What it’s Like to Work when You Have Daily Bipolar Disorder

I live with daily bipolar disorder symptoms. This is called ultradian rapid cycling bipolar disorder. I was born with ultra rapid cycling bipolar disorder, but moved into ultradian due to medication side effects. Ultra rapid cycling means I have weekly- or monthly mood cycles. Ultradian means I have a mood swing on most days.

If you’re new to bipolar disorder, this is an ancient genetic illness that has not changed in 1000 years- but what HAS changed is the increased use of SSRI anti depressants as well as ADD meds for those of us with mental health disorders and like many people, taking these meds in the 1990s before enough was known about their effect on bipolar greatly increased my mood swings. It was thought these meds helped depression and increased productivity in people with bipolar. Nope. They just created more mania and rapid cycling.

My rapid cycling greatly affects my ability to work.

Work is a passion for many people. Animals work. We build and create and destroy and build again. For some, this includes working at what we would call a regular 9-5 job while others like myself have to make a living with entrepreneurial work due to the stresses of the regular work environment. I can say that work is the most difficult thing in my life and if I had one wish from a genie it would be to work with ease. (Well, first I would wish for the bipolar to be gone! So that would take care of the problem as well. ūüėČ )

My goal is to help people manage bipolar disorder from day one so that they don’t have to go through what I experience daily when I try to work! I share my story as a cautionary tale.

 This is an illness that will progress if fueled by outside events including what we put in our bodies- and if the illness progresses,  our ability to work and support ourselves will change as well- and not in a positive direction!

 

Work is about productivity. ¬†Depression takes away our ability to be productive with ease while mania often makes us so productive we’re more like a popcorn machine spitting out ideas and the beginnings of projects instead of a final, cohesive project. This includes everything we do in life. Mood swings affect all work- from keeping a house and car clean, taking care of the needs of children and actually working for money.

My daily life is focused on work as it is my main love in life. I get great pleasure from working and creating. Having bipolar TAKE this from me on a daily basis has always been the biggest struggle in my life. It continues to this day.

Don’t be like me! Keep away from SSRI drugs and ADD meds- even if it means telling a health care professional she or he needs more education about bipolar! Avoid cannabis marijuana with THC as it greatly increases so many of our symptoms. ¬†Go to sleep on the same day you woke up to keep your melatonin and serotonin balanced. ¬†I didn’t know to do any of this the first 20 years of my illness. Now, in many areas, it’s too late for me to change my brain back to how it was.

Learn from me. I wrote Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder from a place of experience. I was in a relationship for ten years with a man who has bipolar one (I wrote Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder for partners as I have a lot of experience as a partner!) ¬† I’ve had bipolar symptoms since age 16. I also have a separate psychotic disorder to complicate things!

 

Work is about stability. It’s hard to work when you have daily bipolar disorder, so do what you can to manage bipolar disorder. I have a simple saying…

 

Treat Bipolar First

 

… that I use every day. ¬†If you’re new to bipolar- if you or a loved one was just diagnosed, read Take Charge and truly do what it says. It will help you work and support yourself and those you care about. I can tell you that trying to forge your own path ¬†– such as staying up at night because you’re a night owl- or letting the mania thrive in order to work and then just waiting out the inevitable depressions that follow will not work in the long run. I tried it!¬†If you have bipolar and you want to work successfully, it can’t be a work experience based off mania. That simply won’t last. ¬†You will crash and burn. Work towards stability. It is NOT boring. I promise.

Decide today that treating bipolar first is your main goal in life.  Learn to manage bipolar so that you CAN WORK!

Julie 

 

 

 

 

 

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