Work-Life with Bipolar Disorder

Maintaining a steady job isn’t always easy for a person who has bipolar disorder. The constant changing of moods can become very distracting while working. As we all know, stress at the workplace affects everyone, but it can be more challenging for people with bipolar disorder. “In a survey conducted by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, almost nine out of every 10 people with bipolar disorder said the illness had affected their job performance.” (Stuart, A., 2020) Living with bipolar disorder can be hard for socializing and maintaining relationships with others. At the workplace relationships have to be well maintained with coworkers and clients. “Mood fluctuations from untreated bipolar disorder can impair the ability to complete tasks or projects,” explains psychiatrist Alan Prossin, MBBS, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A JOB?

Consider what work environment you will be the most relaxed in. Is there a quiet space you see yourself in that will help you maintain your work-related affairs? Is it easier for you to work part-time or full-time? Will you be able to create a flexible work schedule for yourself? Look for a job where you might find open-minded people who will support and encourage you while at work. Finding people who have the same values as you can improve your chances at being successful at the workplace. Creativity is also important for a person with bipolar disorder. “Not all people with bipolar disorder are creative, and not all creative people have bipolar disorder. However, there does appear to be a connection between the genes that lead to bipolar disorder and a person’s creativity.” (Cirino, E., 2020)

TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR HEALTH AT WORK

The most important and necessary thing to do is following your treatment plan. Along with medication, therapy sessions are equally important to control your symptoms. Stress is a big deal at work, sometimes work stress can take over other aspects of life outside of work too. Create a structured schedule for yourself to maintain consistency with your work and colleagues. Another point to keep in mind when working is to never let your work interfere with your sleep schedule. “Inconsistent sleep schedules alter circadian rhythms and have been found to trigger episodes in people who have mood disorders, including bipolar disorder”, according to a research review published in August 2013 in the journal Biological Psychiatry. Keeping regular meetings with your supervisor will also be beneficial for you. Talk to your supervisor about your mental health and be open about situations where you might need a few days for yourself or a change in scheduling. This can help you balance your work-life and increase your productivity when returning to work.

TIPS FOR MANAGING STRESS AT WORK

  •  Take breaks. If you are feeling overwhelmed take a moment to step outside for a short walk, listen to music, call someone, or practice deep breathing.
  • Be healthy. The right foods along with regular sleep and exercise can significantly reduce stress.
  • Increase concentration. Adjust your work area to suit you. You can decorate your desk area or even change the lighting if it’s too overwhelming for you. Improving your concentration will lead to effective working which will ultimately reduce any work-related stress.
  • Keep organized. Keep reminders, checklists, or alarms to remind you of important tasks. Focus on one thing at a time.

 Living with bipolar disorder can be difficult and overwhelming at times. Keep in mind that maintaining your treatment will ultimately be the best thing you can do. Therapy along with self-improvement techniques such as practicing socializing, mindfulness, and keeping healthy will ensure that you can have a great work experience.

 

REFERENCES

Stuart, A., 2020. Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work. [online] WebMD. Available at: <https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/managing-bipolar-disorder-at-work-job-performance-tips>

 

Cirino, E., 2020. Bipolar and Work: Problems, Accommodations, and Stress. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-and-work>

 

 

Prossin, A., 2021. 8 Career Success Strategies for Bipolar Disorder | Everyday Health. [online] EverydayHealth.com. Available at: <https://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder-pictures/career-success-strategies-for-bipolar-disorder.aspx>