Bonus Question for You!!!

All three of my babies are going to be in school this year. *sniff sniff* I’ve contemplated getting a part time job to pass the time, maybe bring in a little extra cash (I like new shoes)…


Last school year I had to pick PDog from school anywhere from 1 to 5 days a week. I think at this point he’s a bit more stable on his meds, but I’m not sure if I will be free from having to pick him up still from time to time (or 3 times a week) And then what if he has to go on another three months of home bound schooling like last year?

This has stopped me from pursuing any employment as I’m pretty sure most companies are not THAT flexible.

So my question for you is …

Has being bipolar or raising a bipolar child interfered with your ability to hold a steady job?

Talk amongst yourselves… (while of course expecting me to chime in!)

9 thoughts on “Bonus Question for You!!!

  1. YES, being bipolar has seriously inhibited my ability to hold a job. Despite the fact that I am a well educated woman, I have lost three jobs due to bipolar disorder, and am currently unemployed. HELP!! Can anyone provide me with suggestions or support?

  2. Robin, I have been let go from one job and quit another because I could not function on a day to day basis. I totally understand what you are going through. However an employer can NOT let you go due to your disability, though often times they will find loop holes (as in my case) What were the reasons you were let go? Did they know about your illness? If I could go back and do things differently I might have considered staying on disability a bit longer until I was able to function. But we can’t change the past. I think before I would be able to provide suggestions I’d need to know more about the situations. If you’d like to talk about further please reply to this post and/or feel free to email me at marybeth @ askabipolar . com 🙂 I know how hard it can be to want to work, but not be able to.

  3. Hi guys, as always an awesome question. First I’d like to address a couple of things before I get my answer.
    I was basically a single mom of 4 school age children after my divorce. I had primary physical custody. My ex and his family would help at times, but it seemed only at their convenience and just to harass me and cause drama. Our divorce was very acrimonious. While none of my children were diagnosed bipolar at the time ( my oldest daughter is bipolar & in treatment :), my youngest daughter has been experiencing symptoms for quite some time and accepts that she probably is bipolar but hasn’t taken that scary step of seeking treatment. I continue to very gently encourage her to do so. ) the unexpected illness or crisis would inevitably occur and I would need to leave work. Sometimes my supervisors were sympathetic and let me leave. More often than not I couldn’t leave. So I would have to rely on my ex ( usually not reliable ) or a network of friends to help. Needless to say it was very difficult balancing work and being a mom.
    Marybeth yes you have a unique and challenging situation. I know of a few moms who have found employment with very flexible employers, however they had to really search and do a lot of compromising. A thought for you: you’re a professional writer, and a very good one at that, have you considered freelancing your services? I know you have the ability to write about many things, not just bipolar and the so many aspects of it. However, mental illness is a very important subject and I can think of so many magazines, publications that you would make excellent contributions to. There’s also newspapers that do human interest stories,have health /education sections, or even better you could have your own column! You would be SO awesome at that and most of this can be done at home. I hope I haven’t offended you, as you maybe/probably have already thought of these options. Just thought I’d throw it out there. You’re an amazing writer, you combine humor ( a lot aimed at yourself lol ) and a bit of light heartedness to a very serious, much needed addressing to, subject.
    Now to answer the question, yes it has been hard! I have never been terminated from a job, and that’s probably only because I worked for the state of California, and am now working for the county of San Bernardino. These government employers tend to be very wary about terminating someone with a disability, but let me tell you they look for ALL and ANY loopholes to get around the issue. I find I have to be ultra vigilant about everything I do. Most of my annual evaluations have “excellent ” in the many categories you’re evaluated on, and many almost always have a comment about my excellent abilities etc. However, I always get a deficit in attendance even though I have FMLA. Just recently I was placed on a 3 day suspension due to tardiness( we clock in ) and I had incidents of being 1 to 4 or 5 minutes late. We don’t have a union just an Employee Association and they do almost nothing to support the employee’s rights. I did some checking and observing, and there are several other employees in my dept who are habitually late sometimes by as much as 15 minutes to half an hour and none of them faced the disciplinary actions I did. That’s why I’m so worried about the workman’s comp issue. I already have a chronic back/spine condition I’m being treated for, and I had just been off a week to adjust meds and get pain under control. It was my 1st night back that I got hurt….severe pulled/strained muscles in my neck, shoulders and back. I can just see them trying to deny my claim and even worse discipline me. I’m really stressing about this because this job in particular is very good at finding loopholes. My current interim Nurse Manager does not like anyone who has to take time off and finds ways intimidate you no matter how good your work performance is.
    When I was 1st diagnosed 16 yrs ago I was working for the state of California and had to be hospitalized, this was the 1st of 2 hospitalizations while working for the state. I just happened to have a sympathetic supervisor at the time. He provided me with all the info on FMLA, catastrophic leave donations I could receive from other employees, guided me through the short term disability process and even hooked me up with the employee registry where I could work half to 3 quarter time, still receive my benefits and make my own schedule. This worked very well for me and I eventually went back full time. My 2nd hospitalization went pretty much the same way. Different but sympathetic supervisor. All was pretty much ok until I was transferred to a unit in a program with very nasty,intimidating,vindictive management that enjoyed terminating people. I needed to take time off and I was pretty good about keeping my FMLA updated. It had expired 1 day before I returned to work. Almost all other management would have allowed me to update it. I knew of several co workers who had same or similar situations and they were fine. Well, they were harsh! Put me on “last chance contract” even made me submit to random drug testing, even though I’ve never had a problem with drugs or any documentation of any problem. I could not miss any work unless there was extreme circumstances. Well I did have to miss work as my then 16 yr old daughter was in very bad auto accident. I had to jump through hoops just to prove it. A few months later I was violently ill for 2 days. Fever, vomiting, the works. I couldn’t even make it to dr. I returned to work and my dr was willing to give me off work order. That wasn’t good enough, I was told I broke contract and they were going to terminate me. My union could do nothing, I appealed to Sacramento but got no help. I was soo angry! So I made the very hard choice to resign before they could terminate me, as they were making noises about going after my license, for what I have no idea, they had no basis. However, with a termination they could try. I can’t even begin to describe how angry they were that I was resigning before they could terminate me. They tried every way to stop me but they couldn’t. They wanted so bad the satisfaction of humiliating me through terminating me and I took that away from them. Looking back it was actually pretty comical to watch them scurrying, flopping and floundering to try and stop me. I lost out on unemployment benefits, but I refused to have a termination on my record. Looking back, and knowing so much more now, I should have let them terminate me, I would have fought it and most likely won my job back. But like you said the past is the past and we can’t change it. I’ve learned hindsight is always 20/20.

    Like I said earlier, I now work for county of San Bernardino. I love my actual job, always have. I’ve been a Licensed Psychiatric Technician for 29 yrs, and have worked with just about every type of patient. In my current position I work in the ER Dept of Psych Triage. We get all the 5150’s, walk in’s that are in crisis or patients that are brought in by concerned family members. ( San Bernardino is one of the largest if not the largest county in the US ) so you can imagine the staggering amount of patients we see. they are all in acute crisis. I very much enjoy & get much fulfillment in being a part of a patient going from crisis mode to starting a path to stability.
    My current supervisor and the new management above her have definitely created a hostile work environment for myself and others with disabilities. Like I said they don’t care about the circumstances that cause me to miss work, and instead of being supportive, I’m sure they;d like nothing better than to get rid of me. This, despite the fact that I do my job very well, most of my co workers enjoy working with me, and the psychiatrists that I work with have verbalized that I’m am one of the most valuable assets to our treatment team. It is, to say the least, very frustrating and stressful for me to have to be continually be on my toes and hyper vigilant more than those without a disability. I could make the same small mistake or error as someone who is not disabled and I know the consequences would be very different. It would be all the ammunition they needed to terminate me under the guise of this small error, when in reality they just don’t want any disabled persons working for them. I’ve spoken with other disabled employees and they share the same sentiments I do. They also feel as though they are “under the microscope” so to speak.
    So yes, many,many times it has been difficult and I have faced many obstacles being an employee with a mental illness, diagnosis bipolar. I am not ready to give up though! Even though at times it is difficult to work, when I do, it brings me great satisfaction and makes me feel productive. For me, feeling productive helps maintain some decent self esteem, and also goes a long way to at least help in maintaining some stability. I know that if it ever gets to the point where I am no longer able to work in the outside workforce, I will find something else to help me feel productive. Like maybe blogging or something along those lines, because what you guys do with this site is definitely work and helps so many people!
    very sincerely,
    Catherine 🙂

  4. I have found it extremely difficult being in the working field and having bi-polar… None of my employers ever knew about my diagonses (I’m also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder…) I never stayed at a single job long enough for them to figure it out… I’ve only worked menial jobs like retail (no effense to those who work retail!!! It’s just not what I want to spend my life doing!!!) I haven’t held a job for longer than a few months, when I’m in a manic episode… As soon as I hit that depressed phase, though, I up and quit… I always find some excuse, like I don’t like the hours or the people I work with… In reality, it’s just that I don’t want anyone to know how bad I can get… And it’s really noticable, because I will start showing up late for work or calling off… I’ve never been fired, though… I always quit before they can do that… The job I’m at right now is actually really supportive… Before I left, I was having really bad anxiety attacks at work, and I had to leave early… I went to the human resources head, and asked her what would happen if I had to go in the hospital, being as I had only been there a few months and I was only part time… She said it would be as though I just called off… For some reason, I continued to go to work, though, for about a week after that encounter… Then I ended up having to go inpatient, and at first, they told me to apply for a medical leave, but because I hadn’t put in enough time, I wasn’t elligible… We didn’t find out until after I was already out for almost a month… The HR filed for a personal leave without even telling me, or me having to do anything!!! I was so grateful, that I decided I would go back to this job… They gave me 3 months in addition to the month I already had off, but I’m going back after only 2 of those months… And they allowed me to reduce my hours,…
    I’ve also had a very difficult time with school because of my MIl… I went to a big university for one year, but had a very difficult time adjusting, so I moved back home… Then I started going to the local community college… Because of my frequent inpatient stays, my teachers all knew about my MI, in both places… Some of them were understanding and let me do the work when I got out… However, there were certain teachers who just marked me absent, or deducted points for the stupidest of reasons… Since moving back home, I’ve had to drop classes countless times, and the ones I did finish, I didn’t get good marks in some of them, so I have to re-take them… It’s been very hard and I actually took last Spring, Summer, and now Fall semesters off… I’m just too nervous to go back, because I am sick of wasting my money just to screw up… I’d like to think that one day, I’ll get the MI under control and be able to go back and get my degree… That’s what I’m praying for anyways…
    Well, I’ve babbled enough!!! I hope someone can relate to that and know they aren’t alone, though!!!

  5. Yes! So much so that my psychiatrist has encouraged me to apply for Disability benefits. This is a little disheartening to me as I have a Master’s Degree in Economics. I lost my job because I was self-medicating due to Bipolar and got a DUI. My job found out about it and fired me on the spot. Even though I had never been in trouble before and my job was not related to driving, they still fired me. I was having a difficult time handling the pressures of work. On top of being Bipolar, I am a huge people-pleaser. I could never say no to any assignment and my salaried 40 hour per week job turned into 60 or 70 hours per week. Many times I found myself going to networking events after work until 9 or 10 o’clock. Work was my life. I was hyper-focused on it. I became manic and paranoid when I thought someone at work was mad at me or I was not going to meet my quarterly goal (I was a Business Banker). I often joke that my boss was like the boss from “The Devil Wears Prada”.

    Now that I’m not working, my life is completely different. If I weren’t writing, I think my brain would atrophy. But I’m keeping occupied with writing and learning about Bipolar so that I do not rot my brain, but it IS difficult, but at this point, there is no way I could go back to my old life and my old job again. I strongly believe it is half the reason I was self-medicating in the first place. Because I couldn’t say no. The other half is because my Bipolar mind was racing and I wanted to quiet it.

  6. My husband and I both work for the State government. We also both have FMLA leave into play specifically because of issues that arise at school and we have to leave/or not come in to take care of them. Plus the IEP meetings, meetings with his teacher, discussing issues with the social worker and principal and of course…getting kicked out for a couple days at a time at least once a month.

    Or issue isn’t so much holding down the job as FMLA helps cover us on all of that…but figuring out a babysitting/daycare situation that works for us, our 3 year old, the daycare/babysitter AND our bipolar son. In the past, we’ve had a sitter who is a family friend of ours come into our home to watch the youngest and then our oldest IF he gets kicked out. But the 3 year old is now at a point where she WANTS to go to preschool and start playing with other kids….but we are worried about what happens when Z gets kicked out…again. We meet with the new principal tomorrow…I’m hoping/praying for more cooperation this year. We’ll see…

    It’s always something it seems.

  7. Hi everyone. I have a situation that I would like some feedback on. Especially since you understand/experience the what I battle daily, Bipolar Disorder.

    I was hired by a corporation in July 2011 just after graduating college. I am very qualified for the position and never had any problems complaints about my work, performance etc. Of course when I was hired I did not inform them of my disorder for fear of consequences.

    Around the middle of September 2011, I had a severe panic attack at the office and had to leave. I was out the 2 days following. Since then I had not had any major episodes that affected my work. Well, until the beginning of February 2012. Prior to that in January my daughter was very sick and I had to be home with her, which management had no problem with. So in February I had a very extreme episode and had to call in to work on a Monday after a very, very long exhausting weekend of ups and downs. I saw the doctor on that Monday and referred me to a new psychiatrist and counselor. On Tuesday I went in and was barely holding myself together. I decided to inform my department manager of my disorder. After speaking with her she thought it be best that I leave and go home and “take care of myself and not to worry about my job, it was secure.” I began to feel much better and went back on Friday, at which time the Office Manage also informed me that “my job was secure, do not allow yourself to worry yourself to death about that, concentrate on you.”

    The following week was horrible, at my emergency psych appointment he informed me that continuing to work at this time was not in my best interest and to ask for a leave of absence. So I requested a leave of absence to the Department Manager and Office manager. I heard no response, no email, no phone call, nothing. i continued to call in and email informing of my absence and also inquiring of the leave of absence and if/what I need to do for this. No response was received until Feb 29th from the Director of HR at headquarters saying I do not qualify for FMLA leave of absence because of not being employed with the corporation for a year. And since my job requires me to be present everyday I will be terminated. I received my official termination letter 4 days ago.

    I feel like I was not treated fairly since I was assured by both managers about my job and was told by psych not to work for a short time. Can someone give me some feedback, opinions, similar experiences, personal advice? Sorry for such a long post, I just wanted to explain the whole situation.

    Any comments would be GREATLY appreciated!!


  8. SO, you and your husband qualified for FMLA for your bipolar son? I was wondering about this because my 8 year old was just diagnosed with bipolar and I have been taking so much time off for therapy, to get him from school and other issues. I was wondering if I should apply for FMLA. We too work for state government. Now today is the last day of school and he is home with his 2 brothers and my 16 year old daughter usually babysits but now she is upset because she cant control his episodes and really she shouldn’t have to. He will go to a summer program but there is a week of nothing before he starts and then 2 weeks after before school is in session. Not to mention school breaks. I cant get anyone to watch him while I work and it is too much for my daughter. I can’t afford to quit because we can not manage a family of 6 on just my husbands income. I just do not know what to do and I don’t know if FMLA will only cover appointments or will it cover school breaks? Thanks for your time.

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