New Bipolar Diagnosis...Already out of work


Without going into a ton of details, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder about 3 weeks ago. I immediately went on medications and started seeing a therapist to help with recognizing triggers and coping mechanisms. Now I find myself out of work due to side effects and the need for adjusting my medications. While I know that medication adjustments are needed to find the right combination, I am already frustrated that I am unable to work after only 3 weeks. Did anyone else have this issue and if so, how long were out of work? I know everyone is different but wanting to get some opinions on how long you were out of work or what did you do differently at your job that permitted you to work while adjusting your regimen. My current job as it is written doesn't allow me to adjust my duties or work hours at the present time.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

You have my sympathies. I have bipolar I disorder, been diagnosed five years and am still getting used to the idea. I've been through many, many med adjustments so I understand. It makes it so hard to work! For a while I spent more time off work than on, which did not sit well with my employer, who found a reason to get rid of me when my psychiatrist and I asked for accommodations so I could continue in my position. I was in management at the time and they chose not to allow me those modifications, even though they could have at least tried to work with me. I haven't worked now in over three years and am on Social Security Disability for my illness.

Have you been at your current job for at least a year? If so, you would be eligible for FMLA, which is unpaid but might buy you some time. This gives you up to 12 weeks leave, and it doesn't have to be taken all at once. Ask your HR department about filing for this program. The main disadvantage is that you'd have to disclose your diagnosis, which is something you ordinarily wouldn't want to do because of the possible repercussions. Employers aren't supposed to discriminate, but they have offices full of lawyers who know all sorts of ways around the Americans With Disabilities Act, so you can't depend on them to do the right thing. I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer but I've been burned badly in the past and have the job history to prove it.

If you're not eligible for FMLA and don't have personal time off that you can use while you're out, unfortunately you'll have to eat the time off. Still, all you really need to tell your employer is that you are taking the time off for medical reasons...there is no reason to give them the details.

I wish you well, and am glad you've joined I think you'll find us a helpful bunch, and hope your association with us will be a long and productive one. Take care.