Judith was diagnosed with bipolar when she was 17. She is one of the hundreds of people who benefited from the Bipolar UK Employment Support Service, which has received funding from the Bupa UK Foundation. This is her story.
I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was 17 years old. I lived with the condition for about 20 years before I sought professional support. I had always managed my illness myself but the pressures of my family life and doing well at my job while also managing my bipolar just became too much.
Despite receiving a positive response from those around me when I finally did get support, I still wasn’t ready to tell my employer. I was scared that people would see me for my condition rather than for the person I am. I was also concerned that people in the office wouldn’t take me seriously or think I was capable of doing my job.
About a year ago, I decided it was time that I told my employee about my illness. I still had a lot of concerns, so I approached Bipolar UK to help me through this. I was able to receive help through the Bipolar UK Employment Support Service, which helped me better manage my condition at work and provide my employer with all the information they needed to support to me reach my full potential.
As part of this programme, someone from Bipolar UK visited my workplace and answered any questions my boss or colleagues had about the condition in an open conversation. They also supported me by providing me with tools to talk openly about my illness and highlight to my manager the things they need to look out for, such as subtle indicators that could mean I’m beginning to feel unwell.
I also developed some advanced statements, so if I’m feeling or acting a certain way and struggle to explain it, I have something to help me communicate what is going on to my manager.
As a result, I’m feeling much more productive at work and I’m comfortable with talking about my illness.
I am now volunteering with Bipolar UK so that I can help others who are living with bipolar.
The Bupa UK Foundation awarded Bipolar UK a grant of £114,000 to launch an initiative that helps people with bipolar to manage their condition better in the workplace and empowers employers to develop informed, mentally healthy workplaces by providing tailored training and support. Since receiving the funding from the Bupa UK Foundation in May last year, Bipolar UK have helped almost 200 people and 27 organisations.