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Career choices for Bipolar
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Career choices for Bipolar

My 20-year-old daughter lives with bipolar and has taken a leave of absence from college following a suicide attempt over the summer.  She's doing better now but is getting stressed over next steps in her life.  Don't know if returning to college is the answer, wonder if anyone has thoughts on her next best steps?
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585414 tn?1288944902
  I did drop out of college after I experienced my first full psychotic episode from schizoaffective disorder but once I started medication (that was decades ago I had to go to the psych. hospital) and then stabilized I went back to college but one that was less stressful even though it was not on the same level academically and got a good education. That might be one option. Also all colleges have an office for students with disabilities that can provide reasonable accommodations such as tutors and for myself I needed the tests I took to be untimed. That is essential to inquire about as well. There should be within your state agencies that help people with disabilities with educational opportunities. Generally they are the same ones that help people with disabilities with employment opportunities as well.
Avatar f tn
This is a pretty common question (appropriate careers) on this forum because it affects so many of us.  We want to be able to be successful in our lives and sometimes it just seems like that is far far away.  

Many responses that I have seen in the past regarding careers that "bipolars" have are extremely varied.  That would show that depending on a person's abilities and interests should direct the career path - we can do anything a person without bipolar does.  There are some things like excessive stress that affects us, but it depends a lot on the individual.  One thing to try to remember is that the diagnosis is just that-a diagnosis, it doesn't define who we are as people.  (That's really hard for us to accept, but it's the politically correct response!)

As far as your daughter, the most important thing is for her to get stabilized (I'm sure as a Mom you know that!), and when she gets more stable, she will hopefully see things more clearly and begin to start making some plans.  Talking to her therapist might help her in creating a plan to develop a career path.  

I go to college now and work a full time job with a family to take care of, as well.  It's not easy to say the least, but I talk to my doctor on a regular basis when things get out of whack, my family is supportive, and I try REALLY hard to not overload my college schedule.  I've been really- really sick with my bipolar before and struggle with it pretty regularly, but that's just the way bipolar is.   I pray a lot.  

I hope she's better soon.  I know she appreciates what a supportive Mom you are, even if she might not say so.  

574118 tn?1305138884
I agree with IL. This is what i did in fact. When i stumbled in my college where i was doing engineering degree i switched over to a new college less reputed but i finished my degree safely. Now i have a job. True i quit one a month ago or you can say i and my boss got a divorce then i found a new one less stressful.

My advise she has to stick to education EVEN if she will not make use of it, because otherwise she will feel always bad about it that her colleagues completed a degree and she couldn't and she will keep blaming her BP for this. She can join a less difficult college i mean academically. To get any certificate is crucial to feel she has accomplished something. The worst thing is to turn your back to something you wanted, because you will tend to get discouraged later from trying to achieve another aim. Get her to do something else but encoiurage her to get certified somewhere else . IMPORTANT: being young is easy now and the older she will become it's going to be more difficult to start learning new stuff. i have been there and thanks God i finished my degree. I fell ill in my 3rd year and with great difficulty i finished it and in my final 4th year of college i failed and left college my pdoc insisted that i continue with the drugs but i couldn't so i changed college and got certified as an engineer. True i earn a little compared to my colleagues but at least i feel i am useful to the society. When i had one month off after i quit the last job, i felt it was a slow suicide staying at home doing nothing. Now i am back again to life. So it's crucial she finishes some education for her to feel she was able to conquer her "disability"  
good luck      
915369 tn?1355318410
I was in the same situation as your daughter and many other bipolar individuals. I was in university and was unable to finish due to my disorder, after I got out of the hospital I tried again and again was unable to finish. I decided to try something different and actually do what I'd always wanted to do, I figured that if I was doing something i truly enjoyed and not worrying about the future I would be less stressed and more successful.
I can say without a doubt that I am much happier now doing what I enjoy, even if it doesn't pay quite as well yet.
1506244 tn?1289718995
Hi I am feeling for you and your daughter. Generally speaking stress is a trigger for any type of illness, mentall illness not excluded. It is common for a person to have a break in college, or any major life event such as divorce, high stress job etc.. Knowledge is power. Having said that I have bp1, and recently completed a B.A. but during the 4 years I was in school I was hospitalized once and narrowly avoided 2 others hospitalizations. I had numerous panic attacks, but like an earlier poster I utilized all available resources to help get me through. I connected with the disability office on campus which helped alleviate some stress by allowing me to test privately, hand in some assignments a bit later, etc.. At times I had to leave class because I became so paranoid I thought classmates were all talking about me. I would at times vent at students accused one of trying to read my e-mail and more than once cried in class or else laughed inappropriately. My point is it was DIFFICULT and at times embarrasing but with support I made it. At times I worked part time but other times work was too stressful and I knew I couldn't do both and risk a break. I also had medical support. When I felt that it was safe I disclosed my bp to an instructor but only discriminately because at times that can backfire. If your daughter is ready to return to school with the appropriate help she can. Another thing that might help her is reading and listening to motivational stories. There are books that chronicle people who have achieved their goals while in the midst of breaks, and tears, and pain and even hospitilazations. They are candid, raw and honest, but they are also filled with hope and encouragement. Books like "An Unquiet Mind" and "My BiPolar Road Trip" or "The Day the Voices Stopped" are inspirational and comforting. There is support for her-and you. If she isn't ready yet I don't recommend it until she is or it could further injure her confidence, but if she is ready then I would support her all the way with forthright information the whole truth-which sounds like you are. Sounds as if You are blessed to have oneanother!
1255505 tn?1272822715
I entered college at 18 in architecture and lived at home for 3 years, by which time I had an "unravelling". Which I think was more due to external events (Iraq War I) as well as academic pressures. As an architecture student, you never get the time to sleep. Projects are all consuming. This I think was detrimental in precipitating my first and then second "meltdown".

Then I moved out of state and went to school full time for anthropology (not as stressful, nor as practical) and worked full time. This lasted to 4 more years. You would have thought I would have had a degree by now, but I was really more of a professional student that anything. During this time I had a few more meltdowns which I think were caused by first antidepressant medication and second by the tress of romantic relationships. I also burned out on college.

My work during after were essentially dead end jobs, but I was stable and held them for long enough periods. Finally my last dead end job morphed into something with a career track. This was do to my behind the scenes maneuvering and a new manager who was more proactive in developing her employees.

Now I'm a business systems consultant in technology for an enormous bank. It's a good job with a career track with moderate stress. Due to chronic depression though my performance was subpar, which I was able to somewhat conceal. Then after a full blown mania (luckily I had a lot of time off saved up) I began Lamictal treatment and am performing better.

At this point I want to finish my degree which will only require a couple more classes. But really, my job is something that really doesn't interest me but my real love is still design and architecture, but I don'y think it will be possible to enter that again while working full time. I'll need to think of a new path that is doable.

My take aways from this are:
1. Avoid antidepressants or any medication that does more harm than good. This can be hard to figure out until the damage is done.
2. Know which medical treatment is really right.
3. Recognize that romantic relationships are not essential to who you are and that they're stressful. Avoid them while in school.
4. Take a major and job which allows for ample sleep.
5. Take a job that gives good medical benefits and ample time off.
6. Do what you love and do it early.
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