advertisement

Work and Bipolar or Depression

Nori Rose Hubert
As a working-class person with bipolar disorder, I have several limitations and face a lot of barriers to gainful employment. Jobs that require monotonous, repetitive tasks don't provide my brain with enough stimulation to keep me engaged, which can trigger both mania and depression. Part-time jobs with irregular shifts are also out of the running since inconsistent scheduling hurts my sleep-wake cycle (which any psychiatrist will tell you is essential for managing bipolar). And despite the protections afforded to people like me by the Americans with Disabilities Act, employment discrimination against folks with mental illness remains a serious problem. Yet, in spite of all the hurdles to meaningful, profitable work and financial freedom that I face, the truth is that I'm grateful for my limitations from bipolar.
Mahevash Shaikh
Like me, I'm sure you've heard the popular advice "fake it 'til you make it" at least once in your life. While it may help you get ahead in your career, I believe it will not serve you in the case of depression. I say this because I've suffered the consequences of this toxic mindset in my depression journey -- and I hope I can help you avoid this fate.
Nori Rose Hubert
I've always been a hypersensitive person, so it's important that I create a comfortable work environment to thrive with bipolar disorder. For example, I don't process sudden, loud noises very well, and too much background chatter can completely overwhelm me. Fluorescent lighting hurts my eyes, and I can't concentrate if I'm too cold or if my immediate environment isn't colorful and inviting.
Mahevash Shaikh
Depression has a lot of ripple effects -- and the crippling self-doubt of imposter syndrome is one of them. Feeling like you are not good enough at your job and that any professional accomplishments are due to luck is part of imposter syndrome. While one does not need to have depression to feel like an imposter, I sometimes feel like one when my depression intensifies. Here are some signs to help you identify if you have this issue.
Nori Rose Hubert
I don't do so well with bipolar disorder and seasonal changes, especially moving into fall and winter. Yet, October is one of my favorite months. I love anything and everything to do with Halloween, breaking out my boots that have sat neglected in the closet all summer, and anything with the words "pumpkin spice" on the label. But one thing I don't love is how the seasonal daylight changes affect my mood, which has a direct impact on the way I work while living with bipolar disorder.
Mahevash Shaikh
There's no denying the fact that positivity does not come naturally to someone with depression. That said, trying to stay positive is important to keep hope alive and cope with depression. It is also necessary to do a reasonably good job at work. Let's take a look at some ways to do so.
Nori Rose Hubert
Healthy sleep habits are an essential part of bipolar disorder management. They are also some of the most difficult habits to develop. Proper sleep habits are critical for physical and mental health, but the highs and lows that come with bipolar disorder can make it exceptionally difficult to wind down at the end of the day. Unhealthy sleep patterns can lead to a vicious cycle of mood instability that wreaks havoc in every facet of our lives -- work performance not least among them.
Mahevash Shaikh
Have you noticed that depression causes self-sabotage? I've noticed it myself. Since the past few months, my sleep schedule has gone for a toss. I find myself staying up late, even on days when I'm tired, and oversleeping has become the norm. The reason is this: increased depression due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Owing to this, my ability to work has been affected.
Nori Rose Hubert
We live in a culture that prioritizes productivity and output above connection, rest, and self-care -- all essential components to maintaining mental health. As such, our sense of self-worth is often intimately tied up with our professional and financial lives. When you live with bipolar disorder, and all of the workplace challenges that come with it, that sense of worthiness can plummet into a lurch of suicidal feelings and ideation. I know, because work stress has taken me to those depths. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Mahevash Shaikh
Did you know that workplace suicide is on the rise? According to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, there has been "an 11 percent increase in work-related suicides." Today, owing to the pandemic, mental health issues have taken a turn for the worse. In fact, the World Health Organization recently announced that "mental health, suicide prevention needs greater attention during pandemic." (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)