Two of the hardest things about being bi polar is how it affects your relationships, and how if affects your work. I was told recently I was turned down for a position I really had my heart set on in campus ministry, and also had an interview today that I totally bumbled up and don't expect to get a call back for. With stress being such a trigger, I find myself wondering if there are certain jobs I would just not be cut out for.
I remember after college when I moved back home I briefly got a job working as a counselor for sexually-abused children. I was deeply depressed at the time, and I found I was more of a liability at the job because of my depression and inability to face crisis situations, and so I felt I needed to tell my boss what I was going through, and resign. I felt like such a failure, it was all I could do while driving home not to careen my car into a tree.
I faced similar feelings today after realizing that I might not be cut out for the very jobs I thought I would be so good at. My dad slugged through years of teaching while depressed simply by being stubborn, knowing he had a family to support, and that quitting was not an option. Work is hard enough; working while you are depressed is torturous. And interviewing while you are depressed feels like professional suicide.
This was posted on a Bi-polar support group site I read recently, to which I could really relate:
"I was always career minded. However, being Bipolar has now disrupted my career one too many times. Up until 7 years ago I was climbing the corporate ladder with a packaging company until I had a psychotic episode for the first time. I had to quit work for 6 months and then I scored another job with another company. But the same thing happened again. I had a hypermanic episode and became psychotic again and had to quit work. I have been through the same cycle now 5 times where I find work, get the job, relapse and loose the job. The last job lasted 2 days before relapsing again. I guess a sales career was too much pressure. What I want to know is what opportunities are out there for people like me (us) where it seems stress is a trigger. I get so depressed about my illness and the thought of going through this again is scarey. Is there other employment options that are out there that doesn't require any experience and is rewarding? I have been unemployed now for over 7 months since the last episode but it has really been 18 months since I was full time employed. What can I do? What is there to do?"
I hope to never have to go through another psychotic episode, one that has me hospitalized and forced me into taking a leave of absence from work. Thankfully my relationships are in order...I have a supportive family and an understanding, supportive girlfriend. Some people don't have this, and I don't want it to be something I take lightly or for granted. Even though I hate taking medications, I feel like I am on a pretty good set now that allows me relative stability, even with the occassional dips into depression I am presently experiencing.
But the dips are unnerving...will this spiral out of control and leave me jobless? Will I be able to do what is required of me? Can I even tell my boss of my illness, or is this something I need to keep hidden? Will I ever find work that is meaningful, or do I have to limit myself to what I can realistically do without undue stress? I know I have gifts. I know I have talents. I know I am called to do something. But being bi polar does not make this process any easier. Then again, maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill...