You’re Bipolar? Welcome to High School

I’ve always been open about being bipolar. Except at work. And now I know why.

Last year I published a tell all book about my journey of manic depression and my experiences working in an inpatient psych ward in a county hospital in Los Angeles, CA. When the county caught wind of my book they immediately removed me from my position doing case management in the ward to a basement job pushing paper. After months of doing remedial work I went out on depression leave. I hired lawyers for the county’s retaliatory behavior and they swiftly agreed to a settlement. Then they moved me to another position that is considered a dumping ground for people who are considered trouble makers in the system. You tell the truth, trouble. You expose wrong doings in psych wards, trouble. You admit to your own bouts with manic depression, trouble.

LA Weekly did a feature on my story and once the article came out my whole department knew about me. They knew I had a mental illness and the day everyone found out everything changed. I entered high school and there was no turning back. I was the wild card in the office. Some people would talk behind my back like high school and say I was moody, unpredictable, hyper. No one said that before the article was released. But now I had a label on my face, and I was no longer an employee. I was a crazy employee and was ostracized from most of the pack.

We all work in mental health so you would think people wouldn’t judge colleagues with mental illnesses, but they do. I guess that goes across the board in any industry I suppose. When I worked in television people would call the entertainment industry “High school with money.” And it was. And mental illnesses ran ramped. Especially Axis II personality disorders. I had a few undiagnosed psycho bosses. One threw a toaster oven at my head once for writing down a wrong number. Another one would show up to work high on cocaine pounding his chest like a gorilla. In the industry often times you come across some serious wild characters and such behaviors are often times more accepted or expected. So, when craziness is the norm around the office then whether or not you are clinically diagnosed with a mental illness doesn’t really matter all that much.

When I think back to other jobs I have had in different fields eventually people considered me crazy or hyper but it was never confirmed. I was able to keep my illness to myself even though people would still talk behind my back and wonder why I was so “weird.” Now with my book out all you have to do is Google my name and my condition is all over the internet. And I think to myself, how I am going to get my next job? Who is gonna hire someone with a mental illness with a hard core history of manic depression spewed across the internet. Maybe I am being unfair to other professions out there but after my recent experiences of basically being back in high school at work, I have to wonder. Is the gossip going to whirl behind my back at the next job I take? Am I going to be stuck in high school for the rest of my professional life?

Probably. If I can’t get by in a job working in mental health, I doubt if it will get any easier down the road elsewhere. Do I regret writing the book? Heck no. But I never really thought through the aftermath of it all. But if some people at work had considered me crazy before, what’s the difference if they know it for sure now.

Same old same old. I guess some of us will always be in high school.


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