Friday, February 23, 2007

Bipolarhood Disclosure

The comments to my previous post got me thinking. There doesn't seem to be any clear ideas about how far to go with your disclosure about your condition. Even from a legal technical point of view (in South Africa anyway) there is no law that says you have to disclose to the following people: a, b, c etc. Well I couldn't find anything in the Mental Health Act anyway. Maybe its tucked away in some kind of employment Act, but I think not. I think its just skirted around because its a messy issue.

But it definitely interests me and I have therefore created a new poll (see in my right hand side bar ->) so that I can collect peoples opinions as I go along. I know the questions are very generalistic because at the end of the day whether you disclose to any individual person depends on that person. But still - I wanna see what others think.

And whilst I'm on the subject, I did tell my programmer that I'm BiPolar. Besides coding he is a very active jazz musician and a really cool guy. What was holding me back was that I thought maybe he would no longer consider me a good long term client (with loadsa potential). But then I figured, fck it, I've been working successfully with him for 2 years now, if he hasn't worked out whether I'm viable or not then he's a monkey.

And he's not a monkey. He was actually really cool about it.


  1. You have to do what you feel comfortable with:) I, personally don't think that we need to tell anyone within the workplace about our bipolar illness...

    Its certainly a touchy situation that is for sure...but it is a personal thing and I just feel that we don't have to disclose our illness..

    Unless we are like far out there, always late for work, not doing our job, slacking really bad, and so on...

    And it depends on the job and the boss I think...

  2. Boy, do I understand walking this tight rope. I never know who to tell and how much to tell. Some people I tell either freak out or just blow me off. Not many seem to understand what I'm saying or what it means to have a mental illness.

    Also, when people hear that I'm disabled and can't work they often just think I'm "lazy" or "irresponsible." Despite the fact that I tell them my TWO Phd holding doctors certified that I shouldn't work. As well as the judge ruling in a federal court of law that I was disabled and able to collect on the money that I payed into the disability insurance system when I WAS working!! **SIGH**

    The other thing I do is play down my illness. I'm schizoaffective but instead I often just say bipolar which is only one aspect of my disease. One because people hear "schizo" and they give me that "you're a serial killer" look. And two because it's easier to explain bipolar then schizoaffective.

    Three, the world can barely handle the term bipolar let alone anything along the lines of "schizo!!"

    You can't win with most people. I have become a good "actor" in living with my illness. I have learned to put on a good face to people so they don't get scared when I'm in an episode but then people look at me and say or think, "He doesn't LOOK mentally ill to me."

    Whatever THAT means?!! I mean, what is the textbook "look" of a mental illness??

    Anyway, I'm rambling on now. I hope I made some sense. I'm kind of amped up on caffeine.

    By the way...

    Thanks for the comment on my tattoo. I love it. It's my favorite tattoo right now.

    As for podcasts, I listen to one: "Deer Park Dharma Cast." If your into Buddhism you might like checking out my Buddhist Blog @ The Buddhist Blog

  3. There are, and there shouldn't, be no hard, fast rules for telling someone. Every situation requires an individual approach.

    I'm very paranoid about people discovering the extent of my dys-functionality. I fear they would use it against me. My father is even worst. It just wouldn't work for us...

  4. i wouldnt tell anybody. though i am being open about my bipolar in my blog, in real, not even my family knows about it. and i am planning to keep it that way.

    good that it worked out well for you!

  5. only good coders are monkeys, so then mebbe you should reconsider if YOU wanna work with him?

    also, 56% of musicians and 98% of jazzicians are beeper:z! whaddaya think bebop stands for man?

    bebopolar and play psychotic or die bitch die!

    don't argue with facts dood, you'll lose every time.

  6. I get to follow up z0tl again. Yippee.

    A good friend once asked me why I told everyone at my alternative highschool that I was on lithium. Until she asked me that I hadn't even realised that not telling everyone about my condition was an option.

    After my second institutionalisation at age29 and the collapse of my career in art direction I decided my bipolar status would be disclosed on a need-to-know basis. Since the first post-hospital girlfriend dumped me, nobody has needed to know.

    My ex-wife found out somehow even though I hadn't been medicated for a few years when I met her. She still thinks I'm just lazy because I choose not to stress myself out working eighteen hour days. So it goes...

  7. Hello,

    I've written about this today too.

  8. I had to resign from my first job because of an acute episode: I passed it off as "being ill", and no one asked further. I told the head of the office I was bipolar, but he didn't know the word, and I explained it meant I had energy swings.

    My co-workers from that job still don't know, and I've hardly told anyone. I think it's the stigma (she had a nervous *breakdown*?) that stops me.

    In my current job, I told the partners (it's a small firm) when I was becoming ill again. Their line has been that it's a psychological disorder, that I'm using medication as a crutch to hide from my demons, and that I won't be well until I stop taking tablets. They've removed me from client-facing work on the grounds that I'm still ill. It's got so bad that I've resigned.

    So, no, on balance, I don't think I'd tell another employer.


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