Know Your Worth When You Work with Bipolar
Bipolar is a liar, and it's a liar that can't even keep its lies straight. Depression will tell you that you're worthless, while mania will lull you into distorted, grandiose thinking that can cause you to overestimate and over-extend yourself, which can have unpleasant professional and personal consequences. Because of the never-ending falsehoods that bipolar likes to trick us into accepting as truths, knowing our worth as workers and as people can feel like an impossible task. If you work with bipolar disorder, you are not alone in struggling to hold onto your sense of worthiness -- but it's easier to reclaim confidence than you might think.
Knowing Your Worth by Finding a Foothold Helps You Work with Bipolar
Knowing your worth can be difficult when living with bipolar disorder. For me, one of the most frustrating things about it is never quite knowing for sure which of my thoughts are really "me" and which are simply my mind playing tricks on me. When I'm depressed, I feel like I have no worth and no purpose, that nothing I do has any real meaning or impact. I feel like a terrible and incompetent person who doesn't deserve anything good.
On the flip side, mania makes me feel like a rock star. I've had manic moments where it felt like everything made sense and that I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to -- even flying. Bipolar mania caused me to severely overestimate what I was capable of accomplishing and doing well within a short frame of time, which led to feelings of inadequacy and failure once the high wore off and -- once again -- I crashed into despair.
I am naturally a creative overachiever who likes to keep busy. I like having a variety of projects to work on and I enjoy being involved in a variety of activities. It's demoralizing to feel like I can never be sure when a burst of inspiration and energy is really "me," or if it's a warning sign that a manic episode is coming over the horizon. It's also easy to blur the line between constructive self-reflection -- such as being honest with myself about mistakes I've made or areas of my life where I could improve -- and negative self-talk that can lead to a dangerous depression spiral.
This makes my work life particularly precarious, and I'm still learning how to walk on the metaphorical tightrope. But it helps to remember that I bring something important to the table: a different perspective and experience that other folks may not have. I see the world in a different way and it makes me excited to share what I see with others through my writing work. I know the value of my labor, which enables me to have strong boundaries in my work life that prioritize my health and wellness -- which is better for me, my employer, and my freelance clients.
Living and Working with Bipolar Is Not a Binary Experience
I am by no means suggesting that bipolar disorder is a "good" thing; it's a serious psychiatric illness that requires lifelong treatment and comes with a host of challenges that can feel daunting, even insurmountable at times. But I also think that viewing bipolar -- or any mental illness -- within a good versus bad binary is reductive and unhelpful. Bipolar may not be "good," but it's not "bad" either; it's a neutral force that doesn't discriminate who it impacts. It may be a serious diagnosis, but it doesn't have to derail your life or your professional prospects, either.
Some people with bipolar disorder struggle for years to find and keep stable, gainful employment. Others suffer few serious hits to their careers. Many fall somewhere in the middle. Regardless of where we may fall on this spectrum, the experiences that we have working while trying to navigate bipolar disorder mold us into people who we may not otherwise be. There is strength in that, and it's okay to be proud of the person you are while also acknowledging the challenges that come with bipolar disorder.
Working with bipolar disorder is tough, but you are capable of achieving more than you think. You deserve respect in your workplace and success for a job well done in exchange for your time, energy, and labor. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.
Do you know your worth? Tell us how you keep it in mind even when bipolar flares up in the comments.
Rose, N. (2021, April 7). Know Your Worth When You Work with Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, January 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/workandbipolarordepression/2021/4/know-your-worth-when-you-work-with-bipolar