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Bipolar In The Workplace


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#1 Gangling

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 02:52 PM

Coping with Bipolar Disorder in the work place has allways been a challenge...and in a lot of ways have ruined my chances of a happy, productive life...and this is not even starting to mention the difficulties that Marfan's Syndrome has imposed on me...

These are some of the challenges I have faced:

Executive Dysfunction: The biggest monster in my closet of skelletons. It's irrational, illogic and it can land you in heaps of trouble but you don't allways have control over it, especially if you don't even realise that you are doing it.

- The inability to start a specific task. Unlike procrastination where there is a fear or a dislike of a task, you feel "frozen" and unable to start the task...like my mind is locking up. I urgently want to perform the task but my mind is not allowing me to.

- Planning and Goal formation. You understand the concept of goals, yet you can't see it's purpose nor can you stick to a planned goal. Goals has never made sense to me...yet I understand what they are for.

- Fixation and Self-monitoring. Becoming so fixated on a certain task that you spend all of your time on it and only realise there are more important tasks to perform when it's allready too late. Fixation is a big hurdle to me. At times I would fixate on a problem untill I have resolved it or I run out of time. At other times, I have re-worked a piece of code over and over and everytime feel that I am not happy with it and start from scratch. (This, in the past was perceived as perfectionism...but trying to make things perfect is a good thing...getting it to a near-perfect state and starting over again, is not)

- Planning and Date recall. Finding it difficult to recall the amount of time you have spent on a task or finding it difficult to explain to your employer what you were doing during the day. I have often gotten confused with events and would get even more confused when someone corrects me and my whole world starts to crash down as I was absolutely sure of when the event occurred.

- Compulsive manipulation of objects. Finding your self picking up and manipulating objects for no other reason than that they are there, for example a co-workers stapler or ruler. I am notorious for this. My family, co-workers and employers can attest to it. There is no way to stop it. If someone draws my attention to it, I would put down the object, just to find my self, a moment later, standing with something else in my hands. I had a boss that actually made it a rule that I should keep my hands behind my back when entering his office or I would unwittingly start playing with objects on his desk.

Difficulty Explaining Yourself: Not being able to effectively communicate to others what you mean or what you want to say. I have often found my self explaining something over and over to a employer or co-worker and even to my dad. It ends up feeling as tho I am talking some foreign language, yet, in my mind, what I am saying makes total sense.

Paranoia: Fearing that others are trying to muscle in on your project or that your employer wants to find a reason to scrap your project can seriously affect your work performance. Even just seeing two co-workers whispering has at times triggered my mind to come up with all kinds of illogical scenarios and these paranoia can become so all-consuming that after a while you are seething with rage when there is no rhyme or reason to. Feeling that someone is going to scrap your project (even though it's not true) causes you to lose interest all together and do a poor job of it, which in the end, just becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy as the project gets scrapped due to poor development.

Mood Shifts: Mood shifts in the work place is never a good thing. It puts people on the back foot and is disconcerting (more than I my self realised). Imagine talking to a happy go lucky person the one moment and being answered with a "I could care less, leave me alone" kind of reaction the next.

Inappropriate Emotional Response: Screaming at a co-worker for spilling a drop of coffee on a desk, losing it over a piece of code that does not want to work...these have landed me in hot water before. I once was even accused of verbal abuse and the person wanted to take out a restraining order against me even though I had never lifted a finger towards them. Me screaming on the co-worker was warranted (even the boss admitted that) but the amount of force I used and the fear I instilled was excessive to say the least. Then there are the times where I have cracked walls by slamming doors too hard... In those situations, once again, anyone would do the same (in terms of normal human reaction)...the problem is the force with which I did it.

Major Depressive Episodes/Meltdowns: From what I can recall, not counting "mini break downs", I have had three minor melt-downs where I was booked off from work to recoup. I had two major melt downs...both of which landed me in the ER and subsequent suicide watch...

Skewed world view/perception: You know one thing, yet you believe another. You know you are doing a great job yet you believe your performance is sub-standard.

Through all this, I have allways been highly regarded by all the firms I have ever worked for. I would almost allways get a raise (not even a full salary instatement but a full-on raise) after just two months of working for a firm (Usually you get a partial salary untill you prove your self and then they raise it once your three month eval is over). I have threatened resignations before...and was pleaded with to reconcider. I have resigned before and been begged to go back to work for the firm, over and over. I have worked with some of the major banks and medical-aids in ZA...have implemented major projects and systems...yet to me, it's nothing but a grain of sand on a beach of countless grains...

All this points to the fact that I am a top developer...yet I can't see it that way...and I most likely never will. Firms still climb over each other to employ me...yet I can't allow it...for the sake of my continued existance. Software Developers, especially in small development companies, bears the full weight of a software-house on their shoulders as the product they develop is the life-blood of the company. Because they have such a broad technical expertise, they are often misused as internal IT support along with all their other duties of designing, writing and implementing the Backend System, Datbase and User Front Ends. A project is never "finished". Once it's released, they are still held responsible for the maintenance and bug fixes on the software while still developing newer projects and maintaining the office computers and network ... and it all snow-balls from there. I can't get employment as a simple DBA because the firms only see my developer record and don't want to employ me for anything but development. Most companies, especially the smaller ones, employe the smallest possible group of developers to maximise profits. "Standard Development Practices" is great and everyone agrees with it...yet no one implements it... It just costs too much in terms of development time and developer salaries.

Bipolar ruined the person I was supposed to be... I am but an empty husk...just a vessel for talent that should rightfully have belonged to someone else...

"If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you” - Nietzsche


Bipolar Disorder: Manic Dep, Exec Dysfunction, Gen Anxiety, Social Anxiety
Marfan's Syndrome: Cardio Vasc inv (MVP), Joint/Limb inv, Sight inv, Classic Marfanoid Appearance, no Scolliosis/Mjr Pectus
Current Medications: BP (Lithium, Lamictal, Welbutrine, Fluoxitine), MFS (Cardicor, Coxflam, Tenston-SA), Other (Tegretol)


#2 Sheepwoman

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 08:51 PM

IMHO (not a professional) your meds are not working properly. I enjoyed a career for close to 20 years with a good med combo I could work on projects until they were completed (I'm a perfectionist) and could also multi=task. My services were needed in several areas of the company I wourked for so I bounced around from depatment to depatartment. Your need to hold objects sounds like you may have some OCD issues.

If you hven't had a med review within the last 3 months, consider seeing your pdoc soon Managing Bipolar can be a daunting task for any pdoc.
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God will give you no more than you can handle. This is all a test to see if you are really ready for the good things that are going to come your way. All this pain is going to come back and make me stronger.-Clarence Clemmons 1942-2011

Everything I know, I know because I love. Leo Tolstoy War and Peace

#3 Gangling

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 05:26 AM

Hi Sheepwoman,

Thanks for the response. Yes, my medication was woefully inadaquet ;) Hmm...seems like I'm going to be relating how I got to BP dx-after all... I had been on medication for "Major Depression" since I was twenty. I have been job hunting for the past two years now and these experiences was from the last job I held. At the time, the pdoc I had wasn't taking the Bipolar diagnosis seriously. Two years before, I had been for an evaluation with a "specialist" who said they are not confident in diagnosing me as Bipolar...this was after I had attempted suicide for the first time (after several talks to my pdoc about ideation). My pdoc continued to suggest that it was merely stress from the job and that I am clearly too "Bright" to be suffering as I was suggesting. The one problem with therapy, is that if you don't realise something is not "normal", you are not going to be talking about it. After my last suicide attempt, I found a different pdoc and it was only then that I was put onto the meds I am on now (including the Lithium).

"If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you” - Nietzsche


Bipolar Disorder: Manic Dep, Exec Dysfunction, Gen Anxiety, Social Anxiety
Marfan's Syndrome: Cardio Vasc inv (MVP), Joint/Limb inv, Sight inv, Classic Marfanoid Appearance, no Scolliosis/Mjr Pectus
Current Medications: BP (Lithium, Lamictal, Welbutrine, Fluoxitine), MFS (Cardicor, Coxflam, Tenston-SA), Other (Tegretol)


#4 Sheepwoman

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 08:42 PM

I took Lithium 14+ years and was quite stable on it (0.7 therapeutic level.) . Hopefully it will work as well for you. What does your new pdoc think about the BP diagnosis? Were you able to get releases on your old precords for your new pdoc? It could help him to see your history.

Sometimes we don't know what's normal or abnormal. I was untreated until my mid 30ws. I always thought I was "normal" in the way I thought and behaved. When I started work at a clinic, my co-workers suggested I get some mental health help. Guess I wasn't normal after all. It was presumed I was manic for close to 20 years. I made a lot of headway with therapy too. I really got to know myself better. In my current therapy, we are working on changing ingrained negative thinking patterns. Hard work!!!
sHEEPWOMAN
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God will give you no more than you can handle. This is all a test to see if you are really ready for the good things that are going to come your way. All this pain is going to come back and make me stronger.-Clarence Clemmons 1942-2011

Everything I know, I know because I love. Leo Tolstoy War and Peace

#5 Gangling

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 06:14 AM

The initial couple of months on Lithium was like heaven on earth. I felt normal for once in my life...absolute bliss but as with any medication, the affects faded a little after a while. I am still much better off then what I was before though as it gives me that "break in the clouds" to be able to work on my self. I don't know right now what my level is. My pdoc is very cautious about adjusting it though as I take a lot of anti-inflammatories and pain-killers so he is cautious not to overload my kidneys any further. As far as I know, he did consult briefly with my previous pdoc...wasn't very impressed, especially not the way I was "left to fend for my self" the first time I was hospitalised.

As for normal...your telling me... I have it double. I never knew what normal was either and to make it worse, due to the Marfan's, I believed that a certain amount of daily pain/discomfort was "normal" and felt that I was being weak and whiny seeing as no-one else complained about their discomfort, so I stayed quite...to my own detrement.

"If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you” - Nietzsche


Bipolar Disorder: Manic Dep, Exec Dysfunction, Gen Anxiety, Social Anxiety
Marfan's Syndrome: Cardio Vasc inv (MVP), Joint/Limb inv, Sight inv, Classic Marfanoid Appearance, no Scolliosis/Mjr Pectus
Current Medications: BP (Lithium, Lamictal, Welbutrine, Fluoxitine), MFS (Cardicor, Coxflam, Tenston-SA), Other (Tegretol)





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