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Tell my manager or keep the bipolar hidden

Stress 101   (5,661 Views 29 Comments)
by rhernandez748 rhernandez748 (Member)

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I've managed to hide my bipolar disorder throughout nursing school. Most people see it as quirky and funny. However I'm beginning a high stress MedSurg nursing position that short staffed and I'm afraid it will trigger behaviors that can put me at risk for being fired. Is it better that I inform my manager that I have bipolar disorder or continue to keep it hidden and hope for the best ?

Whether or not they know that you have bipolar disorder....if it triggers behaviors that could get you fired, they might fire you. It won't protect you from that, and if anything, your behavior will be under MORE scrutiny once you are on their radar. I wouldn't disclose.

If you ever need medical leave related to your disorder, then you may have to disclose some things to whoever handles that in HR - it should be separate from your other employment records and your manager/direct supervisors have no business knowing any details beyond that you have been approved for leave.

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442 Visitors; 7 Posts

Another thought about your dilemma: if you choose to disclose, you should wait until you've established yourself on the floor and shown your competence. This may not happen right away, but if you are a valued employee, that should mean something. Also, I keep asking myself, if nurses don't address the stigma of mental illness, then who will? We are advocates and educators. You know your illness doesn't define you, but by hiding it you are accepting a stigma that does want to define you. It's not easy changing attitudes, but we nurses with mental health issues are the best suited for this role.

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244 Likes; 7,869 Visitors; 726 Posts

Another thought about your dilemma: if you choose to disclose, you should wait until you've established yourself on the floor and shown your competence. This may not happen right away, but if you are a valued employee, that should mean something. Also, I keep asking myself, if nurses don't address the stigma of mental illness, then who will? We are advocates and educators. You know your illness doesn't define you, but by hiding it you are accepting a stigma that does want to define you. It's not easy changing attitudes, but we nurses with mental health issues are the best suited for this role.

That's the question: who will?

As someone who has bipolar disorder, I don't "hide it." I choose not to disclose it, like I don't disclose other aspects of my health (i.e. SLE, high cholesterol, etc).

However, I have been burned before when a former employer (note: former) discovered my diagnosis. All she needed was to hear the word "bipolar" and gently, out the door was I kicked out. There wasn't a specific incident, or behavior; I was medicated, doing fine, but had that magical label. I was an employee of the month not long before "discovery," a model SPED teacher with fine reviews. But upon hearing the label, the nice supervisor turned to a nervous, biased, frightened, angry supervisor, worried that I was going to blow.

I couldn't rise above that stigma; it was like a little old grandma who hates all black people or that ex-boyfriend who insists he won't marry anyone but another who hates gays/Baptists/Jews. Certain people just won't listen to reason.

I don't let my illness define me, but I can't afford to allow my future employers the opportunity to define me by my illness. I need the job. I need the money.

You're right: it's not easy changing attitudes; I can't use my job to do so.

I have changed attitudes with my family. I have changed attitudes with my friends. I have changed attitudes with medical professionals. I have changed attitudes with parents of students I have worked with over the years who had a variety of special needs.

It takes a society to change. We can only play our parts.

Edited by pixierose

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442 Visitors; 7 Posts

I totally understand your need for job security has to trump all other concerns. I am interested in writing about this topic more generally. May I contact you privately?

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I agree I definitely believe that if we can't advocate for ourselves how can we advocate for our patients, believing that I am not flawed inherently because I have this diagnosis is pivotal. I don't know how to go about starting that. Luckily I have some time until I can sit for the NCLEX and I will be working in a student nurse capicity which Is a much smaller scope of practice(basically a NA). In this 10-14 week time period I will be able to show my work ethic and my ability to work well with others as a team player in a much lower stress level position.

Edited by rhernandez748
Grammar

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587 Visitors; 21 Posts

Btw current meds:

Effexor ED 75mg/bid

Ritalin 36mg/bid(ADHD)

Inderal 20mg PRN anxiety

havent been on any mood stabilizers for more than 6 years.

ETOH PRN😁

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LadyFree28 has 10+ years experience and works as a Clinical Nurse.

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That's the question: who will?

As someone who has bipolar disorder, I don't "hide it." I choose not to disclose it, like I don't disclose other aspects of my health (i.e. SLE, high cholesterol, etc).

However, I have been burned before when a former employer (note: former) discovered my diagnosis. All she needed was to hear the word "bipolar" and gently, out the door was I kicked out. There wasn't a specific incident, or behavior; I was medicated, doing fine, but had that magical label. I was an employee of the month not long before "discovery," a model SPED teacher with fine reviews. But upon hearing the label, the nice supervisor turned to a nervous, biased, frightened, angry supervisor, worried that I was going to blow.

I couldn't rise above that stigma; it was like a little old grandma who hates all black people or that ex-boyfriend who insists he won't marry anyone but another who hates gays/Baptists/Jews. Certain people just won't listen to reason.

I don't let my illness define me, but I can't afford to allow my future employers the opportunity to define me by my illness. I need the job. I need the money.

 

You're right: it's not easy changing attitudes; I can't use my job to do so.

I have changed attitudes with my family. I have changed attitudes with my friends. I have changed attitudes with medical professionals. I have changed attitudes with parents of students I have worked with over the years who had a variety of special needs.

It takes a society to change. We can only play our parts.

YES YES YES!!! Especially in bold.

I can not and WILL NOT EVER allow a employer to have control over my illness not my financial status; I treat having a job like the business that it is-business. :yes:

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ItsThatJenGirl works as a BSN Student.

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Sorry to high-jack, but I had a quick question.

In Texas, to get licensed, you *must* disclose having Bipolar to the licensing board. It's entirely up to them if (even after all your schooling) you get your license.

Has anyone been through that situation? How did it all work?

High-jack, over!

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587 Visitors; 21 Posts

Sorry to high-jack, but I had a quick question.

In Texas, to get licensed, you *must* disclose having Bipolar to the licensing board. It's entirely up to them if (even after all your schooling) you get your license.

Has anyone been through that situation? How did it all work?

High-jack, over!

You aren't hijacking, all comments are welcomed. I was not required to disclose in my state however nursing school did have physical and mental health requirements, which I met.

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