Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Borderline Personality Disorder and Jobs/Careers: Part 1


I'm back! I promise! 

Considering I’ve been obsessing over financials and I’ve had to prioritize all my waking hours to accomplish the amount of work I have to do for the past week or so I thought it was fitting that today I talk about one of life’s inevitable challenges we with Borderline Personality face.

Getting and keeping a job.

It’s easier, er, less difficult, for some of us to get and maintain a job. For others it’s very difficult. It really depends on the severity of our mental health issues and whether we’re actively working on our mental health.

Having BPD does not necessarily limit your job choices, but it can create quite a lot of challenges. Like anyone, BPD or not, choosing a career and figuring out what you want to do with your life is going to depend on your particular skill set and what interests you. It’s important to remember that our mental health diagnosis doesn’t change the fact that we’re also just people and face the same challenges that many non-Borderline people face when choosing a career. Figuring out a career choice may be easy for some of us, while for others they might vacillate between majors or goals for years, changing throughout their lifetime. Even if we can find a good match career-wise that doesn’t make it “easy”.  Despite my BPD I’d still be considered high-functioning intellectually. Outside of my work environment I don’t know anyone that is capable of doing the kind of work I am doing. I have multiple engineering degrees and am working on one of the most advanced engineering projects in the world. I recognize I’m often the exception and not necessarily the rule. That doesn’t mean I always have an easy time of it either. Exactly the opposite actually.

BPD can present a lot of unique challenges in the work place. For instance; identity issues, feelings of rejection, paranoia, self-esteem problems, and the additional stress that comes from a job often result in making it difficult to find a solid sense of purpose or direction in the work place. This all contributes to why it can be difficult to find and keep a job with BPD. Considering how ambivalent we can be, how indecisive, even identifying life and career goals can be difficult.

Originally I was going to go to culinary school.  I love to cook and bake and wanted to be a professional chef. I was signed up, accepted, and had my move in date. About 2 months beforehand I had a major anxiety attack and couldn’t deal with the idea of going to culinary school.  I couldn’t deal with the thought of being judged on something I loved so much. I was afraid it would destroy my love for something I valued. I panicked. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life once I decided not to go to culinary school. To help me onto the path I’m on now I took my own anti-ambivalence advice. I had all of the options, so I just picked one to start with. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at that point so I just started taking classes. I knew I was good at math and science, I like to work with my hands and create things ( not just theorize) so I almost generically chose engineering. I wasn’t sure if it would be something I’d love, but I knew it would provide me the ability to take care of myself. I picked a field and ran with it. I did change engineering majors to the one I eventually earned my Bachelors and Masters in but instead of dwelling on the limitless possibilities, instead of miring myself in my ambivalence, I just picked something I was good at and figured if I found out along the way I wanted to do something different I could change. But in the mean time I’d have a path to pursue that would allow me to function in the world.

My compulsive nature and my anxiety actually helped me excel in my studies because I was so afraid of failure. I was the kind of student that read whole text books before the course even started. I was constantly plagued with anxiety. I had zero social life. I was a recluse locked in my own academic prison. But I was an intelligent recluse. And it worked. I have an amazing grasp of the skills I need. Granted my ability to function around people took a pretty big blow, which is why this is a disorder and not just normal.

All those things that we deal with normally that make Borderline a personality disorder can affect us on the job. The big ones I deal with are:


Paranoia
Criticism/Rejection
Identity Issues

Others that are common for people to deal with are Splitting, the inability to separate work from personal life, impulsive behavior contributing to absenteeism, hell other co-morbid disorders like severe depression that make it difficult to even get out of bed sometimes. Oh, there’s more. These can all contribute to difficulty in interpersonal relationships within a structured working environment. That doesn’t mean we can’t maneuver it but it does mean it can be much more difficult at times.

Tomorrow I’ll probably post some Lucid Analysis (yay therapy!) but then I’ll pick right back up on this subject of things that contribute to the difficulties for us in the work place and how we can help ourselves…..





By the way, I’m feeling very guilty for having to take so much time away from blogging. This is the longest period of time I’ve taken without consistent blogging. I just haven’t had the time to write my articles with all the vacation stress, then immediately getting hit with having to move, finding a place, getting packed, getting caught up with all the work I’m now behind on because I took a vacation, and then of all things; jury duty. It’s just been one thing after another. I’ve had to prioritize in favor of my work, even though I’d much rather be doing this. Healthy choices though, right? That’s the goal.  As you can imagine I’m a big bundle of stress right now. I’m trying very hard to remember my healthy coping techniques, fighting off panic attacks, and get back on track though. I love writing this blog and I dearly want to get back to my daily schedule. 

17 comments:

  1. I've always had problems keeping down a job, despite my having good qualifications. I can get a job 'easy enough', I just never stick them out and end up quitting. I always thought it was because I was stupid, lazy and bored (mostly stupid...) and unable to just 'get on with things'. Along with the strain of anxiety and social interactions (where one negative criticism can send me into a spin for weeks) and... bleugh, work! Who needs it!

    But now I'm quite thankful to see that there are others like me, and there is a reason behind it all. Being able to put a name to my ''disorder'' has been an eye-opener (though no official diagnosis) and it's thanks to posts like these, and the internet, that has allowed me to realise it's something beyond my just being stupid and crap and unable and... (and on it goes).

    By two best jobs were both part-time. I seemed to function better with shorter hours. It meant that I could still have time to do what I needed to do, sleep in a bit longer in necessary, and have time to take care of myself. I can honestly say that I enjoyed those jobs the most, out of the many I've had.

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    1. I have noticed short hours seem to be manageable for the most part. (ABout 2-3 hours at a time) What 2 part-time jobs do you have? I'm learning.....

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  2. Hi there ;-) Just found your site by stumbling into it by chance on Google...It is great, it's honest, refreshing and from what I have read so far, a bit funny too. I love your use of pictures too by the way. Anyway I thought I would say hello and have added myself to your group of followers. I am trying to understand this whole BPD business as I think the man that I was with up until awhile ago has this condition. So much so that I wrote my own blog about it in here too, so feel free to drop by and say hello on there too. Thank you for sharing with me your page and I look forward to reading more soon.

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  3. I've been on disability for so long and I desperately want to get to the point I can provide for myself.

    Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to write down exactly what makes a job so difficult to keep for someone with a BPD wired brain!

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  4. "Intelligent Recluse" = totally me, too

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  5. I am happy that i found a wonderful website!
    Jobs

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  6. Hi! I was searching for information about BPD, and I stumbled across your web site. I've been dealing with issues like depression (namely dysthymia), ADHD, and anxiety. And to top it all off, my last therapist told me that I displayed the diagnostic criteria for BPD, but that I was high functioning. I've been reading more about BPD lately, and a lot of it really sounds familiar. I take Prozac, which helps me deal with my emotions better, but I feel like I still have a lot of work to do. I don't really have money for a therapist right now, so I'm hoping that by doing research on the Internet, I will be able to learn methods for effectively managing my BPD symptoms.

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  7. By the way, I also wanted to say that your experience sounds similar to mine. I've got a bachelor's degree in Spanish, and although I love Spanish and other foreign languages, I've decided that I don't want to teach it, largely because the thought of being scrutinized day after day by a bunch of students fills me with horror. I've toyed with different majors and career plans, but I think I'm now pretty sure that I want to become a mental health counselor. Yes, I know I'll have to deal with people, and I may even be subjected to abuse from time to time, but I'm thinking that my own experiences with mental health issues would probably make me a little more empathic than someone who hasn't had those issues. And plus, I really like analyzing people and situations to death!:)

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  8. One might consider not going into healthcare due to sexual implusivity. I had who I believe to be a BPD healthcare provider. I was the patient. I had been celibate for many years and got an involuntary erection. The healthcare provider repeated responded. It triggered a mental disorder in me and psychological and emotional problems which are still present over two years later. I maintained my silence, not wishing to endanger the career of the healthcare provider. There are strict professional standards, many of which this person violated. I was blamed for everything by this angry person. I took a huge bullet for this person and am hated.

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    1. If you are saying what I think you are saying, they committed a crime! Please report them. They have no business being a counselor.

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  9. Not everyone with bpd is sexually impulsive. I am in fact the exact opposite (to the dread of my husband). I am not invalidating your experience by any means, I'm just concerned you feel all BPers are sexually impulsive. Lastly, sexual impulsivity can be merely a hypersex drive, not an urge to sexually abuse someone.

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    1. I've actually written about this experience. My experience is often one of promiscuity. However, especially when sexual trauma and abuse is an issue many people with BPD are very reluctant to express sexuality or feel those desires at all.

      And sometimes people with BPD have a very normal sex drive b/c sexuality and whatnot is not a part of their particular symptom set.

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  10. I've been struggling to choose a career. Every day my mind is set on something different. All I know is that I want a good paying job, but I have no clue what to major in. I'm a junior in college, and I feel like time is running out. I haven't even declared yet! My initial dream was to go to medical school but I realized that I didn't have the chemistry skills needed. I'm very wishy-washy due to my anxiety and I'm terrified of change. One day I'm set on transferring schools. The next I'm too scared to do anything. No one seems very helpful in this either. I just need a voice of reason, someone to sit down with and help me make a logical choice. I'm torn between having a career that pays good and having a career that I enjoy at this point. I just...I don't know what to do and it's freaking me out. Any help at all would be appreciated.

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  11. I personally find fear of loss to be a big problem for me in the workplace. One thing goes wrong, and I become paranoid that I'm being fired. I overcompensate. I dig my own grave.

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  12. I was kinda hoping this post would have advice on how to pick a job with BPD......Anyone figure it out yet? Please tell me......

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Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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