Perhaps you've been thinking about it for a while, but just didn't feel it very necessary until now. Or perhaps you're changing jobs and forced with deciding whether your new employer really needs to know you suffer with bipolar disorder.
Making the decision to tell your supervisor or other official at work about your bipolar disorder is not a small step. Here are seven tips that might help you make your disclosure on bipolar disorder when the time comes.
1. Do some detective work before you reveal your bipolar disorder.
In other words, just do your homework. Before you actually make the decision to reveal you have bipolar disorder, feel your supervisor out on his attitude towards the topic of mental illness in general. If you can, try to discover if others with bipolar disorder have been hired? How well have they been treated?
2. Give serious thought to disclosure on bipolar disorder.
It's not something done lightly, like telling someone you have a hang nail. There is still a large stigma associated with bipolar disorder. In fact, you may be surprised just how many people aren't even sure what it is. Make sure you're ready to make the announcement about your bipolar disorder.
3. Consider having your therapist sit in on the meeting.
While this may sound extreme, the presence of your therapist is an excellent idea. In this way, he can answer any questions about the nature of bipolar disorder in general. He would also provide an excellent reference to reassure a hesitant supervisor that even with your bipolar disorder, you'll function just fine around the workplace.
4. Decide, ahead of time how you'll handle your disclosure of bipolar disorder.
Visualize how the meeting will go. Once you've decided who'll be attending the meeting announcing your bipolar disorder, then decide you will actually be doing most of the speaking. Rehearse what could possibly be said about your bipolar disorder and most importantly, what you can say in reply. You are probably well aware of many of the questions people have concerning bipolar disorder; prepare about talk to these points. Also be prepared to reassure the fears of any possible performance problems your employer may think there will be with your bipolar disorder.
5. Decide, specifically, what person at your workplace you'll reveal your bipolar disorder to.
Are you just going to reveal your bipolar disorder to a few trusted co-workers? Are you planning to tell your supervisor? Or perhaps you're just going to reveal it to the human resources director. Whoever you tell about your bipolar disorder, be sure you feel comfortable with the decision.
6. Be sure to talk about limitations
When discussing your bipolar disorder with your employer, you need to be specific if you feel you'll have any limitations at all placed on you because of the condition. Will you need any out-of-the-ordinary accommodations? If you have no limitations related to your bipolar disorder, reassure him of this as well. You know it's in the back of his mind anyway.
7. Describe the symptoms
Even if your employer says he's familiar with bipolar disorder, describe the symptoms you develop when you're in an episode. Make sure that she understands these. But more than that, explain to her the best methods of handling these symptoms. Also, don't forget to tell your employer any necessary information your doctor may want her to know on bipolar disorder. This is also a great time for you and your employer to talk about the Americans with Disabilities Act in relation to your bipolar disorder.