How to Cope with Bipolar Disorder at Work

How to Cope with Bipolar Disorder at Work

People with bipolar disorder may experience episodes of depression, mania, or hypomania, which can affect their ability to function at work. However, bipolar disorder does not have to prevent anyone from having a successful and fulfilling career. With proper bipolar disorder treatment, support, and coping strategies, people with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms and thrive at work. This article will delve into the strategies and self-care practices on how to cope with bipolar disorder at work.

Find a Suitable Job for Your Needs & Preferences

Finding a job that matches your skills, interests, and goals is important for anyone, but especially for people with bipolar disorder. A job that is too demanding, stressful, or unsatisfying can worsen your symptoms and affect your well-being. On the other hand, a job that is rewarding, supportive, and flexible can help you cope with your condition and enhance your self-esteem.

When looking for a job, consider the work environment: Do you prefer a quiet, relaxed, or structured setting, or a dynamic, creative, or collaborative one? Do you work better alone or with others?

It is also important to know whether the job offers health insurance, sick leave, vacation time, or other benefits that can support your mental health needs.

Decide Whether to Disclose Your Condition to Your Employer or Co-workers

Disclosing your bipolar disorder to your employer or co-workers is a personal decision that depends on various factors, such as the severity and frequency of your symptoms and how they affect your work performance, the type and level of support or accommodation you need or want at work, the legal rights and protections you have or need at work, and the potential benefits and risks of disclosing or not disclosing your condition at work.

You are not obligated to disclose your bipolar disorder to anyone at work, unless it poses a direct threat to your safety or the safety of others. However, you may choose to disclose your condition to your employer or co-workers if you think it will help you to request and use reasonable accommodations at work, such as flexible hours, modified duties, or breaks.

Knowledge about the disorder may explain and justify any absences, tardiness, or performance issues related to your condition and gain you support, understanding, and empathy.

If you decide to disclose your bipolar disorder to your employer or co-workers, you should choose an appropriate time, place, and person to disclose your condition to, such as during a private meeting with your supervisor, human resources manager, or trusted co-worker. Provide relevant and necessary information about your condition, such as how it affects your work, what accommodations or support you need or use, and what resources or treatments you access or follow

Anticipate and address any questions, concerns, or reactions that your employer or co-workers may have, such as providing evidence, examples, or references to support your claims, and offering reassurance, education, or feedback to address any doubts, fears, or misconceptions.

Request & Use Reasonable Accommodations at Work

You have the right to request and use reasonable accommodations at work if you have a disability that affects your work performance. However, you may need to disclose your condition to your employer and provide documentation or evidence of your disability and your need for accommodations. You may also need to negotiate with your employer and reach an agreement on what accommodations are reasonable, appropriate, and feasible for your job.

Communicate and collaborate with your employer and co-workers, explaining how the accommodations would benefit you and the organization, and seeking feedback and input from others.

How to Handle Stress at Work

Stress can trigger or worsen your symptoms, interfere with your treatment, and impair your functioning and well-being.

Identify and address the sources and causes of your stress, such as pinpointing any work-related factors that contribute to your stress, including workload, deadlines, expectations, or conflicts, and finding ways to reduce, eliminate, or cope with them.

Practice healthy habits and self-care, such as eating well, sleeping well, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, and engaging in activities that relax, recharge, or reward you, such as hobbies, sports, music, or art.

Seek and use support and resources, such as reaching out to your family, friends, co-workers, or support groups for emotional, practical, or social support, or accessing professional help, such as counselling, therapy, or coaching, if you need it.

Balance Your Work & Personal Life

Having a balanced and fulfilling personal life can help you cope with bipolar disorder and enhance your overall well-being. However, finding and maintaining a balance between work and personal life can be challenging, especially if you have bipolar disorder:

  • Plan your schedule ahead of time and prioritize your tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed by deadlines and expectations.
  • Learn to say no to extra work or social obligations that may interfere with your self-care or recovery.
  • Set boundaries and limits with your co-workers and boss. Let them know when you are available and when you need some privacy or time off.
  • Seek support from your family, friends, therapist, or support group as they can offer you emotional, practical, and financial assistance when you need it.
  • Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, and follow your treatment plan. These habits can help you stabilize your mood and cope with stress.
  • Find time for fun and relaxation. Do things that make you happy to help you recharge your energy and improve your mood.