Bipolar Disorder and Online School

Is online school right for me?
I originally wrote this post for parents of collage age kids who have bipolar.  If you’re a parent, please join me on The Stable Table, a private Facebook group for parents, caregivers and health care professionals.  My group for partners is The Stable Bed.  If you have bipolar, there is info here on how I approach online learning as a person with bipolar and a psychotic disorder. 
It sounds like online school is a perfect option for those who can’t deal with college life right now- but… as with anything related to bipolar, both sides have to be addressed before successful online learning can happen.
  1. Is the bipolar still a problem? If so, it will affect online learning the same as in person schooling.
  2. Can the child self direct and get assignments in without a lot of support from a classroom?
  3. Is there a disability service component to the school?
This is not a post about online learning during Covid-19. That is a different topic! This post is for those who tried college or a training program and had to leave due to bipolar. Please know that a degree or a trade is possible for anyone with bipolar- as long as we Treat Bipolar First and create a school environment that works for the bipolar brain.
I went to FOUR colleges and it took me 8 years to get a BA. We can do this!
My suggestions on the topic of high school, college/trade schools and bipolar:
Online learning opens a new world where you can connect with others through video and chat and study on your schedule. This can reduce anxiety, save money and get you the degree that you want and need.
You can learn a new skill or get a GED. Everything is at your fingertips now. To succeed in this environment, bipolar must be addressed.
If regular school is too much for you, don’t assume that online school will be easier. It might be! But it might not be.
Online school requires enormous self discipline and can be a challenge. Find your online balance. Take one class instead of signing for the full degree all at once. Maybe a combination of online work and meeting every three months live is what will work for you.
Read the Trigger chapter in Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder as a reminder of what helps and hinders study. Look at the lifestyle changes suggested in Take Charge. It might be that online school allows these changes a lot easier than a big campus.
Work with the disability department of your school. Ask for help with scheduling and test taking. Take a class with someone who can help you stay on track. Stick to your goal of finishing school while also creating a working situation that allows you to study and stick to a schedule.
Online degrees are not easier than in person degrees. They come with their own challenges.
Choose a degree that takes your work challenges into account and go for your dream! Online learning has revolutionized our world. Use it to your advantage.



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