People with bipolar disorder thrive in different types of working environments. The key to finding what’s best for you will help you get and keep a job, as well as know yourself and your limitations.
Which Jobs Work Best for Whom
Some seek jobs where the work is project oriented. The work is intense, but for short periods, giving oneself time to recover before moving on to a new project. Often, relationships in this type of work are fleeting, ending when a project does. This can be attractive to a bipolar employee, who may worry their illness will become apparent in longer relationships.
Others find it crucial to have a more structured work environment with regular hours. This way, they can establish a routine to follow daily, which will help keep job performance from becoming irregular. Sometimes, though, this kind of full-time work can be too challenging.
Shift work can be unpredictable, while night jobs can wreak havoc on a sleep schedule. Both of these can destabilize moods and can make work more challenging than it should be.
Still, others seek flexible hours with a self-paced workload, either choosing to work from home or have part-time work schedules.
Not everybody loves his or her job, and you don’t have to either. You need to make sure your work is something that won’t trigger your bipolar symptoms; your main concern is to keep your job!
Seek Work that Supports Your Recovery
There is no best job for someone with bipolar disorder, but work in general provides structure, a sense of purpose, and social interaction. These are all qualities someone with bipolar disorder needs. However, there are things to consider when deciding what type of work to do.
It’s important to find a job that works for you. Will a certain job environment help you thrive, or work against your best efforts? People with bipolar disorder can become easily overwhelmed, so they do best in a quiet, low-stress environment where they can concentrate and avoid mood triggers more easily.
What about your schedule? Working part-time on a flexible schedule, or during the day, are important considerations.
Most of all, knowing yourself will help you pick the right environment for the kind of job you can do best. This involves knowing your:
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Physical abilities
These six identifiers will help you figure out if the job you are pursuing will have triggers that could potentially send you into mania or bipolar depression. If you tend toward depression in general, consider whether taking an anti-depressant might be enough to help you handle a particular work environment.
However, you also need to avoid any type of work that might trigger a sudden onset of manic symptoms. This can often be too disruptive in the workplace and may lead to sudden job loss.
Illness Can Affect Performance
In a survey conducted by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), almost nine out of every ten people with bipolar disorder said the illness had affected their job performance. Many felt they were either given less responsibility or passed up for promotions.
Here is a short list of things to consider when looking for a job that you can support, and one that can support you:
- Follow your treatment plan
- Set up structure
- Avoid shift work
- Be flexible about what you can do
- Stay sober at Happy Hour — Alcohol can alter how your medications work
- Learn about drug side effects — Psychiatric medications might affect your job performance. Know the side effects ahead of time.
Living A Great Life With Bipolar Disorder
Living a great life is possible despite your bipolar disorder. I invite you to join our community by subscribing to this blog and by following us on Facebook. Together, we can learn, grow, and support each other to live a great life with bipolar disorder.