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Friday, February 10, 2012

Disability Retirement for Bipolar Disorder

I've been working on my disability retirement application lately.  I am applying for disability retirement from the Federal Government through the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS).  My medical reason for retirement is bipolar disorder.

Early Consideration

I first considered FERS disability retirement (not to be confused with social security disability) probably ten years ago.  It was after my second visit by Mr. Mania.  I had managed to get myself on administrative leave for several months.  So, while I sat in my backyard and watched the grass grow, I began to contemplate how my disability affected my job.

Upon return to work I watched as the depression came on and settled in for a couple of years.  This deep and intrusive bipolar depression was making work unbearable at times.  Again I would wonder if my ability to work was compromised enough that I should look at disability retirement.

In the end however, I decided I could make it work.  I made it through that depression episode and became high functioning for many years, until recently.

Today's Perspective

After observing my last manic meltdown at work I have reconsidered my employment situation.  I now believe (most of the time) I am not entirely capable of managing my illness in such a way that will keep me continuously high functioning at my current job.

I need work that is structured differently.  I need the ability to work independently on a task by task basis.  I need to be able to work when well, which doesn't necessarily fit today's 9 to 5 paradigm (although that is changing).  My wellness and ability to function changes during the day and from day to day.

When I'm high functioning I can do a full week's worth of work, but just not in the regular work week routine.  I would benefit greatly if I had the ability to start and stop work as needed.


The future depends a lot on whether I am approved for disability retirement.  Since I'm still putting together my application, it will be several months before I know.

Meanwhile, I am considering work alternatives.  This isn't going well.  I struggle to find something that is both seemingly worthwhile and sustainable from an illness management perspective.  My depression is obscuring things that would otherwise be liked or enjoyable. What a pisser.


  1. I hear you and can relate to you, I am bipolar 1 lots of meds dont work for me.
    I am considering the above as well.

    1. TJ:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Try going to for more science about antidepressant withdrawal. It helps to have advice from someone in the profession (Dr. Phelps). Also, a reader just recommended for withdrawal and tapering. It's a user forum, which are often helpful for getting an "insiders" perspective on things. I checked it out and it's worthwhile. Take care, Jeff

  2. Hello Jeff,
    Have you ever tried the site I love this site honest no crap real patients on the realities of psych drugs. Research is also very good and current. Regards, Sara

    1. Hi Sara and thanks for the link. I checked it out and added it to my "list" Quickly I found that it provides a good breakdown of various attributes of my arch enemy antidepressant, Cymbalta.

      I'm getting off it since it no longer works. I started at 120 mg/day. It's taken me six months to get down to my current 40 mg/day.

      I've never had such a difficult time getting off a psychmed. In comparison, I tapered off Abilify last winter in just a few weeks with no problems whatsoever.

      Keep up the good fight(s)?


  3. Hello Jeff,
    I received my Bipolar 2 Diagnosis 4 months ago. Getting off Zoloft took three months and now I am told I need to be switched to Lamictal from Seroquel.

    Some times I feel like my doctors are playing medication bingo with me.
    Thanks for the links they help a lot in my search find out whats going and how to deal with daily struggles.

  4. Waldo - I too are quite concerned about the way psych docs dispense this stuff. My best recommendation is do exactly what you are doing, researching these psychotropic drugs. - Best of luck, Jeff