Living with bipolar can be very tough because it affects so many different areas of your life. For example, when I first got diagnosed with bipolar, I had to figure out ways to NOT let negative comments and/or statements affect me. One small negative comment would consume my mind, and I would be thinking about it for days. The anxiety and stress would impact my mood and this would trigger a manic episode. So, to handle negative situations, I would choose my social circle carefully. I had to incorporate exercise into my lifestyle and change my diet because certain types of foods would interfere with my sleeping pattern. But, the biggest change I had to make was finding a career where I felt comfortable and didn’t add stress into my life. It’s well known that stress from work can be very bad for those living with bipolar because it can trigger mood swings.
I’ve learned a lot throughout the years because I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I was diagnosed in 2000 so have been living and managing bipolar for 17+ years. I wanted to share my thoughts as they apply to finding a job and what you can do to be in a career which doesn’t cause unnecessary stress in your life.
We’ll be exploring the following –
- Some options you have available for working from home
- Finding a job where you can work at your own pace
- Working in an environment which is positive or you have a positive group of people on your team
- Working where you have a calm structured environment
- Making your own hours
- Follow your passion
I believe the first option should always be to explore what’s available to you online. The expansion of the internet has allowed people living with bipolar to find work online. This also allows you to work from home at your own pace. After I was diagnosed I found it very hard to get up and go to work especially in the beginning stages of my mental illness. However, I soon found out I have other options available to me like freelance writing, filling out surveys, or even going on contractxchange.com.
Before you can start to find freelance work, it’s important for you to figure out what you’re good at i.e. writing, designing, administrative work, etc. Then you can head over to platforms like Fiverr.com or Freelance.com and explore some of the opportunities available to you. These networks have several jobs posted by people needing things like content written or minor coding done to their website. The pay depends on the project so you’ll find something averaging $8-$25 dollars an hour.
Working at Your Own Pace
I think this is very important to have flexibility at work if you are your own boss or if you work a 9-5 job. Because people who live with bipolar are sensitive to stress and anxiety, it always helps to be in a career where you’re left alone to complete projects. I encourage you to work in an environment where no one is continuously breathing down your neck, and you have the comfort of only reporting to your superior once a week. On the upside, you have space and can work on your own, but on the downside, you are left to set your own reminders.
The mobile app market does help because you have applications available like todoist which allows you to create a list, set reminders, and it’s free 🙂
Always work in an environment which is positive and where you have awesome support from your colleagues. It doesn’t help to have your co-workers saying negative things to you, and are in general negative people. This is a downer and can attract a lot of bad energy your way. Furthermore, this will lead to stress, anxiety and can trigger a mood episode. If you feel that your team is not supportive, you should let your superior know so both of you can come up with an alternative project to work on.
Calm and Structured Environment
It’s one thing to have a positive environment, but you want to make sure it’s structured at the same time. By this I mean, you should be working at a job where things flow smoothly, and you know exactly what you are hired to do. When it’s time to hand in projects, you should know who to contact and find help when you need it. It can be very stressful if the environment you are working in is chaotic especially when communication is all over the place. Remember, you’re trying to work and manage your bipolar so choosing a career which doesn’t give you anxiety and stress is very important.
No Shift Work and Structured Timing
I would recommend choosing a career with a set timing. By this I mean, it’s important to have a set time when you go to work, and you return home. An alternating schedule can affect your sleeping pattern, and when managing bipolar this is not a good thing. I’m sure at this point, we all know the connection between a poor sleeping pattern and how it can trigger manic episodes.
Follow Your Passion
To be happy at work, and really enjoy what your doing, you should follow your passion. When you are working in a job that you love, it will help reduce stress and anxiety because you are truly happy doing what you do. Ask yourself this question: What job would you be doing if you didn’t need money, but had to work?