Wanting to quit my job is an element of my bipolar disorder that I experience regularly, and it causes a great deal of discomfort within me.
Within bipolar disorder there are two main mood phases, mania and depression. In mania, you can experience grandiose thoughts that you can do anything, creative ideas flooding through, energy and desire to achieve more and more alongside impulsive behaviour. In depression you can experience a lack of motivation, a lack of desire to do anything, low energy and low self-esteem. Both of these contribute towards me wanting to quit my job.
When I am manic I feel as though I am above what I am currently doing, that I have the ability to do so much more and feel an intense desire to do so and move on from my current position. I get so full of creative ideas for writing, drawing, sewing etc. and feel as though I could become a free lancer and be successful doing those things. In mania I hate being on someone else’s agenda, and even though I have a great deal of autonomy at work, just being there when I’d rather be writing is so frustrating. I begin to view being self-employed through rose tinted glasses, it seems so free, so calming, something I truly desire for myself. The frustration amounts up at work and I cannot focus, the tasks seem so mundane.
When I think about this logically it is largely unrealistic and untrue. The fact is I enjoy having the structure and routine in my life, it helps me regulate my activities, sleep, eating, all of which helps my bipolar. I don’t enjoy rush hour commuting, but who does right? Yes I have ideas but I am terrible at turning them into a reality. I would be awful at making a living from these unless this changed and I think if I want to do that I need to start getting things finished first. This logic doesn’t change how I feel though.
When I am in depression everything is so overwhelming, I feel I have so much to do and way too high expectations of me. I feel afraid of any form of conflict and my decision making skills are impaired to the point where I don’t feel capable of making decisions or managing people at all. I constantly feel the need to escape, like I am unsafe. I think that I have an impossible to do list when in reality I still get these things done. It is horrible. I feel like I am a complete failure, incapable of achieving anything on my own merits.
These symptoms make it so that again I do not want to go to work. I don’t feel like I could function, it feels too stressful and I count down the minutes until I can leave, making things as easy as possibly for myself by taking extra breaks or going home earlier.
In mixed episodes like I am experiencing now I feel this desire to quit my job the strongest of all. Recently I have experienced mixed mania, so I have experienced the desire to achieve, creative goal oriented desires, but the low self esteem and low energy of depression. For my job this means not only do I want to quit to persuade hobbies and other passions, but I also feel like I am not good enough for the job anyway. Giving me reasons to quit on both ends of the scale.
How I cope
I have discovered a few methods so far that help with these experiences.
- I challenge myself to make a plan. Because I don’t actually have anything I could easily side step into, the planning and idea stage seems sufficient to preoccupying my mania for a while. My thoughts race so much that I never settle or move on to the next step
- Work out. When I feel this way I often feel agitation towards elements of my current job. Going to the gym allows me to work out this frustration and make myself feel better about my life in general
- Perdue hobbies as side goals. I try to think of it a bit like playing the sims. They have career goals and opportunities, and life goals and opportunities. I try to pursue my other goals as side projects to fulfil me further rather than a replacement to my career.
In depression the challenge is not to distract or re channel my energy, but to heal back to a functioning level. I have found the following helps
- Working out. In depression I cannot run as fast or lift as much as I can when I am normal or manic, but by getting moving it helps me lift the feelings of being unable to do anything. I can at least do some form of exercise even if it’s reduced and then benefit from the endorphins it releases.
- Challenge negative thoughts. In depression I often think poorly of myself and my abilities, and my self talk turns dark. I start to tell myself I am useless or unworthy. It is key to talk back to these thoughts, correct them calmly but firmly and repeatedly.
- Break things down into smaller manageable chunks, instead of looking at the whole day or week ahead of me just focus on achieving one thing and it feels much less overwhelming.
- Take regular breaks, this is so important that you listen to when your body and mind need to rest and allow yourself that time. If you need a break in between every thing you do, thats okay. You can gradually build up to doing more when you are rested.
- Take small comforts. This could be anything, an outside of routine coffee, something sweet at lunch, anything that makes you feel a little joy even if it is fleeting. You deserve that feeling.
- Eating and vitamin supplements. Eating properly in depression is difficult if not impossible, the fact is you will not want to eat a lot of the time or will comfort eat bad food. This is counter productive, your brain needs vitamins and minerals to heal that you are not providing. To combat this I take vitamin tablets to at least give my body some of what it needs.
In Mixed Episodes
- Getting outside. For some reason there is nothing more calming for me than just being outside, especially if I can be around water. My psychiatrist said there is something about water that is extremely good for bipolar.
- Pursue hobbies. In an effort to distract myself and use up some of the ever building energy I try to do positive things including pursuing hobbies such as writing, researching and drawing. They occupy my mind, they don’t really seem to do much in the long term but in the short term it can help, when I feel desperate I often write.
- Work out. Mixed episodes come with so much pent up energy that feels like it is boiling inside of you with nowhere to go. You therefore have to give that energy a way out and that is possible through exercise. An intense cardio and weight combined workout will release a lot of tension and also endorphins to lift the irritation and agitation.
- Eat well. Similarly to depression it is important that you allow your brain to heal by feeding it properly when it is dealing with depression and mania.
- Be less strict with sleep. In depression and mania I will restrict my sleep to between 6-9 hours in an attempt to regulate my mood and it works fairly well. However I find in a mixed episode it worsens the symptoms, instead it is better to listen to your body and give as much or as little as it is telling you.
- Talk it out. Mixed episodes are hard. If you have a good support network around you then it can help to talk about how you are feeling. If you don’t however this can be incredibly frustrating.
This is pretty much all I know about mixed episodes so far, I would love to hear about other people’s experience or knowledge on the subject so I will continue my research.