It’s a difficult decision to have “the conversation” about your disorder to anyone; keep these in mind:
#1 Consider the risks and rewards
Talking about your bipolar can seem like a huge risk. It can feel like you’re gambling your emotional stability, or professional and financial stability. However, disclosing your diagnosis at your workplace may actually give your employer better insight into your performance and be more apt to support you. And explaining bipolar to a friend or family member could in fact gain you some practical and moral support.
#2 Think it through
As much as you worry about how people will react to your news, it’s impossible to predict someone’s response. You might be pleasantly surprised. Think about the potential consequences and implications of disclosing or not disclosing your disorder. For example, how does staying silent affect you? If you go public, you’ll experience the freedom of not keeping the secret, but just think through the repercussions so you’re not blindsided.
#3 Be prepared
If you’re considering telling your employer, first have a look through your workplace disclosure guide and review the employer’s privacy and accommodation policies. Also, it’s best to be prepared with enough reliable information about bipolar disorder before going into the disclosure talk, whether with friends, family members or a supervisor. Be prepared to soothe any concerns or satisfy any questions.
#4 Be patient
Don’t expect people to understand all the facts or have a deep understanding and therefore respond less judgmentally. Clinical psychologist Carrie Bearden, PhD, lists some points to emphasize in both professional and personal settings: “You’re managing a treatable illness, are aware of how this illness affects you, that you’re being responsible about all of it, and are focused on having a very productive life.” Also, be aware you may have to address an employer’s fear that an employee with bipolar would be unpredictable, unproductive or lose control of their emotions.