Hello! I was interviewed for this article in the Guardian:
It’s estimated that bipolar affective disorder affects one in every hundred people in the UK. But what are the challenges faced by bipolar professionals in the workplace?
When suffering manic episodes, bipolar professionals can experience mammoth boosts of uncontrollable energy, resulting in incessant flows of incoherent ideas, which they feel compelled to act upon with great urgency and sometimes aggression. This can be difficult for colleagues. For example, Seaneen Molloy-Vaughan, who currently works as a writer but has experience in the healthcare and charity sectors, says such behaviour has led to “trouble with professional boundaries”.
Likewise, depressive episodes can also be difficult to manage at work. When Molloy-Vaughan has suffered depressive cycles she has been “withdrawn and snappy”. This behaviour stresses relationships with colleagues and in extreme cases can lead to disciplinary action if the real cause of such behaviour is unknown.
Medication for bipolar disorder can also take its toll with side effects such as drowsiness, nausea and poor co-ordination. Molloy-Vaughan reveals: “At the beginning I was unable to work because I was too unstable. I was also starting medication and it took a long time to get the right dosage. I had a lot of appointments and this time commitment, alongside the behavioural side effects, made it difficult to hold down a job.”
It’s a good article but I quickly want to make it clear that by professional boundaries, I’m referring to hypomania some years ago when I thought my great ideas should be shared with the company directors when I was a temp admin, and “behavioural side effects” refers to drowsiness, not me running around and kicking cats or anything!
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts- for those of you with any mental health problem who work or volunteer, how do you find it?
This is a good a place as any to also say that I left my nursing degree in February. The straw that broke the camel’s back was I did return after my sick leave. I was reassured by my tutor that my placement would be 9-5, just to ease me back in and take some of the heat off. I was actually assigned pretty much the same placement I was on when I had my mini-breakdown last year and was told, basically, suck it up, and if you can’t handle it, don’t be a nurse. And to be fair, I couldn’t. The shame is, I was really bloody good at it and academically one of the best in our cohort. I didn’t leave in a huff, I had, as you know, been thinking about it for a long time but was very torn.
I’m currently working as a temp copywriter at a charity, which ends in 2 weeks, then I have another six week job lined up then into the great unknown! I am happy with my decision, it was killing me (I can’t work shifts, I need to accept this) and making me absolutely miserable. I will also never, ever be comfortable giving people medication. I really miss working with patients, though, and mental health is still my joy and my passion. So I’m also applying to study psychology part time. Even if nothing comes of it, just learning about our minds and our society, the complexities, the pathologies, the brain and the body, will make me happy. And in a lot of debt!
I have a ton more to say but still not sure how to say it here. Suffice to say, I am happier with my uncertain future than I was with my certain one. My depression has finally passed, too, thankfully. On the subject, though, I am struggling a bit with full time work at the moment but it’s largely because life has handed my ass to me in the past couple of months and I’m extra tired, but managing better by the day.
Things are getting better, though, a lot. I am still fragile and quite emotional, but and I am crazy proud of how I have handled myself in the past few months, a few blips aside. I have done nothing that I would have done when I was 21. I haven’t hurt myself, freaked out, done anything destructive and have been thinking clearly, been strong and been honest, and above all, seeking people out, which is something I have been afraid to do for most of my life. And they were there for me, they’ve always been there for me. It’s okay to let someone take care of you once in a while, it’s okay to be vulnerable in front of someone. It’s okay to be wrapped up in a blanket and let people bring you food, let someone stay with you while you sleep. You don’t have to internalise everything and cope on your own, which just makes you fester in self hatred. It’s taken me 27 years to realise that.
It is knowledge I will try to carry with me for the rest of my life which will make me strong. I’m proud. And incredibly thankful.
Filed under: Bipolar Disorder