Depression Community
10.5k Members
1154462 tn?1327437979

Can Bipolar Disorder 1 patients maintain a competitive job in the long-run without any meds?

I was diagnosed with BP1 in early 2010 and by end of July last year as having ''treatment resistive major depressive disorder'. I was almost on an 8 week medical leave of absence last year and had to drop out of a leadership development program at work.
Since then I have continued taking 0.5 mg Klonopin every night to go to bed because i cannot fall asleep naturally. That is the only medication I have been on since last July as nothing else worked for my mood disorder without causing adverse side effects. For the most part i do OK except for these phases where I start missing 2-3 days of work because of my bipolar anxiety in the mornings. I find myself unable to get out of bed and using up all my sick leave and vacation in excuse of missing work.

Currently only 1/2 of my very close friends at work are aware of my condition and my doctor recommended not disclosing my illness at work unless absolutely necessary because my company is a big for-profit corporation and it might not end up in my best interests. I recently took a lead position on one of my old teams. I did that thinking that more work will keep me busy and preoccupied and hopefully driven enough to where I could somehow make it to work everyday and knowing I had a full productive day would also provide a sense of satisfaction. I would describe my job as being stressful, busy, and definitely results-driven. My boss expects me to be sharp and focused because he requires quick responses and for the most part I have job security since I am a lead. However, the nature of my industry is cyclical, there are layoffs at the end of each year and those who are under-performing and relatively inexperienced at the company could find themselves out of a job if they are not able to network themselves into another position within the company.
Missing work and having more to catch up on and feeling guilty about having to explain my absenteeism to the boss and co-workers only adds to my stress level the next day. I'm only 31 and my illness only seems to be deteriorating at an alarming pace. Most doctors I've been to have recommended taking Klonopin in half dose early in the morning before going to work or as-needed during the afternoon to target the social anxiety effect. However, that makes me less focused and foggy and that just doesn't work in my job which demands a high level of concentration. I talk to my parents or siblings on days where I miss work and my current bf is also very supportive. However, I just don't understand how or why I suddenly feel this urge to not want to go to work after having a nice relaxing long weekend to myself which for most people is a pretty good motivator besides the obvious fact that it will be a shorter work week.

My question to the community is if keeping in mind my age and my repeat patterns of missing work despite having family support and good days at work. Will I be able to sustain a competitive, stressful job in the long-run? There are days where I wish I could just quit or maybe working from home might be a solution in my case? It's very disheartening knowing I spent so many years in school doing so well and getting a good degree with hopes and dreams of making it far at my current workplace, only now to realize perhaps none of that will ever come true. I'd like to hope for the best but when none of the medicines that normally help out people work for me and any psychologist's advice is always the same it just makes me want to give up and quit altogether. That option seems much better than constantly worrying about losing my job because of absenteeism and missing work and not being as productive as fellow co-workers. My boss wondering what's wrong with me or constantly wondering when I might have a "normal" phase where I can just get up and go to work like every other person despite really wanting to or not.

4 Responses
Avatar universal
It is difficult , as you know, to work when your bipolar is acting up. I take propranolol, a beta blocker, to treat a side effect of Abilify and found out it helps with anxiety without sedating. I looked it up in a PDR and that use was listed. As to your depression .. There are a large number of ADs out there. I take MAOI called Emsam. MAOIs require a special diet but can be effective drugs. Emsam is a patch so you get a steady dosing all the time.
Working...that's a big question and I have no answer for you. Everyone is different. I have a Ph.D and am on disability so having a degree doesn't assure you will be able to work. But I was able to work or perform in college until I hit my early 50's.
1154462 tn?1327437979
So when were you diagnosed, at what age? Like I said, I can seem to function on some days but only God (and my body) knows how much courage that requires and what it literally takes out of me. It feels nothing short of a miracle to be honest with you. Days seem to drag over centuries before I can look forward to the weekend. Then I feel like I HAVE to go into work on a Sat and volunteer for working overtime which majority people at my workplace do to save money for a house, car, their families, the normal stuff. Then the weekend finally comes around and I'm already worried about how soon it's going to be over and how I will have to go back to work which I totally have no interest in. Pretend to care, pretend to look ambitious and give a damn about my career, the upward mobility, etc. etc.

Starting tomorrow, my mom will start calling me all the way from Pakistan early in the mornings to ensure I actually get out of bed and drive to work and have a productive day. A thought just went through my head right now as I still have one hour before going to bed. What if I do drive to work tomorrow but instead of going in, I drive instead to a bar or some park and just not deal with the reality of being at work and facing what lies ahead. Yes I know, that's completely self-destructive and doesn't sound the least bit logical but despite doing everything right ALL my life, I was never given the choice to choose not to be bipolar or get it later in life like my dad to where not showing up to work daily doesn't matter because you're retired already or close to it. I'm at the junction where most people are making the "move", jumping to management or thinking about how they can retire early, save up more, and yet I find myself wondering every day when it's going to get so bad again that I'll have to go on another medical leave of absence.

I hate it whenever friends or family or my boy friend tell me that i'm so smart and have so much potential. It's not about that at all for me, it's all about survival and not going through the stress and driving myself insane. Maybe it might not be such a bad thing that one of these days I do get a nervous breakdown so they realize I'm not making it up and I can finally get a break! I've come to terms with the fact that I'm very replaceable in the eyes of my company and my graduate degree means nothing if I don't get the work done and help them turn profit. Dreaming about becoming an executive one day or feeling even the least bit ambitious is totally out the window because I'm more realistic about the effects of my illness on me and how well the meds I've tried have worked for me.

I wish I could go on disability like you or even have a low-stress job that doesn't require the skills I went to school for but being Asian, I don't think I'll ever have that kind of liberty.
1794165 tn?1315783007
Hi, you Story Sounds such a lot similar to Mine! I am also on my tuoreita in a demabding job with medicatios.. Difficulties to wale up,similar habit.i am also wondering how long i manage. Peopke say ian smart too but what Ford it brimg.u are at least lucky to have a boyfriend. Varret doing good but positiins chnge and i always have problem with friends.i am european. A kind of the should be Fredrik, but it is just not that Simple to start completely newbefore it is a must
1794165 tn?1315783007
Sorry too manu typos due to my iPod automatic feed... I will write better once on me laptop
Have an Answer?
Top Mood Disorders Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Discover the common symptoms of and treatment options for depression.
We've got five strategies to foster happiness in your everyday life.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Smoking substitute may not provide such a healthy swap, after all.
How to lower your heart attack risk.