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Going Back to Work When You Have Bipolar Disorder

When you’ve been newly diagnosed with bipolar, your world can get turned upside down. I know that mine did. A lot of people, myself included, just want things to go back to normal and get back to being a productive member of society. Understandable. But how do you reenter the workforce? Here are some ideas. 

1. Don’t rush it! I should have done this. I was so ready to get back to work that I rushed it. Big mistake. Just like me, you may need some time off to get yourself together. There’s no shame in that. You may need to take this time to figure out what treatment is best for you and regroup. That’s not lazy. That’s smart. 

2. Consider a small, part time job. If you feel like it is essential that you bring in something and you feel like it would help you recover, then consider a small job, like something on the weekends. You’ll still be pulling in a paycheck and doing your part, but still focusing on you. 

3. Give volunteer work a try. You won’t want to rush this one, either. But, there are so many opportunities out there. You can do office work, feed the homeless, tutor, the opportunities are endless. It is also a good way to beef up your resume and make references.  

4. Should you go into business for yourself? Please, approach this one with extreme caution. Not everyone was meant to start their own business. There is nothing wrong with that. But, if you feel it calling to you, then do as much research as possible. Take all the time you need. You never know, you may have the next booming Etsy store! Just make sure that it’s calling to you and that you have a passion for it. 

5. Should you go back to school? As I said with number 4, please approach this with extreme caution and sensitivity. Don’t just do it on a whim. Diploma does not equal job. But, if you feel a certain career is calling to you and has been for a long time, then consider taking a class or two a semester. School may be just what you needed. 

You can find employment with your disorder. I know that I have and it has been great. My biggest mistake, though, was that I tried to rush it. It’s OK to take a little time off. You need to get better so you can give your very best. Remember, nothing is impossible. 

For more blogs about employment, visit our Work topic here

Read more of Sarah’s posts for IBPF here. You can find out about Sarah’s other passion, health and nutrition, at her blog here.


20 years ago I was diagnosed with manic depression,it took 18 years before my symptoms were controlled enough to even contemplate work, 1 year ago I began doing 2 mornings a week at Oxfam and I love it, my confidence has soared to heights I never dreamed possible.

I am, or was, a successful salesman from KY. I am hopefully on the back end of a manic episode that almost cost me my wife, confused the heck out of our Boyz and cost me six years of hard earned credibility and employment with a large corporation.
Just thought it would be a good idea to find a reputable organization and say hi.

Thanks for the post.

Had a manic episode six months back. Spoke too much everywhere, so lost my job, and almost lost my wife and family too. Once I got into depression three months back and couldn't bear it, saw a psychiatrist; got diagnosed as BP. Was put on Lamictal.

I have lost interest in life itself, but am pulling along with my family members. (Thankfully, I have enough retired folks in my family.) Everyone says that, with time, I should become better and be able to go back to my previous line of work. I sincerely hope that is the case.

Trying to do online learning now, which goes well 2 or 3 days a week. But rest of the days are a struggle. Mind keeps going in circles and am unable to concentrate and decide on what to do next. Since everyone (including the psychiatrist) says this is just a phase, I am giving myself time to stabilize.

For now, I can't think of anyone but myself. Hope I become strong enough soon to take care of myself and others as well.

One thing that is helping me is going to the gym. Some days I don't do much, but there are several days I can push myself a bit harder after thirty minutes of light exercise.

I was told to be very patient with the recovery, so let me give it a few more weeks/months.

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