I work at a seafood restaurant that has a nice big lobster tank in the lobby. When I’m done for the night but can’t leave (we have to leave in groups of 3), I sit next to the tank and fiddle on
WordPress my phone. That’s right, I read all your lovely blogs while I’m chillin after work.
I’ve never had anyone – much less a stranger to me – sit down pressed against me and lean over and peer onto my phone before…but a guy from the kitchen did a couple months ago. He’s nice enough. For some reason, he sticks up for me when people start to pick on me in the kitchen. I much just look like a little lost kitten. But then again, when I’m “normal” and not in any form of mania, a little lost kitten is exactly what I come across as. So, whatever. It’s a side of me.
“Oh, I don’t twitter. I’m reading blogs.”
“Oh, you blog?!”
…shit. I know where this is going…
“Yeah, I do.”
“Oh! What do you blog about?”
“I’m bipolar. So I blog about that.”
“Oh really? I never would’ve guessed. That has to be really difficult. How does it affect you at work?”
“I’m still kinda new at it, and I’m not quite sure yet. But I don’t think it causes me many problems.”
It ended there. And he’s still very sweet to me. We’ll hold the occasional 1 minute conversation you’re allowed in a restaurant.
But ever since then, he’s had me considering just how this affects me at work. I’ve become more mindful of how productive I am, how confused I get, how well my memory is, etc.
I’ve come to the conclusion – and this is still a study in progress – that I am at my worst times (normal mood – luckily, I haven’t had a depression while working outside of the house), just an average worker. Forgetting stuff here and there, a memory that is about as hard to catch as a feral cat, not too social with the guests, not very fast, not very vocal.
At my best times (which would be hypomanic/manic episodes), I am amazing. Super productive, very fluid movements, very vocal, conversing with the guests, memory like a steel trap, etc. I love working like that. I make more money like that. I don’t get in trouble with my bosses for forgetting stuff, etc. Its much less stress free.
I’m on the down side of my last hypomanic episode, and worked last night. I’m losing all of those lovely qualities I just mentioned :(:(
I kept forgetting stuff. Losing stuff. Having a hard time concentrating. Damnit.
My therapist was insistent that I not tell anyone at work about my illness. But, I don’t think I can do that. It would feel too much like hiding, like I have something to be ashamed of, like there is something wrong with me. And that’s just not the truth. She thinks (heck, maybe she knows…she’s been doing this for over 20 years) that people will use it against me. Maybe they will. But the naive side of me (which I didn’t even know existed any more) thinks that I’d like to prove to them just how awesome I am so that when they find out, it will help them understand that we can be productive.
Oh, Oh! Another funny story from work concerning mental illness…I was dropping dishes off with another server, and he said something about schizophrenia, and then “Can someone even work with a condition like that?”. My reply:
“Yeah, actually. We can. I’m bipolar.”
“Well, I’m tri-polar.”
Then we both laughed and walked off to finish working.
Since then, I’ve noticed he’s a little softer to me. He usually is very sarcastic and picks on me a lot. Maybe related, maybe not.
I guess something really bad is going to have to happen before I stop fighting the stigma. I am awesome. I am bipolar. Therefore, bipolar is awesome. Sometimes.