When I began a new job in May last year I became reticent about posting my wellness routine and illness monitoring in cyberspace. I also felt that it would impact negatively on my PhD studies as my superiors would read the "ups" and "downs" and mis-interpret them as periods proving my inability to function cognitatively at the level required professionally.
Well, I happily confess I was wrong. I did more damage than good. This decision worked so against my personal philospophy. There is no shame in having ANY type of mental illness, especially Bi-polar Mood Disorder. Many people live professionally rich and intellectually generative lives with this disorder, but despite many well-known people speaking publicly about it, there remains a resistance on the part of the broader community to acknowledge that we are "normal" and it is not just the celebrities whose wealth can shield them from needing to perform publicly when they are in the swings of illness at bothe ends of the spectrum.
If anything for performing artists, visual artists, and writers 'the public' almost expect them to show signs of 'madness' when being creative. So it seems that mania is fine on display as long as their is a willing paying audience to watch the creative process "live" so to speak.
But talk of the depressive end of the spectrum and it remians more comfortable for the community to not have to see it, not deal with it. We should all just hide away until we "snap out of it". Even those purporting to be supportive of full-integration in the workforce are not immune from over-reaction and stereotyping when either pole emerges (even slightly) in a colleague.
We know our extremes of illness and onlooker does not. So what for a "normal" person would just be perceived as a bit flat, a bit down or sad is seen as temporary glitch that will soon pass if ignored. As for the upper end of the spectrum co-workers and friends just consider a "normal" person's elevated mood as happiness and excitement, whereas for a manic-depressive it is perceived as a threatening sign that they are about to implode or explode.
I ask again of family, friends and co-workers to see these shifts in "internal weather" as indicators of deeper things at play, and not just in the personal realm! Look around you. Is the work deadlines untenable, the relationships in the office verging on toxic? Is there bullying, even not of the BMD co-worker, as we are sensitive to this in our environments even when we are not directly targetted.
Whilst pressure and work stress can be generative of high functioning productivity there is a very thin line between what is actually normal professional deadlines and expectations and unreasonable work practices and expectations. I am sick and tired of worrying just how much I show through my mood states publicly as I am still judged as the "offender" or "victim" rather than as (my favourite analogy), the proverbial canary in the coalmine... If I stop being up... and singing then the air around is perhaps polluted and toxic.
I recommend evry workplace and effective manager needs a person with BMD at work. We take the policies from the paper or cyberspace network and implement them on the ground. I am fed up with non BMD people advising me NOT to be SO OPEN about my illness as it will hurt my career prospects.
Well I'm sorry if my "managed and controlled illness" damages my work prospects so be it. I cannot function living a divided life. The 'real one' at home and the 'perceived socially acceptable one" at work or at my University. Bugger that this slpit has damn nearly hospitalised me in 2011.
I am now truly ready to tell people where to off being judgemental. My illness at least does not have a truly negative personality disorder directed at others! Most BMD people I have met tend to find fault in themseleves first and foremost, not attempt to bring others down strategically, emotionally or through malicious acts. These are workplace deviants, not us.
It is about time in 2012 that so called "normal" workers are held to account for their actions of a "behavioural nature". If everyone around these disfunctional workers were monitored and watch as closely as those of us open about our medicated illness, then workplaces would be so much more productive, inclusive, dynamic, creative and dare I say it... happier.
So rest assured dear readers you will be travelling along regularly with me, in 2012 no matter what my job or how close to submission my PhD develops. I don't give a toss about the people who really SHOULD not determine my own wellness.
I think I just might open their access to my Facebook Account and they can find their way here.