My bipolar brilliance got me fired

I was fired.  Thank goodness.

Conflict at work with a male boss
As women in the workplace, we may feel like we are in an arm wrestle with our male boss. But in my case, I was not this direct. I avoided conflict.

Not one of my finest moments.  And I am still occasionally hurt and confused. My boss rejected me. Not in a drive-by, but actively and daily, for the last year of our three year engagement. And I had been brilliant. My ideas had come in rapid succession – how to improve marketing, people management, operations. In fact, how to revolutionise the way the firm worked and I alone could drive the change. And if he wasn’t on sides, I worked around him, because surely he would see the bright light, right ahead? I was blocked, many times. For once I didn’t play the corporate game, because this was a firm, and I was a Partner, and I took the risk.

I remember, during the death-throws, my decision to stick to my job specification, which made me sullen and disengaged. It reminded me of earlier in my career, when a senior told me to ‘be less enthusiastic’. Yes – less me. Actually, be less of the best part of me.

And I made sure my boss felt my wrath (you know, in a quiet revolt, office-polite, passive-aggressive kind of way). After a few months, the inevitable happened, and we unwound our awkward stand-off.

I was the victim and looked high and low for another job; declined mentally to a three-week hospital stay in Ward F; and was then into a work ‘separation’ discussion.  I suspect that this second trip to Ward F did not help my case.  In summary, my performance in the third year – after shooting the lights out – took a nose dive with no recovery in sight.  A business won’t and can’t carry the burden. I hadn’t played the game, I hadn’t hidden my diagnosis of Bipolar 11, and understandably, the commercial world needs allegiance and steady, assured delivery.

Want to hear my re-frame? 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my working career for 20+ years.  Now I have taken a break to spend time with my kids.

Art Therapy for Bipolar treatment
I made this! Pottery is a fantastic way to calm and engross the mind if you suffer from Bipolar 11

I may go back to corporate. But for now, I have the privilege of not having to chase the big money. Thank you family, thank you Second Hubby, and thank you me, for saving and negotiating. I have time for soccer matches (literally) and pottery.

So…. thank goodness for life’s curve balls.  I would never have stepped off the corporate ladder voluntary. Working gave me all the security, validation and independence I needed. To be clear – it paid for the kids’ school fees, the mortgage, food. And I am still motivated by all those things – in good time. Perhaps even in an environment where I can bring my crazy, my enthusiasm – and then weeks of checking-out, without having to duck and dive.

Because now I see more options open to me.  I see what most people actually do … get busy with life, earn a living, and don’t fear being found out for who they really are.

Thank Goodness, and thank you me.

7 Comments

  1. updownflight

    August 25, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    I’m glad the situation worked out fairly well for you in the end. I’m sure once you’re ready you’ll do something else, or new, or maybe not. Either way, I hope it is good for you and makes you well and happy.

    In my last job I was warned about my behavior several times. When it reached a very bad point they threatened to fire me, with a last warning. I then quit in retaliation. I ended up in the hospital the next day and my husband called my boss and told them to ignore my resignation.

    Unfortunately my first hospitalization didn’t “fix” my mood issues adequately. I grew more and more manic (and mixed manic) and had several more hospitalizations with only brief returns to work mostly part-time and then once full-time for about 6 months. Then after my 10th hospitalization in the four year period, the last time for depression, they finally terminated me. The letter said I could apply for a new job when I was ready, but that is never going to come about.

    I’ve been on disability a long time. Unfortunately our savings is pretty much gone. I’m doing so-so after several mood issues over the years while disabled. I’m hoping to eventually get back to some part-time job hopefully in 2018.

    1. Cogitator

      August 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a masive ongoing trauma. I get your point about hospital not fixing you … I feel guilty everytime I am there, as didn’t the last visit work?! The money issue you raise is very real. Never working again is not an optionfor most of us and also I think I need to work to stay engaged with less time to think. Anyway I will watch out for how your journey goes.

    2. Cogitator

      September 24, 2017 at 10:58 pm

      Your journey sounds hard, hard, hard. And yes, why cant they fix us? What is better now on meds and hospitals vs how we lived before being diagnosed? And we have to get out there and do something worthwhile with our lives. Job level is less important, but flexibility is. We are heading to 2018 – I hope you even out. I am still searching for the next phase and it makes me anxious. And I am not stable yet – just had a month of hospital. We hang in there.

    3. Cogitator

      October 5, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      I remember you saying you were looking for something part time in 2018. Me too. I am working for my Dad at the moment (after many years of corporate) but actually that’s not less stressful! Lets keep touch for our 2018 endevours. I am expecting to be strong enough by then.

      1. updownflight

        October 5, 2017 at 10:24 pm

        I do hope we will both find positive flexible situations very soon that enhance our mental wellness. It’s true that being home on disability is detrimental to me in it’s own way. My psychiatrist wants me to start off with volunteer work. It makes sense, though I’ve tried it before and had to quit it. My hope is that I can find a way to be well enough to be reliable again. It’s so strange, I was always a very reliable worker in the past. There is still a certain barrier (some kind of fear) that makes it hard to get that back.

      2. Cogitator

        October 5, 2017 at 11:00 pm

        Agreed. I have developed a new fear… from failing a few times and being run-over by my mental ‘weakness’ at times when I cannot control it. I like the volunteering angle and great for now, but a job you are paid for is a different thing – far more responsibility I think and also more likely to build up some self-confidence. Even if its half day (I am aiming for 6 hrs a day). Well, that’s what I am thinking for myself. I have to get back on the horse, even if now I know its not likely going to be a stallion! You do have such an interesting past – things that you have seen, done and tried. Quite eclectic. We have so many years ahead of us … we will get pieces back and find new pieces. I like your blog and I your life-diversity. Nice chatting to you…. across the sea.

      3. updownflight

        October 6, 2017 at 12:08 am

        You’re very kind Cogitator, and I hope you reach that goal of 6 hours per day.
        I can understand how a real paid job would provide a much bigger feeling of accomplishment. When I have done volunteering I’ve often been frustrated that I wasn’t paid for my efforts, mostly because they gave me such lousy things to do. I know that finally earning money myself again will be so satisfying. The problem is that my husband is so afraid that if I try and fail, and my disability is jeopardized, that we’ll face financial ruin.
        My husband thinks we should move to Europe so that he might actually be able to retire someday. He is a European, and access to healthcare is much cheaper than in the U.S. I was thinking that if we do go in 3-5 years that I might teach English as a second language. My career background is in Sales and Marketing, but I don’t think I can do that anymore.

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