Disclosing my bipolar disorder at work


I keep going back and forth, I have for weeks now. Do I tell my boss I have bipolar 2 disorder or do I not? Is it important to let her know up until mid school year I was sure that I would not renew my contract at the end of the year? When I’m depressed it’s really hard to do my job and I know sometimes I slack – I don’t participate in meetings as much as I should, I’m not confident in my decisions, I call in sick. When I make it to work I walk through the day like a zombie, counting down the minutes until I get back to my safe home and later my solace of a bed.

At previous jobs I’ve disclosed my bipolar II. I think I wanted to explain my downs, because I know they are noticeable. Sometimes the ups are noticeable too, although far less frequent. I get why some people want to keep their own mental health private, and by all means do what is the healthiest and best for you personally, but I think I want to spend my life with mine out there. Not broadcasting it, but not hiding it. Disclosing to my supervisor if it feels appropriate. Sharing with whoever I want to if I think it will benefit me. Writing about it in private and public, because I know I’m not the only one.

Why do I want to disclose my mental illness? I don’t want to find excuses for my behaviors when I am high or low. But I do want people to understand. I want people who can relate to know wholeheartedly that they are not alone. It takes courage to work myself up to each and every disclosure. If you are considering disclosing your own think about the following:

  • What are you trying to get out the disclosure?
  • Can you handle any response (dismissive, doubtful, understanding, supportive, etc)?
  • Are you okay with people never unknowing that fact about you?
  • How will you feel if people make assumptions about your health?
  • Will it take weight off you? (by that I mean weight off your soul/chest/shoulders)

Be true to yourself with every disclosure. It has to be for you, not anyone else.

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