can be stable for a whole year if unprovoked. I've been in the hospital 3 times since Feb '05. Once for depression, once for psychosis, and once for ma-ma-ma mania. Psychosis can be another reason to stay off the court.

I need a life. I need to talk with my tdoc about getting a life outside of work. It is tough, when you're used to your life being all of one thing and then you're stuck without it.

:) I did actually sit down today at my computer and started writing a book on alternative treatments for mood disorders. Maybe there's a spot in the market for something written by and for us "consumers". I'll start a new thread somewhere asking for ideas for my new book project.

---------- melinda---------

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Oh hons,

You sound positive and realistic.  That you have trust in your therapist is such a good thing.  If you've had 3 hospitalizations this year, the BP is probably not that stable?  Maybe you could take the time to figure yourself and what you need to do to stay stable out.  You already have your mood schedule basically figured out, maybe you could go from there.  Thinking about you,


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Loon, are you feeling more stable than before on your current cocktail?  It makes sense that your doc wants to take stress out of the equation for a while to let your meds stabilize.  Is she contemplating more med changes if you still have trouble?  I'm guessing she's treating this as a kind of outpatient care.  You're well enough that you are getting through your days, but not so well that you can handle your cyclic behavior of getting high on work and then crashing. 

That she said that you could start with part-time work if you get more stable means that she thinks you can be bettter.  I'd bet she intends to clear you for full time work once you have succeeded for a while at a part time job.  But part of the puzzle is how to break your pattern around having work trigger your episodes and then suffering the consequences.  You probably need some cognitive therapy to help you learn to deal with and avoid triggers so you can work hard without spinning out.

Hang in there, honey.  We're all rooting for you.

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Maybe a good talk with your Pdoc would help. Find out what she really means , so you won't have to guess and stress ( I used to be bad with that). I should have quit work to become a bad psychic.

Maybe the applying for SSDI now is because it takes awhile, (unless you call a congressman who is caring)

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Thanks all- I'm going to print out your suggestions and take a look when I get bored!

My current med lineup has Zyprexa taking center stage (I've only had Z injections in the hospital to calm my ass down), Paxil getting chopped (10mgs and lowering...) and klonopin as needed. I'd actually like to replace the Paxil with WB to counter the Z weight gain. I went from a 6 to an 8-9 in 2 weeks, and am dieting/exercising like a nut case.

Now to apply for SSDI...


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My "career" is spattered with good jobs that ended within 10 months of my start date due to BP.

It seems that this is likely the thing behind your doc grounding you from the work force. Add to that the 3 hospitalizations in a year's time, and your doc is seeing a disaster waiting to happen. It sounds like she wants to cut your outside stressors as much as possible so that you and she can work on getting you stable and centered.

It can be very humilating to be told "I don't think you can take care of yourself," but accepting that and doing what is necessary to get better is what's going to be what moves you back to self sufficiency. My road to SSDI started with my mother, who has been my accountant forever, pulling out my tax records. She pointed out that I had never ever made more than $10k in any one year... and the $10k was just one year. I've always had some guy to fall back on. So for me, the admission that I can't take care of myself on my own right now was really the first step in self reliance. I want to not depend on a romantic partner to pay my way, first of all. Later, I will look at jobs that I can do to support myself. It's baby steps, but I'll get there.

As for things to do with your time. This is where things get really fun! I'm writing a novel, learning to knit and crochet, making a quilt, I shop second hand stores and scrapbook. I love to learn things online, and I built the computer I am using right now from scratch. I do all of these things at my leisure and pace so that I'm not stressing myself out. There is more to it than simply finding ways to pass the hours, though. I am doing things which give me a sense of accomplishment and pride. I don't think people need to have a "job" or "career," but having things to be proud of is so important for self esteem.

Volunteering is good... but only if you can handle it. It is just like a job that you don't get paid for, in many cases, so if your pdoc doesn't want you working because of stress, then that might not be the best thing to do right at first. It all depends on you and how well you're able to defend your boundaries. A lot of volunteer opportunities start with the potential volunteer saying, "Well, once a week for 3 hours is something I can handle." But there are never enough volunteers, and since they've got you in the door, you WILL be asked to do more. If you have trouble saying no, then a) volunteering may be too stressful for you right now, and b ) assertiveness is a very positive and beneficial topic to work on in therapy. ;)

In the end, your doc is asking you to take time out for yourself. To get you better. She wants to help you get back on your feet and feel good again. It can be hard to remember that when you feel like she's bossing you around and acting like you're helpless, but it's true! You're not helpless, stupid, "unfit" or "too far gone." You're in a rough patch, and your doc wants to help see you through it.

Good luck to you with your SSDI application, and with your new "free time." Use it well!

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Excellent advice. Ditto everything SerraGeorge just said. 

There is more to it than simply finding ways to pass the hours, though. I am doing things which give me a sense of accomplishment and pride. I don't think people need to have a "job" or "career," but having things to be proud of is so important for self esteem.


Truer words were never spoken. In many ways, I think I was much more productive when I was on SSI than I have been in the years since, while I've had a job.

Take it easy. I hope you get a lot out of this time.

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All true, thanks SerraGeorge. Yes, I am GROUNDED! Until my brain is ungrounded, I am banned from doing anything except heal. Wh at a blessing, really.

I'm going to be collecting unemployment for 6 months, and by then I hope to have my SSDI go through. The only thing I'm stressed over is the SSDI taking forever. At least my landlord is super nice.

I think I'm going to shop around for a sewing machine and make myself clothes. None of the store clothes fit, and I'm always changing sizes anyway (from 4-10 and back again!). I love these free-flowing skirts that are "one size" with a drawstring waist. Sewing machines can be expensive. But I'll find one. ;)


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Check the classifieds, penny-savers, garage sales, thrift stores, etc. I don't see them as often as I used to, but if you're looking for a basic sewing machine they show up from time to time. If it's a solid machine, they can almost always be brought back to life, you know through a lube job, etc.

Oh, also sewing & vac stores might be a good place to try (I don't know if it's still the case, but years ago they'd have used trade-ins). Please let me know how you do. I used to have a great basic Brother sewing machine that my parents gave me for Xmas when I was 7 years old. Lost it in the house fire a few years ago (when 4 teenagers broke in and burned it to the ground). I haven't replaced it yet, so I'd be interested in how you do.

Glad to hear you're feeling better about this transition. This could be a really fruitful and healing time for you.



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Heya Loon,

OK, this tears it, I'm not leaving the computer alone anymore.

Everyone has better suggestions than I would have for what to do with your healing time.

I would add that, another possible motivation for your psychiatrist telling you to not work or study might be because having that on record helps with getting disability, or at least it does here.

I would echo what the others have said, take advantage of the enforced break and work on *you.*  Then, when you're ready, you'll be more able to fully do the school/career thing.

Taking the last few weeks off (doctor's orders) has been very, very strange for me, so I can only imagine what it would feel like to take extended time away.

But you have some good ideas, and a good therapist, and well, us, anyway.


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