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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Bipolar Disorder - Career Update

This post is an update on significant changes happening in my career right now.  I'd say that this career changing period I am in is a "major life event."  It is the type of event those with bipolar disorder are supposed to watch out for.  

In addition to messing with mood and emotions, major life events generate added stress, use our resources, and consume energy.  These changes can have a profound impact on your bipolar symptoms!

It is very important to be vigilant and keep an eye out for changes in bipolar symptoms during times of significant change.  It's better to try and manage or control these symptoms rather than allowing them to trigger a manic or depressive episode.  

Not to far back I mentioned I was terminated from my last job as an engineer.  Well, I've settled my appeal with my former employer and things have changed.  The biggest change was to have my reason for departure changed from "terminated" to "retired due to medical reasons."  Much better.

Negotiating a settlement agreement was the right thing to do.  I wasn't getting anywhere with my appeal against my employer's decision to terminate me.  At best I would have had an opportunity to work at my old job (or similar), but this would have taken many moons.  I decided it is better to get it over with and move on!

Moving On

Now I'm in an adjustment, learning, and exploring mode.  I'm getting used to waking up whenever I want even knowing I should have a strict sleeping schedule to help contain bipolar symptoms.  I like the freedom.

On area of exploration is writing.  I enjoy writing a lot so why not check into it as a career?  I've been doing exactly this for the last six months or so.  I'm still unsure about a writing career so I will do some more research and learning about the writing biz.

For now, writing and blogging is helping me keep a daily routine, be active, and have a sense of purpose.  This is worth it regardless of writing career outcome.

Things I've Done

I've accomplished quite a few things since becoming unemployed back in 2010.  Things I have done during this period of underemployment that have helped me move on:
  • Attended seminary school, enrolled in religious studies.  I took two courses and stopped.  It didn't jive with me. Too intellectual.
  • Completed an online course on internet writing and marketing.
  • Quit drinking alcohol (this was huge)
  • Created a blog.  It has helped in many ways.  I use writing as a therapeutic mechanism.  It really helps my mood and stuff when I write.  I also benefit from the interactions with the bipolar community.
  • Learned that you don't have to drive your car to work everyday.  You can work from home.
  • Figured out work from home requires discipline but the freedom is bitchin dude.
  • I've come to appreciate the need to have something to do!  Tennis anyone? 
  • Learned how to stop spending money excessively and reduced my monthly cost of living by hundreds 
  • Prepared my disability retirement application documentation (not a trivial process)
  • Worked on my "emotional sobriety" (new term).  It means to maintain an emotional balance
  • Remodeled my bathrooms (had to do it)
Now that my situation has stabilized for the time being, I can focus on resolving the manic mischief from summer 2010!  More to come on this!

So, what major life events are going on in your life now or are expected to happen?  What are you doing to cope with any added stress and energy drain from it?

Finally, I ask that you take this weeks poll - How long from first symptoms to diagnosis?  It means how many years were there between the time you first noticed bipolar symptoms and when you were "officially" diagnosed bipolar.  It took over three years for my diagnosis.  I first sought help in spring 1994.  I knew something was wrong but couldn't figure it out.  It wasn't until summer 1997 that I received my official diagnosis from the attending psychiatrist at the psychiatric hospital. 


  1. Hello Jeff,
    Yes I am reading your older blog posts this one is very good. I have left jobs before and my bipolar had a bit to do with it. So I agree medical leave is better than I stopped going to work because I went bat crap crazy and went to Las Vegas to become a professional gambler Opps! LOL! Well you live and learn I had the credit card bills to prove it over the years, before they finally had a name for why I acted so impulsively and spent sooooo much money so darn fast.
    As to your question I can look back and I have always been a little too excitable and even my own dad said I was a moody little kid when I was younger. I finally got sick enough for the world to see in 1992 and was hospitalized for a suicide attempt I nearly got right and spent 4 weeks inpatient and they treated me for clinical depression. Along the way I have been diagnosed with many things depending on how manic or depressed I was. I finally got the word in fall of 97 that a doctor thought I seemed a bit manic to him and I have gone from there over the years. Because of all the years of bad diagnosis and mistreatment of my illness I do tend to cycle more rapidly than others I have known. I was stable for 7 years and worked figuring out the mess I had made of my life over the time I was so ill and correcting the financial mess and working on relationships I had trashed in my wake. I started feeling really bad this April and I have taken a leave of absence from my job as a Nurse Manager in the ER dept once I used up my vacation and sick days. I think it might have something to do with changes in my life that have come along and hit me pretty hard, but who really knows? Regards, Sara

    1. Hi Sara - Yep, life changes can tweak your stresses and trigger bipolar symptoms. I pray you get through your immediate life concerns soon and back to a much better state. Hang in there! Jeff

  2. Thank you for this post. Indeed, moving on is an important process that one has to undergo. As they say, “Flowing water is better than a stagnant one.” We cannot dwell in the past because the future needs us! I am really happy that you were able to successfully hurdle that time of difficulty. Your post will certainly inspire others. Again, thank you for sharing.

  3. You are welcome family. I am struggling to keep blogging with my bipolar symptoms these days (mania and now depression). I am working on an even better website and blog. Hope to share more stories of hope and encouragement. Yes, keep life flowing, stay in motion, and most of all keep hope! Thanks for your kind comment. - Jeff