News & Views

Q&A: Bipolar Disorder in the Workplace

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We recently caught up with Tamarin Fisher, Product Manager, to talk about her experience with Bipolar Disorder and how Fnality has supported her. For her, Fnality is “truly positive and inclusive culture, with open and respectful colleagues who are not just supportive but interested too”.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is a chemical imbalance in the brain that prevents the body from regulating moods correctly. This causes very extreme responses to stress including emotional, physical and external stimuli – noise, light, smell etc. This results in intense mood and energy swings (Depression & Mania).

For me, when my Bipolar is in full swing it means severe agitation, excessive spending, debilitating exhaustion and not knowing where my boundaries are – I genuinely don’t have a gauge of when something is becoming extreme rather than within ‘normal’ boundaries. That said, I have learnt over the years how best to keep my Bipolar fully under control, but it takes hard work and a lot of support to keep it that way.

Are there common misconceptions/myths associated with Bipolar?

Yes, there are a few! However, through greater openness and awareness these misconceptions are changing.  Some of them include:

  • “That someone is always ‘moody’ or has mood swings – This may be true, but it’s important to understand that these moods are probably more extreme and uncontrollable than you may think!
  • People with bipolar disorder are always either manic or depressed” – This is a hugely complex disorder! I have Mixed Affective Bipolar 2 Disorder, which basically means I experience both hypomania and depression at the same time.
  • “Bipolar disorder can be cured through diet and exercise” – Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and there is no cure right now. However, it can be well-managed various types of talking therapy, medication, by avoiding stress, and maintaining healthy sleeping and eating habits.

What does Fnality do to support mental health?

Fnality has the most supportive culture I have ever worked in. I have been able to be very open about having Bipolar Disorder and there are many things in place to support me. These include space and time to learn at my own speed so as not to overload me, a truly positive and inclusive culture, and open and respectful colleagues who are not just supportive but interested too. Many businesses are now ensuring they have someone Mental Health First Aid trained so that they are able to spot when things have become too much. We have two Mental Health First Aiders (I am one of them), a very comprehensive mental health benefits package and we get one day per quarter that we can take with no notice as a wellbeing day.

What sort of hurdles have you faced in the workplace with regard to your Bipolar?

There have been internal and external hurdles. Internally I have always struggled with self-worth and whether this disorder means I am not good enough.  Externally, I have been demoted and had disciplinary action taken when I was going through a manic episode. I don’t hold this against my employer at the time as they had very little idea about the disorder – neither did I at that point! Many businesses try, but genuinely don’t know how or don’t have the set up to be truly supportive.

It is important to note that it is not only the person with the disorder who needs support, but also those around them as it is a very ‘outward’ disorder. I volunteer as an Employment Ambassador for Bipolar UK, who help businesses understand more about Bipolar Disorder and how it effects everyone in the workplace. I highly recommend getting them in to do some training if you or a colleague have Bipolar, so that your colleagues know how best to help and support anyone affected by it.

What advice/tips would you give to colleagues dealing with mental health?

Talk about it. A problem shared is a problem halved as they say. I know how daunting and uncomfortable it feels to start talking about mental health, but as soon as you do, many people reciprocate with their own experiences and this helps reduce the stigma attached. The likelihood is you are not alone in your struggle. I also recommend getting enough sleep and looking after yourself. I am not a gym goer or a runner, but I go out for a walk every day to ensure I get some fresh air and clear my head. If your company has a Mental Health First Aider or employee support service, talk to them as well, these people are always there to help you.


If you want to learn more about mental health and wellbeing visit
www.mind.org.uk  or visitwww.bipolaruk.org for more specific info on Bipolar Disorder.  If you would like to speak to someone in confidence contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or email: jo@samaritans.org.


Topics: Fnality, Views, people, Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness, Wellbeing

Fnality Team

Written by Fnality Team

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