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Having Bipolar and work

having bipolar and work

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Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder can have a huge impact on your life, not least in the workplace. However, many people with the condition hold onto their jobs and are able to work efficiently.

What is bipolar disorder?

Formally known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a condition that affects your moods. You may swing from experiencing feelings of depression to being agitated and over-productive. There are various degrees of the condition and without treatment it can have lifelong implications. Figures from Bipolar UK show that an estimated one in 100 people suffer from bipolar disorder.

Should I tell my employer?

Your health is confidential and you have no obligation to tell your employer about any condition you might have, including bipolar disorder. However, if you feel the condition is affecting your performance at work or your colleagues have noticed you acting differently, then you may decide to be open about your condition. Your boss and co-workers are likely to be more sympathetic if they know what is causing any issues you may have at work. Being open also allows you and your boss to work together and adapt your role if it is making you anxious or stressed.

How can bipolar disorder affect my work?

Obviously everyone is different and each person dealing with the condition will have different experiences. However, there are some common ways in which being bipolar can affect your work. The condition can make it difficult to concentrate and complete tasks as well as you might previously have done. It can also hinder teamwork and effective communication if your social confidence has taken a bit of a beating.

Seek help

One of the best ways to minimise disruption to your job is to take the advice of medical professionals. If you suspect you may have bipolar disorder then it’s important to see a GP. Once you’ve been diagnosed follow your care plan to the letter. Medications can help manage the condition but you may be asked to make lifestyle changes such as exercising more and/or psychological treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). If you think the treatment you’re on isn’t helping then make sure you speak to a professional before stopping or altering it.

Shift work

having bipolar and workStudies have shown that people who work shifts often suffer more from bipolar disorder than those with regular schedules. If at all possible avoid working night shifts and irregular working patterns. Interrupted sleeping patterns is a known trigger for bipolar episodes and regular working hours can help sufferers stabilise their rest times. Your employer may be willing to offer you flexible working or allow you to work from home some days, which might also help.

Work on

While it may seem easier to take some time off work to deal with bipolar disorder, this approach is often detrimental. Prolonged sick leave can leave you with less motivation, dent your confidence and affect your self-esteem. You shouldn’t feel bad about taking some time off, for example, if changing medications but try to return to work as soon as possible. When you do go back, arrange a Return to Work meeting with your manager to discuss the best way to move forward and minimise the disruption your return will have on both your health and the company.

The law

Bipolar disorder is covered under the Disability Discrimination Act, which was updated in 2005 and the Equality Act of 2010. This means it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against someone with bipolar disorder. As well as the application process, this also covers the terms and conditions of employment, promotion, training and dismissal.







About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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