In this new chapter of my life with my new job, I found myself hiding my bipolar diagnosis from everyone I have come in contact with. I feel as though I am living a double life and it is exhausting. In my last job, I made a point to publicize my bipolar status via Facebook because I felt my career was less important than being a mental health advocate for those who are most vulnerable. In the end, I lost that job due to my actions and it showed the true colors of the ignorance and flat out misunderstandings that our older community still hold in regard to mental health. I was seen as incompetent to do my job that I had been successful in doing for the sole fact that my employer felt he couldn’t “trust me” due to my bipolar diagnosis, once he was aware of it. I stated I never wanted to work in an atmosphere again where I felt as though I had to hide my true self.
What am I doing now? I am hiding my true self for the sake of a job. In the interviews that I disclosed that I struggled with mental health issues, I never received a call back from those employers. I figured it all was for the best that I didn’t get those jobs anyway because they weren’t going to accept me as I am. But as the new person in any new setting, I want to be well liked. Always have, always will be. I was well liked by my office manager and the lead medical assistant during my interview. I can be very quick witted, and they liked my humor along with my credentials so it seemed like hiring me was an obvious pick. Being desperate for a job after not working for two months made it seem like bringing up my bipolar diagnosis was off topic and obsolete. I truly think that workplace and the people you surround yourself with is far more important than whatever job you’re doing. Anyone can learn a job, but you can’t (easily) change your co-workers. I thought the two that interviewed me represented the general feel of the whole office and boy I was wrong. I figured I could ease my way into explaining my bipolar to people, not so much that people have the right to know, but so they can understand me and my work patterns better.
I think every brain has a particular way of processing information and doing things when attempting to complete a task at work. When I am working a desk job, I have to constantly be doing something new or else I will stare at a computer screen for what feels like eternity and won’t actually get any real work done. Although at the same time, I need to be doing some repetitive tasks so my anxiety doesn’t get the best of me. For me, the best way to take a break at work is to get up and go smoke outside and get some fresh air. I would smoke all day long if someone would let me, but if someone gave me 5 minutes of every hour, I can sit for the other 55 minutes and work on whatever monotonous task that is thrown at me. In my second week, I started implementing my own break schedule on my own accord so that I could be more productive. I got yelled at by the two girls who work in my department that you only get two 10 minute breaks a day and that’s it. I began to argue about the phone usage at their own desks and said how is it any different if I go outside? The same amount of work would still get done if you sit on your phone for 5 minutes every hour and instead I want to go outside and that makes me the bad guy? They didn’t have a response to that. But I didn’t want them to report me to upper management so I obliged to their break rule. When in Rome, do as Romans do, I guess.
Every day that I work, it feels harder and harder to work because I can’t work at the pace that I choose to, can’t take breaks as need be, and my co-workers are very uptight and very proactive, which is great, well the proactive part, but if they feel like they need to micromanage me, I can’t deal with it. All of this makes me want to find a different job, but I know I need something solid that I can put on my resume and I need steady income. Maybe it will get better. Probably won’t. But I feel like I’m hiding in a cage with a blanket over the cage, waiting for the right moment to show my true self. If the blanket were to lower and expose my true self now, I don’t think anyone could handle it. But inside the cage, I am going insane; my four corners are only so wide and so deep. I need to stretch my legs and beat on my chest. In other words, I need my hourly breaks, and to feel comfortable with whom I work with, I hate walking on eggshells all of the time.
Well until I have a plan, I will remain in my hide away.
Til next time,