Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Open Letter to Employers, Friends, Acquaintances, and Relatives

This is an open note to anyone reading this who may know me personally. While this is not a blog about bipolar disorder, it is a frequent theme. With respect to that theme, here are some things that need to be said.

In me you have a stellar employee/friend/relative, possessing the traits of many with bipolar disorder, such as intelligence, high energy level, motivation, drive, and creativity. What made me attractive as an employee or friend is, to a large extent, due to my particular manifestation of this disorder. I wish to stress that bipolar disorder IN NO WAY impacts my performance or ability to perform any of the responsibilities of my current, or any future position. In fact I’d argue that the traits I possess put me head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.

Bipolar disorder affects everyone differently, so another's symptoms should not be applied to me, and vice versa. My manifestation could be radically different from another's. Should you have any cause for concern about myself and bipolar disorder, I ask that you discuss it with me. If you have any questions or comments, or want to ask me questions or tell me stories about others you know with bipolar disorder, don’t hesitate to talk to me. I welcome an opportunity to discuss this honestly and openly with anyone who takes the time to ask. But do me the courtesy of approaching me directly. I’m not keeping any secrets, but the amount of disinformation about bipolar disorder makes me want to ensure that if any story is given, the ENTIRE story is given.

As to the personal journal aspect of this, it is as therapeutic to me as a personal journal is to anyone who keeps one. This is NOT a bipolar thing, this is a human thing. Any of the personal thoughts expressed have likely been experienced by most people, and it helps to put them "on paper". Knowing what I’ve experienced in the past helps me to plan for, and know what to expect in the future. In the words of George Harrison, "If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there."

Finally, I don’t want anyone to wonder if this page is directed at them. The answer is absolutely not, I am not asking anyone to stop reading. It was just time to make this announcement.


Anonymous said...

There are many people who are having a hard time...many people who could use this post as a motivation right now Jon. I am not sure that you intended it this way, but it is how I interpreted it.

Jon said...

Thanks, MI. I appreciate that.

Lee Harris said...

Well said, Jon! We are all unique and we all "live with" it in different ways. I do like reading your blog... keep it up.

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

Thanks, Lee. I appreciate the comment!

marja said...

Moods and character are two different things and sometimes people don't understand that. The way our moods express themselves is unique in each of us and our personalities are unique. No bipolar person is the same as the next.

You're right. All too often people paint each of us with the same brush. There's a lot of ignorance out there.

jane said...

"This is NOT a bipolar thing, this is a human thing." <--- This really speaks to me, Jon. I've recently come to this same decision about my own blog. Your words summed it up.

I hope people who are not bipolar will read this, because I think perhaps you opened a door that needed to be opened. You've invited people to ask you questions, whereas they may have felt it inappropriate before. That may be just what someone is looking for when they come upon your blog.

Jon said...

Marja - that's a great way to put it, that mood and character are different.

Jane - I hope this allows anyone who is reading this to tell me, and opens a dialogue.

Thanks to everyone for the comments.

Dream Writer said...

Great letter! It is similar to a Fibromyalgia one that I have and now I am thinking of tweaking it to coincide with Bipolar.

Yes, We have a MOOD Disorder not a Personality Disorder - a lot of people confuse the two because I believe that when they meet us and if we are irritable or whatever, they automatically think we have a "Shitty Personality."

What they don't realize is that we are in a mood! LOL!!!:)

As Marja said, there is a lot of ignorance out there.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that I would call it ignorance....maybe just misunderstanding.

Many people just don't understand mental illness.

In fact I know many people with mental illness that judge others with the disease, based on their own experience and even that is misleading.

What I experience with bipolar, will be unique than what my friends with the disease will experience.

I hope this makes sense...LOL...

I am exhausted today and have already taken my night pills...

Just Me said...

I love this post. I wish I could hand it out to each level of boss I have at my annual performance review where I'll get trounced on one area that is hard for me but no extra credit will be given for what I exceed in.

One of my great frustrations in life is that the people I work with currently have not taken any time to learn about my illness. They also have never asked me about it, so what they know is often wrong because of my atypical features. This results in my hearing things like "you say no to every suggestion we make". Well, not so much, I'll take any suggestion I have not tried, but if it's obvious it is pretty likely I have tried it in the many years I've been dealing with this illness. I did have a life before this particular job! Plus sometimes I just know reasons something won't work; I'll always do better in a small and crowded office facing a wall than in a large emptier common room with a lot of people walking past, for example.

Greg said...

Thanks for linking to my Blog - I'll reciprocate.
I too am a product of the 70s, have a wife and 4 kids. I've also been very successful in business as a senior executive and CEO twice. Bipolar has affected my work life in 2 main ways:
1. My interpersonal relationships have been strained
2. On medication, my motivation level is down.
Thanks for sharing your stories.
The Bipolar CEO

Pat Crosby said...

Thanks for your blog... I wish I had found it a few years ago... I have two business associates who just about fried my brains and our team relations.

Perhaps had we had your information, we all might have interacted differently.

There is a post about the nutritional aspect of brain chemistry for bi-polar on this blog.....

I am going to dive deep into all your links on your site - and understand more.