Doing my job without mania

Even before I knew that I had bipolar disorder, I knew that I had cycles.  I had enough self-awareness to know that I was productive in six week cycles.    This is how I did my job, six weeks at a time.  I would go weeks or months without accomplishing hardly anything and then BOOM I would get the juice and do six months worth of work in six weeks.  During these weeks, I could hardly tear myself away from my desk.  I skipped breakfast and lunch.  I lived off coffee.

And in those six week spurts, which I now know were hypo-manic episodes, I was confident, arrogant, brilliant and successful.  And when they were over I would become listless, unmotivated, dull-witted, and depressed.

Well now, I have no bursts of productivity.  No innovation.  No confidence.  I’m trudging along.  I only do what’s asked of me, and I’m struggling to even do that.  Sometimes I look at my software code, and can’t even understand how I did what I did.

On the upside, I don’t get into endless debates.  I don’t make inappropriate comments in meetings.  And I don’t try to fuck my coworkers.

So how do I work without mania?  Well, I suppose I get my work done one little bit at a time.  I take it in little bites.  It’s hard.  I waste a lot of time blogging or listening to music or reading because some days my brain just can’t break through to get the job done.

I worry that they’ll notice, and that my job will be in jeopardy.  Technically, I can cry disability.  But I’d rather not.  I’d rather be back on top.  I wonder if my boss misses manic me.  I was a work horse…at least in six week spurts.

Sorry, no advice to give on this subject.  Perhaps you could give me some.

I recommend reading this article:   Bipolar and the Americans With Disabilities Act


9 thoughts on “Doing my job without mania

    • I actually made a little progress this afternoon. I broke down my task into the smallest possible pieces and made some progress. It seemed to help. I guess I just can’t do broad strokes anymore.


  1. I can relate to you here! I’m the same way, but in two-week cycles. These last few weeks I’ve been feeling okay because I think my psychiatrist got the mix of my meds right this time, but during the weeks before I started seeking professional help for my condition, I would differentiate what I did between “creation” during hypomania and “work” during depression – creation being doing the big things like, if I put myself in your shoes, coding in the main parts of the software, designing the GUI (creative work); and work being little things like polishing code, debugging (menial, repetitive work).

    Check this out:

    It’s not my blog, but I found Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments for writing worked in my situation. Maybe you can adapt them to programming.

    • Thanks. That was an interesting article. The strategy that ended up working for me the day I wrote this was breaking the task down into tiny little tasks. That way I didn’t get overwhelmed with the demands of the whole project.

  2. People have always thought I was an insanely productive worker. And by people…I include myself! Now I see the cycles of mania.

    Mine last a little longer (about 3 months), and then I blame the job for being boring. Thus 30 jobs in just over 20 years. Not doing a lot for my hireability. So I’m trying to fight through it this time…and except that I don’t have to be setting productivity records. At least, not all the time.

      • Yep. And I was always just told I was Type A, aggressive, decisive, all or nothing.

        Would have been nice for someone to say, “Dude…you are freaking manic. You need some help. You can get stuff done…but it is going to destroy you.”

        Ha…now to find a balance that satisfies my drive without imploding my life.

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