By: Sam Bowman
Living with bipolar disorder can negatively impact many areas of life. It can be especially problematic, however, when you’re trying to hold down a traditional job or expand your professional network.
However, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to manage your bipolar disorder, it’s completely possible to have a fulfilling and successful career for years.
If you’ve struggled to manage your disorder in the past and it’s affected your job, it’s time to take control. By making some adjustments in your personal life and at work, you can navigate employment more comfortably and with greater success. Not sure how to get started? We’ve got a few suggestions that will make a big difference.
Consider Your Workplace Environment
Before you start managing your disorder in an attempt to navigate your career, consider your current workplace environment. Is it meant to accommodate non-neurotypical individuals? Does your job support your lifestyle and encourage growth, or does it make things worse? Does it allow you to use your strengths and abilities or do you feel hindered and “stuck”?
Many people with bipolar disorder do better in jobs that allow them to be creative and express themselves. Ask yourself if you’re truly happy with your current career. If not, it could be holding you back from serious growth.
It’s also important to recognize if your workplace environment is toxic. It can be difficult enough for someone with bipolar disorder to thrive in an office setting, but dealing with bad corporate culture makes things much worse. Keep the following red flags in mind to determine whether your work environment is unhealthy:
● It has a villainous culture
● There are implicit biases
● There are problem behaviors between employees
● There’s a stigma surrounding mental health
No matter how big, successful, or tech-savvy a business is, you don’t have to stay if it has a culture that’s hindering you, rather than helping you move forward.
Managing Your Disorder at Work
If you have a healthy workplace environment, management is an important key to finding success and fulfillment in your job. Start by understanding your symptoms and how they affect you. When you have a better understanding of your disorder, it will be easier to manage those symptoms effectively. Some of the best ways to manage bipolar disorder at work include:
● Keeping your stress levels low
● Staying organized
● Maintaining your focus
● Making meaningful connections
● Developing team skills
It won’t always be easy to manage these symptoms, but prioritizing them can make getting through the workday less stressful than before.
Don’t be afraid to communicate how you feel with your co-workers. Most people are always willing to help or step in whenever they can. In speaking up about your disorder, you’ll also help to create a company culture that talks about mental health issues and promotes wellness. It’s not always easy to navigate work relationships when you have a mental health condition.
However, being open makes it easier and tells everyone exactly the kind of support you need without them having to wonder, or without you repeating yourself.
Getting the Help You Deserve
Bipolar disorder isn’t something you have to tackle on your own. Medication is one of the best ways to manage your symptoms. Most bipolar meds are designed to stabilize your mood, making it easier to improve your interactions and stay focused on the job.
It’s also worthwhile to talk to a therapist or another mental health professional who can help you manage your symptoms and get to the bottom of your disorder. Talk therapy is a great way to learn more about your condition and build a better future.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to other professionals who can help you in different ways. Working with a financial planner or analyst, for example, can make the idea of retirement planning easier than ever. One manic episode can cause you to spend money that was meant to be saved. By having that money in safe locations and having a financial plan in place, you’ll be able to save for retirement and live comfortably long after your working days are over.
Are there challenges to being a bipolar individual in the workplace? Absolutely. However, as you can see, you can overcome those challenges with a bit of creativity, time, and education. There’s no reason you can’t love your job and find success with it.