When Bipolar Disorder Keeps You Unemployed


I was browsing my Facebook “on this day” app and it said I left my job one year ago today. I was at that job for two years before my mental health took a turn for the worse. Seeing “one year ago” made me realize how quickly time passed when I was taking care of myself.

The issue with bipolar disorder is that sometimes there’s little distinction between reality and the drama your own brain creates. While my employer was not kind and everyone was aware of this, my illness took it a step further.

Anytime I had a bad day at work, it was the end of the world for me. I would come home from work feeling emotionally drained, mistreated and underpaid. While all these things were actually happening, my brain couldn’t turn off at night. I would spend hours going over what my boss said to me about my performance or what they thought of a project I worked on. Any amount of criticism sent me into those dark thoughts of, “Why do I even try anymore? I should give up.”

Many of my coworkers despised my boss, which only made my delusions worse. I couldn’t help but feel everything so intensely, so while my co-workers rolled their eyes at our boss’s comments, I was taking into consideration what steps I could take to end the pain she caused. I can’t get over being mistreated, especially when my brain forces me into making it worse than it needs to be.

Many bipolar people are told they are “drama queens,” and they might be right… at least that’s how my story goes. I am dramatic because my brain tricks me into seeing something as more serious as it is. Empathy comes in abundance for me, and that’s OK.

I’ve been unemployed for a year, but not without trying to find a job. Luckily, my husband’s income is secure enough for us that I can take time off, but I don’t want to. I got a job as a hostess, but on my first day, I drove halfway there and decided to quit. My co-morbid anxiety took over and I couldn’t handle facing people and didn’t feel like I was good enough. So I kept trying.

I’ve applied for several jobs and when I get a callback, I get excited. When the interview day comes, I bail. Getting a job sounds wonderful in theory, but I can’t imagine myself getting out of bed every morning and having the strength to push myself through each day. And that’s OK.

If you feel this way, too, take time off. While it may not be plausible for some people, it’s important to know that being unemployed is not shameful. Leaving my job was the best decision I could have made for myself. On the verge of suicide, I learned you should never allow someone to influence your thoughts or ability to live. Leaving the situation is the best choice you can make for yourself. I’ve spent the last year working on my mental health and getting treatment while attending school online. I may not be thriving, but I’m making it through each day and that’s all I can hope for.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock photo via gpointstudio


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