Dawn, December 13, 2018

“Anyone with a mental health issue has good and bad days, copes well or struggles, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible, reliable, or able to do a very good job.” - Dawn

In my role as a Chief Operating Officer for a charity, I have come across many different views and opinions on mental health issues. These have been both a lovely surprise or struck me silent with shock.

I once sat in a meeting and was told that a volunteer wasn’t able to give their time in the office because “she isn’t reliable or stable enough”. When I asked why, I was casually told; “Oh, she has mental problems, you know what these people are like, they cannot cope.” Now, as I myself have bipolar, I was very surprised to find out that I also shouldn’t be stable or reliable!

I spent half an hour explaining, as politely as I could, that the simple act of this lady offering to volunteer would have taken courage and that she should be encouraged and supported. People looked at me around that table like I was an unexploded bomb about to go off or like I had suddenly declared that I am an alien from Mars come to take over the world. People suddenly avoided eye contact and shifted away like I had something contagious.

One of the comments I get, that annoys me the most, is when people say that they “would never have guessed you had a problem” and that despite my mental health issues, I have “done well!”…NO, I have done well through hard work and determination, and by working on my issues every single day, thank you very much!

I am never ashamed of having bipolar and will not be apologetic about it. I know many intelligent, dedicated and hardworking people who have mental health issues and are fantastic at their jobs and have responsible roles. And I am proud of every single one of them.

When you have bipolar, you often have self-doubt and feel worthless - to have the courage to get out there and try your best takes a lot of inner strength. Sometimes it takes all of your energy just to go into work in the morning and get through the day - but you do it because you are determined to.

Anyone with a mental health issue has good days and bad days, copes well or struggles, but that doesn’t mean to say we aren’t responsible, or reliable, or able to do a very good job. So, let’s all support one another out there in the workplace. Every tiny bit of understanding makes a huge difference and breaks down the stigma around mental health at work. 

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Comments

Me too

What a wonderful blog. It could have been me writing it. There is still such a stigma around bipolar unless you are someone famous and then you can wear it as a badge.

Inspiring

It’s so lovely to hear that others with bipolar can have successful careers.

Bipolar

I echo every word of this. My mental health and bipolar are well known but I'm also proud of what I do despite it, sometimes even because of it. I struggle more, mess up occasionally, but am passionate to be in any work successfully. I bring to it all my energy and mood, high and low. I bring risks to a role but also rewards that I believe outweigh them. As with anyone. What's perhaps different is my having to be profoundly honest, authentic, vulnerable and human because of my bipolar. I think that is an asset.

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