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Tell my manager or keep the bipolar hidden

Stress 101   (5,664 Views 29 Comments)
by rhernandez748 rhernandez748 (Member)

587 Visitors; 21 Posts

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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 ?

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OrganizedChaos has 10 years experience and works as a LVN.

7 Likes; 1 Follower; 63,819 Visitors; 6,876 Posts

I wouldn't tell your manager about being bipolar for so many reasons.

There is such a huge stigma against people with mental health issues & it will paint a huge bulls eye on you. I know it seems unfair but it's just the way it is right now.

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SarahMaria has 15 years experience and works as a Forensic Nurse.

4,327 Visitors; 253 Posts

Being bipolar myself, I would never disclose that to a manager. It will make you seem "unwell" and perhaps they may look down on you.

If you end up hospitalized or have an episode, it's none of their business.

Make sure you keep your illness managed appropriately so "fireable behaviors" are kept in check.

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OrganizedChaos has 10 years experience and works as a LVN.

7 Likes; 1 Follower; 63,819 Visitors; 6,876 Posts

I want to add that I am bipolar myself. I never have & never will disclose that I am bipolar to any manager/boss. It is none of their business what medication I take or what is medically wrong with me.

I have told my bosses that I have epilepsy & they have been fine with it. But I can only imagine what would happen if I told any bosses I am bipolar. I know it wouldn't be good.

Edited by OrganizedChaos

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and works as a Retired/Disabled Nurse and Blogger.

347 Likes; 8 Followers; 141 Articles; 247,063 Visitors; 9,530 Posts

I have Bipolar 1 and I'm here to tell you NEVER to disclose your diagnosis in the workplace unless you require special accommodations to do your job, in which case the employer will probably do whatever they can to get rid of you...the Americans with Disabilities Act be damned. This means staying on top of your illness and being very self-aware so you can catch mood episodes before they spin out of control, because once the disease makes itself known there is no way to unring that bell.

I don't want to scare you but I've been burned twice by disclosing, once when a manic episode got away from me ( well, not that I could hide it) and once when I got my hours cut from 2 shifts a week to 3-4 a month because I'd made mention of my illness to my boss after a period when I'd been unwell. It is SO not worth it. Please be discreet!

Edited by VivaLasViejas

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587 Visitors; 21 Posts

I knew that was the right answer. I think I'm just nervous because there is no new grad program and I'm strait out of nursing school (last week)as soon as I pass my NCLEX I transition from NA to RN on a busy floor.

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587 Visitors; 21 Posts

It's sad but true. I entered into this profession to pet others first never would I let my behavior endanger a patient. I am just nervous of my off key statements and frank attitude. My pt. care will never suffer I would resign first.

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and works as a Retired/Disabled Nurse and Blogger.

347 Likes; 8 Followers; 141 Articles; 247,063 Visitors; 9,530 Posts

Those qualities may not win you any brownie points with management, but they are more than likely part of what makes you, "you". Accept them for what they are, and you don't necessarily have to attribute them to bipolar. If you feel your illness isn't being managed adequately, talk to your mental health provider...maybe a med adjustment would be in order, or you might need a little therapy (if you're not getting it now). I just don't want you to think your unique personality is somehow 'diseased' and needs to be squashed.

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442 Visitors; 7 Posts

I think you should disclose, but before you do, check the laws regulating employment in your state. I have told my boss about my mental illness. I've had no negative repercussions, just great support for when I needed to take short term disability/FML time. You also should check with the hospital's HR people and review your rights. The real advantage of disclosing is being able to talk frankly about when the symptoms make you unsafe to practice. It's way better to have that outlet than to live in fear.

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587 Visitors; 21 Posts

I go back and forth on wether to share or not. I feel that if they have knowledge of my Dx. while I am well, should there be an exacerbation I would be somewhat protected. Also I am just nervous in general because nursing is so high stress and I will be taking the NCLEX and starting with no preceptorship.

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OrganizedChaos has 10 years experience and works as a LVN.

7 Likes; 1 Follower; 63,819 Visitors; 6,876 Posts

I go back and forth on wether to share or not. I feel that if they have knowledge of my Dx. while I am well, should there be an exacerbation I would be somewhat protected. Also I am just nervous in general because nursing is so high stress and I will be taking the NCLEX and starting with no preceptorship.

Honestly, unless you work with super great people I wouldn't share. Yes there are laws out there that are suppose to protect you but if your manager *really* wants you gone, they will find a loop hole or a way around it to get you gone.

I know it is scary to start as an RN & not have a preceptorship but you made it through school AND passed the NCLEX. You can do this!

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

9 Likes; 74,931 Visitors; 8,427 Posts

I have disclosed and like Viva, have been burned; I was a new grad in a position as a PICU nurse.

I dusted myself off, and ended up eventually taking position that helped me build upon my practice, and ended up in Critical Care again, this time in a Level I Trauma Pedi ED, when I had no educator, and had to learn on the fly with huge experienced staff-then the experienced staff started leaving, although 30 percent stayed.

I made sure I had a plan in place, and also made sure I was meeting with my therapist and taking my medications while I was learning a new specialty.

I still will never disclose my mental health status to another employer again. :no:

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