When I work too hard, I find myself in too much pain thanks to bipolar disorder. I push through when I should stop, and work and work only to find myself waking up one day so sick I can barely move. Work is kind of the bane of my existence. Necessary for existence? Yes. Pleasant? Not in the least. This is eminently clear to me right now as I woke up in extreme pain thanks to bipolar and working too hard.
What Is Working Too Hard with Bipolar Disorder?
What I think people don’t realize is that “working too hard” with bipolar disorder is not the same thing as “working too hard” when you don’t have bipolar disorder. A normal, neuro-typical person might find “working too hard” to mean working 10-hour days for weeks at a time. That definitely is “too hard.”
But for a person with bipolar disorder “working too hard” might just mean working at all for seven days in a row. It might mean working full eight-hour days instead of half days, four days in a row. It might simply be pushing through the desire to nap or for alone time because friends are visiting. Because the concept of “working” when you have a chronic illness is different than when you’re normal. With bipolar disorder, every little thing – even things you might like – constitutes “work.”
For me, “working too hard” is usually a combination of personal and professional responsibilities. I may not dislike any of it, but it all takes so much effort that it is categorized as “work,” regardless.
What Happens When You Work Too Hard with Bipolar Disorder?
And when I work too hard the bipolar disorder reminds me with bucketfuls of pain. I woke up today barely able to move with every muscle in agony. I wanted to cry because everything hurt so much. I am not exaggerating. Everything hurt. I even had a sore throat. I would say my eyelashes hurt, but, yeah, that would be hyperbole.
I realize this isn’t a mood thing so people wouldn’t associate it with a “mood” disorder, but, trust me, it’s part of my bipolar, for sure.
And this is an instant-on situation. Yesterday I managed to eke through the day (and the tough ones before it) and today I am paying for it, dearly.
Avoid the Pain – Don’t Work Too Hard with Bipolar Disorder
And it’s on days like these when I chastise myself for not remembering the obvious: I am not like other people. I need more breaks. I need more rest. I need to do less.
This is something I have – and many others have – trouble accepting. After all, everyone around me can spend days “doing things” and not get woefully ill afterward, so why can’t I?
Bipolar disorder, that’s why.
My advice today is: don’t be like me. Don’t forget. Don’t compare yourself to the “normals.” They can do things you can’t. It’s unfair but true. Learn your bipolar limitations and dance within them. You’ll be happier for it, in less pain because of it and be much less sick. Because remember, when you’re as sick as I am today, you blow a day into nothingness anyway. All that work beforehand doesn’t get you ahead when the sickness just forces you behind later.