The effect of bipolar on work

I have met many people over the last few months that have a common problem.  They have a bipolar disorder and have been unable to keep up with the technical demands of their job. 

For example I have one friend who is a respiratory therapist.  Every day for him is a struggle due to the bipolar.  What has hurt him the worse is finding out that he has not been able to keep up with the expanding knowledge and techniques in his field.  Now after 20 years of experience he finds himself unable to get a job in a field that has defined his personal identity for most of his adult life.  He simply doesn’t know where to turn or what to do.  For him the crippling aspects of bipolar are not just how it impacts his daily living.  It is in the tremendous crippling affects  that it has had on him.  It is kind of like someone who as he gets older finds out that he can no longer drive. 

His is not an isolated story.  I have seen it time after time in people particularly as they get into their 40’s, sometimes earlier.  All of a sudden they find out that they are “useless” in ways that are fundamental to their sense of identity and purpose in life.

Part of treatment and recovery I would think is to address this issue.  I do not know of many places that do that.  It seems to me to be a crucial missed step.

Bipolar is a stealer and a killer of people’s lives.  It’s  ultimate cruelty might be to tell us we can never be who we have always been ever again.

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3 thoughts on “The effect of bipolar on work”

  1. I know exactly how it is to feel “obsolete”; however I do not attribute it to bipolar. I worked in newspapers for 23 years. Look at the state of newspapers today. Every week they are laying off masses of people, and the industry itself likely won’t survive. Technology has overtaken to where people can’t wait for the news to be delivered to their driveway in the mornings; they can get news 24/7 with the Internet, and newspapers aren’t making enough money on the Internet to pay their huge labor and newsprint costs. Advertisers are deserting in droves. And the techniques of journalism have changed dramatically. It is now very much a computer-oriented, graphics-oriented, Web-oriented profession. If you are strictly a word person, like me, you are no longer in demand. It’s all about Google “hits” and “eyeballs” on Web sites. I will never work for another newspaper, and I am like your respiratory therapist friend, I am having to find a new niche for myself in today’s fast-paced, youth-oriented technical world. I am currently working at a company where everybody is younger than I, including the higher-ups. It is a very technical job. It involves words and language only secondarily. It’s hard, but I try to keep faith that I will be able to contribute somehow. In addition, I am “getting ready to…” as you said in another post, by trying to learn new things. I may never be the well-paid professional i was, but I hope to at least get on somewhere that pays health insurance! Those jobs are also getting harder and harder to find!

  2. I found the article about bipolar and work a reminder of the discrimination that is attached to bipolar and all mental illnesses.

    The vast majority of people with bipolar can recover and live productive lives with early and proper treatment. [80-90%, according to experts]Remaining in treatment is necessary to remain in good mental health.

    With student education about bipolar and other mental illnesses, early recognition of symptoms will be possible. Education without prejudice, teaching about the many accomplished people who have lived and are living with bipolar, will end the shame and denial which so often delays treatment.

    As an advocate, each of us can contact our local and state bar associaitons and ask that they offer attorney training about mental illnesses.

    Until the legal community understands bipolar, it will be hard to find legal advocates to protect our rights to employment, as well as many other areas of justice.

    Thank you for this valuable web site and the important topics you cover.

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