There are many jobs that can play to your strengths when you live with bipolar disorder. Pet grooming, landscaping, and advertising are just a few examples.
Bipolar disorder doesn’t define you. While it may be a part of your life, the condition doesn’t have to dictate what you can and can’t do.
Job choice and career interests are more than a matter of innate talents; they’re often about following your passion and doing what brings you fulfillment.
When you live with bipolar disorder, you may be faced with challenges related to employment, but in the right setting, they don’t have to be barriers to a successful career.
Living with bipolar disorder doesn’t confine you to a box of job choices.
Some positions, however, may speak to some of the traits that
- sense of spirituality
- high empathy
- tendency to realism
The following jobs may click with you if you have bipolar disorder:
Art can encompass many of the positive traits linked to bipolar disorder. You can be creative, express empathy, and connect spiritually with people.
You don’t have to be a master painter to be an artist. Art can come in many forms. You can sculpt, paint, or work in the abstract.
If you’re hoping to find a high-demand job in the art world, you may even ply your talents in the graphic art industry, which may allow you to work on your own schedule as a freelancer.
Advertising and marketing
Another creative outlet, advertising may provide a way for you to think outside of the box on multiple projects.
According to Dr. Michele Leno, a licensed psychologist out of Farmington Hills, Michigan, marketing can offer freedom and routine as well as a comfortable level of social interaction.
Landscaping can bring a lot of opportunities to work independently on a project. You may also be stationed on one task as opposed to being responsible for the entire workload.
As your own business, landscaping can be scheduled according to your needs, allowing you to accommodate days when bipolar disorder symptoms may lead you to need more space and quiet.
Pet ownership has been linked to high levels of empathy, a trait often seen in people living with bipolar disorder.
As a pet groomer, you can work independently or for a company. You’ll be able to spend time in the affectionate presence of animals while showcasing your creativity through the grooming process.
There are plenty of grooming positions you can consider. Dogs and cats aren’t the only animals who have professional groomers — horses do as well!
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition defined by periodic changes in your mood and activity energy. Elevated, agitated moods are known as mania, while periods of low mood are identified as depressive episodes.
Living with bipolar disorder, however, often means more than being sad one day and excited the next. That is a common, and inaccurate, idea about the condition.
Bipolar disorder may also involve physical and cognitive changes that could impact employment opportunities and impair daily life.
How does bipolar disorder affect work?
Bipolar disorder symptoms may affect your work day, particularly if you’re not receiving treatment.
You may find it challenging to concentrate or make decisions if you live with untreated bipolar disorder, for example. You might also lack motivation or be prone to follow your impulses.
Fatigue in bipolar disorder is also common for some people, as well as sleep disturbances, and a reduced ability to experience pleasure in what you’re doing.
All of these symptoms can potentially make work activities uncomfortable, time-consuming, or more challenging for some people with bipolar disorder.
Research suggests common job concerns for people living with bipolar disorder fall into these categories:
- work problems due to the symptoms of bipolar disorder
- work problems related to the workplace and lack of accommodations
- work problems related to the nature of work
These challenges can lead you to:
- leave work annoyed or unhappy
- miss your independence
- experience financial problems
- engage in low work performance
- face interpersonal conflicts
- disclose confidential information
- desire more privacy and space
- interrupt others
- have friction with authority figures
- feel insecure in the workplace
- worry about being misunderstood
- being stigmatized by the disorder
- feel your work isn’t engaging
Treated versus untreated bipolar disorder
Treating bipolar disorder can help decrease the impact some of your symptoms may play on your work performance — and everyday life.
“With the right supports and treatment (which for me include medication, therapy, and regular movement), there is a very low likelihood that extreme moods would limit a person’s ability to do whatever job she/he/they want!” says Kristen Antonio, a licensed mental health therapist living with bipolar disorder in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts.
If left untreated, bipolar disorder may lead to more intense symptoms or a greater impact on your life and work.
You may even notice some of the positive qualities associated with bipolar disorder — like creativity — may
Does bipolar disorder qualify for disability benefits?
Yes. Under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), bipolar disorder is considered a disability that may qualify you for government assistance as well as workplace accommodations.
“For someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, mental stability is the primary goal and once this is achieved, the person has the ability to perform in just about any capacity,” says Leno.
These tips may help you enjoy your work more and cope with everyday challenges:
Taking medication as prescribed
Treated bipolar disorder can help prevent symptoms from progressing and can take the edge off their severity during the day.
Like any prescription, bipolar disorder medications will be the most effective when taken exactly as prescribed, without missing doses.
Starting the day with realistic goals
Leno suggests setting obtainable goals for your day may help you prevent feeling overwhelmed.
“Even if you are feeling energetic, do not overwork yourself,” she cautions. “Remember, extremes can lead to manic, hypomanic, or depressive episodes.”
When you wake up in the morning, you can set a reasonable goal for work based off how you’re feeling.
Instead of handing in that project paper, for example, maybe the goal can be putting the pages in their final format.
Being aware of work habits
Anyone can be overworked and experience mental health consequences — it’s not just when you live with bipolar disorder.
“In terms of workplace supports,” says Antonio, “regular PTO to prevent job burnout and mood dips is a plus…but this is true whether you have bipolar disorder or not!”
Ways to support your mental well-being in the workplace may include:
- taking time off periodically
- setting clear boundaries about hours worked
- maintaining a quality sleep schedule
- developing positive social connections
- participating in networking events
- communicating regularly about concerns, questions, or ideas for improvement
- choosing a workplace that promotes psychological safety
Depending on your interests and talents, ideal jobs for people living with bipolar disorder may include graphic design, marketing, pet grooming, and landscaping.
Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to limit your employment opportunities.
Treatment, goal-setting, and general workplace mental health initiatives can all make working with bipolar disorder less of a challenge.