Does Bipolar hinder or help in the workplace?

20 Aug 2018

The fact that am writing this as my Online Bipolar Persona says everything. I have worked in Corporate for over 20 years, and it's hard to both manage the illness and manage perceptions. Because the dirty truth is, I myself would hesitate hiring someone with a mental disorder. It impacts the workplace, it impacts work output, and ultimately can impact the performance of the business. I should know.

So far, I have had five major depressive episodes which needed hospitalisation, many productive periods of hyperthymia and high drive, and other long periods of low-grade depression. I continued working. I lied at first about the down-times, then came clean on an 'unspecified hospital illness' then came cleaner on 'breakdown hospitalisation'. This was all in the context of a large organisation, where I could move on and up, to a new boss. Who wouldn't know my history.

Then I joined a small consulting firm, as a Partner, with weighty revenue targets and less room to hide. I felt safe enough to explain what was going on when the first fall-down hit. However, this down-time impacted the bottom line. After a few years of cyclical high performance and withdrawal, we agreed to part ways. I joined the small, established family-business where the symptoms of my Bipolar are fully accepted and held.

But I am bigger than this. I can do more than this. I can operate at senior strategic levels. My mind wants to run, and my emotional strength has so much more to give. I have risen through the ranks, I am raising children, I have successfully remarried. In my mid-40s, is this it? I could stick where I am or venture out.

I am deep in the interview process with a young business. I have been sort-of honest, referencing 'down-times'. But the truth is, if I were them, knowing what I know, I wouldn't hire me. The risk is too great. I blog under a pseudonym, so they won't find me. I don't want my condition to derail this opportunity.

This is not a stigma dilemma. This is a commercial reality dilemma.

Do you think I should I should be honest? Should I recognise the limits of my disorder? Or try again, because I know I have something amazing to add... in spurts. And this time may be different?


A Moodscope member.

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Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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