It is a very personal choice to “come out” with your bipolar diagnosis at work. Hopefully, it is a decision you can make and not forced upon you by having to explain huge gaps in attendance or workplace incidents.It is a very personal choice to “come out” with your bipolar diagnosis at work. Hopefully, it is a decision you can make and not forced upon you by having to explain huge gaps in attendance or workplace incidents.

If the decision is yours to make, do not take it lightly. Consider all the pros and cons carefully. Once it’s out there, there is no going back. Research the laws for where you live to familiarize yourself with what your rights are and what you are entitled to in terms of accommodations.

If you have made the decision to reveal, take some time to think about how, who and the amount detail you will give in your reveal.

Do you tell only management or do you go all the way and let your co-workers know too?

Realize that once you ask for accommodations, and others do not know why you are receiving special treatment to help you cope, others may see that as privileged. That may open up a huge other set of stressful situations for you.

The following is just a sample of some of the recommendations that may be available to you.



1. Reduced Hours to Reduce Stress/Triggers and Sick Time

Reducing your hours or job sharing is a great way to keep your foot in the workforce. If this is a viable option for your job, make sure you research the benefits for your employer before you present this option. If it’s not possible for your current position, maybe there is another position in the company that would better suit this accommodation.

2. Shift Changes For Stability and Routine

If you are in a job that requires you to work rotating shifts, consider asking to be put on one shift. Don’t automatically jump on asking for straight days. Sometimes an afternoon or night shift would be better for you. Those shifts often have fewer people to deal with and a slower pace. Your employer may actually be more accommodating to those shifts since fewer people want to take those shifts. The important thing is to try to establish a consistent routine for you.

3. More Breaks And/or Longer Breaks

Sometimes all you may need to continue at your current position, is being able to take a time out when you become over whelmed. Your stress may be reduced just by knowing you have this option. Stepping outside the environment to collect yourself and practice mindfulness can be very helpful.

4. Window Seat or Light Therapy

For those that suffer from SAD (Season Affective Disorder), it can be extremely beneficial to have your work station be near or adjacent to natural light through a window. If this is not possible, you may want to consider bringing light therapy into your area.

5. Isolated environment

Work can create a lot of stress especially if you work in an environment where people tend to discuss their personal lives or create drama. Having your work area isolated or away from the center of activity can be extremely conducive to increasing your concentration and avoiding triggers.

If you have let your workplace know of your diagnosis and you have accommodations, please share them with us in comments.

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist or a doctor. This post is based solely on my personal experiences and should not be deemed as advice or counsel. Please seek appropriate medical attention from a licensed professional.

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2 Comments on 5 Workplace Accommodations For Bipolar People

  1. This is one reason that I am glad that I work for myself. I often think about how much prejudice I avoid by not having to reveal my circumstance to anyone in charge of my livelihood. That said I do of course talk all about my mental health so I get a clear sense of what the world thinks of bipolar disorder.

  2. Very important information, Elena, and spans all disabilities. This past semester, I had two students with learning disabilities that needed to be accommodated for tests. It was truly an interesting process, and our society needs to be accommodating and tolerant of all disabilities regardless of whether we can “see” them or not.

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