As an executive, I find workplace stress can be overwhelming. I’ve “flown off the handle” due to mania, had trust issues with coworkers, and been triggered to the point of crying.
Doesn’t Mean Stress-Free
I am a
high-functioning achiever who was diagnosed with bipolar in November of 2016. I
have earned my MBA, and, from the outside, I look like I have it together: I am
an executive for a small family-owned business. And I have been in this
position for about five years . . . but not without some ups and downs.
hold an executive position, there is added stress because you are responsible
for the work productivity, meetings with outside firms, and for a team of
people who are dedicated to doing their best for you and your company.
with all of this while also managing bipolar can be difficult. Here are
some of my lessons learned when it comes to dealing with stress on the job:
Walk Away or Take a Break
been times when I’ve just lost it. You know that angry side of mania. I have
flown off the handle when employees say things that are mean or hateful, or when
my attitude is irrational. When I realize that this has happened, I have to
physically get away. So, I go outside, walk around, and cool down. Once I am
calm and in control of my emotions, I immediately apologize and make amends
with the employee.
#2 Tell a Coworker You Trust (If You Can)
know, but if you have a close friend at work whom you trust (which I do—I work
with one of my best friends), you should tell them. The biggest reason for this
is so that you can let them know when you are having a bad day, feel depressed,
or feel manic. My coworker friend calls me out when I have overacted, and it
makes me evaluate what I have done. Often, I realize that maybe I am having an
episode and I hadn’t recognized it. My best friend knows the stresses I deal
with at work, so she can help me deal with what is going on. She is also a
great person I can bounce issues off of…. I usually ask her, “Does this sound
normal, or am I being unreasonable?”
Know Your Triggers
like to think that I know most of my triggers in my personal life and at work,
but I am always learning. I have had situations with a difficult employee or a customer
complaint that has triggered me into instant anger or even made me cry. When I
know that I am confronting a difficult employee and I need to remain calm—and
the same goes for an upsetting situation. How I prepare to deal with this is by
doing some role-playing, knowing what I will say, and anticipating how I will
react. This saves me from being triggered, since I am prepared for what might
happen. Also, I have learned that I can’t take these situations personally. Even
though that can be hard!
Take a Day Off
I have to
admit, I am a workaholic. \ I will work my fingers to the bone to get things
done. I am dedicated to my job and feel like I need to be there every day.
However, sometimes I need a mental health day. Taking a planned day off or even
calling in sick (which I have only done maybe twice in the past five years) is
sometimes necessary. Take this day to do what you want to do. For me, I like to
lie in bed all day and watch made-for-TV movies that have happy endings, or to spend
time with my loved ones.
Let’s be honest, I am just a regular person who has bipolar. I make mistakes and I fail, but I keep going. There are never two days that are alike, and I give this advice from what I have learned—yet I still have a hard time following my own advice sometimes. Just like you, I’m a work in progress.
Jessica Taylor lives in the Tampa Bay area. She has an MBA from Western Governors University and a BS in accounting from the University of South Florida. She was diagnosed with bipolar II in 2016, at age 35. She has been with the love of her life for almost two decades. A corporate accountant who found her passion for this career in 2004, Jessica is also an avid outdoorsman. She loves Jesus and spending time with her family. Her hope is to shine a light on living with bipolar from what she has learned.
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