Song of the Day: That I Would Be Good by Alanis Morissette.
Yesterday I posted Part 1 on Workplace Challenges, which looked at the problems involving being around people at work during Bipolar episodes. Today’s post covers other problems which may arise.
Inconsistency and Expectations
I’m usually hypomanic when I begin a new job (I often apply when I’m hypomanic coz everything seems so exciting!), therefore I work very quickly and intensely, getting lots of good quality work done in minimal time. I therefore set my standards high with work colleagues who come to expect this of me all the time. Inevitably I am unable to maintain these standards when my mood dips back down. This hasn’t been too big of an issue for my employers, but I think it affects me in that I set myself mini- timescales of when I expect to get tasks done by everyday. If I’m slower than last week, I do tend to judge myself and think that I’m not working well. Because I think like this, I expect others to think like this too- so end up putting way too much pressure on myself to match my hypomanic standards. I guess I even go so far as to think I am being judged as no good, by my employers, if I can’t keep it up- which I know is a load of rubbish!
Nowadays, if I feel myself rushing through tasks or putting increased pressure on myself to maintain overly high standards, I try to have a “cigarette” break (I don’t smoke) where I have a quick stretch outside in the fresh air, take a few deep breaths and just give myself a chance to calm down a bit. My usual warning signs that I’m over doing it are tense neck and shoulders, achy back muscles and headaches.
No, not the foot behind the ear type- but the being able to change tasks at the last minute, work at different times and generally go with the flow-type. Flexibility and Bipolar just don’t seem to work well together, last minute changes can cause me more stress than usual.
Luckily in my job I don’t have to be flexible with my working hours or routine too much. But there are times when I have to share a computer so if it is in use I need to be flexible in finding other “paper-based” tasks to perform. These can often be “one-offs” my manager has requested. It’s so strange that a little change like this can really throw me: I suddenly feel insecure and unnerved! I think this must be pretty hard to understand for most people.
If I’m particularly Bipolar one week I will mention this to my boss who then knows if a task is likely to be stressful, so she will give me easier bits to do or ask what I would like to do. She never makes this seem like a big deal and is very relaxed about it, so I do think I’m lucky in that respect. But still, I need to learn to be flexible, so practice I must!
Cropping up in both depression and hypomania, lack of concentration can be one of the killer problems at work.
When depressed your brain’s working too slowly or you’re thinking about morbid things or obsessing over the fact that “Phyllis” blanked you in the corridor or endlessly worrying, then concentration on work can be near-on impossible.
When hypomanic I myself can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes and usually end up flitting about from colleague to colleague as Little Miss Chatty, monopolising conversations and arranging social gatherings. Ooooh- I just remembered that I gossip way more too and get very excited about little office scandals! Any social contact serves only to increase my excitability and decrease my concentration even more. It’s difficult to stop though when you’re having so much fun! I do realise that earlier I said I work more quickly and intensely when hypomanic– this is only when left alone in the quiet. Then if people are about I start to get a bit crazy! Therefore I guess in future I will try to spend more time alone when hyper- I ruin all my fun 😦
One of my favourites this, when I’m depressed is to go into the toilet and cry my little heart out. I’ll be sitting at my desk holding it all inside, then my eyes well up and I think “oh s**t”! I’m rubbish at holding it inside, so I find the best thing to do is just let it all out in private. Sometimes I’ll talk to one of the others if I’m feeling really bad and need to go home, but most of the time I’m learning to handle it better on my own now. Either way, when I get home it’s TLC time- hug from Chris, hug from the dog, music on the iPod, soak in the tub (ooh that rhymes…well kind of)!
No not singing, dancing and acting anxiety– but the kind where you go all nervous and light-headed when the manager comes over to watch you work. A time when your brain is bound to fail you and you forget everything you’ve learnt since the age of 10, sometimes even how to string a sentence together.
This has been quite an issue for me, not necessarily with my current job, but more in customer service roles where customers expect you to be quick and efficient. This increases the anxiety you already feel from having them watch you, loads of pressure. Absolutely hate it and have decided I am not cut out for customers! I would often have panic attacks before going into work in these kind of roles. It’s funny though, because I really love people and chatting to them socially, strangers included, but when it comes to feeling some kind of expectation or judgment from them, I freak!
Talking on the telephone is the other one I hate- no idea why but it’s always made me really nervous. Maybe it’s because other people in the room can listen to what I’m saying. I always feel I’m being judged all the bloody time! As long as I never have to work in a customer-based call centre I’ll be fine!
The trials of Bipolar Disorder continue (sigh).