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Working and bipolar 1 disorder
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reneegigliotti posted:
I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder with psychotic features while I was working on my doctorate in biochemistry during my early 20s. Despite many complex hospitalizations because of psychotic mania, I have always worked. I don't meet too many people with severe bipolar disorder who have also continued to work in their chosen fields. I'm hoping to hear from people who struggle with both the demands of their careers and the complexities of their illness. For instance, I have been in a rapid cycling phase for about 6 months and have had 2 hospitalizations this year for psychotic mania. My psychiatrist admits me, often with me not exactly cooperative, stabilizes me, discharges me and then I'm back at work within a week of discharge. My department head knows I'm bipolar and she and I, along with HR have worked out a sick leave plan for times when I am non-functioning. They like me. They like my work and they have been very accommodating. It helps to be a medical researcher for a living. No medical issue phases our research team. It's what we do for a living. How do other people make work arrangements with your department heads and HR directors? There just isn't a lot of discussion about working while bipolar. I wish there were. Sometimes I feel really alone with this.
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slik_kitty responded:
you're not alone in this. alot of bipolars work with the condition. sadly not everyone is aware of what can be done to protect our jobs if we end up hospitalized. some states, like mine, have a no fault clause where an employer can fire you for any reason. then they can state it was another reason other than your bipolar which makes it hard to fight back.
 
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reneegigliotti replied to slik_kitty's response:
I have found over the decades that honest communication is the key to maintaining employment. Yes, I get hospitalized. In fact as recently as July of this year. I was manic, psychotic, and at serious risk of harm. I have a communication system worked out so that my employer obtains the immediate information relevant to them. No questions are asked. When I'm competent again to communicate, I check in with my Director and give her an update. This last time, I was admitted for 3 weeks, and then a week post discharge, and I returned to the lab a week later. I had accrued enough sick time and vacation time to cover the lost days. Admittedly, it stinks to never have a vacation that doesn't involve an admission for psychosis treatment, or a sick day because of a virus, but it's my part of the bargain with my employer. I value work much too much. I've worked so suicidally depressed I didn't think I could drive my car to work in one piece. I've worked hypomanic and have had some of my best most creative days. When we reach psychotic mania, my psychiatrist draws a line. All I can say is that the key is communication, honesty, and meeting your employer part way.


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