Q: Besides attending couples’ counseling and individual therapy, are there any other specific strategies you use to keep your relationship balanced?
Beka: To keep balanced, I make sure I take time for me (and we take time for US as a couple – i.e., date nights!). I get massages regularly, eat well, exercise (this is huge for me), and make sure I participate in hobbies that make me happy (art, classes, writing, etc). I try to make time each day to just play with my son and hang out with my husband. Some days are harder than others, but I can usually squeeze in something for me. If you like to write, there are lots of resources for writing about wellness, and journaling online that may be useful to you.
Q: How have you been able to maintain a job? Have you been able to stay at and keep going to the same job consistently, or are you changing jobs frequently?
Beka: I have been with the same organization for 12 years and with the same program within that organization for 7 years. My position and job duties have changed as I have been promoted, but otherwise it has been stable since I came here. I used to change jobs a lot because I never felt satisfied. I also changed a lot because I would have an “episode,” feel embarrassed, and quit. I did not tell my current employer about my BPD at the beginning. I let myself and my work speak for itself and then, when I started having an episode, I was frank and honest about it; they were very open minded, accepting, and compassionate. They give me lots of flexibility, too, if I need it. I also feel really fulfilled here. My duties are very much in line with my interests and I have become an integral part of the team. I get lots of positive feedback and feel that I do well and that I am making a difference at work and in the world through my work. I found my niche. Yes, I still go through times where I start looking around for “better opportunities,” but I feel at home here with understanding people, so I end up not leaving. There is one lady at the office who is not very supportive. I feel discriminated against sometimes, but everyone else is very supportive – it’s like a family. I’m not sure if I just got lucky or if I have created the right environment through my actions. My advice is to think long and hard about what is important to you, what you like to do, and what you are skilled at – then find a position that fits those criteria. In the meantime, find the good things in your current job and focus on those. Mindset can make a huge difference. Go in and pretend you like it and it becomes easier to like. And be honest about your condition AFTER you have proven yourself. I don’t recommend starting off with, “Hi, I’m Jane and I have a mental illness.” That can scare people, especially if they are not educated – and even if they are educated, every case is different. Let them get to know you first and then, when it becomes important, you can tactfully let them know. Also be sure to educate them about your version of BPD, because each case is different. I hope that helps.
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Want to hear more from the Owens? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, as well as their Love, Marriage, and Bipolar Disorder webinar. You can also read more blog posts from both Beka and Ron