1237757 tn?1323143119

I want to tell work I'm bipolar but don't know how.

Hi everyone,

I've only been diagnosed bipolar in the past year but now that I know want to tell employers about it.  I've had trouble my whole life with bosses mostly because I have periods of sheer brilliance (coming from periods of mania) which my employers love.  Then to have down days only to get beaten up by my boss pointing to my good periods saying I should be able to do that all the time, when in fact I feel like I've got a big black blob on top of me and don't really want to do anything, but in fact still manage to struggle through.

I'm currently unemployed now and won't tell any future employer I'm bipolar until I'm past my probation period as I'm really not that bad, just tend to work in waves.  But I do want to in effect come out to my future employer, so hopefully they won't be so hard on me, and take me for all that I am the good and bad times.  

I'm also looking at putting together a document or documents (may need to stage this out over a period) to hand over to a future manager as I come out or just in case I have a bad run, which will explain bipolar disorder in more detail, some of the great hypomanics of our day, how I'm affected by bipolar disorder, and how I am managing it, through mostly exercise seeing a psychologist regularly and medication on an as needed basis.   I'll also include a copy of my mood chart, exercise chart, sleep chart etc as a way of showing how I'm managing it.  I'll give them my charts at the start as an example of how I'm managing but will make a point of saying that I really want to only show these to them again if i have a bad run, i.e. period of mania or depression  but will be having it checked constantly by doctors and psychologists and my coach, or if any of the others feel they should know.

One of the other reasons why I'm trying to set this up is because when I do go into really bad periods of mania, I get such a flight of ideas I sometimes find it hard to communicate.  So it allows me to communicate as best I can at a time when I can't, and hopefully give some pointers to how others can help me during this time.

It's very much a work in progress and was hoping I could steal some ideas from anyone else that has tried this or simply may have some ideas or resources that may help.  I'm even thinking of maybe writing a book about it, if all goes well.  As I've tried a couple of times in the past telling different managers, some things, lots of things and nothing about times when I've been depressed or on medication  in the past and have never had it go really well completely.

Could really use any help or support anyone could give

Thanks in advance if you can.

21 Responses
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1311328 tn?1273665692
Is it possible You can become enrolled in a Job service provide where You are from if You really want to explain to Your boss about Your disorder as the job service here is specialised in helping people with Disorders and disabilities find employment.
I am not sure how You would go due to the diffulty in finding employment here now I could not imagine it being of much help until you were actually working there and knew them well enough to discuss this with them
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585414 tn?1288941302
You should only tell employers after you have been hired but once you are then you need to detail what reasonable accommodations you might need. Think of in advance what aspects of work are difficult for you and what reasonable accommodations you might need in order to be to not have those aspects impact on your ability to work. Google ADA.gov.
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952564 tn?1268368647
When I told my employer I made sure to have a note from my doctor as well showing that I did have the diagnosis so that they wouldn't think I was lying about it.
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585414 tn?1288941302
Actually that is the applicable law for the United States. This would be for Australia:

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1237757 tn?1323143119
Thanks for the link, I've sent an email of to them as well.

If anyone has some blurbs on great hypomanics it would really be appreciated.  The quicker I can put the guts of this thing together the better.

Also any good blurbs on the condition as well, preferably one that doesn't make me come of as a complete raving lunatic.

I'm also thinking of doing a bunch of aptitude tests as well to provide even more transparency as to be honest I'm still learning how I react with this condition myself.

It was only diagnosed last year after I had a bad reaction to anti depressants, launched me into mania which lasted for four months, complete pain in the arse.
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Avatar universal
wouldn't say anything, never know how co-workers will react, they aren't family or close friends.
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Avatar universal
I would just tell them straight up that you have trouble with them sometimes because you have bipolar disorder but you're trying to work it out but will have some bad days like everyone else does.  Would wait to tell them until after the probationary period like you said.
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1237757 tn?1323143119
Hi Again,

I'm having a craic at the holy grail, mentioning being Bipolar at interview stage.  Reason being it is with a Temp agency and I figured if I can build a good relationship with the recruiter, possibly they might be able to put me in contact with a good company that could help, also if I am put in contact with a few different companies it will hopefully allow me to practice telling an employer about being Bipolar.  I've also written a 4 page document which I call a Bipolar Management Toolkit which I've already sent to the recruiter.  It is to help provide some further background information on Bipolar Disorder in particular Bipolar 2 (Hypomania).  I’ve also included some further information regarding my current management program, how hypomania affects me and information that may assist in placing me in a suitable role.  I’ve also included further practical insight to help management directly with things to look out for.

If anyone has any ideas or anything futher to add on this that would be great.  I know it's a long shot but I figured why not have a go.  Maybe I'm just hypomanic right now :0)

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1134609 tn?1269272200
Honestly, I do my best not to tell my employers that I am BP. The only time I have is when things have gone REALLY bad and I needed to take medical leave. In that situation, I had a detailed doctor's note and that's all they needed. One (out of the two) wanted more documentation; stuff about my medications and how they affected me. I told them that they would not be receiving that documentation, that it wasn't necessary and that they'd better lay off.

Here's the way I view it; if you are stable enough to do your job, be a professional and get things done, then it doesn't matter if you're BP. I have a job description of what I am to do, I do it and I go from there. There are days when it is tougher to get things done and it doesn't go unnoticed but I am still doing my job. If my employer doesn't like it then I will ask them to pull out my job description and tell me where I am screwing up and how to fix it.

It's not that I want to hide my illness but, again, if I am doing my job, then leave me the h-ll alone and let me do it. I know a lot of people who don't have a mental illness, they don't do their jobs and they are just as 'moody' who don't take a hit. Right now, I am debating about suing the last company that I worked for because, when I came back from my medical leave, there were fellow co-workers who had found out I was BP. That is a breach of confidentiality, my supervisor was the only person that needed to know, and they may pay for it.
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Avatar universal
I would maybe just tell them that I have had depression in the past.
Bipolar is so misunderstood,
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1237757 tn?1323143119
Back from the recruiter today, couldn't believe my luck, truely wonderful experience, couldn't have asked to be treated with more professionalism, dignity and respect.  He said he read over my management toolkit several times over the weekend.  Looked at all of my skills, attributes and talents asked me what I enjoy and what I would love to do etc.

Is putting me forward for a bunch of temp and permanent roles.  Will only be discussing my Bipolar with people I have said it is ok to talk to them about i.e. namely one of my referee's who is already aware I have the condition more just to help get further background on me.

I can't believe my luck, I sent him a big thankyou email when I got back home.  Wonderful, I can't tell you how good this makes me feel, compared to some of the garbage I've had to put up with in the past.
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1237757 tn?1323143119
Thought I'd give you an update on how I was going work wise.  Well my recruiter came through with the goods and ended up getting me out to work straight away.  I have just finished my first weeks work in over a month.  I've got some interviews next week for permanent roles, I won't be mentioning I'm bipolar with them think I just hit the lotto with my recruiter.  Hopefully if I get out to a few more temp jobs I might try mentioning it to them to practise it for when I eventually tell my permanent employer.

I'm also going to add a bit more information to my document as well.  So far so good :0)  
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Avatar universal
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Avatar universal
Great news!
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1237757 tn?1323143119
Another update

Have spoken to a permanent recruiter and after getting a pretty good feel from her decided to mention I was Bipolar and gave her my Management Toolkit.  I'm still working on it but it's getting better every day.  I left it for her to read over the next day or so and chase her up later in the week.  Looking to see if maybe she can reverse market me to a couple of employers and test the waters using the toolkit and if the employer is open to the dicsussion then sending through my CV.

I also had a meeting with the Disability Empolyment Services here in Australia today and they are setting up a meeting with their own recriters to essentially do this as well. They run a bit slow though so it is likely I'll have a job by then but best to get things rolling ASAP.  They have a post placement service as well, and have already made some suggestions like the MoodGym which is a free web based interactive Cognitive based program run out of Australian National University which I've signed up to this evening to give it a go.

For those interested here is some of the text I've included in my Management Toolkit, any tips ideas advice would be well appreciated.

Dear John,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present to you this Management toolkit to help provide some further background information on Bipolar Disorder in particular Bipolar 2 (Hypomania), and a DaVinci Type.  I’ve also included some further information regarding my current management program, how hypomania affects me and information that may assist in placing me in a suitable role.  I’ll also include further practical insight to help management and provide win/win solutions for all.

Bipolar Disorder (Hypomania)
DaVinci Type
Management Toolkit


Industry Focus:
Financial / Banking /Stockbroking /Resources

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder or manic–depressive disorder (also referred to as bipolar affective disorder or manic depression) is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood and one or more depressive episodes. The elevated moods are clinically referred to as mania or, if milder, hypomania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes or symptoms, or mixed episodes in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time.

What is Hypomania?

Hypomania (literally, below mania) is a mood state characterized by persistent and pervasive elevated or irritable mood, and thoughts and behaviours that are consistent with such a mood state. They also have a decreased need for sleep and/or rest, are extremely outgoing and competitive, and have a great deal of energy. However, unlike full-blown mania, those with hypomanic systems are fully functioning, and are often actually more productive than usual. Specifically, hypomania is distinguished from mania by the absence of psychotic symptoms and by its lower degree of impact on functioning.

Hypomania is sometimes credited with increasing creativity and productive energy. A significant number of people with creative talents have reportedly experienced hypomania or other symptoms of bipolar disorder and attribute their success to it. Classic symptoms of hypomania include mild euphoria, a flood of ideas, endless energy, and a desire and drive for success.

Hypomania is also a side-effect of numerous medications, often—though not always—those used in pharmacotherapy. Patients suffering from depression who experience hypomania as a side effect of (for example) antidepressants, may prove to have a form of bipolar disorder that has previously gone unrecognized as was the case for David.  After caring for his wife who had an un diagnosable illness for several years (thankfully now diagnosed and being treated) David became depressed and was prescribed anti-depressants to help manage.  It was these anti-depressants that launched David into an extended period of elevated hypomania for approximately 4 months.

Often in those who have experienced their first episode of hypomania (which is a level of mild to moderate mania) - without psychotic features - there will have been a long or recent history of depression prior to the emergence of manic symptoms, and commonly this surfaces in the mid to late teens. Due to this being an emotionally charged time, it is not unusual for mood swings to be passed off as hormonal or teenage ups and downs and for a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder to be missed until there is evidence of an obvious manic/hypomanic phase.

People in hypomanic episodes do not have delusions or hallucinations. They do not lose touch with reality in the sense that they know who they are and what is real.

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1237757 tn?1323143119
Management Toolkit (Cont)

David’s current management program

David is currently managing hypomania through a number of treatments, techniques and sources. They are as follows:

Exercise: The primary treatment David uses for managing hypomania is exercise. One of the symptoms he has is Insomnia which is common in hypomanic’s and exercise helps by burning off the energy to help him fall to sleep.  
Quite often the cause of depression is brought on by not noticing the extra energy and going for extended periods with little sleep.  The body then crashes into depression through exhaustion.  As such David has joined a triathlon team and trains several days a week including weekends.  Last year he came 9th in his category for the Premier Gatorade Triathlon Series in Melbourne.

Exercise also helps David come out of depression and as such assists with any state of Mood.

One of the main reasons David is so forth coming with this Toolkit is because during the current environment the only positions for an entry level Financial Adviser he is being accepted for are one’s that require him to work 14 hours days 3-4 days a week with appointments in the evening.  David believes if the right role could be found such as within a banking or industry fund environment it would be possible for clients to come into the office avoiding the need for evening appointments.  Currently from the fallout of the GFC the 4 main banks have restricted the entry requirements to a minimum of 3 years experience as an adviser which David does not have.  

David is currently beginning training for this year’s Gatorade Series and will be competing in the Melbourne Marathon.    

Mood Chart: Mood charting is an excellent tool for those with bipolar disorder (manic depression). It provides a record of information to share with his triathlon coach, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrist, nutritionist and can help detect triggers and episodes early. It is a daily record of a person’s emotional state and it is based on a numeric scale.  David charts also include items such as medications, sleep schedules, symptoms and a journal which he writes in daily.  

Based on the theory of you can only manage what you can measure, David utilises the web based tool to keep quite detailed information, this allows him to pick up triggers and episodes early on and manage them effectively.

Exercise Chart: In combination with the mood chart David also wears a Garmin Heart Rate Monitor when training which provides mapping and full analysis of his training and competing for his coach and himself.

Nutritionist: David see’s a nutritionist to help maintain a healthy diet.

Psychotherapy: David see’s a psychologist on a regular basis both alone and with his partner Sarah.

Psychiatry & GP: David see’s a Psychiatrist and General Practitioner to ensure he has the correct medication.

MoodGym: Also as part of his therapy David is working his way through the MoodGym program being run through Australian National University it is a free service which involves interactive exercises based on Cognitive Based Therapy.  

Medication: David utilises medication on an as needed basis.  His current medication is primarily the occasional sleeping pill and if required anti-anxiety medication.  Although he would if required, currently he does not take lithium as it causes weight gain, can be quite hard on the kidneys and requires monitoring with high levels of hydration, which could be dangerous with the level of training he does.  

Possible Benefits of Hypomania

Some commentators believe that hypomania actually has an evolutionary advantage.  People with hypomania are generally perceived as being energetic, euphoric, visionary, overflowing with new ideas, and sometimes over-confident and very charismatic, yet--unlike those with full-blown mania--are sufficiently capable of coherent thought and action to participate in everyday activities. Like mania, there seems to be a significant correlation between hypomania and creativity. A person in the state of hypomania might be immune to fear and doubt and have little social inhibition. People experiencing hypomania are often the "life of the party." They may talk to strangers easily, offer solutions to problems, and find pleasure in small activities.

The Belbin Team Inventory

The Belbin Team Role Inventory assesses how an individual behaves in a team environment.

David scores 23 out of 20 on the Belbin Team Inventory Test for the Plant Team member role, his next highest score was 13 out of 20 for a Resource Investigator. He also has an IQ of 135.

Belbin Team Role Definitions

Plants are creative, unorthodox and a generator of ideas. If an innovative solution to a problem is needed, a Plant is a good person to ask. A good plant will be bright and free-thinking. Plants can tend to ignore incidentals and refrain from getting bogged down in detail. The Plant bears a strong resemblance to the popular caricature of the absent-minded professor/inventor, and often has a hard time communicating ideas to others.

Resource Investigator
The Resource Investigator gives a team a rush of enthusiasm at the start of the project by vigorously pursuing contacts and opportunities. He or she is focused outside the team, and has a finger firmly on the pulse of the outside world. Where a Plant creates new ideas, a Resource Investigator will quite happily steal them from other companies or people. A good Resource Investigator is a maker of possibilities and an excellent networker, but has a tendency to lose momentum towards the end of a project and to forget small details.

Ideal Roles for David

Primarily a role which allowed David to be talking to clients regularly, or in a sales environment to allow him to utilise his free thinking, happiness to pick up the phone and charisma. Ideally he would be best suited in a role where he could utilise his creativity actively. This in itself does not have to be his primary role, for example he could work as a salesperson but act as an outside advisory service to areas of the business that may need some new ideas. A happy and fun working environment would also be very beneficial.  Overall a role where David can become passionate about what he is doing will by far be the best.

An example of this could be working as a BDM for a high conviction fund manager.

Also working in advertising, he was most successful as a sales person at the Golden Pages in Ireland because he came up with the creative concepts for clients and had them put together by the graphic artists team.

Other areas he has worked well in the past is field sales, or technical sales.

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1237757 tn?1323143119
Management Toolkit (Cont)

Practical Management Ideas

The key to focus for the bipolar individual is passion. When something is truly interesting and "on purpose" for people with bipolar disorder, it evokes their passion which in turn triggers the legendary bipolar hypomania. Hypomania is actually a very powerful asset that has helped some of the world's most successful people achieve their success. Hypomania allows one to solve difficult problems easily and it maximizes the energy available for the task at hand.

One of the key things David feels passionate about is helping people.

Stress has been shown to trigger bipolar episodes. Morning exercise minimizes stress and throughout the day. If you want someone with bipolar disorder to be calmer throughout the day, make sure that they get plenty of exercise in the morning. People who are bipolar can have greater than average energy systems and so they NEED more exercise than others.

The best way to help someone with bipolar cope with a low energy environment like an office is to give them a high energy outlet earlier in the day. After a vigorous workout, they will be much calmer and they can achieve a sustained and gentle focus and more manageable moods.

It has been said that people with bipolar disorder have, on average, 20% higher IQs than the rest of the population.  This is due largely to the amazing problem solving capacity of people with bipolar-wired brains.

Most IQ tests are designed to prefer lateral thinking ability over linear thinking because it is a greater sign of high intelligence.  Albert Einstein was primarily a lateral thinker, as was Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and Leonardo Da Vinci.

Lateral thinking is a problem solving approach where you attempt many different angles in order to find a solution.You think "outside the box" and you discover many new ways of framing problems rather than staying stuck.  

People who are highly capable lateral thinkers are great solution finders; inventors, entrepreneurs, pioneers, explorers and artists.  Their temperaments tend to be creative, energetic, impulsive and "distractible" because those are the qualities that facilitate great lateral thinking ability. Leonardo Da Vinci epitomized this kind of temperament, so that is why we call people with this temperament, "DaVinci types". Other amazing personalities with this temperament are Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Francis Ford Coppola, Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf.

Most people with bipolar disorder have the DaVinci type temperament and thus excel at lateral thinking ability.  Lateral thinking is most effective in certain environments - generally situations where there is little or no established procedure for success - situations where the solution must be discovered as opposed to merely regurgitated.

If someone is a DaVinci type (most bipolar people are) then they already are natural lateral thinkers.  MENSA riddles can be used to further develop and hone this gift.   MENSA riddles offer the following therapeutic benefits to someone with bipolar disorder:

1) Difficult, sometimes baffling, genius caliber MENSA riddles are often compelling enough to capture the attention of someone with Bipolar and evoke their hypomania.

2) Good MENSA riddles have satisfying and elegant solutions, which are in and of themselves reward enough for the mental effort required to crack them.

3) MENSA riddles are a great mental workout ñ similar in effect to physical exercise ñ because they calm and focus the bipolar mind by releasing pent up energy.

4) MENSA riddles build self-esteem with each subsequent victory and show people with bipolar how brilliant they really are.

5) The mental effort required to do MENSA riddles effectively exercises the DaVinci type mind, making one smarter and smarter. (I have seen IQs boosted by about 35% simply by doing a handful of MENSA riddles every day for a few weeks.)

6) The solution finding ability that doing MENSA riddles develops in your mind makes solving other day- to-day life problems surprisingly easier.

One of the best ways to help manage David is to provide structure and a clear process where possible.  David will likely adapt and develop of this structure, but it is good to come back to.

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1237757 tn?1323143119
Management Toolkit (Cont)

Symptoms of a period of hypomania coming on are as follows:

Initially much higher levels of productivity

Flight of ideas – idea’s can be good but in highly elevated moods they can come on thick and fast and be quite distracting.  David will regularly have idea’s, and good ones, but a sign that he might be heading into a difficult period will be thoughts racing so quickly that he may get confused and find it difficult to articulate what he wants to say.  It would likely show up in the time to write something as he talks faster than he writes and as such would be distracted more as he completes each sentence.  That being said he can still easily write something down, it would simply be the time taken to complete it.

Feeling a marked increase in self-esteem

Increased activity directed to achieving goals, or more importantly a much higher number of goals being set.  

Symptoms of a depressed mood are as follows:

Feelings of worthlessness and excessive guilt

Lack of energy, constant tiredness

Restlessness or alternatively a marked lack of activity, known as lethargy, which is noticeable by others
Famous People with Hypomania

Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Vincent Van Goh, Robin Williams, Spike Milligan, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jnr, Carrie Fisher, Buzz Aldrin, Peter Gabriel, Jimi Hendrix, Sting, Mark Twain, Isaac Newton.

In Conclusion

Due to the management of his illness and lack of severity it is highly likely that an employer wouldn’t even notice David was Bipolar.  In fact if not for the reaction to medication last year it would probably never have been diagnosed.  That being said David really doesn’t enjoy having to keep secrets regarding being hypomanic and would appreciate having an understanding employer that would allow him to develop and provide a good work/life balance.

Appendix 1

Some of David’s recent ideas.

• Predicted in June 2006 that there would be a major stock market crash in the 2nd Half of 2007.

• Predicted in 2006 that the town of Andamooka would be a good investment idea.

• In 2007 the town of Andamooka became ranked number 1 in Australia on the AFR website for capital appreciation.

• In 2007 the town of Andamooka became ranked number 1 in Australia on the AFR website for rental yield.

• Had a number of stock picks during the Global Financial Crisis.  During the crisis his superannuation went up year by year and he outperformed the ASX 200 index by 40%.

• Predicted on 15 Jan 2009 that the ASX200 would rise in the second half of the year.

• On 15 Jan 2009 David predicted the US Federal reserve would buy up many long term corporate and govt bonds pushing the rates down to force banks to lend to businesses as otherwise they would simply play within the short and long term rates and still not loan to everyone.

• On 18 March 2009 the Federal reserve released the following statement “Moreover, to help improve conditions in private credit markets, the committee decided to purchase up to $300 billion of longer-term treasury securities over the next six months.”

• Thought up a new type of variable home loan with a fixed rate cap. i.e. a client would pay no higher than the 10 year fixed interest rate at any time but have the potential benefit of receiving variable interest rates if they fall below the 10 year fixed rate.

• In 2009 developed a theory in short run microeconomics for the cheapest way to supply goods and services to create jobs sustainably.  This theory was later verified as correct by several major economists.

• In 2010 David had a client with an autistic child. They wanted to give ABA therapy to their child but the cost was $35,000 - $70,000 a year and they could not afford it as they were on Centrelink due to the mother having to stay home to care for Andy.  David came up with the idea to put the mother through a course in ABA therapy so she could apply it to Andy herself.  David found a grant that allowed the cost of the course to be fully paid for by government.

• In 2010 David had a couple that wanted to purchase an investment property, buy some shares and do major renovations on their home.  Added to this, the father wanted to put their children through private schooling and the wife wanted to purchase a new family car.  After finally finding a way for the family to afford all of this David, remembering the type of car the wife wanted and how they had already organised a baby sitter for the day David presented the financial plan.  David arranged the car to be delivered to his office and after telling them they could afford it surprised them so they could take it for a test drive.  As they drove away the father noticed on the back seat of the car where the children would normally sit were application forms for the private school he wanted his kids to attend.
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1237757 tn?1323143119
Another update

I've just got a new job as a Financial Planner, can you believe it, Bipolar and a Financial Planner.

Bipolar people really can do anything, yay!
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Avatar universal
How are u doing....just  quick note..I am a Branch Manager with one of the largest banks in Canada, have been withe the company for 24 years.  I was diagnosed 13 years ago, however, they do believe I managed with it for at least another 13 years prior.  I have never had a need to tell them until now as I have had my worse episode ever lasting for at least the last  4-6 months.  I am on new medication and am exhausted and now have dipped into deep depression  I appreciate all the research you have done and it will help me when I discuss this with my RVP...Hope all is going well in your Financial Planning career!
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1237757 tn?1323143119

I ended up finishing my financial planning career and heading back to technical sales. I've been going well in my job as far as developing business, but have had my probation extended after I mentioned I had taken a Xanax. The companies drug and alcohol policy meant I had to mention it!

I haven't mentioned I'm bipolar yet as I'm still in probation. It's due to finish soon, but I'll still keep quiet for a while.
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