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Work and Bipolar or Depression

Mahevash Shaikh
Depression has a lot of ripple effects -- and the crippling self-doubt of imposter syndrome is one of them. Feeling like you are not good enough at your job and that any professional accomplishments are due to luck is part of imposter syndrome. While one does not need to have depression to feel like an imposter, I sometimes feel like one when my depression intensifies. Here are some signs to help you identify if you have this issue.
Nori Rose Hubert
I don't do so well with bipolar disorder and seasonal changes, especially moving into fall and winter. Yet, October is one of my favorite months. I love anything and everything to do with Halloween, breaking out my boots that have sat neglected in the closet all summer, and anything with the words "pumpkin spice" on the label. But one thing I don't love is how the seasonal daylight changes affect my mood, which has a direct impact on the way I work while living with bipolar disorder.
Mahevash Shaikh
There's no denying the fact that positivity does not come naturally to someone with depression. That said, trying to stay positive is important to keep hope alive and cope with depression. It is also necessary to do a reasonably good job at work. Let's take a look at some ways to do so.
Nori Rose Hubert
Healthy sleep habits are an essential part of bipolar disorder management. They are also some of the most difficult habits to develop. Proper sleep habits are critical for physical and mental health, but the highs and lows that come with bipolar disorder can make it exceptionally difficult to wind down at the end of the day. Unhealthy sleep patterns can lead to a vicious cycle of mood instability that wreaks havoc in every facet of our lives -- work performance not least among them.
Mahevash Shaikh
Have you noticed that depression causes self-sabotage? I've noticed it myself. Since the past few months, my sleep schedule has gone for a toss. I find myself staying up late, even on days when I'm tired, and oversleeping has become the norm. The reason is this: increased depression due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Owing to this, my ability to work has been affected.
Nori Rose Hubert
We live in a culture that prioritizes productivity and output above connection, rest, and self-care -- all essential components to maintaining mental health. As such, our sense of self-worth is often intimately tied up with our professional and financial lives. When you live with bipolar disorder, and all of the workplace challenges that come with it, that sense of worthiness can plummet into a lurch of suicidal feelings and ideation. I know, because work stress has taken me to those depths. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Mahevash Shaikh
Did you know that workplace suicide is on the rise? According to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, there has been "an 11 percent increase in work-related suicides." Today, owing to the pandemic, mental health issues have taken a turn for the worse. In fact, the World Health Organization recently announced that "mental health, suicide prevention needs greater attention during pandemic." (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Mahevash Shaikh
Here is an unpopular opinion: not everyone can turn their passion into a career and that's okay. In fact, not everyone should even try to do that in the first place. But here's the thing: doing meaningful work is indispensable if one wants to keep depression at bay. Even though you are not your job, the work you do does impact the quality of your life. When you do work that matters to you, life with depression becomes easier. This is a personal observation. When I was training to be a software tester, I was miserable. And when I became a writer, I finally felt a sense of satisfaction.
Nori Rose Hubert
We live in a culture with a profoundly unhealthy attitude towards work. Every day, we are fed a message that our worth is directly tied to our productivity and that making room in our lives for rest, play, or tending to our basic needs as humans is frivolous, even selfish. The go-go-go attitude and desire for endless productivity in our workplaces is stressful for even the most neurotypical person, but when you live (and work) with bipolar disorder, the game has even higher stakes.
Mahevash Shaikh
I know it's okay to take a mental health day during a pandemic because yesterday afternoon, I unraveled. I couldn't move, I couldn't eat, all I could do was crawl in bed and breathe. And that's how I spent the rest of the day.