Before and After. Part 5. Work and bipolar.
I have been a driver all my life. People who worked for me tell me later that they were scared to join my team because they heard I was unfriendly and all about the work. Look what I brought to the work-place for 20 years – bipolar energy, high drive, the ability to bridge the conceptual and real life, ability to sell, and ability to co-ordinate people and teams to get things done. And because this is valued, and I pushed for higher pay and promotions, I was successful in the corporate world. I pushed because I felt I could always take on more responsibility. But the higher motivator was fear. I am a financial security nut.
My First Hubby is a special dad and special person, but not made for the relentlessness of a city. He sees the fantasy and the vision, while the lack of execution disappoints him. And others are disappointed in his lack of execution. So I became the front seat and back seat driver. Not healthy for anyone, bipolar or no. The combination of work pressure and resentment were key triggers, year after year, especially after 2007. When my second child was born. We got divorced in 2011.
Then it became work pressure of a worse kind in 2013 – my boss at my new firm and I not seeing eye to eye for three years. I like to row my own boat, had been in a senior position for some time, and was used to some level of autonomy. It took me a while to realise this was his business – he had built this section of the practice up from scratch – and he was nervous about paying my high salary without getting a return. He liked to look over my shoulder to see what I was doing. Literally. Over my right shoulder, looking at my screen. Then I wanted to implement some people engagement processes – I did get some right as I was bringing in the money so he let it go. But without his active support, they eventually fell apart. I am a change agent and he didn’t want change.
I had two hospital stays – always Q4 – during those three years. A combination of work triggers as well as home triggers – my difficulty with my stepson. For another time.
And this year, my work life turned on its head. My firm and I parted ways, and I was left floating. And panicked about future cash flow – as in forever cash flow. Yes, fear. I got involved in the family business, learning about operations (not my strong point), looked at selling it, all the while earning materially less. The trigger here was once again my new boss – my dad! Ladiddadida… I am a change agent and he didn’t want change. It was also a crap year business-wise, so he was in a high anxiety state for five months. Even higher anxiety than my previous boss. This doesn’t work for me at all. Combine that with stepson issues plus Q4 (the most common season for me …. Going into summer in the Southern Hemisphere, or is just an end of year collapse?), and you have another period of depression and a hospital stay.
So that explains the on-going cycles. High energy, hyper focus and input into work, eventual disappointment and seasonal change/ end of the year and into depression. So what now? Over the last few weeks I have settled into my new role within my dad’s business. Its back seat but flexible. I am not planning for next year and no longer chasing the money. I have enough saved for a conservative retirement, as long as I cover my expenses between now (46) and 60 years old. No major holidays, cars or renovations, but I am doing fine.
The change in meds play a big role in my delayed attitude. Sometimes I hate the side-effects of Seroquel: slow thinking, slow start to the day, lack of excitement with new ideas or social events. And the vague idea that I am not living up to my potential – I created and influenced big things, and now create and influence little things. But on the flip side, I appreciate my short-term thinking and low anxiety levels. Very low anxiety levels. And the time for my kids.
So no conclusions on the work side. I cant figure out if Bipolar has forced me to slow down and be at home more, which is a fantastic thing, or if Bipolar has cut my potential short. I am waiting to see what this new chapter means and if I like it. And where it leads in 2018.