For people with bipolar disorder, holding down a job can be challenging. Interpersonal communication can hinder job performance, as well as a sudden onset of symptoms. “Mood fluctuations from untreated bipolar disorder can impair the ability to complete tasks or projects,” explains psychiatrist Alan Prossin, MBBS, a clinical lecturer in the department of psychiatry at […]
Individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder face many phases in this illness. Some include: mania, depression, mixed episode, rapid cycling and seasonal pattern. With the summer coming to a close and the fall just around the corner, the weather is going to change. Bipolar disorder is similar to this because with the change of seasons and weather, comes the changing of moods. According to psychcentral.com, seasonal pattern is defined as: “mood disorders that seem to be triggered by a particular season of the year”. So you may be asking yourself: what can I do to manage the seasonal pattern within bipolar disorder?
Here are 4 small steps in order to do so.
• Remind yourself that these racing thoughts are a part of the illness. If you suffer from bipolar disorder, then you may often have thoughts that race to the “worst case scenario”. For instance: you see a happy couple and they are single. Instead of being happy for someone else, you begin to feel bad and think you will be alone forever and never find anyone. You must give yourself positive affirmations and remind yourself that you will be happy if you allow yourself to be.
• Know that you can find happiness year-round, regardless of weather. Getting used to the weather changes may take a little longer then people who are not bipolar, but know you will adjust, and it will get better. Make sure you are taking your medication properly, and that you talk with someone you trust about any trails or tribulations you may be facing during the season and weather change.
• Keep a chart of your symptoms. If there are certain factors that trigger your mood during the season change, write them down. Writing them down will help keep track of what set off your mood, so maybe you can avoid these factors and it will result in a balance of your moods.
• Focus on what is happening right now. Do not worry or stress yourself out on what is going on tomorrow, next week or next month and just focus on today. You have no control on the future, so do not waste time becoming anxious about it.
Sharing a life with someone who has a mental health problem like bipolar disorder can be frustrating, rewarding, and overwhelming. Many times you may not know what to expect because your partner suffers from intense highs and lows. If you have children, you may have to be the absolute caretaker when your partner is struggling from depression or mania. It’s important to acknowledge the role that the spouse of someone with bipolar disorder plays, because it can be very difficult.
• Step 1:
Show your spouse that you still love them. People with bipolar disorder are often scared and lonely, so they struggle with feelings of worthlessness. It’s vital that you let your loved one know you care. Your spouse should know that you’ll give enough emotional support, so share how much you care for your spouse and do so often. This is an enormous help to most people with bipolar disorder.
• Step 2:
Educate everyone in the family. Learn everything you can about bipolar disorder and make sure other family members learn the same information. Everyone in the household should be aware of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, treatment options, side effects of medication, and complications of the condition. This way, everyone understands what the bipolar family member is going through and can watch for signs of mental distress.
• Step 3:
Take control of treatment. Your spouse may not be motivated to seek out help. In that case, it’s up to you to seek out qualified psychologists and psychiatrists in your area for your loved one to see. You’ll also need to schedule appointments and be aware of medications that he or she takes. This can sometimes be a full-time job, especially if your loved one has sever bipolar needs. In order to take some of the burden off of you, train one or more other family members to take over these duties when you really need a break.
• Step 4:
Have a plan of action. Even with the best treatment program, it may take an unexpected turn for the worse one day. If your spouse ever becomes suicidal, you and your family should know what to do to help him. Your plan should include a list of medical professionals to call and one or two hospitals where you can take them if it becomes necessary.
In a survey done by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 9 out of 10 people with bipolar disorder said the illness affected their job performance.
Stress, unpredictability, mood changes, and workplace relationships are just some issues that make having a job and bipolar disorder difficult.
Here are some tips on maintaining job performance when you have bipolar disorder:
1. Learn what your biggest issues or triggers are at work. Once you know the stressors, you can choose strategies that make work more enjoyable and avoid situations that cause stress or discomfort.
2. Consider a modified work schedule. Often working part-time, working set hours, or refraining from intense or project-oriented assignments can promote stability. Try out different schedules and see which one works best for you.
3. Regular sleep, exercise, and meals can help you stay healthy and happy at work.
4. Do work that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. Don’t settle for something that you are unhappy with, even if that means making less money.
5. Don’t ignore the symptoms of a break down, if you aren’t feeling well it is better to be proactive than to let the disorder take over. Pay attention to the signs, and see a doctor or therapist before you have a break down.
6. Manage your stress. Designate downtime and allow yourself time to check out of the professional environment.