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Accepting It's Time to Leave My Job to Take Care of Me and My Bipolar Disorder

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Sometimes I wonder if my life is real. Especially when I’m feeling up. I question if it’s all a fantasy. Is my perspective really in line with reality?

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I’m planning to quit my job. I’m sacrificing a bit of security, in that throughout the last four years I’ve had numerous hospitalization and taken countless days off. Twice, since May 2013, I have taken two extended leaves lasting three months. It might help that I’ve been at my job 17 years and have been a “model” employee. My perfectionism, workaholism and the fact my identity is wrapped up in my work probably played a major role.

I have two job opportunities in the proverbial hopper. I think they are legit. But, I fear they are not. My anxiety certainly tells me they are not. Paranoia creeps in and I think a new place of work can’t handle my “issues.” Should I be transparent and divulge I have bipolar disorder now? Should I wait? Should I just close my eyes and hope for the best?  Everything is uncertain. I don’t do well with that. It’s fodder for my restless brain.

I do feel like I know my current work situation is not healthy for me. It’s taken me a long time to admit that. I always thought it was my fault I would become overly stressed and symptoms would arise. Turns out with bipolar disorder I am more susceptible to stress, which in turn can trigger either mania or depression. I can attest to both. I’ve reached heights of psychosis that were terrible frightening and lows of depression that were devastating. 

I think it’s important to acknowledge I have to do my part. Utilize coping skills, communicate with my treatment team and take my medication. But, there is also a point where raising the white flag makes sense. Self-care and self-compassion need a place in my life. I can push and push. Pull and pull. Demand I do better. Work harder. Not allow stress to overtake me. But, there’s reality.

I am stressed. I am exhibiting symptoms despite my best efforts. Sure there will always be ups and downs, I’m the first to utter those words… damn roller coaster. But, if I can help myself avoid peaks and valleys, shouldn’t I at least try? If it turns out no matter what I do, this is my lot, this is my coaster… well, that’s for another day.

So, as I envision turning in my resignation letter, it’s bittersweet. I literally grew up at this agency. It was my first career-type job. I was a young, naive 25 with a heart of gold ready to solve the issues that plague social service agencies. I was going to be the best social worker they had ever seen. I’ve made my mark. It’s time to move on and put myself first. 

The hopper I mentioned is as real as it gets. I’ve put myself out there. Maybe it’s a fantasy I get hired, maybe not. It’s a resolution I find a new place for myself in 2017. I listen to my needs. Make time for self-care and self-compassion. Honor myself in a way I never have before. I’m going to let that unfold as it may. No expectations, just intentions this year.

Dancing with bipolar disorder can be exhilarating, fun, devastating, confusing, uncertain… but it’s definitely real. One step at a time. One day at a time. I’ll keep moving forward down the line.

Happy New Year to The Mighty Community I so cherish.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: January 1, 2017
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