What are the best jobs for people with bipolar disorder?

Going through multiple jobs is not an uncommon theme when you have bipolar and it can be quit daunting to keep a job while going through phases. Over the years I’ve realized what I can and can not do with this disorder and it really comes down to what you can handle. Finding the right job is more of a learning experience that differs with each person.

First find the right environment. What I mean by that is does it fit with your lifestyle. Are you usually up at night, look for night work. If your up early, look for work that starts early. Can you grow in it if you choose. I’m telling you right now if you take a job because it’s better than nothing you will not stay in it, so make sure you find a job that can allow you to grow. For instance my job allows for coming in early in order to leave early. It’s a win win to me. But now that I’ve been doing it for about four months I don’t feel like coming in early. Even though I am stuck until the end of the school year I know next year not to volunteer for the morning duty. I care way too much about being home for my daughter more than I do about work. So the extra 20 minutes isn’t worth it. I just learned it’s not me. I went forward a bit, grew a little more by meeting new people at the morning duty and I am ok with hanging back.

Second, what’s the schedule like? I know in my head I hate to work, I wish I was retired. My whole life I wish i was retired, which is impossible because i have bills, so I need to work. I became a teacher in my 30’s after finally realizing that I needed a job I could have my summers off to be with my daughter, relax and retire for two months. Not to mention the numerous days we have off during the school year, Christmas break and spring break. When it gets really bad and I wish I wasn’t here I start counting the days until I am off again or until summer vacation comes. It’s an incentive to me. I worked hard – was productive and now I have off.

Third, what will your co-workers be like? Are you around people daily? If you like people find a job to be around people, if not think of computers or IT. Even the stock room has less people in it. I find as a teacher I am on my own, no one to look at me daily, so I am not ON all the time. I find it easier to talk with students then I do adults my own age because I feel I need be ON for my peers, or just like them-and in my mind everyone is handling life dandy and i might not be for that day. I’ve been told by my students I am more of a mom teacher than a teacher. I agree, it comes naturally to care about a child more than I care about myself for me. So if i am having a bad day I just don’t go to lunch, I stay by myself and quietly relax my mind on other things other than people.

Finally, is the job creative? Many people who have bipolar are actually very creative people. My mother read an article to me years ago titled “Creativity is linked to madness”. So maybe the more challenges we have the more creative we are. Find a job that allows you to be creative.

Think about your:

  • interests
  • strengths and abilities
  • skills
  • personality traits
  • values
  • physical health
  • limits, triggers, and barriers

Once you narrow down your job choices, do some more in-depth career research. You can look at O*NET to learn more about each job’s characteristics, including:

  • working duties
  • required skills
  • required education or training
  • required license or certificate
  • usual work hours
  • work conditions (physical demands, environment, and stress level)
  • salary and benefits
  • opportunities to advance
  • employment outlook

If you can’t find a job that suits you, perhaps you may want to consider starting your own business. You can create your own job that allows for more creativity and flexibility than you may find if you work for someone else.

However, running your business has its own set of challenges. Depending on what you feel you need, you may prefer a regular structured schedule if you’re living with bipolar disorder.

I have done both and found out that working for myself was too much uncertainty and I couldn’t handle it on a daily basis. I needed a structure of a paycheck to allow me to relax, a structure of a time to go in and leave in order to care about myself and my family. I had to be ON for these times, so I was more aware of my triggers as I got older. Learning to control the anxiety of going into work in the first place because I knew I had commitments and bills. But I started my own web design business. It allowed for the creativity of designing something new with each new client and didn’t feel like a chore because I felt like it was a new job wit each new client; which it kinda was. I had full creative freedom but it was too unstructured for me I started realizing I was taking longer to do each client because I could start whenever, which meant never starting some days, which meant not money was coming in.

As a Art teacher i still have full creative freedom but I am structured in the sense that I must be her from such time to such time. Most Art teaching jobs do not come with a book you follow, this allowed for the creative freedom. I cold try a lesson out on students and if it didn’t work well I didn’t do it again, I’d try something else to in order for them to learn the same concepts. There are a million ways to learn and art concept but only so many ways to learn a Math or English concept. If you know you need more structure than Math or English it is. Thankfully I was doing all kinds of art from a young child age so it was a no brainer for me.

We all have to work to be a productive part of society, so find the right fit for you in order to maintain that productivity. It will help with your disorder and keep you moving in the right direction.

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