Do I tell my boss I'm Bipolar?

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linden
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 10/14/2006 11:31 AM (GMT -7)   
Do I tell my boss I'm BP?
 
I flirt with this question daily.  I was very ill with BP for years, just back on my feet and returned to the tough working world. 
 
Somewhere is this deep-seeded need to tell my co-workers/manager/supervisor that I went through some hellish years/times and look where I am today.  To make them aware of my on-going struggle with BP, which would perhaps explain my slowness at times catching on to new company policies and procedures, or new job requirements.  I know the answer really, DO NOT UTTER A WORD, but somehow I want them to know.  Why is this?  I think I am just proud and want to shout from the roof-tops.  But for me, stigma stands in the way.
 
I have a great passion for writing - mostly on the subject of mental illness - one article even published!  I just finished an article on Migraine Headaches, and brought that into work, but I dare not share the mental illness articles for fear of stigma.  Not fair at all.  Stigma is so great in this world that sometimes we don't have a chance if we divulged anything.
 
Do any of you have an opinion on this subject.
 
Deb

CounterClockwise
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1529
   Posted 10/14/2006 1:02 PM (GMT -7)   
Deb hun, your spirit really says it all: you are proud of what you've dealt with -- and you have *every* reason to be!!!

You know what, I am wondering something similar at the moment. When I took my current job I did "admit" on my health form about my depression, but when Occupational health had me in for a chat (of course I believed they were going to check out if I was bananas! -- but they were great!!) I said no when they asked if I wanted my departmental head to have this on record. Then the depression, combined with the meds I was on at the time, struck me badly, and I had the worst ever first year in post (everything took me at least 3 times as long and I just felt tired and lacking in concentration and *dreadful* all the time). So I felt I needed to explain and told my team leader and my mentor about my depression. Well, my team leader basically then treated me like I was stupid but avoided talking about the depression, and my mentor made some pretty awful comments about depressions sufferers... (and bear in mind that I work in a university -- did someone say "education"???!!?). I was in such a state that I just felt paralised on what to do. Realistically, I should have gone back to occy health and got them to inform the department officially so that there was no way they could get out of treating my fairly, but I was too far gone by then to think in sensible terms lol and even getting to occy health just seemed too big a task.

The reason I'm thinking along similar lines to you at the moment is that, since the meds have been changed and I've pulled out again, all this has made me cross with a capital C! -- And of course my rather speedy education in bipolar has also got me really thinking about the stigma and plain ignorance in the world. So recently I've been really thinking about what I can do in my work environment to wise people up. I started thinking about trying to put together a mental health education day or exhibition and talks and getting occy health and other sufferers (unipolar depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc) involved. Of course the stigma problems may put a stop to many of my ideas -- but I'm really thinking about how I could get *something* like this going. I think people who suffer from these conditions *should* feel proud for the things they have coped with -- and triumphed over (and those who simply maintain the stigma should feel utterly ashamed). And yet, and yet... something has stopped me saying anything about it to anyone so far... .

Where are your articles published? Enquiring minds want to know (and read!!).

I'm really glad you raised this question. -- I think a lot of people struggle with the same question.

Rosie x
********************

People are not like fish: they do not work well battered.

When I'm not in my right mind, my left mind gets pretty crowded...

********************

 
Moderator, Bipolar Forum


linden
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 10/14/2006 3:29 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Rosie:
 
Thanks for your reply, and feels so warm that you surmise the stigma in our world too.
 
From time to time, I think people living with a mental illness have to somehow apologize for their illness.  Perhaps, If it was heart disease/cancer/diabetes as an illness (I don't want to come off as down grading these illnesses), would we have to apologize for having it?  Of course not.  Stigma and plain ignorance; exactly what you stated, Rosie.
 
While the health fair is a fitting idea, actually a great idea, unfortunately it wouldn't work in my 'working world'.  I work for a large bank in collections, and I think "Deb=bipolar information" would = disaster.  I believe I would be treated differently after the 'secret' leaked.
 
As for my articles, the first one I wrote:  "How Mental Illness Affects Spouses, Family & Friends" appeared in my city's newspaper.  I was so taken aback that someone was actually interested in ME.  Years of illness robs you incredibly of yout self-confidence and self-esteem.  My other articles touch on the same subject of BP, depicting the feelings and the day to day living with BP (mostly the black depression though) and some have been presented to my BP group which meets bi-weekly.  Luckily, I have a wonderful pdoc who runs this group, and actually gives up his time on Saturday mornings for his BP patients.  My last article entitled is:  "How Life can take a 360".  This is by far my favorite and my claim to fame so to speak - you know - black mud depression (as low as you can go) and finally a big break...and pow! you are functioning with everyone else.  Living, working and breathing something else other than an illness.  I do realize that BP will always be in my life, however, it 'aint taking over again.
 
So I am back to "Do I tell my boss....", I think let 'sleeping dogs lie'.  Thanks Rosie, your input helped me think the long-term repercussions.
 
Deb   

wmnak
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1123
   Posted 10/14/2006 9:02 PM (GMT -7)   
deb,
 
you certainly posed a difficult question.  "to tell orr not to tell that is the question."  did hamlet admit to his oedipus complex?
 
i worked almost all of my career, more than 30 yrs, in the defence industry.  i had security clearances on top of clearences.  i was involved in designing and buiilding systems to fight world war iii (thank all of the gods they were never needed).  given this environment, should i admit to my depression (as i was diagnosed at the time)?  i never did.  it just never came up.  i don't believe in keeping secrets, but not volunteering is not actually keeping a secret (ok, this is a technicality).  i loved what i did and wanted to continue doing it.  i couldn't if i lost my security clearance and i might have lost it if i volunteered the information.  fortunately for me, they never asked.  if they had asked, i would have told them.  in the game i was in, if you had anything that could be held against you, the "other side" could exploit it to force you to commit espionage.  i was never that worried about any of the things that i did in my life - many i am not proud of - but none i would not admit.
 
don't ask - don't tell?  perhaps.
 
i hope my experience brings some clarity to your situation.
 
warren

seechell
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 362
   Posted 10/14/2006 11:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Deb-
I don't think I'd tell either. That's your private affair and no one needs to know. JMO
Take Care,
               Chelle
    "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."
  DX: ankylosing spondylitis, periferal neuropathy, chronic migraines/headaches, depression/panic attacks, probable Bi-Polar, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, orthostatic hypotension, sleep apnea
  RX: synthroid, estradiol, cymbalta, xanax, proamatine, inderal la, neurontin, torfanil pm, celebrex, sonata, aspirin, relpax, phenergan, esgic plus
  Surgeries: hysterectomy 1997, tonsillectomy 2001, deviated septum 2005, cataracts (both eyes) 2006
 
 


seechell
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 362
   Posted 10/14/2006 11:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Deb-
I don't think I'd tell either. That's your private affair and no one needs to know. JMO
Take Care,
               Chelle
    "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."
  DX: ankylosing spondylitis, periferal neuropathy, chronic migraines/headaches, depression/panic attacks, probable Bi-Polar, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, orthostatic hypotension, sleep apnea
  RX: synthroid, estradiol, cymbalta, xanax, proamatine, inderal la, neurontin, torfanil pm, celebrex, sonata, aspirin, relpax, phenergan, esgic plus
  Surgeries: hysterectomy 1997, tonsillectomy 2001, deviated septum 2005, cataracts (both eyes) 2006
 
 


Railey
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 35
   Posted 10/17/2006 4:04 AM (GMT -7)   
I had to tell my boss. I was off sick for 3 months last summer from lithium toxicity.  He's a doctor himself and I couldn't just make up some illness.  He was cool about it, but didn't seem to want to discuss it much with me.  It's been a year and I'm back at work full time.  I thought I would lose some credibility,  but since I've been able to keep up with the work and meet deadlines, things are pretty much back to where I was before I got sick.  I don't bring up the subject any more, and he doesn't ask.

CounterClockwise
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1529
   Posted 10/17/2006 8:35 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Railey -- lovely to see you back!

I'm so glad that this didn't come back to bite you. -- Yes, there does seem to be a general reluctance to discuss these things doesn't there? -- What are they afraid we'll do? -- Come into work in a banana costume and sing rude songs at the top of our voices?! (Mind you, that might be a laugh...!) I'm just pleased that you're back and doing well again now. :)

Rosie x
********************

People are not like fish: they do not work well battered.

When I'm not in my right mind, my left mind gets pretty crowded...

********************

 
Moderator, Bipolar Forum


suebeehoney
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 10/17/2006 11:52 AM (GMT -7)   

My employer is aware of my bp and thankfully, they are supportive.  I had to take off two months this summer due to med interactions and deep depression and a hospitalization.  They held my job and are giving me short hours as I ease back into work.  I think the choice to divulge depends on your employer and the environment. 

take care,

Sue

 


"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us."--Helen Keller


CounterClockwise
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1529
   Posted 10/17/2006 2:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Sue -- that's brilliant! Your employer is a paragon! -- Well, ok, so in fact they're just doing what *all* should do, but it's so uncommon to find an employer who doesn't try to work round the law on this one that it really does deserve special recognition! :)

Rosie x
********************

People are not like fish: they do not work well battered.

When I'm not in my right mind, my left mind gets pretty crowded...

********************

 
Moderator, Bipolar Forum

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