Living with bipolar disorder, as a programmer

  • Author:xnite
  • Date:2017/06/01

I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder almost 2 years ago, but I have been suffering from it my whole life. With bipolar disorder comes constant ups and downs. Some days I just bounce right out of bed and start to work on projects. Other days I don’t feel like doing much of anything at all. In retrospect I see how it has affected work performance in the past.

How my Bipolar symptoms have affected me at work

I used to work at a call center, as a sales representative. Essentially I was a telemarketer. The job was actually quite depressing so often times I went in there with an inability to stay motivated. I would often times try to find ways to get people off of the phone quicker if it seemed like I wasn’t going to get a sale. Often times when I was manic I would make just enough sales to not get fired, which was actually quite a difficult job when most people just hang up the phone.

Before the call center I was a fast food employee, I often times found myself depressed with my job and life in general. I mean people talked down on me, threw food at me when it wasn’t served right, if you name it it’s happened to me. (Except I’ve never had someone throw an alligator through the drive thru window).

How my Bipolar symptoms affect me now

As a developer now, there have been some rough patches. A point in which the medications I was on weren’t working as well as they should be. This meant that I was depressed a lot, and the manic symptoms were only slightly under control. Recently my doctor prescribed me something that’s been working really well at keeping my depression at bay, but unfortunately I still have the manic symptoms from time to time.

A double-edged blade

For me, and maybe not everyone suffering from Bipolar disorder, I see manic symptoms as a blessing and a curse. The curse is that I leave a lot of unfinished projects behind. The blessing is that when I’m manic I can get projects done quickly. I recently started learning Java and I’ve found that being on Linux helps me focus on programming rather than playing games, so I’ve been sticking to it for a bit now and enjoying just learning Java and working on my projects. Somehow using Linux just makes it easier for me to focus, I’m not really sure why.

Some of the cons of being manic, however, are that I get an extreme lack of sleep. Usually I’ll sleep a few hours a night and go back to working on whatever I’m doing at the time. Often times I used to stay up for hours on end coding. Sometimes I would have 30+ hours coding sessions where I would barely do anything else outside of basic and hygienic needs.

Managing Symptoms

While the medication I’m on helps with the depression episodes, I still have manic episodes. Manic episodes can cause me to be egotistical, and I often start projects that I don’t finish. When it comes to development I try not to rush through projects. I’ve found that often times projects that I’ve written while manic don’t make sense to me later. So I’m sure to comment my code well, and take good notes. As far as the fat ego I build when I’m manic, well some things never change, but I just try to remember that I don’t know everything. </rant>

Robert Whitney
I'm a geek, gamer and breaker of things. I'm a programmer by day and an apache attack helicopter by night. Some would call me their spirit animal.
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