i am a bit of an overachiever. i’ve always performed at a high level in school and at work. i went to high school and college on academic scholarships, juggling sports, theater, music and other activities. this was no different when i started to work. 40 hours wasn’t a normal work week for me. i put in long hours handling many projects. even when i left the office i was still working, still deciphering what relationship i was making that could pay off for the organization i worked.
but i don’t say this to brag. on the contrary. i ran at full speed ahead for 20+ years. that coupled with a bad marriage filled with abuse, overcommitting, mental illness and little rest my body failed me. it gave up and gave into the stress of it all and started a fight with seizures that i manage today. the road marked with seizures has been difficult and scary. although i know some of my triggers, warning signs come early and i often fall victim to the seizure before i can ask for help. i feel paralyzed, motionless trapped in my body. sometimes i remember what happened, sometimes i come out in a fog with no recollection of the experience. the seizures effected me enough that i had to stop working.
work was my identity – it was who i was. i defined myself by my work, my successes. without work i was lost – i didn’t know who i was. managing chronic seizures was ok in the workplace. while it’s a scary diagnosis everyone knows and is willing to help. there isn’t a stigma over my condition. no one questions its’ validity or seriousness. i can be open and honest with everyone about having seizures. it’s something that i have but it doesn’t define me.
i never knew how different life would be when i found out i was bipolar. i would NEVER tell anyone at work my diagnosis. like and work are complicated. add a baby to that and i’m not sure how i manage everything. i’s an effort to get out of the house showered, dressed (without stains), fed, dinner in the crockpot and baby clean and dressed. i don’t even have to feed her! daycare does that if i can get there by 8:30am. i feel like I’ve successfully run a marathon if i can get those things done and baby dropped off with a starbucks in hard and at the office by 9am. it is a success.
then i add bipolar. how do i explain everything that i am feeling? i feel like a liar. like a fake. i feel like I’m hiding a big part of myself. i take meds everyday to keep level, but they aren’t 100%. there are days that i am more irritable than others. i am short tempered with my colleagues and staff. i don’t have the patience to explain all of my actions to everyone. i am too quick to act. i can sort of get away with these behaviors as well as the lethargy, depression and mania that plagues my days because i can explain what’s going on with my loved ones. that’s not so easy to do at work. i can’t get out of a lunch meeting because i am anxious and don’t want to leave my office. i can’t call in sick for the 100th time because i just don’t have the energy to keep my eyes open. i can’t explain to my boss why i am twitching is due to a manic episode. i feel like an incomplete me now at work.
so how do i balance work, motherhood and being bipolar? too soon to tell, but would love to hear from you on how you handle it.