Bipolar and work

By nja1874 Latest Activity April 1, 2011 at 12:23 am Views 6,426 Replies 455 Likes 89


Is it possible to be bipolar and work? I attend a bipolar group and everyone is either on disability or unemployed.
If you work, can you tell me some of the challenges?
I will be on meds soon and want to go back to work, but feel scared.
Any feedback will be appreciated.

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Replies (455 replies)

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  • Atrocitus
    Atrocitus July 28 at 6:28 pm   

    I'm a general manager in the hospitality field. I find being in a busy field helps me through the day to day. I still swing a lot but it is masked by the chaos around me I think. But my performance does go up and down, so I hired and trained a pretty steady team to support me. By the way no one at work knows anything personal about me and I keep it that way.

  • Canuck in Ohio
    Canuck in Ohio June 25 at 6:35 pm   

    I had a great job… I had a pretty bad period of time that I was WAY out of the 'norm'. I lost my job… I found another that was less than ideal, no challenge, and basically a place where I could get through the day with very minimal effort. Not exactly a dream but definitely easy to manage when I have bad days, weeks, or even months. I'd say look a less challenging positions and fill in with part time or pickup jobs when you are doing your best.

  • Steven Hess
    Steven Hess June 25 at 12:22 pm   

    I am very worried about working now. I am newly diagnosed and have terrible depression and anxiety.

  • Elephant Shoe
    Elephant Shoe June 25 at 9:13 pm   

    You will find work after your healing process
    takes place. You are super capable of many different things!!

  • ivan.drago
    ivan.drago April 16 at 7:51 pm   

    What are some tips for dealing with BPD and your field? How do you manage your moods and meds with such a busy schedule? What tips do you have regarding on-call and night shifts, stigma, married life and children?

  • jess2188
    jess2188 March 10 at 9:06 am   

    I work but sometimes is so hard I cry at work I have anxiety attacks at work luckily I am by myself most of the day some days I can't go in to work I can barely get out of bed I hope I don't lose my job I love it

  • bronte43
    bronte43 September 9 at 5:31 am   

    I don't disclose that I have bipolar 2 I tell my boss I have anxiety !

  • andie8628
    andie8628 September 8 at 12:53 pm   

    I work as a stylist .my bp sometimes gives me a flare and makes me do more adventures things .a lot of the time thou it makes me very snappy and irritable .my work mates are very understanding but it's awfull in a way cause it's always with you at work too so can be real difficult ,especially when exhausted or really ill when ive had to ring in ill but u try not to let people down

  • shineon
    shineon July 31, 2015 at 11:56 am   

    of corse ! Many people are stable and live happy normal lives who work hard to get there -strength

  • derrach06
    derrach06 June 8, 2015 at 10:45 am   

    I do too. No one wants to hire me because I call in a lot. And have mood swings.

  • derrach06
    derrach06 June 8, 2015 at 10:46 am   

    I want to work with computers but I don't have the money to go back to school.

  • brian4
    brian4 April 16, 2015 at 6:39 pm   

    that is a good question for me I found that my symptoms skyrocket at work but of course I am just starting treatment for bipolar 1 and I am on trial with medications. I started a new treatment team with my new insurance and I am on disability I did try working once because I thought I was ready and missed working since it is all I knew and not used to being home all day and it was a nightmare for me I wasn't myself and I was back to square one with all my symptoms

  • starr28
    starr28 April 5, 2015 at 9:46 pm   

    Hello, I am bipolar and work one on one with a SPED student. It is possible to be bipolar and work, just know that there are days when it's hard to get out of bed. I usually allow myself a mental health day IF I notice I'm not functioning my best. Really though day to day is just about doing what you've got to do to survive. You can be bipolar and work, go to school, or do what you want to/need to. Bipolar is not a life sentence. Ive always wanted to do/be the opposite of what people think so I think in a lot of ways that helped me to overcome thd stigma of having a mental illness and not functioning like anybody else would. Really soon I'll be going to school to get my credentials while working too. Hopefully that helps you!

  • KaraokeP1
    KaraokeP1 February 5, 2015 at 1:29 pm   

    It is difficult to show up for work every day especially when you have sleepless nights. It catches up with you and wears you down sometimes. You may quit when you can no longer have the drive and attitude to do a good job. This is what bipolar people struggle with and they find that they need an easier daily routine. The problem is that you don't get the money you need to feed and house yourself, so you spiral down. Best wishes at work. You may succed if you get good sleep.

  • KaraokeP1
    KaraokeP1 January 17, 2015 at 6:44 pm   

    You may not be able to be employed but you are going to work on your illness and teach pdocs.

  • Jij7
    Jij7 January 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm   

    It actually depends on which mood you're in. If you're in the euphoric mood you can work 3 times more than an average person but while you're in the depressive mood you just can't get out of bed and interact with people and if you go to work, you can actually sit and do nothing! Well that's my case, I'm a mechanical design engineer and the positive side about my job is that there's no need to interact with people all the time, though I stayed in bed lot of times during my depression phases. But meds will make you feel better, since I started lithium I attended work every day! The first month was hell because of the harmful side effects but later on I started to feel better and my efficiency got much better! So good luck

  • closetauger
    closetauger December 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm   

    It is definitely possible, although in my case I was working for 10 years before I was diagnosed. My bipolar has wired my brain in way that has helped me become a master in my profession.

  • Chris_baker
    Chris_baker December 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm   

    Yes I work it does help keep my mind busy for sometime but I think the busy nature of my job does that I'm only doing part time now as I'm trying small steps as been off for two months . I don't believe ppl with bipolar need to claim disability and do what stay at home and go nuts no thanks yes its double as hard and u might wanna throw myself into the road on the way but the fact I don't must mean something we all get fed up if the fact life is like a battle with your mind but giving up won't help so let's fight on . I'll say one thing companies need to employ management that are prepared for all sorts of pplyou may think this all sounds far to positive I do for me believe me but it is taking very load music bluring in my ears on iPod to do it .

  • bronte43
    bronte43 December 7, 2014 at 12:36 pm   

    Working for me is good and I have good days & bad days !
    Work takes my mind off things and keeps me busy .

  • BP_OCD
    BP_OCD December 7, 2014 at 10:42 am   

    I don't think bipolar disorder should be an excuse not to work or try to work. I have my master's degree and work full time. I had to take a month off once to be in the hospital.

  • BP_OCD
    BP_OCD December 7, 2014 at 10:42 am   

    I don't think bipolar disorder should be an excuse not to work or try to work. I have my master's degree and work full time. I had to take a month off once to be in the hospital.

  • kattrails2004
    kattrails2004 December 7, 2014 at 10:31 am   

    This is old post…but…at jobs I've experienced a lot. Sexual verbal abuse at a factory job (first time talking about this…) Old school men and first women hired in w them…they hated me there but I was divorced at that time n the pay n insurance was good) it was a union job but those guys were freakin mentally hard on me) first year they were awful and would take my work and put it in the trash bin when I would come in. The more they did this (because I'm hyper the more harder I worked. I would run double just to show them i was strong. I wasn't going to quit. I took that crap for about two years. I finally earned their respect but I got tired of it and quit. A lot of other stuff too was going on in my personal life like crappy relationship. Well…I've never been fired from a job but I've quit a lot due to seeing bosses reaming and degrading others. I would speak up so many times. Or a coworker being talked to like inappropriate. I saw so much wrong in jobs. It would literally stress me out and I now know what anxiety is. Yeah, I had that too. Depression would follow along with every job I would work so hard and I'd burn myself and depression would kick my butt…Bosses would take advantage of me because when ur hyper you do more than a so called normal worker. I would then get frustrated and tell them I'm quitting. Theres so much more I can put on here like a lot…miscommunication cause when I used words and sentences toward someone they take what I say the wrong way n then omg. Theres a lot more. I just don't want to bring all the past on that stuff up again. People really in some jobs weren't nice or their job titles ballooned their brains and they treated their employees worse than dirt so I would chew them out or say this is not right. So its very very overwhelming and when u have that on top of trying to do your job and dealing with life to I couldn't take it. Anxiety depression stress mania kicked my @$$ excuse my French along with the that miscommunication. Mentally too much. My speech felt pressured n my thoughts felt like this too. I was really down at times weeks in bed back then n his that good. People r used to be always being hyper. Its a struggle dealing w it all. Its so hard to put it in words. I'm struggling bad. There's more but I don't know how to put it in words on here.

  • kattrails2004
    kattrails2004 December 7, 2014 at 10:38 am   

    I took off a lot too and used vacation days not for vacation but cause I was battling.

  • Flip7467
    Flip7467 June 8, 2015 at 10:03 am   

    This is what happens to me. I haven't been able to use vacation days for vacation. All my vacation days are spent fighting bipolar.

  • kattrails2004
    kattrails2004 December 7, 2014 at 10:38 am   

    I try to hide it.

  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   


  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   


  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   


  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   


  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   


  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   

    Ni k

  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   


  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   


  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   

    NikI k i

  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:29 am   

    Nik l

  • beardedguy
    beardedguy December 6, 2014 at 10:24 pm   

    So I work and have bipolar I.. It's not easy and you need a job that knows you are gonna miss time but when your okay you are there lucky I have a job that when I have an episode and call on I get the time off no problem.. But almost everyone I know is on disability and even my Dr said I should look into it as my work does suffer greatly.. Like I said lucky I in the job I found.. But I really think it's hard and unless you are upfront and honest I think you will just get replace from one job to the next for being a difficult employee to work around.. My two cents

  • msblack81
    msblack81 December 6, 2014 at 7:02 pm   

    I thought before that this would be possible especially when my bosses told me I wasn't alone and that I was loved and they would stand behind me.I don't know what to believe anymore . I was fired from my job because of my health issues this past Thursday.I would like to think that there are jobs out there that someone like me with bipolar disorder can do but it's hard to see that right now

  • b0bbybr00ks
    b0bbybr00ks November 24, 2014 at 9:53 pm   

    It's hard for me to hold down a job for very long cuz I get burnt out so easily and quickly. I was homeless for the last 5 years but been housed up since last fall and then landed probably one of the best jobs I've ever had in December. So I've almost been there a year so I'm doing good considering the fact that I'm already burnt out, and can't stand being there anymore and being there just depresses me and makes me suicidal. But it's a good job and I work with and for some really good people. They are very laid back and work with me on my appointments. I'm very grateful but at the same time, I've had enough and am ready for a change but I would be dumb to just up and quit this job cuz it's prolly the best job I'm going to find in this area and it suits my disposition well most of the time. There are days when I just want to call in though for various reasons. I have burned a lot of bridges in the past with jobs so I'm really trying to hang in there this time around. It can be done but it ain't easy. I have already tried to get on disability before but it's just too much of a headache. I would rather work. Well sort of lol. If I wasn't medicated I wouldn't be able to hold down a job at all. I once made myself a promise to not apply for jobs I know I really won't like and would only serve as triggers for me. But no matter which job I get or have had, something always seems to go wrong, but this job is different. I can actually handle the stresses of this job for the most part but I do have my days. You just have to find something that you're good at and something that will suit your disposition and needs. Best of luck to ya!

  • johngjg
    johngjg November 25, 2014 at 5:07 am   

    Stay strong mate!
    Why are u starting to find it harder to manage with this job? Have you taken breaks?
    It is pretty hard to find something you are truly interested in, better to look at your current job, find aspects of it you COULD be interested in and learn more about them.
    Change feels important, but I always find that I typically don't appreciate things until I lose them.

  • newbeginningsnow
    newbeginningsnow November 24, 2014 at 8:05 pm   

    It's hard because I get irritated a lot by my coworkers. Sometimes it's the simply things. I go through mood swings I'm constantly paranoid. I stay to myself a lot .

  • kattrails2004
    kattrails2004 December 7, 2014 at 10:36 am   

    Typos oops me is one…

  • msblack81
    msblack81 November 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm   

    I was diagnosed about 2 months ago myself.i have always felt how I currently feel though and working for me has been tough at times. Right now being at work is the last place I want to bouncing between the need to cry my eyes out or lash out in anger. I do have good days though and so on those I feel that working is doable.Today I don't feel that way,I would rather be home holed up in my bedroom with a blanket and a teddy bear.I don't know if this helps you or not but I hope that it does .

  • Robert111
    Robert111 November 24, 2014 at 9:07 am   

    I'm self employed residential carpenter and can't stand working for someone and be stuck in the same position for long. I'm a go getter most of the time. I can tailor my schedule around doctor visits and mood swings. If it weren't for this, I don't know what I would do.

  • bronte43
    bronte43 September 17, 2014 at 12:59 am   

    I work 4 days a week I find this helps

  • suzie500
    suzie500 September 16, 2014 at 10:26 pm   

    Work is exhausting for me this year. After 19 years in education , this will be my last. I don't have the energy to go on. My moods fluctuate too much.

  • mhurcielago21057
    mhurcielago21057 September 3, 2014 at 12:01 pm   

    I've worked for 6 years. It has been difficult but you impossible. I work but I don't work at my 100%, because I have to attend my medical appointments 2 days a week during work time; and 1 medical appointment I have it as soon as my work time finishes, so I can stay more time at work if it is required.

  • mhurcielago21057
    mhurcielago21057 September 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm   

    *but NOT impossible…

  • joemczoe
    joemczoe August 18, 2014 at 2:48 am   

    I work, I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 a few months ago, I work in a laboratory as a quality control Analyst, I have held this position , with difficulty for 7 years, I recently adjusted my shift to normal day shift pattern and I have found that I am stable now, the shift work was actually triggering my episodes, I hopefully should be okay now

  • blu2434
    blu2434 July 28, 2014 at 12:29 am   

    Man this post helps a lot. I've been in a serious slump over this subject. I've been working 2 jobs for years to keep busy and help with my bad spending habits. I'm exhausted because I want to go back to school but I get the worst anxiety when I'm in school and it causes me to spiral. Sad part is I do well in school. The more I research bipolar disorder ..the more I get depressed knowing it's life long and I can't do anything about it. Not to mention how it affects my relationships. Not in the greatest place I see as I read this over.

  • UrbanRose
    UrbanRose April 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm   

    I work, have always worked since my parents allowed me too, after 18, but it does have it's tough times. Not so much as being bipolar, but because of the trauma I've been through. But I think it's different for everyone. My mom had to stop working, but it wasn't for bipolar reasons either. My entire family is bipolar and the struggles of a job is not the disorder, but the dumb people. At least on the case for my immediate family.

  • kc283
    kc283 April 17, 2014 at 6:47 am   

    I work and always have but sometimes you will need a flexible schedule do to sleep issues. Recently I had a setback due to overwhelming stress and had to adjust my meds so that I could be productive and feel well without being easily agitated. it helps to keep regular therapy appointments and track of sleep and moods so that you can avoid collapsing. I can't say I always did or do because I am famously known for battling work life balance. I work too much and rest too little so the Drs I see are useful because they tell me when its too much and I need to pull back.

  • chaser74
    chaser74 April 16, 2014 at 10:44 pm   

    I worked for 22 years with it but due to my bipolar I feed of the the rush my body was not able to keep going at the pace I was on with 3-4 hours of sleep every night so I add to stop in March and my husband said that he can tell a big diffence in me but I will still have days I'm sad for no reason but I just have to keep moving .

  • hellocheeky88
    hellocheeky88 April 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm   

    At work I have no support and I have to make other people's days fun and worthwhile when sometimes I wanna hide away and not speak to anyone but I have to because I'm so afraid of loosing my job as its the only thing I feel I have control over but as in the last couple of months I've got worse and trialling lots of new meds with horrendous side affect for me personally ive had no time off because those people need me to help them, I've had no support I feel worthless to them and there is no recognition for the effort and struggle it is to put on a facade everyday in work hours the I get home and want to scream and cry I don't but the frustration of not being appreciated or the effort I have to use just to get out of bed is a huge trigger for negativity and low self esteem a little well done or thanks for today you done well would do me the world of good but never

  • Christina1992
    Christina1992 March 14, 2014 at 9:39 am   

    It's very possible. I'm a waitress at a wedding venue and love the hype and fast paced aspect of the job. Although when it's wedding season I don't get much sleep, as I'm quite hypomanic around this time. What I find trouble with is my education - sitting down to study and concentrate when you are manic or depressed is near impossible. My advice to you would be to get a job that doesn't require you to sit down at a desk all day.

  • wattsjd
    wattsjd March 14, 2014 at 9:31 am   

    Yes it is possible, very possible I've been working before all this relationship stuff very consistently. Just know that you should ease yourself in and don't put so many demands on yourself you can't really do.

  • ftwrth4618
    ftwrth4618 March 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm   

    I have been out of work for a month and just recently have gone back which was nerve racking to me. I found that once I got back that I was welcomed but I still feel a bit strange and feel like being somewhere else. I hope that I eventually get back to feeling useful and wanting to be there

  • souljaboy77
    souljaboy77 February 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm   

    I was just diagnosed last year October (bipolar 2 but apparently I also cycle too fast to fit all the definitions, sometimes I can have 2 or 3 major swings a day) but I am an actively serving Army Officer. It is possible, but you need your outlets. When I'm on I'm on and it's great, I feel like a super soldier. When I'm down I fall back on my training and soldier on. The great thing about being in the Army is that I have a whole bunch of brothers who aren't afraid to be brutally honest and helpful all at the same time. I realize not every job that kind of social cohesion but it has been and continues to be the biggest part of my work success so far. Now that I'm on quetiapine I have to manage the drowsiness in the mornings (with coffee usually but not too much!!!). I'm sleeping better than I ever did so physically I'm getting a lot stronger and I am getting in even better shape with a strong appetite that comes I think from the qeutiapine. I'm trying to turn everything to my advantage in that regard…but hey some days at work are tough no question. Try being tired, wet, cold, and depressed…it gets challenging.

  • Tricky Times
    Tricky Times January 9, 2014 at 7:55 pm   

    I was diagnosed with BP in my late 40's, up until then I did not realise my career had the Bipolar advantage - innovative, big picture thinking, creative. I have had very senior academic roles, business development and management. Down sides involved relationships with colleagues and my BP egocentrism and impulsiveness. Younger folk need to learn the onset of moods and what not to do when in a mood.

  • HoneyBeeMcGhee
    HoneyBeeMcGhee January 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm   

    sound advice

  • lapotente
    lapotente December 7, 2014 at 10:28 am   


  • HoneyBeeMcGhee
    HoneyBeeMcGhee January 9, 2014 at 6:28 pm   

    Absolutely! Had successful career for years, I have had the opportunity to retire young, but to be honest, I almost feel I need to go back to work (retired last February) seriously, i am beginning to think that it's harder to be at home all the time. I have hobbies, but at 45i think I still have more to offer the world.

  • StayingStrong26
    StayingStrong26 January 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm   

    I have been diagnosed bipolar for 6 years now and the first 3-4 I was completely unable to stay focused at work. It wasn't until 2012 that I had to really analyze what I wanted and who I wanted to portray myself to be. I go to work and yes, I have a lot of pain attack and am prescribed 6 different medications, but I have to work. I have to eat. I have to wear clothes. I figured out how to balance my work life. Finally. Now, 6 years later, I am trying to balance my personal life. It's hard, not easy at all. But, I strongly believe deep down inside that I have control and I do. I am working a 40 hour job in the compliance department and I haven't missed a day for a year now. You can do this. It's going to be okay.

  • nja1874
    nja1874 January 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm   

    Thanks for your encouragement. I means a lot to me.

  • jpratter
    jpratter November 26, 2013 at 11:18 pm   

    I have a job where I don't work with people a lot. I work at a doggie daycare, and I have for the past 6 years. So that can be nice, but on the flip side My anger and aggitation is really not a good combo. I know a lot of you are probably thinking What the hell Jenn, they are animals. You have it good.. And I do. But the barking of 40 dogs in your ear can wear you down mentally. I think that helps not working with people a lot but seasonally I work as a fragrance model (selling perfume) and it KILLS ME. It's so hard to have to fake it. On my super manic days I will sell so much and then sometimes when I feel like poop I can't sell anything. But the hard part for me is seeing all the other girls be functional and happy. Being fake is exhausting.

  • KtinaSC
    KtinaSC October 2 at 6:36 am   

    I'm a paramedic. I have to fake it constantly. But it is a good distraction from my problems. Some days when I am depressed it literally hurts to hold in my true thoughts and emotions. You are not alone. I come home exhausted and I can barely talk. Some days are better than others

  • nja1874
    nja1874 December 4, 2013 at 1:49 am   

    I feel for you. Most people are fake and they show that they are happy when they really are not. I would use your coping skills and remember that everyone has its good and bad days. Hope you are feeling well this christmas because you could sell lots of perfume. Good luck.

  • iQuill
    iQuill November 23, 2013 at 3:23 am   

    I've held full time jobs. Focus and motivation were my major issues. I've had more difficulty with my education than anything. Been out of high school since '96 and STILL trying to get my associate's degree. My wife recently finished school so she works now and I'm back in school again. After this semester I'll only have five more classes if I can keep it together. Really struggling right now, though. We had to move for my wife's job and I'm not adjusting well to all the changes which is making school extra challenging. Anyway, I try to be as productive as I'm able. It helps fight the symptoms when you feel like you've accomplished something.

  • nja1874
    nja1874 November 23, 2013 at 3:49 am   

    Good for you for being in school. Hang in there and take it one day at a time.. Good luck.

  • iQuill
    iQuill November 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm   

    For sure! Thank you! :)

  • THEcyrus
    THEcyrus September 30, 2013 at 8:21 am   

    Me I can work. I work a full time job and write. When I'm in that routine I find it helps especially when manic. I can have low patience and next to no attention at times but I'm usually ok. Tomorrow I go back after 6 weeks off between jobs and I'm working on meds for the first time. Wish me luck.

  • nja1874
    nja1874 September 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm   

    Good luck.. Stay focus and take your meds.

  • dveedwards
    dveedwards September 29, 2013 at 8:28 am   

    My doctor limits me to working 40 hours per week. This has made a big difference In managing my illness. Working in excess of 40 hours makes managing your symptoms more difficult.

  • jellamichelle
    jellamichelle September 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm   

    I was able to get disability for being bipolar. I was denied 3 times and had to go see a judge. They had a doc on speaker phone with my medical records and he took one look at them and said that there was no question in his mind that I qualified for disability. But I've been hospitalized multiple times and every job I've had for around a year I ended up on temporary disability at least once. My case is pretty severe. My mom is my rep-payee so she controls my disability check. But I take care of my dad who is a disabled vet 3 days a week and get paid by the va. The judge said that asking as I made under a certain amount that it would not be a prob with me getting my benefits and I made less than what the max income was so I'm still able to do a little bit of work. I doubt I'll ever be able to hold a regular job again unless they come up with a cure or much better meds for it. But that doesn't mean that's the case for everyone.

  • mariannclark
    mariannclark September 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm   

    I have no choice but to work. I must keep it together.

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