I feel like this blog is a failure. I originally intended it to be someplace where people could read the internal day-to-day struggles of being a professional dealing with bipolar disorder. Instead, I’ve been on medical leave and dealt with so much medical stuff over the past 10 months that this blog has almost nothing at all to do with career oriented matters. Now, if things don’t start moving very soon, it will be about being bipolar and unemployed.
Is this blog really a failure? I’ve got all these awards that say otherwise. Or does it just mean that its deviated from its intention?
Am I a failure? This is a different question, one I ask myself frequently. I have all this education – 10 years post high school – and I’ve forgotten 90% of it. I’m good at what I do, but I’m not the best or even nearly the best. I put myself above average: maybe B+ range. My student evaluations were not great either. There were reasons for that too. One other teacher who taught the same classes as I was a very easy teacher: 27/30 students got an A in his classes. So why would students want to take mine? I had pretty much bell-curved grades and everyone got what they earned. But if they passed my class, they had learned something. Not true in his class. I lost my teaching job through no fault of my own. I was good for that school, all the teachers knew it, but administration couldn’t see it. It’s very difficult to get respect from anyone (administration, colleagues, students) as a female science professor. This has been statistically proven, although I’ve long since lost the reference. Maybe I’m just trying to justify my situation, but there are facts to back it.
My first job loss was directly related to euphoric bipolar mania, and this one was in part due to bipolar dysphoric mania/hypomania. My therapists tell me not to look at it that way – each job has been a particular set of circumstances and I should not blame myself for job loss. But aren’t they paid to tell me that? Would I still be employed if I wasn’t bipolar? Not at the first company – they went out of business. Maybe not at teaching either, because my bipolar cycles were not that bad throughout that time period. (I had some mild depression and one manic period during the summer of ’06.) Thus, it didn’t impact my work like it has at other times.
But this job… it started with my OCD. I didn’t help people enough because I didn’t feel comfortable with the safety situation in the lab. By all the rules and regulations, it was “safe”. But I wasn’t comfortable, so I would gradually try to avoid it – it escalated and I was washing my hands constantly. I had this belief that I couldn’t leave a water bottle sitting on my desk because someone would put something in it so I would fail a drug test or outright poison me. Seriously, my cupboards were full of partially empty bottled waters. I’ve had this irrational belief for a long time. Is this a psychotic break?
Anyway, I pissed off the narcissist by taking advice from someone else, but he never forgives or forgets. When I’m gone, he will probably brag about how he got me fired. When my dysphoric mania hit I became a difficult person to work with. The narcissist triggered all my PTSD buttons and I was afraid to go into work. I would go and cry in people’s offices. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t do my work. I had nightmares about work 2-4 times a week. I should have sought help then. Every time I complained to management I was unknowingly committing self-sabotage. I was breaking, but I thought: I can control this. I can keep it together. No one needs to know I am bipolar.
I should have been taken off of work much sooner – not for my arms but for my mind. Before the structure fractured and I tried to patch myself with willpower duct tape. Before things got out of hand and I got hurt again – physically and emotionally. I’m basically a nice person and I generally work well with others, but it got so that every conversation, every rumor, flung shards of insult in my direction, slicing and fraying nerves as they flew.
Now, look where I am 10 months later: fixed physically and mentally, up for the challenge of dealing with anything, even the narcissist. Up for the challenge of anything but unemployment. And that’s the demon I must face now. The argument that twists in my mind is: am I a failure?
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