24 September 2020

a woman with bipolar disorder standing with her hands on her hips, her shadow behind her has a cape on

Work is important for our mental and financial wellbeing

However, when you are living with bipolar disorder, finding the right job for you can be challenging.

If you want to work but aren’t sure how to start your job hunt, you are not alone. The good news is that many people with bipolar disorder find fulfilling work. The right job often contributes to their long-term wellbeing.

We’ve created a guide with find tips and tools to help you find work including how to search for jobs, manage interviews and find help if you need it.

Table of contents:

Can I get a job if I have bipolar disorder?Can I get a job if I have bipolar disorder?

If you’re living with Bipolar disorder, your symptoms can affect your day to day life. Mood fluctuations and poor sleep can make maintaining a routine challenging.

Some people with bipolar disorder find it difficult to complete particular tasks or work in a team and managing some of the cyclical symptoms of depression and mania can make it hard to stick to a schedule.

The right job can give you a sense of structure and accomplishment.

Having increased financial freedom is one of the main benefits. However, working may help you feel less worried about money and make it easier to access treatments when you need them. Many people with bipolar disorder also find that working reduces their depression and increases their confidence.

The good news is there is also support available to help you keep your job and feel confident in the workplace.

Great job ideas for people with bipolar disorderGreat job ideas for people with bipolar disorder

When looking for a job, it’s important to look for a role which suits you, your circumstances and your ability.

This is vital for people who live with complex or long-term mental health conditions like bipolar disorder.

Consider:

What work environment do you need? Many people with bipolar disorder need a quiet and relaxed workspace. You might prefer part time work or a job with flexible hours. That way you can take breaks when you need to and create a schedule that works for you.

What is important for your health? Choose a job that will support your long-term wellbeing rather than trigger your symptoms. Most people with bipolar disorder perform best in day time roles rather than shift work. A regular sleep pattern is important for your physical and mental health.

What are your strengths and interests? When you choose work that you’re passionate about, it is often easier to overcome the hurdles.

Looking for inspiration? Here are some great job ideas to consider:

  • Jobs with regular structure. Many people with bipolar disorder work best with a regular, stable routine that helps with mood balance. For example bookkeeping, accounting, librarianship and administration.
  • Flexible jobs. Some jobs allow you to work from home or complete tasks to your own schedule. Examples of flexible jobs include freelance writing, editing, social media management, computer programming, web design and graphic design.
  • Creative jobs. Many people with bipolar disorder thrive in jobs that have a creative outlet. Examples include graphic design, illustration, photography, writing and interior design.
  • Working for yourself. When you work for yourself, you can create a schedule and workload that suits you. You can be self-employed in a range of roles including freelance work, online content creation and handmade goods.
  • Jobs that have a larger purpose. Do you have a passion? Jobs that are part of a larger purpose can help you feel grounded and connected. Examples include aged care, counselling and work for not for profit companies.

a woman with bipolar disorder at work watering plants in a greenhouse

How to get started finding a job if you’re living with bipolar disorderHow to get started finding a job if you’re living with bipolar disorder

Step 1. Know what you’re looking for If you are wondering how to get a job with bipolar disorder, the first step is to know what type of jobs would be good for you.

Ask yourself:

  • What are my skills, strengths and passions?
  • What type of environment do I work best in?
  • Do I work better in a team or by myself?
  • What kind of schedule is best for me?
  • How much do I want to earn?
  • What do I need to support my health while I work?

Step 2. Start searching Now that you know what you’re looking for in a job, you can begin searching. You can find work by searching online on job boards, company websites and business networking sites such as LinkedIn.

If there are particular companies you would like to work with, you can reach out to them to see if they have any job openings. You can also ask your friends, family and peers if they know of any opportunities. A recommendation from someone who knows you well can go a long way.

Step 3. Take care of yourself Job searching can take a long time and can be energy intensive. Make sure you take care of yourself during the process.

Here are some tips to help you stay positive during your search:

  • Create a routine such as getting up every day at the same time and spending a set amount of time searching for jobs.
  • Keep track of where you have applied and the outcome.
  • Take care of your body by eating healthily, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.
  • Take breaks and don’t forget to spend time doing things that you enjoy.
  • Speak to yourself positively, and don’t give the negative feelings too much attention.
  • Surround yourself with a support network of friends and professionals.

For more information, check out our guide on how to search for jobs.

Writing your resume and CVWriting your resume and CV

Your resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a very important document that shows an employer why they should hire you for the job.

In your resume you should include information about previous jobs, education and any qualifications you have. You should also mention the skills and qualities that make you the perfect candidate for the job.

If you are feeling discouraged about the job search, it can feel hard to talk yourself up. But a resume should present you in the best light and show off what you’ve got to offer.

Not sure how to do that? Check out our guide on how to write an effective resume and cover letter.

Managing interviews when you have bipolar disorderManaging interviews when you have bipolar disorder

It is normal to feel stressed or anxious about an interview. The good news is there are things you can do to help you feel more confident.

Here are some great tips for interviews:

  • Prepare. Research the company and practice answers for common interview questions. • Speak positively to yourself. Negative thoughts may come, but don’t give them too much attention.
  • Focus on now. It’s tempting to think about what could go wrong. Instead, just take one step at a time. • Picture yourself in the interview being cool, calm and collected.
  • Try and get a good night’s sleep before the interview.
  • Reward yourself. However the interview went, you made it through and that’s worth celebrating.

Managing bipolar disorder in the workplaceManaging bipolar disorder in the workplace

Bipolar disorder symptoms can make keeping a job challenging. However, staying employed can help you feel empowered in the long run.

If you are finding work difficult, support is available. Your boss might allow special arrangements to help you manage better. If you need support, APM and NDIS can help you get workplace modifications so that you can keep working.

Here are some other tips for managing your bipolar disorder symptoms in the workplace:

  • Learn about yourself. When you can recognise your symptoms and triggers, you can find tools that help you cope. • Take breaks regularly, even if you think you don’t need one.
  • Develop a support network of friends, family and professionals. • Take time off work for counselling, therapy and treatment when you need.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle in your diet, exercise and sleep habits.
  • Avoid alcohol as it could affect your mood and medication.
  • Remove distractions and create a calm workspace.
  • Create rhythms and routines that bring stability.
  • Know your limits and don’t over-commit.
  • Ask for help when you need it.

Need a little help? We’re here for you

It’s not always easy to find work, but with the right help you can find a fulfilling job.

At APM, we believe there’s a job out there for everyone. If you are living with bipolar disorder and finding it hard to get a job, we want to help find the right one for you.

Every week we support thousands of jobseekers like you find a job that works for them. We also support people with bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions to stay in work.

We can help you:

  • Manage mental health issues that are making it hard to get work
  • Figure out the strengths and skills you can bring to a job
  • Get new skills to help you find work
  • Succeed in the workplace with personalised support

Ready to find work? Let’s get started!

Register to see if you're eligible for APM's Disability Employment Services program, and open the door to more job opportunities!

Register Now

Author

Diane Early

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