Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

I work freelance at writing and editing, and as many of you know, that life is fraught with insecurity. How much work will I get? How much will I be paid for it? Will the check be enough to cover the mortgage and the health insurance? Anything else, like light and cable and phone, which I need in order to work from home?

Since  I’m bipolar, these questions are laced with more than the usual amount of anxiety. Especially since the progression toward my last major breakdown was a lot of what caused me to lose that 9–5, well-paying job. My attendance became spotty, my attention refused to focus, my relationships with coworkers went downhill, my evaluations took a turn for the worse, and I bailed.

I stayed immobilized for a long time, applied for disability (didn’t get it), then embarked on freelance work.

I’m much more stable now. I’ve have published this blog and my other one for over two years, and proved to myself that I can attend business meetings, at least once in a while. My paying work has built up to the point where we can at least live paycheck to paycheck, but not much more. Time to spread my wings?

So I started looking around for other jobs, in addition to my faithful, steady client who has sustained me for years now. First I asked them if they could send any more work my way. Then I started expanding my platform, as we say in the writing biz.

I joined LinkedIn. And there, one day, I saw a listing for someone who needed an editor. One with exactly my skillset. Precisely my experience. The kind of work I love to do.


It was full-time, likely high-pressured, and 45 miles away (during rush hour). I knew those factors would make it impossible for me to succeed at the job, even if I got it.


I wanted it. I wanted to have back the things I lost after my breakdown – my competence, my confidence, my pride. Oh, and the money too.


Much as I wanted to, I couldn’t let myself apply for it. I didn’t want to trigger the kind of meltdown I had before. I didn’t want another period of literally years when I could do nothing – not work, not take care of myself, not cook, not read. Nothing.

So, with reluctance, I let the opportunity pass by. I went back to my blog posts and my irregular freelance work. I occasionally do some non-paying work for organizations like the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), or,, and even I lined up a gig editing a friend’s dissertation.

Then, as it sometimes happens, another opportunity appeared – a part-time paid position with a company that already knew my work. Steady work. Pay. Work at home. All this could be mine if I applied, passed the editing test, and was able to work the number of hours per week I rather optimistically said I could. I’ve taken the test (it was two hours long and grueling, the kind I used to give to other people). And now I wait, more or less patiently, never my best quality.

And while I wait, I wonder. Am I even capable of doing half-time paid work at home, plus my other freelance assignments, plus my blogs, plus the novel I’ve written about 1/3 of? Can I do the part-time job (if I get it), without my disorder screwing me up too badly to do it or anything else well? Is hypomania tricking me again? Do I have to give something up to get something better? Will it really be better?

The answer to all those questions is, “I don’t know.”

My disorder surely lost me the 9–5 job I once had. It made me give up the idea of trying for that similar job that seemed “just right.” But at least now I have some ambitions again.

Can I? Can’t I? This balancing act of higher ambitions and lowered expectations is delicate.





Comments on: "Can I? Can’t I? Bipolar and Business" (10)

  1. Janet, you are not alone. I too juggle with the same questions that you have re: career. Earlier this year I had a breakdown at work and just never came back. I took much needed time off but it’s almost been one year. The reason I haven’t jumped back into the career world is exactly because I can’t definitively answer the same questions that you have about myself.


  2. My bipolar cost me a career in the video game industry. The 50+ hour workweeks were too much for me and my work suffered, too. Eventually I was fired, after many attempts for them to figure out what was wrong with my productivity. (I wasn’t diagnosed yet.) It sucks. Now I work 20-24 hours a week as a massage therapist, and I love it, but I often think about going back to school for an English degree, or just continuing to write and hoping it turns into something that pays. We will see I guess. Good luck!! I am sure you can do it, just take care of yourself! ❤


  3. I can totally relate. I’m getting back into the work force after being out of it for many many years. I was a stay at home mom. But I have found with the Bipolar, I am more picky about what I am willing to do. Everything matters; is this part-time? Will I be able to make dr appointments without causing problems at said job? Is this going to be too much stress? Can I work more? Can I handle this? AM I EVEN READY to go back to work? The balancing act is something that I am going to have to live preforming for the rest of my life. I hate it, but I do hope I get better at it. I hope you get the new gig. And I hope it works out smoothly for you.


  4. I haven’t lost my 9-5, YET, but I am finally willing to admit the toll it’s taking on me. The ever creeping symptoms. The breakdowns=hospitalizations. Its so hard to let go. I’m putting myself out there a bit too. The I don’t knows are rampant. Good luck to you!!


  5. I lost my 9-5 job due to bipolar as well. I did get disability, but I keep finding myself wanting to work. I tried nursing school and got awesome grades, but totally lost it in clinicals and had to drop out. I then tried again in medical Assisting, and was doing great until I had to drop all my classes two semesters in a row, the second time due to spending the last two weeks inpatient (lost my 4.0 GPA there). I’m thinking of trying again, but frankly I’m scared I’m sure I can’t do tier 2 & 3 IT work anymore, I’m afraid to try full time nursing, maybe I can try Medical Assisting again and get a part time job? I’m very anxious…


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