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To work or not to work

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Old 10-29-2006, 03:25 PM   #1
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JessiNorth HB User
To work or not to work

So I have been going to a support group and have found something rather interesting. Nearly everyone there does not work (they collect diability) or if they do it is very part time (like 10 hrs a week). My question is most people with depression and bipolar not work? Is it better for your health not to work? What are the qualifications to collect disability? How much does disability pay?

Here is the flip side....If you do work, how do you handle times when you are so depessed you can't get out of bed? Does your employer know you are bipolar? Can your employer fire you on the basis of being bipolar? I am specifically wondering if there are any other teachers out there...I am a teacher and am terrified that I am going to lose my job and seen as unfit to work with children. I haven't worked since the end of last school year in June and I start a new teaching position tomorrow actually!

Please offer me your experience and insight!

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Old 10-29-2006, 04:13 PM   #2
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marshmallow HB User
Re: To work or not to work

I am not an expert in any way but I do know people that are bp that go to work everyday. I think everyone is different. I don't think it would be right to fire a person because they are bp unless they cant do the job. I am not bp so I don't have the experience. My husband denies having a problem so I cant go by him but he works every day. Maybe others can give you better advice.

Old 10-29-2006, 06:59 PM   #3
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cheeneyjo HB User
Smile Re: To work or not to work

im joe and i am bipolar im a cook and dishwasher at a busy place sometimes i think im having a break down but most days r ok when a lot is going on outside of work is when its the worst but it would happen if i were at home too so i just tell my boss when it is a problem and go from their i do think it has cost me a job here or their but now if it were to happen i would just use the tools out their like the american's with disabilities act check with your local unemployment office i hope this helps its one day at a time i cant do tomorrow its not here yet and yeserday is gone today is all i have but u can set thing up for tomorrow to win.

Old 10-29-2006, 07:43 PM   #4
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catlover4156 HB User
Re: To work or not to work

It all depends on if you CAN work without your illness compromising the quality of your work. I struggled with depression for 15 years and was on medical leave several times when I couldn't handle it. Other times, I'd get written up for being disorganized (I am Bipolar) or misplacing things.

I would dearly love to be working, and I hope to at least work part time in the future when my moods are better stabilized. I find the routine comforting.

Old 10-30-2006, 10:44 AM   #5
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Re: To work or not to work

It depends on each individual. What does the pdoc/tdoc say? Every person has their own limits to what they can handle in any given situation. In every job there is stress, in every day there is stress.

Contact your pdoc as well. They should also have information on this subject to help you out.

Take care. Good luck with your decision.

a loving heart is the truest wisdom

Old 11-05-2006, 05:03 PM   #6
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Re: To work or not to work

Hey there Jessi!
I work FT as a professional, and I am bipolar. It is TOUGH at times, very tough. I compensate at times for my forgetfulness, etc. I HAVE to make lists, etc. otherwise I would be lost many days...especially during my LOWS where I struggle to make it out of the bed, into the shower & off to work.
Honestly, I can say each day is a gift. I take each day & pray my way through it. I take my meds faithfully, get plenty of rest, take Vitamins/Minerals, eat well, exercise & pray. Oh, and I LEAN on my support when I am getting manic or depressed for help! Even at best, many people who suffer from bipolar disorder many do ALL of these things and still cannot function in employment~BUT, I have been fortunate that I CAN continue to work.
I do know of many people who battle bipolar disorder that work full-time (or part-time). It really IS individualized for the disorder affects each of us differently.
Great question!

Old 11-05-2006, 10:33 PM   #7
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munchie11 HB User
Re: To work or not to work

Hi there

I was diagnosed with bp 4 years ago now, but I was ill for a very long time before that. Before my diagnosis I didn't keep a job for long, when I got depressed I would just quit or if I was manic, I had better things to do. Since I have been taking regular meds and also taking care of myself as best I can. I exercise reguarly and dont drink alcohol or caffeine, I have now held my current job for 15 months and I really enjoy it. I work approx 30 hours a week, but I also have a fantastic boss. She knows I have bp and when things start to get on top of me, I will take some time off. If she sees that I'm not feeling very well she will give me a few days off and there a times when I just have to force myself to go in. I'm pretty sure if I didn't have such an understanding boss I probably wouldn't have lasted and if I start to feel ill, I definately take time off till I feel better again. My health comes first. But at the same time I feel my job keeps me saner. It gives me confidence and some normalcy. But still my health always comes first. Thanks for listening.
Right at this moment actually I am not at my best and I am having this week off.

Old 11-06-2006, 04:39 AM   #8
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fiesty_leo HB User
Re: To work or not to work


Your query about employers' attitudes to bipolar reminded me of something. I have bipolar, and am studying psychology. I found out last semester that the board of psychologists for the state I live in (in Australia) will not register anyone as a psychologist who admits to having had a psychiatric diagnosis...I found this out from a university tutor who learned the hard way. How stupid. If you're well enough to work as a psychologist, I don't see why they should stop you if you can offer clients the unique empathy that comes only from having seen things from the inside, so to speak.

Old 11-06-2006, 11:20 AM   #9
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gav_73 HB User
Re: To work or not to work

I am appauled that Austrailia has such discriminatory licensing and hiring practices for psychologists. After all, who would understand the illines better than someone who has it? And what better inspiration for your future patients than to see living proof of a professional with a successful career, but also with a manageable mental illness. Is there an overabundance of psychologists in Austrailia? Typically, professional regulatory boards stiffen the entry requirements when the supply outweighs the demand in a certain field - like lawyers in America. The American Bar Association has continued to limit entry into the field over the years, not only due to concerns of malpractice, but because there are simply too many. The opposite is true for doctors. The medical boards restrict entry into the field by making it very difficult to ensure that pay for doctors remains high.

Sounds like a case of discrimination to me, and someone should challenge those practices in the higher courts in your state. My image of Austrailia has always been that it is much more liberal and pro-worker than the US. That is why I'm so surprised.

Last edited by gav_73; 11-06-2006 at 11:22 AM.

Old 11-06-2006, 12:55 PM   #10
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jgr01 HB User
Re: To work or not to work

Hi All,

this is an interesting thread. I have worked in very stressful jobs for the last 5 yrs (managing director). I eventually quit in April this year because I couldn't cope. I since learned my meds weren't at the therapeutic level for at least a year prior (from old blood tests). The question was, 'was the condition progressing or was the stress causing condition to worsen and therefore the meds not working'. Clearly I should have sought help some time ago, but I have spent 5 of the 6 years since diagnosis thinking I was ok, just take the drugs and get on and I wasn't really seeing what was wrong. actually i chose to ignore it and just became unbearable, unmanageable and hated myself.
I am now on more than double the dose, I have just applied for incapacity benefit and been advised not to work until I am fully stabilised. When will that be? What will I do? I think I would be a fool to return to what I did before, but also I'm scared about what else I can do.
Incidentally in the UK, you cannot do any job that involves the care of others (like the services, fire, ambulance, ER or army). They are all considered stressful jobs and with so many people applying for limited places, it's a selection criteria they can use to rule you out.

Old 11-06-2006, 09:40 PM   #11
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Re: To work or not to work

I agree, everyone is different. I have a hard time getting started. Right now I am supposed to get back to work. Before I was deployed, I worked part time. I could not work full time because I had too much to do at home to keep it clean and all. I like the Army because they push me, I know I have to get up, get to work and perform to the best of my ability. I do not have a choice, I do not give myself a choice. When people asked me if I liked my hours, or the way things were, I would say "of course I do, I have no option but to like it, do it and get it over with, it's the Army".
Here it is much harder, when I do have a choice I get confused and I don't want to do anything, I get disorganized and frustrated, I NEED direction and order in my life, but I hate jobs. They tend to be constricting and all.
I am trying to start a business so I can make my own hours and still have time to be home. But I still want a part time job.
See how I cannot make up my mind? I guess I feel regular jobs are so unimportant, I cannot help but compare to the Army, where my job was very important, I was there to help people when they most needed it, I was Military Police. I know that when I got a call, it became the one most important thing in the world until I had dealt with it and resolved it. (By the way the adrenaline rush felt so good).
Now, I think it's funny how people worry about asking really stupid questions on job applications. How many years experience do I have as a waitress? How are my math skills and dealing with money? How many years experience do I have dealing with customers? Can I work with others?
What kind of questions are these??? If I was antisocial or stupid, how did I get to make a living for so long?
I have 2 years of college, I am a Military Police Investigator and went to school for that too. If they are not happy with me they can always fire me. Why can't I just fit in and be normal?
Sorry, you see how aggravating this is for me?
Seems you have more school and more skills than I do, and seems you will be just fine because you know your job. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started, and once you start, you will be on a roll.
I hope it all works out for you.

Old 11-07-2006, 07:06 PM   #12
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suzannecaroline HB User
Re: To work or not to work

I am a teacher and working. the fear of losing my job for calling in so much is a reality. I have had to leave work once because of Wellbitrin adverse effect and had a panic attack before the kids got there. Also teaching is such a stressful job, it makes my anxiety worse and depression is rising. However, a bipolar person needs insurance to support the high medical and theraputical costs to maintain one's life. So i would say to work and try to manange the disorder is the best thing to try to do. My boss knows about me having some mental issues, but realizes I am a competent and effective teacher. I need the routene too so getting 8 hours of sleep etc helps. when I dont work I go out like a mad woman and get off track. I am far away from my goal of being more stable but being employed is very important and does indeed help me get out and focus on other important things in life. Please feel free to ask me about teaching and being BP

Old 11-07-2006, 07:47 PM   #13
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shelb HB User
Re: To work or not to work

i have only worked once in my whole life and all i did was get drunk and wreck everything i have never got social security i never thought it as an option but i can not work shelb

Old 11-08-2006, 04:40 PM   #14
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LAP18 HB User
Re: To work or not to work

I am a H.S. teacher and mother of a bipolar 17year old. I am not bipolar. But, becuase of my experience with my bipolar daughter, I have found that I have become a better teacher. I can easily identify those children that are struggling with Bipolar. I am not an expert, but sometimes I have been able to figure out a child's bipolar disorder before their own parents have. Of course, I am very careful. I don't tell them what my suspicions are but I know one thing is for sure, my students feel safe with me. I do not critisize them for their disruptive behavior, I am not quick to send them to the principal's office. I do what a lot of adults (and other teachers don't do) I listen. I smile. I try my best to offer a comfortating classroom and above all, I don't give up on them.

My daughter's illness has made me a better teacher. Just imagine Jessinorth, what a great rolemodel you would be? Your contibutions might just be more than teaching a good lesson! Our kids need people like you. Our kids need someone to understand the difficulties they face everyday. Mental illness is so ignored in our children. They are easily labeled and their families judged.

I am not trying to trivialize your illness and I know it is sometimes difficult to get out of bed (I see it with my own daughter), and teaching is stressful, but it is a proyect you begin in sept and finish in june. I know my bipolar daughter likes the "completion" of projects, it makes her feel fulfilled.

I have had to take days off becuase I too am so exahausted by this beast that rules in my daughters head and in our home. But, after a few days off, I am happy to go back to all the energy the kids have and they make me feel good when I am feeling down.

I think you should teach. Try to use your illness to help others. If one day you can't come in, then don't. Your substitute teacher will take care of it. When you come back, the kids will be happy to see you.

Love from one teacher to another!


Old 11-13-2006, 09:35 PM   #15
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Re: To work or not to work

I needed to say somethng after reading these last posts. I met a nice couple from Church. The lady was telling me about her children (came up in the conversation). She said her boy was having problems learning, that he had a short attention span and was very fidgety like me. We laughed a little, and she told me t=how grateful she was of his teacher. Her son's teacher lets him sit in the back of the class, and when he needs to get up, he can stand, or move around without disturbing the other children, this way he can keep learning, and he is doing just great.
So to you teachers, parents appreciate what you do so much more than you know. And as a child, I will tell you I can remember my teachers, and maybe not what we were studying, but more than that, they taught me understanding, kindness, compasion, hard work, pereseverance. In short, more things than what came in books, and these stay with you your whole life!

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