Does Bipolar hinder or help in the workplace? Tuesday August 21, 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.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.