Bipolar Disorder and the Struggle to Work

When a person struggles with bipolar disorder, it can often be very difficult for them to follow through with daily tasks and routines that most are capable and used to doing on a daily basis. Holding a job and working is one of them. This can be a huge road block for those who struggle with the disorder mentally, emotionally, and financially.

The fact that many with bipolar disorder cannot work is often judged and constantly misunderstood.  They may hear comments such as, but not limited to:

  • “Why can’t so and so work?”
  • “What is so difficult about going to work?”
  • “What does bipolar disorder have to do with it?”
  • “It’s laziness. There is no reason you aren’t able to work or hold a job.”
  •  “Everyone is expected to work. There is no reason you can’t.”
It is also a fact that those who make such comments are unfamiliar and uneducated about the illness.

In fact, there are many factors that make carrying out daily tasks difficult and strenuous on a bipolar individual. There are many symptoms of the disorder that contribute and that can cause disruption in their daily  lives.

If unfamiliar with bipolar disorder, bipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain characterized as alternating mood changes (also known as mood swings) of mania and depression. Bipolar is often referred to now as a physical illness and not just a mental illness because it can also affect their lives physically as well. For example, their energy levels which can greatly affect their ability to accomplish and carry out those daily tasks.

During mania, a person living with the disorder may exhibit an increase in energy, excessive or rapid speech, insomnia, spending sprees, irritability, aggression, and an overall seemingly hyper and/or agitated personality.

During depression, an individual living with the disorder may present common depression symptoms such as, a decrease in energy, sadness, withdrawn behavior, aggression, irritability, feelings of hopelessness and/or abandonment (lonely), crying, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or ideations, and negative self-image, thoughts, and thinking patterns.

Even with the mood changes between mania and depression, bipolar individuals also can and do experience some “normal” states which often require treatment of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and/or anti-psychotic medications from a licensed psychiatrist.

Now this still may raise questions about how these mood changes can affect a person living with bipolar disorder so greatly. With these drastic mood changes, a person who lives with bipolar disorder emotions, mentality, and overall appearance both physically and mentally changes.

In times of mania, the individual may be unusually productive which actually can be very helpful when working a job and completing daily tasks. They may describe these feelings as “I have never been feeling better.” and “life is great!”  After the mania starts to develop and swing into a depression state, the individual may start to feel and appear too overstimulated which can lead into the anxiety, irritability, and aggression. Once the over-stimulation stage occurs, it may suddenly become very difficult for them to concentrate and finish up the task they were currently attending to without becoming frustrated, irritable, and overwhelmed.

In times of depression, individuals with bipolar disorder may feel unmotivated, a decrease in energy levels, an overall sadness, and unhappiness in their lives. Some may describe these feelings and episodes as, “I’m bored with my life.”  “Noting matters anymore.” No one cares about me.” Things would just be easier if I wasn’t around.” There are times where the depression becomes too low to even function at all. With depression, it is common for them to feel apathetic towards life. The feelings of hopelessness, sadness, the negative thoughts/worries, and unusually low energy levels can sometimes result in more serious complications such as suicide.

In a work environment, it can be very difficult to cope with the severity of the symptoms. At work, most people tend to try to be on their best behaviors. Bipolar individuals strive to do the same. When they are at work and are experiencing such severe and sudden changes in their moods and symptoms, it may become way too overwhelming to cope with both the stress of the work, the overall environment (feelings of discomfort and lack of support), and the changes they are currently experiencing within themselves. With all of this happening at once, this can very easily create a recipe for disaster causing the individual to leave or skip work , quit, and/or even result in a termination in employment. When bipolar individuals start repeating the patterns of quitting or being terminated from a job, it may be a good idea to create or turn to a safety net such as SSI, SSDI, or other sources of income/support.

It is very important for those who struggle with bipolar disorder to be properly medicated, have regular doctors appointments, and to ultimately be stable before setting out to work. It is also true that there are many successful working bipolar individuals who can go to work daily. This article may definitely be a not-all statement. Some factors that possibly make it more possible for them to succeed in their work environment would be:
  • The type of job. Something not too stressful and/or something they enjoy doing.
  • The job setting or the environment.
  • Having an understanding employer.
  • The amount of hours or the shifts.
  • Successful, while on-the-job coping techniques.
  • Seeing a therapist and psychiatrist often.
  • Stabilized moods – Having the correct and working medications.

So, what’s the deal?  People with mental illness and bipolar disorder require a little more understanding and support. It’s not that they don’t want to work or because they are lazy, it’s because of a chemical imbalance in the brain that greatly and ultimately affects their daily lives. It can become very frustrating and stressful for the bipolar individual not being able to work when they really want it. It can affect their self-esteem and their personal life as well.  Working is definitely an obstacle for some bipolar individuals, but we’ve learned there is always hope and there are always more tries and options.  Never give up and always believe in yourself.

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  1. Hello all,

    I am a 32 married mama of a 1 year old little boy. I am 5 classes away from getting a Bachelor’s in Child Protective Services. I have went through 15 different jobs since moving to the the area where my husband is from. I don’t have Medicaid and we are rock bottom. We are being sued by a daycare (the lady who runs it gave me the wrong child, wouldn’t fill out his time sheet(his daily activities), had scratches, bruises, and covered in boogers. I owe damn near 40, 000 and some change to the hospital for numerous medical problems I have had (excluding mental illness related), I refuse to talk to my sister and dad (I can share why at some point) my mom has Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy so I avoid her like the plague, and my husbands family isn’t much better. My husband and I have been together for 7 years and our relationship was built on rocky foundations. I often have thoughts of running away, divorce, and seperating. I don’t want our son to not have his mother, but I feel I am falling out of love? with my husband. I am beginning to just hate him for not understanding this illness. He was romantic a few times in the beginning, but the last 4 years we lost 3 cars, lived in 2 condemned houses, was sued twice, gone terribly in debt, and he had to drop out of college because we couldnt afford it. We have 4 pets and we have seriously considered giving them up but we have a pit bull, and a gshepherd and we wont give them to just anyone. I also have PCOS which is polycystic ovarian syndrome, (reproductive disorder) and a learning disability. I don’t think he ever would say it, but I feel my husband secretly hates me for being this way. I hate me too. I hate that i cant provide for our baby. I hate that my sister owes me 7 grand and will never pay me back and she calls herself catholic (I am an atheist), i hate that my dad has more of a relationship with his dolls than he does with a human woman. I hate the fact my mom was never there and when she was, she beat me, and starved me, and missed so many things in my life..I hate that we just bought a house last year and are close to losing it. I hate the fact that i have to even write this because i feel ashamed, ugly and afraid of becoming just like that awful person that birthed me. I hate that I have wishful thinkings of robbing a bank, or wishing my husband would go back to selling drugs (oh yeah, that was super fun to find out), or that we would win the lotto, or anything. I cant believe I have allowed myself to stoop so low that I wish these things. Sometimes I wish I never met him. I wish I was a better wife, a mother, and a friend. I wish I didnt have this illness but I struggle so deep with it, that I wont even talk to anyone in the family about it, on either side. my sister is too judgemental, my dad is just terrible with advice and they both make me feel like scum. I hardly have any friends because I dont like a lot of people, and the people I do like are 2 hours from me. I cant get a job because I have burnt so many bridges in this dinky town, and everyone knows everyone. When I look at my son I want him to see me, not the bipolar, or depression, or anger. I dont want him to ever look at me in fear, or spite because of my actions or words. I am to the point where I want to move back to Norfolk (2 hours from me) and take my son and just say screw it. Also, the other problem i am having is being treated like poop on a stick because I am an atheist. I worked like 3 jobs were I had bible bashers all over me and I was engulfed. I just want the help I need to get through this, get a job and keep it and move on with my life. I am so tired of people saying i had a hand out or whatever, I worked hard to get where I am at, and I didnt work hard to get where im at, my birthday was recent and we couldnt even afford a cake. Which is fine, I didnt deserve a cake. My laptop got repossessed. Our new ford fushion got taken back, but we got a cheaper, stinkier car, like litterally it stinks in there, we are always overdrafting damn near 700 a month, we are behind on our house payments, insurance, gas, and the whole lot of utilities. I am seriously venting, I dont need any negative comments, I am sure I will get some. Also, love life is seriously out of sorts. I dont think he wants towaste the time to pleasure me, and I suspect other problems could be that hes tired. He always gets off and leaves me in the wind. Must be nice. I usually just masterbate and get it over with, and he’s caught me in the past masterbating right next to him, I did it one because i was horny, and two because I hate him for doing that to me, even to this day.

  2. I just have to let this out somewhere. I have become quite angry & frustrated by how hard it is for me to find work! I am an extremely hard and dedicated worker! And I am always careful to not even disclose my mental health woes to employers because I’ve been there, done that and employers who know are complete and utter sociopathic A-holes! But its like potential employers can sense it or something! And I am psychologically different enough that I can only hide it so much and for so long! And honestly I am just feeling hopeless, defeated, and sick and tired of being blatantly discriminated against! And people can play semantics all they want, but it is discrimination, period! Heck I’ve even been told by one employer that I wasn’t allowed back because quote, “I can’t be sure you won’t do that again’, referencing me needing time off during one of my darkest suicidal depressive episodes, with FMLA approval btw. Now if thats not discrimination then I don’t what is, refusing to keep employing me just because I went through a brief period where I literally was lethargic to the point I couldn’t help myself, I was literally bed ridden for weeks! And it wasn’t ‘laziness’ as many jerk wads have accused me, so get over yourself if thats what you’re thinking, you don’t know and you ought to be thankful you don’t instead of wasting time condemning me! Anyways I am just quite angry and annoyed with the biased way the working world is set up to be against people like me! I am sick to death of it all!

    • My daughter has been through the same thing. Just today with only her second day on the job, they let her go saying that it appeared she was on something.

      To top it off, she told the lady that hired her she is bi-polar and on medication but it has not effected her ability to do her job. She was sick yesterday, and it is the trainer that felt she was on something and because she specializes in laser hair and body treatment they felt she was a risk.

      Now tell me, would she have become a Master at her level in labor and completed school and become certified if she was a risk to people’s safety. She just left her last job as their top employee with great service and a clients that follow her when she moves to another job.

      They did not even give her a week> So yes discrimination is alive and well for people who suffer from bipolar disorder.

  3. For those interested, I am the Founder of Bipolar Career Advisors. We are a career coaching and counseling firm focused on the needs of the bipolar community – myself being bipolar II. We have a proven methodology we have used with over 1,000 people, some of whom have been diagnosed bipolar. We have taken this proven methodology and tailored it for the needs of the bipolar community.

    Check us out if interested:

    You deserve a fulfilling career. Bipolar shouldn’t define you professionally.

  4. I just came across this blog and it instantly brought me to tears yet I felt relieved at the same time. I was crying because I felt as if you were taking the words right out of my mouth, the thoughts right out of my head, and my feeling straight out of my heart. An the relief was because finally I didn’t feel crazy !!! You have no idea what reading this along with all these responses has done for me.
    It seems like I have been struggling with this my whole life. I has always never been able to control, stay positive, and stay sane if that males sense… It was bad enough trying to battle everyday with myself to be happy or to even get up in the morning because I didn’t and still really understand what’s going with me and why this is happening but then to also have to explain or try to explain what’s going on with me to my family , friends, and co workers is unbarable. I’ve tried to manage but it’s not working…it feels like I don’t have control anymore.
    Everyone says I’m lazy , that I don’t want to work, that I just want things to come easy to me, that im selfish and don’t care about the well being of my boyfriend and son because I can’t keep a job to support them. Little do they know I wish I could be like them..i wish it was as easy for me to go to work and be a productive adult like it is for them. I want to work. I want to be successful and make my son proud , an provide for him, I want to be happy; I’m a dental assistant.. I went to school and have worked in the field on and off since 2012. I can never keep a job longer than a year but it seems like things have gotten extremely worse since I had my son. I’m always anxious, sad, scared, depressed, bad self image, all of the above..I used to be able to hide it pretty well, and keep a job for a at least a few months by only allowing myself to call in or make up an excuse to not go in no more than once a week. It was hard but it was doable..I guess… Today was my first day at great dental office, with great pay and benefits, great hours, not far from my was simply the perfect job. I woke up today and immediately started getting ready for my day..but no more than 10 minutes into my daily routine and I feel it coming on. It starts in my stomach, then my.heart races, then I get nauseous..thats when I realize what’s happening so I try to tell myself to calm down an that it’s OK an it’s jus in my head an how bad I need this job an how.lucky I am but it doesn’t work..jus like every other time. So I didn’t show up, I couldn’t. Now that job is gone and I’m back to square one..which is after I’ve sabotaged myself for the day it’s like I snap out of it an am relaxed for about 30 minute an I feel calm, I feel better like things will b ok now but then I feel another urge …the urge to get up try an fix everything that I just destroyed by not showing up at work…I immediately look for a new job, I try to figure out I’m going to get money to pay my bills. Im tired of being a disappointment, a failure and a loser, I can’t live like this anymore…it feels like I’m drowning… What’s the first step? I’ve never gotten help or even talked to anyone about this other than my mom and boyfriend..but they think im being dramatic..should I make a appointment with my doctor and ask to speak to a phycologist?
    Please tell me your opinions, Id love to know what you think.
    Thanks you so much for writing this, it was comforting.

    • I am going through almost the EXACT same thing…you are not alone. It’s like you took the words out of my mouth too. I hope you are ok. This sucks so much I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I hope you were able to find a dr and get started with treatment. I am doing the same. Just starting with a regular dr who can hopefully refer me to a psych. I wish I had more helpful advice…but I just wanted to say you are not alone and this is a very real and awful illness and it’s not just you being dramatic…and I hope you are ok. Sending love and hugs across the internet to you.

    • My name is nicole and i am experiencing this AS WE SPEAK. its so frustrating to get hired and work a normal job when im only limited to availability to work. i have a 7 year old son thats autistic and i live with my parents. ive been unemployed for a year now bc no job is flexible to give me a flexible schedule. so its super frustrating. its difficult for me to hold a job as well bc i do have anxiety and im the only person that looks after my son. ugh…… life seems so difficult right now, its frustrating… :/

  5. I ran my own business for 2 1/2 years, but I think I lost control of it cause of my bipolar disorder. Now I am 41 looking for a job and it hasn’t been easy. During my past few manic episodes, I have picked up some criminal charges. Those criminal charges are making it hard for me to find a job cause of my background now. I have children to provide for by paying child support but I have gotten behind in that. I applied for disability before and I was turned down. I didn’t even try appealing the decision. I feel lost and hopeless. I haven’t got out the bed in the past 3 days.

    • Michael,
      I know bipolar is hard. I have been with bipolar for 46 years. I have lost jobs as well and I have a dwi arrest background. I work for Sams Club, I think that working for a large company has helped me. I am able to miss days and they allow you to work extra hours, especially when you feel ok. Good luck

  6. (((robinson.buckler @ yahoo .com))) … restored my relationship and my boyfriend came back to me…………………………………

  7. Really great post. Insightfull

  8. I must have stared at the dishes for an hour boarding a panic attack. There were 4 plates and 2 cups in the sink. I feel useless in these moments and forever grateful that they happen the most when I am alone. My room mate came home on lunch. Washed one plate and cup and said ” I know you can do this. I believe in you.” And just as I had the energy to do it, it was snapped away by the fact that I am not working. And the depression hit. Dishes are still in the sink…..

  9. All of us with bipolar who work, FMLA is our best friend. Any employer with over fifty employees is federally mandated to allow leave without penalty under the Family Medical Leave Act (thanks, Bill Clinton). Usually you have to wait about a year on the job before you’re able to apply. It has allowed me to keep a good paying but high stress job for 5 1/2 years now, my longest job ever and I am 40 years old. Any time I am symptomatic or just need some extra self care I call in sick using FMLA. You get 12 weeks of leave in a rolling calendar year. Check it out.

  10. Pray for me I get to the doctor for the first time .I have been diagnostics with bio polor.I’m scare,I no I’m not right and I have known it for years and I just can’t take it anymore,I’m sad,then happy,then I’m on the defec, for what I don’t know,I can’t think,I can’t learn new things,I get really irritated with my kids and husband,I get really confused if I have a lot going on at once like a pantic attack. Were I run to my car just to put my head on the steering wheel and breath for a minute. I forget where I’m going. Alot!!I can’t complete anything,can’t remember thing that people just told me,,,at times I just want to lay down and just stop,,,god forbid you ask me to go to Walmart. I’m completely crazy and over whelmed before I get out,I just hip and quit my job after ten years because I was missing it.I’m just lost.

    • My thoughts and prayers are with you. Hang in there. The road to recovery takes some time, but after receiving a diagnosis it actually gets a little easier to treat the symptoms you have been experiencing. Stay strong and ask your doctors questions. Find a strong support system and know that therapy can really help you through this. You can do this! 🙂

    • I have been taking medicine since age 13. I was told I had bipolar at age 19. I have 5 children ages 21,18,13,12,11. I have been on disability for 10 years. I have been in an abusive marriage for 14 years, abusive childhood. I have a daughter with aspergers and a son with a mood disorder. I’m so tired of not living. I live to take care of everyone else. The ups and downs. Not keeping a job. I’ve always been told how smart I am. So why haven’t I worked for 10 years. I can’t get life insurance. Recently social security did a review. It shook me up and I feel pushed to get a job. Everyone is telling me I can’t. I’m 36 years old if not now when? At age 50, when I haven’t worked for over 20 years. I feel alone. I feel worthless. I fight with myself everyday and fighting with people exhaust me. I was a nurse who didn’t keep up my certification. I’ve only taken care of my disabled children my grandmother who is renal failure for 10 years. Working couldn’t be worse. I’m scared. I don’t want bipolar. I’m either cycling or withdrawing from medicine. I’m trying to take it 1 day at a time. My dr., therapist family, voc rehab tell me not to do it I want make it. I go to take the compass test next week only 2 tries if I don’t pass I’ll have to come up with a plan B. But I’m tired of not living. It wasn’t suppose to be like this. I’m not lazy. I don’t want bipolar. I don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want special attention. I just want to live and be NORMAL. I want my kids to see despite what they have they can make it. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone now or later. I’ve overcome so much. I tell myself everyday god didn’t bring me this far for me to give up now. Bipolar is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with. Why? Because no one understands and your constantly being pushed to your limits. Your fighting yourself. How to be in control. Fighting with other people exhaust you. I will tell you I’ve learned putting yourself in stressful situations make it worse. To late now my heart want allow me to give my kids up to my abusive husband. Bipolar is dealing with a lot of guilt that is overwhelming. Always second guessing. Thinking the worst. Not seeing any good. I don’t care how much you try to redirect your thinking. I don’t know what my future hold. But today I have to be stronger than yesterday. I am setting out not telling anyone I have bipolar. I am going to try to go to school and get a job. I don’t know what the future holds and it scares me. Tomorrow I mite feel different. Later today I might feel different. But I do know this never change, I don’t want bipolar anymore I just want to be me.

    • Hi my name is tinsay Weldegiorgis I just wanted to till you drop everything in God and Rrad bible because he has the key pise of mind, health
      “Psalm 106:30 vers 47 save as, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nation’s , that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. “

      • Those are beautiful words. I will start reading the bible. That’s the only thing I have left as he is the only one that can possibly help this. I am so tired of my whole life being bipolar. Every second, every thing revolves around bipolar. I need prayer I’m at the point of not being able to deal with my kids. I’m so angry. That is the worst, feeling a lot of anger

  11. I have bipolar disorder. All that is listed in the article applies to me, I started laughing so hard when I read it because finally someone understands that it’s not that I am a “failure’ or “lazy” there’s actually something wrong with me and I don’t have enough money to treat that ! I quit my work after several absences and leaves, and the last month I skipped without even notifying my superiors and that got me in trouble but I quit. Now I am afraid to get another job although I really need the money, but I’m afraid because my depression phase is really severe that I literally can’t get out of bed in the morning. What to do??

  12. QUESTION!?!?

    I have bipolar disorder and was diagnosed two years ago after I took three leave of absence from work because of my depression and eventuall dropped that job. I got a new job a few months later and only lasted a month. I am now working at home Depot and I love it. Lately I’ve been missing at least one day a week and this is how it’s been for ten months now. I know I will eventually get fired but it is beyond my control and like everyone else I feel guilty, more upset, and an all around failure. I am thinking about going on ssd because I know even if I get a new job it will be the same thing and I want to be more stable before I am ready to work and deal with the stress (I also have social anxiety so that also plays a role) but my mother is always telling me I am able to work and it’s just an excuse and I need to learn to control it better when really I am trying my hardest I want nothing more than to be normal..

    How do I talk to or what I should I tell her to make her understand it’s not that easy and ssd might be my only option if I get fired from this job??

    She thinks everything I do or say is my bipolar that I am nothing but bipolar and doesn’t understand that besides my irrational emotional behavior I am a normal human being. She is constantly reminding me I am “mentally sick” and is always putting me down. She is toxic for me but I can’t afford to live on my own even if I was steady with my job.. Hopefully after reading that and getting an idea of how she thinks someone can help me come up with a way to help her understand why I am thinking of social security disability

    *in between my leave of absence I was admitted to the hospital for my depression and the therapist recommended me to get on disability once I got out but I didn’t understand why because I had recently been diagnosed and was confused about everything.

  13. I would like to follow this blog but I can’t find the “follow” button.

  14. Thanks, this is truly the best article I’ve ever read on this. I’m 25 and have never held a job for more then 9 months, I feel guilty and lazy for not supporting my family. I’m judged often by others because I’ve quit/been fired from over 20 jobs. Its embarrassing for be to write this stuff. I seem to struggle with all commitments besides my marriage thanks to my amazing wife and best friend that sticks by me no matter what and understands me for the most part. Well enough with the rant but thanks for writing this article.

  15. helpafreindplease

    My husband is scheduled to see a judge his bd is so bad im nervous for him to see a judge.he has supported our family for years but this last yr he got so depressed he was fired.Im almost certain the judge is gona scare him…… pray for us.thanks u guys n im praying for each of you…..

  16. I’m in tears reading this plus others stories. I’m barely hanging in here and finally having the courage to admit my diagnosis …..I feel like im going crazy living a double life a true monster. I feel hope reading this but most people don’t understand this condition. What’s next??? What can I do?

    • I hope you are doing better. I understand how tough it can be to explain this illness to other people. It is extremely difficult at first, but I have faith it will get better through more awareness and education on these topics. Best of luck to you. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    • And please know that you are not a monster. You are wonderful 🙂

  17. Thanks for writing such an important post. And I wanted to thank you for following my blog.

  18. Hello – Thanks for writing this. I was just recently diagnosed with BP but I have been with the same company for 10 years. The past two years I have been struggling at my job, performance is terrible and I feel like I need to leave because my boss is stressing me out to the point that I have mild panic attacks at work. I’d like to just quit but I have a child and no support from anyone else.

    • You’re welcome. I can relate to what you are experiencing. I hope everything works out okay at your job. If not, don’t stress too much. The perfect position for you might be waiting. Try to only take on what you can handle and take care of yourself. Everything will be okay and know that you are definitely not alone in this struggle. 🙂

    • I know the feeling. I actually just walked out after 3.5 years yesterday. I have really bad anxiety and stress and was diagnosed about 4 years ago as a manic depressive but then my doctor told me this past year that it is bipolar. My work did not understand and the managers ganged up on me and falsely wrote me up and instead of accepting the write up I walked away to cool off and try to get breathing again but once I walked out of the door I wasn’t allowed back in. I just changed departments a few days prior so that added an extra load of stress too. Good luck at what you choose to do!

  19. Thank you

  20. Pingback: I’m Going Crazy | Eros & Psyché

    “Help me! Help me!”
    The voice screams like a freakish animal caught in a cartoon trap. The aging metal bed with peeling paint is the solitary thing in the pale green, windowless room. His naked body lays in it. A round globe of light dangling from a long ceiling chain burns downward on him.
    “Help me! Help me!” the voice keeps pleading.
    His outstretched arms and legs are tied with twisted sheets to the four bed corners.
    He is a human X—unknown to himself, unknown to others. As he struggles to free himself, the knots only become tighter.

  22. Thank you, Kait, for looking at my blog and following it. I’m a 57 yr. old bipolar. So Having bipolar is not new to me; but blogging about it definitely is. I’m a bit shy, so I started out by writing book reviews just to test my mettle. Now I’ve proven I can do this, I will have to do more personal blogging to share what I’ve learned. Let me begin by saying that this article is one of the best articulated tidbits about bipolar disorder. You hit the nail on the head and I can say for sure that my years of “employment/unemployment” fit the pattern you write about here. I can’t remember keeping a job for more than 3 years at a time. The only job I can be proud of these days is rearing my children and staying in one marriage for 33 years. But that really speaks well of my husband. And I think I have the most understanding kids in the world!

    Relationships are difficult. Most of the time, people do not understand the changeability of the mood swings. To them, I am two faced (although really, there are about 3 personalities if you count a manic one, a depressive one and a normal one). Most people just don’t go the extra mile to get to know me and hang in there. it can get discouraging. I find this especially true in Christian communities/families/churches. You would think there would be more understanding and tolerance, but in actuality many are just social clubs and if you are different, they have a way of making you feel unwelcome. Still and all, I have made a few friends over the decades and treasure those.

    I hope you continue to write. It will be a pleasure to read your thoughts.

    • My book BIPOILAR BUFFALO may be of interest to you. Would enjoy a coment or review. For boiok stories, reviews and art work see


    • Thank you for visiting my blog and for sharing your story. I feel I can relate to a lot of what you experience and have experienced. I hope you hang in there and know that things will work out in time. I hope others care to become educated and supportive towards mental health so that relationships are easier. Not everyone will be as understanding as we’d hope, but there are still many out there who love and accept with open arms. I wish you well and hope all is going great. Thanks again!

  23. for me, ssdi was the only choice. even i still look down on myself for not being able to work–and i know that i cant! if i look down on me, what must others think? even for those of us ‘in the know’ of the difficulties of working with bipolar still have difficulty coping with it and accepting that we cant work.

    • I understand how you feel about being on disability. It feels depressing sometimes, but know that you tried your best and that they made it possible for people with bipolar to receive benefits for a reason. Some day you can reach out and try again when you feel ready. Hang in there! 🙂

      (I apologize for my delay on responding to these posts. I feel like a total jerk.)

  24. Excellent! I feel like you’ve walked a mile in my shoes…

  25. Thank you for the information. I was diagnosed with bipolar about 6 years ago. I’ve loss many job opportunities due to this disorder. However, I was able to rise again. Now I’m working in a government agency. I’ve found solace and hope in prayer and seeking God, allowing Him to guide me everyday.

  26. The sleeplessness and insomnia are the hardest part of BP on the job for me. Leading to exhaustion and freeway accidents. The only remedy, unfortunately, powerful medications whose effects are unknown.

  27. You don’t know how much this is me right now. I just quit my job because it overwhelmed me. This has stunted my family, my career, and my life. I feel so stupid that I did it, but couldn’t go through another day with the way I was feeling. Now, I feel stupid. I’m lying about my job status to my family, and friends.

    • I totally understand and I have done the same many times. You are not alone. I hope things are going a bit better for you now. Don’t ever feel stupid. You only know of what you can handle and maybe it is best to just take care of you for a while. It feels crappy to quit, but it’s much more important to be healthy. Try not to feel ashamed. You are doing great! 🙂

  28. Thank you for following my blog. After more than a year I decided to post an article about how I was feeling, and I got a significant amount of interest (for me). I read this article and it inspired me to finally try SSD. My pride took a hit, but perhaps it will be the boost I need to get help while searching for a job I won’t quit after one year. That is, if I’m approved. Although most people don’t get approved. I hope I’m approved. =/

    • Hi. I’m so sorry for the delay in my responses. I hope you are close to getting approved and am proud of you for applying. It took me over a year and getting a lawyer to be approved for SSI. The lawyer helped a great deal. I hope you are doing well and would love to hear how the process is going. 🙂

  29. So proud of you for doing what you are doing!:-) Happy New Year! I am doing well! When I look back at where I have come from, I have come a long way! Life is good when I take it “One day at a time!” God bless you, you are a blessing! 🙂

    • Thank you. It means so much to me to hear such positive reactions and comments. “One day at a time” is one of my mottos and something my mom always reminds me of too. Wishing you all the best and thanks again!
      Happy New Year!

  30. Reading your blog actually made me cry, so overwhelmed I was at finding someone who understands and explains BP so well. I will recommend those who deal with me to your blog. My personal work history was doing really well, same job for ten years, then I just lost it. I quit my management position, then a year later I quit entirely. That was in October. I am voluntarily unemployed right now, trying to get my own business going, but that is becoming very difficult as well. Thank you for following me and bringing my attention to your blog.

    • Aw, thank you. I don’t mean to make you cry, but I’m glad you find this blog helpful. It truly means a lot. I can definitely relate and understand about how difficult working can be. I have quit many opportunities myself and became unbelievably depressed about it, but I have found that better things often come along in time. Things will turn out alright. 🙂

  31. Thank you for following my WordPress! Your encapsulation of Bipolar is very well done! Happy New Year!


    • It is difficult for others to understand. I hope one day that will change though. Stay positive and keep your head up. All will be okay! Thank you for commenting 🙂

  33. Thank you! It makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one…outside people’s perception of me is ridiculous. I’m 34 and on SSDI, and I look fine. I can go shopping at the mall, or go on vacations, why can’t I work? My family doesn’t get it and it makes me even more thankful for my boyfriend who gets it enough…we’re both still trying to figure it out 🙂

    • You’re welcome and you’re definitely not the only one. I often thought I was viewed the same when I didn’t work. I began to feel ashamed even though I was struggling with an illness that was out of my control. I am glad you have an understanding boyfriend. That is a great blessing. Best of luck to you and hope you are well. 🙂

  34. I am a lawyer, I also have BP. I have tried many different ways of working in my profession – private practice, government,corporate,community and as a sole operator. Nothing has ever really worked in a way that has allowed me to work for clients – my moodswings are not well controlled and depressions last for months, it’s not fair to people who rely on you for a service not to be able to perform it. I couldn’t guarantee a client that I could complete the file.

    I work part time now on a contract basis doing behind the scenes work, research and other consultancy tasks that can largely be completed at home relying on the internet and phone for communication. If I was better controlled I would still be working in the community legal setting, it’s just not to be in my case.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your work situation. I’ve had similar struggles too when working. Working with people can be really difficult for me. I still think it’s amazing that you are able to work in the legal setting. That is progress. You never know, you may get to work with clients again, but if not, that’s okay too. Always keep trying! Thanks for commenting 🙂

    • Bluesmans5555 – Your story touches me deeply. It is obvious how service-minded you are and to feel that you can’t deliver that services to others must feel like being in a prison. I am scared to return to work. I have been out of work for 2 months after my company went bankrupt and have had a relatively peaceful and stable existence. Now I am about to enter the workforce in suburban Boston. Hopefully it will not be too cut-throat or political. The older I get, the less I care what kind of work I do as long as I am happy doing it. We shall see what happens in this new job.

  35. YES! Great piece, keep up the terrific work. This is the type of information that should gain recognition for it’s craft. More writers should learn from you. This is right on the money.

  36. Great post! I’m on my 11th job since 2007, and I know most of the people in my life have been frustrated with the fact that I keep getting overwhelmed and switching jobs. I’m just starting to get behind thinking that some social security support would be a good idea for me. It’s just a hard conclusion to reach, especially since I’m only 26.

    I think the biggest thing that throws people off is that I can function above and beyond when I am in a hypomanic state, and I often become the “star” employee. As soon as my mood changes my productivity hits a brick wall and my boss and co-workers begin to harass me because I’m not performing like I used to. It is an intensely bizarre phenomenon for those on the outside looking in, and unfortunately most of America today still has a lot to learn about mental illness in general.

    • I can totally relate to your situation a lot. I completely agree about the need for more people to look in and understand mental illness. It’s very important for others to understand. It would help those struggling with mental illness immensely.

    • Hi Colonial Punk.

      I am a bipolar TEACHER. I have been a teacher for 9 years. I told my last principal I was bipolar. He said that he would pray for me. I was working in the South where prayer is the answer to anything and everything. Too bad prayer won’t work to mitigate a mental illness that requires medical treatment and a cocktail of drugs to manage.

      I got great evaluations for the first 2/3 of the year and then crashed out towards the end of the year. I took a 12-day unpaid medical leave of absence. My students had no idea why. I lied to them and told them I was sick with a horrible virus when they asked me where I was. I felt bad lying to a room full of kids who generally liked me and did what I asked, but it had to be done. I was not going to explain the fact that I had bipolar in front of a room full of 35 kids. I said all that to say that you are right: it is dangerous to “come out” with your illness because the vast majority of the American population either has no idea about the facts of bipolarity or radically stigmatize those who do have it. It is a shame we live in such an ignorant society where the sick are treated like second class citizens.

  37. I like what you had to say, some I’ve been able to work, same job for 19yrs, but it’s been hard, I need to work, I feel that’s the only thing in life I’m good at, so thank you I can totally relate, keep in touch!

    • That is fabulous to hear! A true success story 🙂

    • KAIT,
      Thanks for linking up to my BIPOLAR BUFFALO.COM website
      Your “Weathering the Storm” post was excellent. Also your heading art piece with the lightening and flowers was beautifully done.

      Aside from being a work of literature, what I try to show in my book-
      BIPOLAR BUFFALO – A Mosaic of Minds Journey, is that people with bipolar problems need human contact and understanding from others yet they do not (or are very reluctant) to expose themselves because of the great risks involved- losing a job, a friend , or a person you may fall in love with. Bipolars are more reluctant “to come out” than gays.

      Only now at my old age do I now longer have any risks – I have no job to lose, a stable 42 year marriage and friends who are either my age or dead.
      See more at my website BIPOLAR BUFFALO or my facebook page under
      anthony antek.

      • Kait,
        Had trouble with my password, not sure if my earlier post reached you.
        you can reach me by email at
        or my website Thanks. Tony

      • Thanks so much for your comments. I am glad you like my blog and enjoy the banner. I will definitely check out your book and your website, thank you!

      • I clearly need your plastic surgeon! Not finding your picture on your BIPOLAR BUFFALO page, I went to your fb page where I shared your book info and the Timeline Photo of a representative of myself with a frog on my chest. I’m impressed. I’m intrigued. The partials of your book are mighty fine. The first twenty three or so posts of my contain the bipolar and Alzheimer’s mix I was with an 89 year old woman. I wish you well! Karen Lohof (facebook)

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